Credibility test

IN seeking to appeal to all sides, the coalition’s policies are beginning to lack direction or purpose. With NHS reforms stalled, Michael Gove’s changes to the school admissions code look like failing to pass the credibility test.

The Education Secretary, already under fire for school building cuts and the embarrassing climb-down over school sports funding, has stumbled into the eye of another public relations storm.

His policy – to allow academies and free schools to prioritise children receiving the pupil premium and expand to make room for them – would appear to be a sop to the Lib Dems who introduced this policy.

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It has raised immediate concerns that middle-class families will be penalised for wanting the very best for their children.

This is wrong. The idea of giving choice is fine in principle – but why should one family be discriminated against because of their background?

There also appears to have been little research carried out into the long-term impact of this approach. How long can a good school keep expanding? Will struggling schools have to close?

The policy confuses and detracts from the key issue, that of raising standards across the board. Millions of pounds have been ploughed into inner-city schools. Yet standards at many remain lamentably low. Those funds have not been used wisely enough.

All children, regardless of background, deserve a quality education. This should be Mr Gove’s priority rather than tinkering with the admissions process – changes that will mask the inadequate nature of many schools in this region.