US firm in line to run schools for profit

AN AMERICAN company which runs schools for profit is holding discussions with the Government about taking over failing schools in Britain.

Leaders of the Edison Project have also held exploratory talks with officials at the Department for Education about how a profit-making company might run schools in education action zones which will aim to raise standards in poor areas.

David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, has said that no company will be able to run an action zone for profit but he hopes businesses will be involved.

Benno C Schmidt, Edison's chairman and a former Yale president, in London last night to deliver a lecture at the Institute of Economic Affairs, described the attitude of officials to the idea as "on the whole, pragmatic".

He said: "The Government has asked us about the sort of profits we would want to make. I have been clear that we have no problem with the idea that we should not make excessive and unreasonable profit.

"We would be very happy to take part in a system where there were ceilings and caps on levels of profitability but we can't be locked into an inflexible budget. They have not said that making a profit would rule us out."

He pointed out that his company had provided much- needed investment in the 25 schools which it runs in eight American states, on contract to school districts, the equivalent of local education authorities.

Standards were rising and the project expected a commercial return by using public money more efficiently, he added. Fifteen more schools will be set up from the autumn.

Edison has had half a dozen meetings with government officials and more are scheduled. It has expressed interest in two bids for action zones from Tameside and Surrey.

Mr Schmidt said the Government had also raised the prospect of Edison taking over failing schools. "Officials have suggested this might well be legal, possibly working with local education authorities."

They wanted to be sure, he added, that the interests of children would not be sacrificed.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "I hope that officials at the Department for Education have kept their ministers informed. We have a clear commitment from the Secretary of State that organisations will not be allowed to run schools for profit in this country.

"If taxpayers' cash has been set aside for the education of children it should not be made available for commercial profit."

A Department for Education and Employment spokesman said: "No commitments have been made to any organisation. But we are always interested in new ideas from public and private sector organisations."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £38,000

£16000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Sales Advisor - OTE 18k-23k

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Ford's leading Parts Who...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to learn ...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders