COMMENT: One size does not fit all

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It is not often that the most senior Conservative council leader in true blue West Sussex gets prime billing in the '˜people's daily' the Morning Star newspaper.

But on Friday, Louise Goldsmith, who leads West Sussex County Council, did just that with her ‘swipe’ at the Tory government’s schools academisation programme.

Today, Mrs Goldsmith writes for this website, listing in more detail her concerns at the proposal and proclaiming ‘let’s keep our schools local to their local communities’.

Well, of course, she is absolutely right.

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Academy status has brought great benefit to some schools and as one of a range of options should not be dismissed.

But one size does not fit all. The strength of West Sussex’s great education system - and in so many cases it is outstanding - is its range and diversity of approach.

To dismiss the other models in the name of political expediency is merely to repeat the mistakes of generations of national politicians of all parties who see education as a soundbite rather than a long-term commitment.

West Sussex has some brilliant schools; it has some remarkable teachers and head teachers.

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Yet how are they supposed to focus on all that really matters against a constant kaleidoscope of political change?

Great schools unlock the potential in every child. Often that is academic but frequently it is much broader.

It imbues children with a sense of self-worth and excites and motivates them to do their best and be their best.

Schooling should always be about the pupil.

From the axing of grammar schools and the loss of direct grant scholarships to local private schools some decades ago, the education journey has been too much based on ideology and too little on aspiring to every child’s best interest.

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Today, we echo Mrs Goldsmith’s comments. We congratulate her for them. We applaud our West Sussex schools - and those who lead them.

There is an old saying - if it ain’t broke, don’t mend it.

Improve those schools that need help. For the rest, give them the freedom to serve their communities with time-honoured distinction.

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