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  • "Hard working, energetic Offord, who is 'very much in touch with his voters'? Erm? The MP who hid in a church hall from a group of his own constituents not so long ago, and then insisted on being taken away in the back of a police van, rather than talk to them?

    This rather cockeyed attempt to smear Andrew Dismore is idiotic: the truth is, as even his opponents admit - he works **** hard for constituents, and the constituency - for the people who are always overlooked by our Tory representatives, the people who don't live in mansions, or the nice parts of this borough, and whose children have no chance of getting into the nice middle class selective schools, or those with catchment areas restricted to the more affluent areas.

    As with so many other things in this borough, there is a sharp contrast between the good schools here, for a favoured minority of pupils - many of them out of borough - and too many awful schools for the rest.

    Gove and his party are set on a reckless policy which puts ideology before the best interests of children: what we need are good schools for everyone, run efficiently in a cohesive and accountable system, not a proliferation of amateur academies and failing free schools."
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Education Secretary Michael Gove visits Mill Hill County School

First published in News Times Series: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter - north London

Education Secretary Michael Gove shared a joke with teachers and pupils when he visited a school this afternoon.

Mr Gove, along with Conservative MP Matthew Offord, took part in lessons at Mill Hill County School in Worcester Crescent.

He was given a quick tour of the school before sitting in on a GCSE French class, where he put his own language skills to the test.

Much to the delight of the pupils, he addressed their teacher in French and told her she was "marvellous".

The next lesson on the timetable was RE, where he listened in on pupils learning about Muslim culture.

After the tour, the Times Series quizzed him about school places in the borough. This year, the authority received 5,029 applications for primary school places and 92 per cent of pupils have received one of their top choice three schools.

He said: “More than half of the money we’ve put in for school places has gone to London – Barnet has received £55m of that.

“It’s there to allow our schools to expand.

“We know since 2003, we were living through a big increase in people applying for places and the previous government did not plan for this bulge in numbers.

Mr Gove also praised the free school provision, which allows parent and groups to set up schools, which will not be controlled by the local authority.

He added: “Without the free school provision, I don’t think we’d have been able to see as many places created.”

Mr Offord also explained how Barnet has created 7,852 places in the last five years.

Speaking about his experience at Mill Hill, Mr Gove added: “I loved it. I was invited here by Matthew, who said I’d love it and I have.

“I’ve enjoyed meeting children from all backgrounds here. I’m happy to have seen the school.”

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