Saturday, 31 May 2008

Tories to 'let companies run schools'

. Today's Daily Telegraph reports that David Cameron "emboldened" by the Conservatives poll lead is to propose that private companies be allowed to take over state schools. The measures will borrow elements from Sweden's system of 'free schools' where companies run more than 900 primary and secondary schools. Parents are given vouchers that are redeemable with the school of their choice. The companies that run the schools compete for pupils and receive funding in proportion to the number they attract.

This strikes me as inherently grotesque. Already we have the problems with over-testing and 'league tables' and the Conservatives are actually proposing to make it much worse by introducing corporate competition into the mix, we can expect to see the focus of education moving further and further away from educating to a 'production-line' 'results factory' ethos.

The Tories scheme would also give companies the freedom to determine teacher salaries and more control over the curriculum. However, they would have to abide by the admissions code and would have no powers to select pupils beyond those already enjoyed by maintained schools, which can choose 10 per cent of their intake on the basis of aptitude in a particular specialism.


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