Latest Public Sector News

21.10.13

Free schools should teach national curriculum – Clegg

Free schools should only employ qualified teachers and teach the national curriculum, the deputy prime minister has said.

The move will distance the Lib Dems from the Coalition Government’s policy on free schools, which currently operate outside of council control, and can recruit ex-army personnel to teach without qualifications.

Clegg’s comments are said to have come as a surprise to the Conservatives.

In a speech on Thursday explaining Lib Dem policy on the issue ahead of the next election, Clegg will say: “It makes no sense to me to have qualified teacher status if only a few schools have to employ qualified teachers… What's the point of having a national curriculum if only a few schools have to teach it?

“I'm proud of our work over the last three years to increase school autonomy, which, in government with the Conservatives, has been through the academies programme.

“Whilst I want to give schools the space to innovate, I also believe every parent needs reassurance that the school their child attends, whatever its title or structure, meets certain core standards of teaching and care. A parental guarantee, if you like.”

He said he was not against free schools but was concerned about maintaining standards.

Lib Dem schools minister David Laws has been defending Coalition policy on free schools, while education minister Liz Truss said the “whole point” of the schools “is they have these freedoms...that's what's helping them outperform maintained schools”.

A Department for Education spokesman argued that free schools were “raising standards and giving parents more choice”.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Image c. Liberal Democrats

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