While pointing to some school governance problems that certainly need addressing, the recent Audit Commission report on Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) schools has triggered public condemnation of these schools in the absence of proper examination of the quality of education they provide. This risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
DSS schools stand somewhere between the traditional public sector and the private sector, and were part of education reform to create a more diverse schools landscape. They are subject to less government regulation and free to set their curriculum, fees and entrance requirements. Many middle-class parents unhappy with local schools find DSS an affordable substitute. They regard it as part of their taxpayer’s right under the free education policy to attract some government subsidy for their children attending schools outside the government and aided sector.