AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR THE
DEFENCE OF GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS
PRESS RELEASE 384
EDUCATION FUNDING REVIEW
CAMERON THREATENS TO
MORE PRIVATE ACADEMIES IN
8 June 2010
Before the election the
Conservatives promised to creaate a new generation of independently run state
schools. They said:
- We will make it much easier for educational
charities, groups of parents and teachers, cooperatives and others to
start new Academies (independent, non-selective state schools). We will
move to a national per pupil funding system, so that new schools get paid
if they attract pupils, with extra funding for the poorest pupils (a pupil
- A Conservative government will give every
child the kind of education that is currently available only to the
well-off: safe classrooms, talented and specialist teachers, access to the
best curriculum and exams, and smaller schools with smaller classes and
teachers who know the children’s names.
The new UK coalition government has announced that it
will allow parents, teachers and charities to set up their own schools in England along the “free schools” model of Sweden.
These schools will be privately run, but publicly funded. The plan also opens
up state schools to be operated by for-profit companies. Trevor Cobbold of SOS
Canberra has some interesting research on the situation on the Save Our Schools
He notes that while English law
prohibits commercial operators taking over schools, they could provide teaching
and other services to the new schools. There is nothing to stop school
governors inviting commercial firms to operate state schools. Indeed, the US company Edison already operates one school in
Several for-profit companies are
already lining up to take advantage of the scheme. Global Management Education
Systems (Gems), a company based in the United
Arab Emirates that already runs 12 UK private schools, aspires to run state-funded
schools in England.
Anders Hultin, chief executive of Gems, said: “We are exploring opportunities
right now, supporting groups of parents. That’s a natural starting point.” [ The
Guardian, 25 May]
Gems is not alone. Edison, the
largest provider of state-funded private schools in the US, envisages
running several academies. Kunskapsskolan, which runs 30 state-funded schools
in Sweden, plans to sponsor
two new academies, in Richmond, south London, and Suffolk.
The new Government’s plan draws
on the Swedish “free schools” model introduced in the early 1990s which allowed
new schools to be set up that are independent of government control. A variety
of educational providers stepped in, ranging from non-profit co-operatives and
religious groups to for-profit corporations. These organisations are now
running schools funded with public money through a voucher system.
The changes were introduced to
provide greater choice for parents unable to afford the fees for Sweden’s small
private school sector. They were based on the free-market principle that
competition and choice would raise standards in all schools as government
schools would be forced to improve student achievement so as to maintain
“Free schools” now account for
just over 40 per cent of the 945 upper secondary schools in Sweden and
about 15% of schools teaching younger children. About 20 per cent of Swedish
students attend these independent schools in the upper secondary sector. In
larger urban areas such as Stockholm,
half of all students attend independent schools.
There is strong evidence is that
the Swedish “free school” model has failed to improve student achievement. Far
from improving school results, the evidence is that student outcomes in Sweden have
declined since the reforms to its education systems were introduced. The
performance of its 15-year-olds has slipped steadily in international
comparisons, its measures of social mobility and equity have declined, and it
now lags behind other Nordic countries, having led them for decades
In England the
National Union of Teachers (NUT) has consistently opposed the private
academies. Where Academies have been proposed the NUT has campaigned
against their establishment whilst working hard to best support our members
working in them. This work willcontinue. However, the threat is now even
greater. The coalition government is rushing legislation through Parliament
which removes the need for governing bodies to consult with anyone before applying
to becoming an academy.
Jon Trickett MP has kindly tabled an Early Day Motion on the Bill. The Motion highlights the
lack of consultation in the proposals and NUT hope many MPs will support it.
The following is the content of this motion.
House notes with serious concern and rejects the Secretary of State for Education's
proposals to expand the number of academies by conferring on all school
governing bodies the right for their school to become an Tacademy without
proper consultation with parents, school staff or the local authority; notes
the Secretary of State for Education's recent invitation to all schools deemed
outstanding to become academies; and believes these plans will result in
further disadvantage to already disadvantaged children and families, and raise
fundamental issues such as loss of local democratic accountability, excessive
cost, lack of fairness and administrative confusion.
the manner in which the Lib-Labs in Australia
follow English educational precedent and the current ideological mantra that
‘private is best’, Australian public school supporters should be both aware and
wary of developments in the UK,
and oppose copy cat measures.
PUBLIC EDUCATION AND STOP STATE AID TO PRIVATE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS.
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