The idea of allowing communities to form co-operative schools, proposed by the Conservatives yesterday in Manchester, has a lot to recommend it. It would get politicians out of the management of education in many areas if the idea was taken-up on the same scale as in Sweden and Spain. Those schools priorities could be better aligned to the interests of parents and children instead of the vague understanding of a civil servant or Minister in Whitehall trying to make sense of statistics and targets.
We have to hope, though, that when the details of this plan are released the Conservatives will not insist that every new school outside of the state bureaucracy has to be a co-operative. Just as the operational management of education should not be a concern for politicians neither should their organisational structure. A co-operative is not necessarily more responsive to the needs of the community and more efficient in providing a quality education than a charitable trust or a profit making company.
While politicians have a role in funding education and setting a policy framework, how many years are compulsory and what constitutes an education, they shouldn't be defining the organisational structure of education. That kind of management decision belongs with professionals.