Henry Smith MP said he was “not surprised” the Prime Minister did not visit the Discovery New School while he was in town, even though the Crawley MP does not agree with the decision to close it.
Mr Smith accompanied David Cameron on a visit to Manor Royal firm Vent-Axia yesterday (January 23), which was being lauded as a successful example of a company which has brought manufacturing back to the UK from abroad.
Regarding the Discovery school, Mr Smith said: “I take a different view from the Prime Minister on that. I think the school should have been given more time to see if it could turn itself around.
“We took the petition to Downing Street and I secured a meeting with Lord Nash [Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools]. I’m sorry we couldn’t convince the Department for Education (DfE) to give the Discovery School more time to prove itself.
“I do respect that they made a decision and are being consistent and sticking by it.
“The most important thing now is to try to help parents to identify schools for their children.”
Responding to questions from some of those parents asking why Mr Cameron had not visited the school while he was in town, Mr Smith said: “I don’t think he will be visiting the school. The DfE reconfirmed the decision to cease funding to the school, so I’m not surprised he didn’t visit.”
Mr Cameron was in Crawley for just over an hour before flying to Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.
Mr Smith said: “Had it been a longer visit, we would have done much more.
“But it was a themed visit about bringing jobs back to the UK. Unfortunately, there was not time to do more.”
Regarding Downing Street’s decision to organise the visit to Crawley, Mr Smith siad: “Last year, I raised in the House of Commons that Vent-Axia had brought jobs back to the UK from China.
“Downing Street picked it up from there.
“I think Crawley really is one of those parts of the country that is doing extremely well when it comes to its economic vibrancy.
“When you look at the range of companies we have across Crawley - Nestle, Varian, Elekta, Novo Nordisk - we’ve got a lot of really first class, internationally known companies choosing Crawley as their base and that’s good for keeping the economy varied.”