Opinion Former Article

NUT: Policy Exchange report about making profit from the education system

Commenting on the report Competition Meets Collaboration, published by Policy Exchange today, Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“The Policy Exchange report is not about school improvement. It is about making profit from the education system. To have education providers whose first responsibility is to shareholders should be beyond the pale.

“There is no evidence to show that private companies will improve school standards. Indeed, this year Sweden announced an enquiry into its free school programme which allows companies to run schools for profit, because standards have dropped since the policy was introduced.

“This report is essentially acknowledging that many academy schools will fail the new Ofsted criteria, but instead of advocating a return to the local authority system in which teachers can collaborate, they are intent on creating a wholly unnecessary and ‘for profit’ tier to support schools.

“Single academies will of course have problems. Forming chains is just another way of trying to replicate the role of the local authority enjoyed by maintained schools. Unlike local authorities, however, these chains are not accountable to school communities or the local electorate as parents have no say or recourse if they do not like what is going on in their child’s school. Furthermore, academy chains are highly unlikely to invest in the varied and highly specialist services that local authorities provide for schools.

“International studies have shown time and again that there is no substitute for focusing on teaching and learning as the best way to improve standards of education and reduce child poverty over the long term. This means, for example, investing in teachers through high quality CPD and raising the morale and status of the teaching profession.  This is what the most successful school systems around the world do and it is what we should be doing in the UK as well.”

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