Derby Telegraph comment: Backdrop for city schools' revival cannot be conflict
DAVID Cameron told us yesterday that you "can't be tough enough on schools".
We know what he means but that type of macho language is not necessarily helpful in achieving the desired goal.
For Government ministers can be too tough – if they take a hard line and it proves to be the wrong one.
The Prime Minister shares the concern which all of us feel about unacceptably-low standards at some Derby schools.
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Despite all the huffing and puffing in some quarters about how the picture is improving, performances still suggest that more needs to be done to significantly accelerate that process.
Doing nothing is certainly not an option, however comfortable the status quo might feel to some teachers, governors, parents and pupils.
We owe to pupils to bring about significant change and improvement.
These youngsters only get one shot at their education.
They should not have the millstone of proven inadequate teachers, methods or facilities as they seek to gain their qualifications make their way in the world.
As far as Mr Cameron and his Education Secretary of State, Michael Gove, are concerned, academies are the answer.
Making a school an academy removes it from local authority control.
Understandably, this raises the hackles of the city council, but since that authority – under the control of all three major political parties – has been found wanting over the last decade, it is on dodgy ground with its protests.
The Prime Minister insisted yesterday that "the evidence from academy schools across the country is that they have helped to raise standards".
Maybe. Whether this has been brought about by the first flush of change – much the same as a change of football club management often brings about an initial improvement – or whether it can be sustained over several years remains to be seen.
What has to be addressed, though, is the whole climate in which change takes place, as it must, in Derby's schools.
Talk of "being tough" is not really a help. We do not want our education system to be a battlefield, a setting for conflict between significantly different political ideals.
Resentful parents and teachers not fully committed to the cause will not create the atmosphere which is needed.
And then the victims – the group about whom our concern should always be focused – will continue to be the pupils.
Let us never lose sight of that.
Somehow – and nobody pretends this will be easy – an atmosphere of conciliation must be created to get everybody on board.