THE Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan faced a grilling from headteachers and pupils on a visit to Croydon today.
Ms Morgan was ambushed by year seven pupil Mahamed Abdulle on a visit to Quest Academy, South Croydon with Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell this morning.
The 11-year-old, who hopes to be a maths teacher, asked Mrs Morgan what the Conservative government will do about GCSEs and university tuition fees - but he only got half an answer.
While Mrs Morgan praised Mahamed's ambition and encouraged him work hard in his GCSEs, she did not say what the Conservatives plan for tuition fees.
She said: "We want people to work really hard, more people are going to university now and that's really good."
Mrs Morgan popped into a couple of lessons and spoke to a number of students on the visit. But it was Mr Barwell who proved to be the local celebrity, with one child excitedly recognising the MP as having knocked on his parent's front door.
And Mahamed wasn't the only one with questions for Mrs Morgan as headteachers from across the borough sat down with Mrs Morgan and Mr Barwell to discuss the issues facing their schools.
Glenn Lillo, associate principal for primary phase at Oasis Academy Shirley Park, said: "When you look at the amount of funding we get per pupil it's interesting to see our colleagues in Enfield almost get double what we do, and they're still outer London. It makes the system so unfair."
Mrs Morgan said making progress on funding has been difficult due to the economic climate, "but there is more money just about to start coming into Croydon", she said.
Edenham High School headteacher Richard Rudd said the lag in funding for children coming into Croydon from other countries also puts a strain on schools.
"Although we have the challenges of those children we don't have the resources to help them," he said.
Mrs Morgan said the government provide lagged funding because it is difficult to predict what will happen in the future.
"Whether there is something more flexible in recognising schools that take on those children we are happy to look at that," she added.
In June 2013 Quest Academy, which is sponsored by Coloma Convent Girls' School , was deemed by Ofsted to "require improvement". But Mrs Morgan praised the leadership of the school and said getting better takes time.
She said the school had a clear plan for improvement but if this was not effective new sponsors for the school could be sought.
"Leadership and management have a very good clear plan of where they want to be and they are predicted to get very good exam results. They have improved hugely since the trust took over the school," she said.
And Mr Barwell said nothing beats bringing a Government Minister to meet people "working on the front line".
"I know Nicky really enjoyed the visit and found talking to staff, students and other heads an incredibly valuable experience," he said.