School is a model for the country to follow, says Education Secretary
The Education Secretary described a school in Shropshire as a beacon of excellence for others to follow when he dropped in for a visit.
Gavin Williamson said Thomas Telford School in Telford had blazed a trail for the academies programme, which was now at the cornerstone of education policy.
Mr Williamson also said he would be seeking the advice of its headmaster Sir Kevin Satchwell with a view to shaping future education policy.
The minister was also subjected to a grilling from pupils, who asked him about his approach to education, what made him go into politics, and what issues dominated discussion at Westminster.
Mr Williamson, MP for South Staffordhire, was joined on the visit by Telford MP Lucy Allan.
Thomas Telford School was established in 1991 as the eighth of 15 specialist technology colleges established with the help of private funding.
"It's very much the birthplace of the academy programme, which is such an important part of our schools today," said Mr Williamson.
"It's exciting to see how they continue to put so much emphasis on technology and technical education, which is going to be ever more important in future."
He said Sir Kevin, who has been at the school since the start, had since replicated the achievements at Thomas Telford by turning around the previously failing Madeley Academy. He said he was now looking forward to similar success at West Midlands University Technical College in Wolverhampton. The Thomas Telford Multi-Academy Trust now also runs the Walsall Academy, formerly T P Riley School, and the Sandwell Academy in West Bromwich.
Mr Williamson said: "Thomas Telford is a brilliant example of teaching excellence, which it has been able to replicate at schools right across the West Midlands.
"One of the things I will take back to Westminster is the way the teachers at Thomas Telford get the best out of every child, and I love the way it continues to innovate and reinvent itself.
"We're always saying that you can't quite bottle that, but if you could we would have it in every school. But it does show what can be done."
Mr Williamson said he would be inviting Sir Kevin to meet him at Westminster to seek his advice on education policy before the end of the year.
He added that school funding had recently been increased by 4.83 per cent in Telford and Wrekin, and by 3.67 per cent in the Shropshire Council area.