Express & Star comment: Is education, education, education Boris Johnson's priority?
When Boris Johnson first announced he was running for Tory leader last year, he was swift to declare that education would be one of his priorities.
Now that Mr Johnson is safely ensconced inside Number 10, the Prime Minister has the perfect opportunity to make good on his pledge to improve the opportunities available for youngsters in this country, particularly those from deprived areas.
The scale of the challenge he faces should not be underestimated.
Our primary and secondary schools have undoubtedly suffered from a lack of investment in recent years, an issue which Mr Johnson has promised to address with extra funding.
Question marks remain over the academy system, which has seen thousands of schools taken out of local authority control, although not always with improved results.
The way that funding is handed out to schools remains something of a postcode lottery, with children living in poorer areas not having the same resources as those living in more well-off parts of the country.
Tied in with this, are today’s worrying figures regarding the number of schools which Ofsted believes are trapped in a cycle of poor performance.
The watchdog says more than 400 schools have not received a rating of “good” or better since 2006, despite being inspected on at least four occasions.
It means that an estimated 215,000 youngsters are attending schools that have a culture of failure, where high levels of staff turnover, low grades and poor attendance occur year after year.
While the report does not identify the schools in question, only a fool would believe that we have none of them in our region.
What is clear, is that these schools need to be prioritised for extra support.
There is a suspicion in many areas of the country – even at state school level – that some schools are seen as dumping grounds for difficult pupils, while others thrive off the back of being able to cherry pick the best students.
Our children only really get one chance at primary and secondary education.
They must all be offered the very best opportunity possible to succeed.