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  1. ITV Report

Nick Clegg splits with coalition over education policy

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said his opposition to some coalition policy on education is due to a 'sincere difference of opinion' Photo: avid Cheskin/PA Wire

The Deputy Prime Minister has turned on the coalition's education policy accusing his Conservative partners of failing to enforce "basic standards" in schools.

Nick Clegg said he would disown key "ideological" planks of the coalition's education policy in a speech on Thursday.

Accusing the Conservatives of letting ideology get in the way of education, he said he wanted to see all children being taught the national curriculum by qualified teachers.

The Conservative Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said she was "surprised" by Mr Clegg's comments and suggested there was a "divergence of opinions" within his own party.

ITV News' Political Correspondent Claire Stewart reports:

Mr Clegg insisted today that his split with government policy was prompted by a "perfectly sincere difference of opinion" and that it was not "a coalition crisis".

Speaking to ITV News, Ms Truss defended the government's policy of affording free schools and academies certain freedoms in order to encourage innovation.

Independent schools have always been able to hire brilliant people who have not got QTS [Qualified Teacher Status].

Free schools and academies now have the same freedoms as independent schools to hire great linguists, computer scientists, engineers and other specialists so they can inspire their pupils.

– Department of Education spokesperson

She said that Mr Clegg's views appeared to be at odds with members of his own party, including the schools minister David Laws and former minister Jeremy Browne.

Read: Liberal Democrats 'diverge' over education policy

Labour's shadow education secretary Tristam Hunt welcomed Mr Clegg's comments, saying: "We would be happy to work with him to reintroduce accountability, proper standards and qualified teachers in all our schools across the country."

Read: Lib Dems' alignment with Labour could prove handy