Should firms be able to profit from running schools?

Free schools are a core part of the Conservative election manifesto. Every parent should be allowed to set up their own schools if they wish. However should private companies be able to profit from setting up these new schools? Michael Gove the Schools minister says he has ‘no ideological objection’ to firms seeking to profit from setting up these new schools. Maybe he does not but is it really the solution or just making more private schools?

Should firms be able to profit from running schools?
Yes because...

it gives parents more control over their children's education

This is a good move for all. The Government will have some of their burden taken off of their shoulders for running schools and parents have the opportunity to have more of a say as to what their children learn and where. Wandsworth have already had a petition sent around gathering 2,000 parents asking for a school that educates 900 children. Surely, when we are questioning the limits of the UK's version of democracy this is a step in the right direction. Having the ability to petition the Government to form a school and then having the opportunity to hire state funded firms to run the school. This is how democracy should ideally work.

No because...

Whilst in theory this may seem like a great idea, there is no realism behind it. Parents do not know how to run schools. The Government would chose firms to run the schools. The parents would then have little or nothing to do with the running of the school and certainly they would not have an input into the curriculum. This is merely a Conservative spin doctor trying to put a positive democratic light onto plans of the Tories to shirk their responsibility to education and to the children of the UK.

Case 1: price/fess discrepancy:
Also private education has a positive correlation between quality and price. Corporatising the enterprise is essentially further widening the gap between the rich/haves and poor/have-not.
There should not be a price tag on education.

Case 2: fully funded education:
if companies offer to build/run free schools; if they happen to sell unhealthy food/soft drinks that is what will be fed to children attending these schools. What qualifies companies to determine/provide/convey quality education?
Sometimes social responsibility is simply a sales' pitch.

Should firms be able to profit from running schools?
No because...

firms should only be able to recouperate their losses

Under Section 482 of the Education Act 1996, the secretary of state can in fact allow a sponsor to create an academy. An academy is another name for a school that is run by a firm but is paid for by the state. The state is allowed under the Act to pay the firm for any losses undertaken as a result of setting up and running the academies(that is the government covers set-up costs if/when the firm is cashflow negative).

The courts will be very keen to construe this section strictly. They will see this as only allowing a firm to cover costs and not to make a profit. Profiting from a child's education is wrong, especially in the state sector.

Yes because...

I see a problem with your point.

The government only steps in IF the firm is suffering losses as a result of setup costs being greater than revenue generated from school fees and other sources and then covers those costs.

If, however the firm is suffering losses, is making enough money to cover setup costs on its own and making a left over profit then the government does not step in; this in no way suggests that firms can only cover setup costs.

Should firms be able to profit from running schools?
No because...

parents will have little or no choice

The problem with the legalities of these academies is that the Secretary of State can create these institutions without consulting on different options. This is not the case with regular maintained schools under the Education and Inspections Act 2006 whereby the Secretary of State has to consider and discuss alternative options. This leaves the parents with no choice in the matter. There are no discussions, there are no alternatives and the Secretary of State has the final say. How can the Tories try to serve this to us as a great way forward for parental choice?

Yes because...

Maybe not directly, but a secretary of state relies on his party maintaining favour with the public. The secretary of state will certainly not be able to keep his position if he starts to lose that favour with the public. Therefore, the secretary of state will listen to the parents. Whilst he can take the decisions unilaterally, politically he would not be best advised to, such a move could lose him all power altogether.

Should firms be able to profit from running schools?
No because...

the process is too secretive and too open to abuse

As the Secretary of State does not have to offer alternative solutions to the proposed academies, they can make the decision unilaterally. The public would never know what was going on behind closed doors. Any deals or arrangements could be made. What if a firm took the academy with a commercial view of promoting certain products? What if the firm just sought to make profit and did not care about the children's welfare? With the Secretary of State being given so much leeway in this area, the public nor the courts would have a say into the relevant considerations for the decision. This sounds like a Tory plan to abstract finance by pulling dodgy deal with firms at the expense of our education system.

Yes because...

You would be naive to think that this did not happen anyway! The Government wants us to vote for them.The Government sets our education. The Government funds most education. Who do you think the education system is currently bias by? The Government! I would rather children influenced into buying a certain product than voting a certain way.

Should firms be able to profit from running schools?
No because...

education should be free from bias

Education is a powerful tool, especially to impressionable children. If firms started taking over education institutions there is a risk of bias entering that education. The bias could be political, charitable or even commercial. We could have a political group like Green Peace wanting to run a school and heavily emphasising environmental issues. This is not presenting a balanced education which is what our children need. Yes, the curriculum would still be taught, but having such sponsors leaves open the possibility of this education being presented in a very one sided fashion.

Yes because...
Should firms be able to profit from running schools?
No because...

free market schooling is bad business

As Labour have said of the proposals, it is a mere attempt of the Tories to turn the public sector into a free market. This is what Tories ideologically stand for, They want businesses to set up and either sink or swim. If we apply this market form to schooling, the badly performing school the Government will just let them drop off; unless a sponsor wishes to save them independently of the Government. Conservatives believe in firms making their own profit and sorting out their own losses. They do not like to subsidies businesses. Therefore it is no wonder that they are so keen for businesses to try and make profit out of schools. However, the free market applied to schools will threaten many schools' existence.

Yes because...

The whole idea of a free market is good business!!! Adam Smith, from whom the idea of a free market originally came from, recognised that if you aid a failing business they will continually fail and therefore they will continually need your help. If you allow them to fall, the niche left would be filled by a more successful competitor who does not need help. Th free market applied to schools then will result in the closure of under performing schools and the opening of more successful schools. As long as our children are educated well, there should be no feud as to the ideology behind the system.

Should firms be able to profit from running schools?
No because...

the focus would be taken away from the under performing schools

Under this scheme, what schools are sponsors going to want to manage? The schools that are already doing well. How is this helping our education system? In addition, the Conservatives are proposing that schools which are rated as outstanding by Offsted will be encouraged and fast tracked going into academy status. But where does this leave the under performing schools? Michael Gove suggested that schools which were fast tracked would then be 'expected and encouraged' to take an under performing school under its wing, but here there is no binding promise. This seems like a Tory water wash over the real issue - that under performing schools will not get the support or encouragement they need under this free market scheme.

Yes because...


Should firms be able to profit from running schools?

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