‘Dear Mr Gove, you’re wrong’

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A TEENAGER has written a scathing letter to Education Secretary Michael Gove over his attack of schools in East Durham.

Mr Gove sparked outrage when he said traditional communities like East Durham lack ambition and claimed he could ‘smell the sense of defeatism’ in the area’s schools.

Paul Willis, who wants to be a doctor, penned a long response to the Education Secretary’s assertion that East Durham was a “prime example” of schools being “dogged by a problem of ambition in certain traditional communities”.

In his letter Paul, 16, who is planning to take a 12 GCSEs at St Bede’s Catholic Comprehensive School in Peterlee, said he found Mr Gove’s comments “abhorrent” and an insult to teachers, students and parents in the area.

Paul, from Wheatley Hill, plans to hand the letter in to Government officials when he visits the Houses of Parliament on a school trip in May.

The Education Secretary, who claimed he could “smell the sense of defeatism” in some North-East schools, stressed that his target was not local parents.

Paul said: “It is really unfair of Mr Gove. He hasn’t asked students for their views and his comments do not reflect well on a hard-working school.”

Paul, who particularly likes English, biology, history and French, added: “I would appreciate an apology from Mr Gove and I think he should come to our school and see what is really happening in east Durham.”

In 2011 his school, St Bede’s was described by Ofsted inspectors as “a good school which has improved rapidly since its last inspection”.

So far Mr Gove has stuck by his comments.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Last year just 80 pupils in East Durham out of more than 1,000 got good grades in the subjects valued by universities and employers.

“Durham County Council have themselves identified educational failure in East Durham. This failure puts a cap on young people’s aspirations and just isn’t good enough.

“The Education Secretary stands by his comments and is determined to do better for the children of East Durham.”