Top Tory Michael Gove refuses to apologise to angry Durham teachers

The former education secretary was called "arrogant and ill informed" singling out east Durham schools as having the 'smell of defeatism'

Michael Gove MP
Michael Gove MP

Top Tory Michael Gove stands accused of being “arrogant and ill-informed” after he refused to apologise for saying he could ‘smell defeatism’ in County Durham schools.

The former Education Secretary angered North East teachers in 2013 when he singled out east Durham schools as lacking ambition.

He has now refused to apologise and attempted to side-step the blame by saying the comment came from a North East Labour MP.

He said in 2013: “There is a real problem of ambition in certain traditional communities, like east Durham, which needs to change.”

He went on to say that “when you go into those schools you can smell the sense of defeatism”.

Today, he said he stands by the controversial remarks.

When asked if he regretted his words, he said: “No, because I think it started a debate about how we can improve schools overall.

“It was raised with me in the first instance by a Labour colleague in a different part of County Durham.

“I’m glad what we have seen since then is a determination across the North East to improve education.”

Kevan Jones, Labour MP for North Durham, described Mr Gove’s response as “ill-informed”.

He said: “I think we have come to expect from Michael Gove an arrogant and ill-informed attitude.

“I suggest he comes to visit some schools in the North East to see some of the fantastic work which is being done rather than making stupid and ill-informed comments such as these.”

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