The Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb MP, has praised the “impressive” standard of education being achieved in the district’s schools which are now academies.
Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing and Buckhurst Hill and Loughton South county councillor Valerie Metcalfe, the deputy cabinet member for education, accompanied Mr Gibb when he visited Debden Park High School in Loughton, King Harold Business and Enterprise Academy in Waltham Abbey and Theydon Bois Primary School today (Thursday, May 17).
The party toured each of the schools with Mr Gibb discussing a range of issues when he met the head teachers of seven of the district’s secondary schools during a question and answer session at Debden Park High School.
Topics ranging from academy schools and Ofsted inspections to capital funding for school buildings and sixth form provision in the district were put to Mr Gibb by Debden Park High School head teacher Christian Kavanagh, Roding Valley High School head teacher Paul Banks, Chigwell School headmaster Michael Punt, King Harold Business and Enterprise Academy head teacher Denice Halpin, West Hatch High School head teacher Frances Howarth, Davenant Foundation School head teacher Chris Seward, and George Yerosimou, head teacher of St John’s School in Epping.
Mr Gibb praised the work being done by academy schools Debden Park and King Harold and highlighted the determined efforts of the head teachers.
He said: “One of the schools (King Harold) is changing from an under-performing school into a better performing school. It is interesting to see the head who is determined to raise standards.
“Debden Park High School is doing extremely well and again it wants to continue to raise standards and it is impressive to see head teachers that are so determined to do that.”
He added: “Debden Park High School has very high quality premises and the heads of both schools (Debden Park and King Harold) are taking their schools on a journey.
“One is slightly ahead of the other on that journey but they are both very optimistic that as academies they are going to become very high preforming schools.”
At Theydon Bois Primary School, after being introduced to the pupils and head teacher Elspeth Bonds, Mr Gibb enjoyed a school lunch of roast chicken and jam sponge and custard before being taken on a tour of the classrooms by a group of pupils.
During his walkabout Mr Gibb posed maths questions to children in various classes, and was impressed by their answers.
He said: “The children all know their tables and their reading is very advanced. I’ve also met some Year 6 children who are reading regularly every evening.
“Their arithmetic and maths is at a very sophisticated level and even the very young children seem to be able to count and they know their basic number bonds to a level beyond what the national curriculum requires so it is all very impressive.
“It is a very happy school. The children are well behaved.”
Mrs Laing said: “I was delighted to welcome the Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb, to Epping Forest. I particularly wanted him to see how well all our head teachers co-operate with each other and the excellent results they get for their pupils.
“The Kemnal Academies Trust is doing a brilliant job and we can see the direct effect that the Trust is having both in Debden Park High School in Loughton and King Harold Academy in Waltham Abbey.
“The Minister met several Year 11 students and I was very pleased at the enthusiasm, initiative and interest in their future careers that they displayed
Both of these schools have made enormous progress in recent years and becoming an academy has been particularly important for King Harold.
“It was also a great pleasure to visit Theydon Bois Primary School and quite an experience to share school lunch with the children. It is decades since I have enjoyed jam sponge and custard!
“I think the Minister was impressed by the level that these primary school children have reached particularly in arithmetic which is so important.
“It’s good for an Education Minister to see what is actually happening in our schools and I hope that the head teachers feel it was worthwhile having an opportunity to discuss various issues with him personally.”
For more information on the schools, please visit