The Telegraph reports:
Nicola Sturgeon has been told to take her head out of the sand after one of Scotland’s most high-profile entrepreneurs questioned her why education reforms that have closed the attainment gap in England have not been adopted in Scotland.
Sir Tom Hunter praised the freedom to innovate and academic success at academy schools south of the Border, which are outside local authority control, and asked the First Minister “why we wouldn’t give our kids a chance to have this?”
Speaking during a programme broadcast by BBC Scotland tonight, Mr Sturgeon repeated her insistence that her drive to close the gulf between the best and worst state schools was not limited by political ideology.
But the First Minister has previously said she is not convinced that freeing schools from the control of Scotland’s 32 local authorities would help and she has instead focused on directing more public money to the councils with the worst-performing schools.
The businessman concluded at the end of the programme, which is titled BBC Scotland Investigates: Educating Sir Tom, that one model of schooling “doesn’t fit all” and questioned whether Scotland’s political leaders were “afraid” of taking the steps required.
He added: “I would say we’d be doing Scotland’s children a disservice if we were afraid.” The programme sees the businessman visit King Solomon Academy in London, which serves a poor area but has achieved the best GCSE results of any non-selective school in England.
One in five state-funded schools south of the Border is now outside local authority control. Academies receive direct funding from Whitehall and have power over their curriculum, budget and staffing.
The key is one model doesn’t work for all. You wouldn’t want every school to be a charter school, but for mant students they offer the best chance in life for them to get ahead.