The Journal Opinion: A problem with the system?

The Journal's opinion column for Saturday December 6, in which we look at the education system

David Jones/PA Wire School pupils sitting an exam

It's fine for Government policy to be guided by the ideology of the governing party.

Problems arise when ideology trumps common sense.

This has led the Conservatives on to thin ice with their policies on re-privatising the East Coast Main Line and on NHS reforms.

On education, the Conservatives have been very keen to unclamp schools from local authorities, which they regard as hidebound and in thrall to the teaching unions.

Maybe there is something in that. But the answer cannot be to set up a tranche of new schools which, though detached from local government, don’t do the job that schools should do well enough.

Such is the case at Durham Free School. It is far below its target level for pupil numbers and has significant weaknesses in financial management and governance.

This may be a weakness with one school, which is bad enough. Or it may be a sign of weakness within the whole free school system, which is far worse.

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