City’s education chief set to step down

Posted On 23 Jul 2019 at 9:19 am

Councillor Nick Childs

Brighton and Hove’s lead education councillor is to step down after days of criticism that he sends his child to a private school.

Momentum-backed Councillor Nick Childs told Labour colleagues last night (Monday 22 July) that he intended to resign as deputy leader of Brighton and Hove City Council and chair of the Children, Young People and Skills Committee.

Earlier that day he had deleted his Twitter account amid continuing fallout from the revelation that he sends his eldest daughter to the exclusive public school Roedean.

The story was also making it difficult to speak out about the academisation of Moulsecoomb Primary School, which he had repeatedly described as being privatised, without facing accusations of hypocrisy.

However, in a statement released this morning, Councillor Childs said he was resigning due to his full time work at the National Education Union and to spend more time with his family.

He said: “I have decided to resign from my roles due to work and family responsibilities. I have a full-time job which is proving incompatible with the time commitment necessary at the highest level of local government.

“I’m going to dedicate my time to working for the residents of Queen’s Park who elected me in May, to make sure their local issues are addressed and I represent our ward fully in the city.

“I’ll spend the summer concentrating on handover to colleagues to ensure that the important policies already in hand can be continued into the next academic year.

“The administration will continue working towards extending premature baby leave for school staff, a workload charter for teachers, the extension of our ‘Every Child a Reader’ scheme and our campaign against the privatisation of Moulsecoomb Primary School.”

No replacements for either post were decided at last night’s meeting of Labour group councillors. A new deputy leader is expected to be formally appointed at a meeting of the full council in the autumn and a new chair of the Children, Young People and Skills Committee is expected to be decided before the next meeting of the committee.

Councillor Childs’s decision came after a heated exchange with the Labour MP for Hove, Peter Kyle, sparked by a sharp retort from the Queen’s Park councillor to a tweet by Mr Kyle in defence of Hilary Armstrong, the Labour peer whose local party colleagues in Durham voted to expel her after she signed a letter condemning anti-semitism in the party.

Councillor Childs’s tweet is no longer available but Mr Kyle responded: “Imagine if her career was lived by your example. She’d have voted for the minimum wage but run a sweat shop, banned fox hunting but worn fur, banned landmines but owned shares in an arms company

“Luckily though she’s an example of someone who lives her values not just preaches them

“Another reading of your tweet: she was loyal to Labour. She never once broke the whip.

“Regardless, your hypocrisy deems you unfit to judge her. But more prescient, you have so far proven unfit to follow in the footsteps of the person who was deselected to make way for you.”

Mr Kyle was referring to former Queen’s Park councillor Dan Chapman, who Councillor Childs succeeded in the ward and as chair of the Children, Young People and Skills Committee.

Councillor Childs has, though, been defended by the city’s other Labour MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who said that Councillor Childs had one child at Roedean on a scholarship and another at a local state school, adding: “Just like I want to abolish private dentists, I don’t condemn those using them. 20 per cent of secondary kids go private in Brighton. I don’t condemn parents. I want to incorporate those schools into state.”

A former Hove Labour council candidate, Darryl Telles, had started a petition calling on Councillor Childs to stand down, which he updated last night with news of the pending resignation.

He said: “I’m really glad Councillor Childs has decided to resign. Unfortunately he was becoming the story instead of the excellent council campaign to stop the privatisation of schools in the city.

“Now we should focus on that and ensure we do the best we can for all the parents, pupils and staff involved.”

  1. Martha Gunn Reply

    Why hasn’t he resigned from the Council?
    He misled the members who selected him.
    He misled the voters who elected him.
    He misled the Labour Group.
    He misled Platts.
    Time to go Comrade Childs.

  2. Valerie Reply

    I think this is dreadful! There is a WORLD of difference between deeply traditional public schools (a reg charity) and Academies & Govt supported Free schools run as businesses. And as he has children in both State & public schools, he is in the privileged position of being able to understand and use the good from each system to inform his judgment.

    He should stay as Chair. Grow up everyone & be grateful that there are choices in this country that provide a variety of options (including grammars) for what suits individual needs.

    If it was a Montessori, Steiner or other creative system like the Royal Music or similar specialist school you’d not complain.

    Class snobbery is holding this country back. Jack it in! On both sides!

  3. MegA Reply

    Good… no place for hypocrites. She should resign his seat as well. His lack of judgement precludes him from being suitable for any office.

  4. A L Brighton Reply

    It’s good he had resigned.

    But why not now? Why wait?

    And it’s attroctious that he won’t even acknowledge the problem. By claiming the resignation is about work load, he is taking the electorate for fools.

    People may have had more respect for him had he acknowledged the resignation was to help Labour out of the mess as he had become the story. He wouldn’t even have had to admit being hypocritical with that.

    But instead he ignores everything and invents some other reason. How low can these Momentum councillors go?

    We also have to question the council leader Nancy Platys. We need to know what she knew about this before appointing him. If she knew then it looks bad for her judgement. If she didn’t, then why not? What backgrounds checks have been done on the suitability of senior councillors? What other skeletons are waiting to come out?

    Why, also, did she refuse to act sooner and sack him when the issue broke? We are left with many questions about her ability to lead.

  5. David Lepper Reply

    It is a matter for him and his family if they believe they have good reasons to send one of their children to a private, fee- paying school. I know people whose children have special needs which can be better met in such a school than in the local state sector. But as a Labour Councillor he must have known that this would be an embarrassment at least if he took a lead position on education in the Council. If he did not recognise that it suggests he has a worrying lack of political judgement. If he realised it would be embarrassing but hoped he could get away with it…well, people will decide what that says about him.
    The wider question is whether or not the Labour leader knew about his education choices for his daughter. If she did and still appointed him maybe he’s not the only one who should consider their position.

    • Nicky Easton Reply

      Absolutely this

  6. Martha Gunn Reply

    David is right.
    There needs to be an enquiry into the role of Platts in these events.
    And why has Childs erected this barricade of detail and excuses to cover his tracks?
    And not just come clean, apologised and resigned from the Council.
    Complicating and confusing the issues means that this will just go on and on.
    The only end to this is his resignation.
    This saga is far from over.

  7. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    It looks like being a hot August politically. I foresee a Queen’s Park by-election, as well as campaigning for the General Election.

  8. Martha Gunn Reply

    The sage Hawtree is often right in these matters.
    The Childs fiasco can only end in his quitting the Council.
    Everyone is astonished he hasn’t gone already.
    The longer he clings on, the worse it will become.

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