Profit making schools will bring chaos and cut standards

It's evidence that running schools on a for-profit basis harms standards, not dogma, that means Labour will never allow it to happen, says the Shadow Education Secretary

Share
Related Topics

At the next election, parents with young children could face a daunting prospect. Pupils would become part of an ideological experiment in creating a profit motive in schools.

Urged on by right wing commentators, Michael Gove has signalled his intent, telling the Leveson inquiry that he had an “open mind” about profit making schools, and that “we could move to that situation”.

Imagine what might happen if Michael Gove gets his way. Private firms could set up schools and then sell them on at a profit.

If you think this sounds far-fetched, this is exactly what has been happening in Sweden, with dire consequences for parents and children.

In 2008, Michael Gove said he had “seen the future from Sweden and it works”. Around twenty years ago, Sweden introduced profit making groups who would run free schools.

I visited Sweden last year and politicians and education leaders warned me about the problems they have experienced. They said companies were incentivised to make a fast buck from children’s education.

This resulted in chaos and a collapse in standards.

When a school group goes bankrupt, parents are left stranded. JB Education runs schools teaching 10,000 Swedish pupils. It was not making sufficient profit to please a Danish private equity group which took it over. The company announced this May that it would sell 19 of its schools, and close the other four.

Standards have fallen in Sweden. Like many of her Scandinavian neighbours, Sweden used to have one of the most equitable and high performing education systems in the OECD.

But the country has been falling down global education rankings, with a decline in reading and mathematics. Swedish students are now below the OECD average for science. The Swedish school system lost its high ranking for equality.

A report published by the IPPR showed the problems with profit making. Chile is one of the few countries to introduce profit making schools. Those schools that became profit making did not improve standards, and the introduction of greater competition increased social segregation. Although prior attainment accounts for some of the difference, for-profit independent schools performed worse than not-for-profit schools.

With increasing numbers of academies accountable only to ministers, his own civil servants acknowledge that running thousands of schools from Whitehall is unsustainable. No Secretary of State knows how to run the entire schools system – that is why we need some form of local accountability, which Michael Gove has systematically removed.

So internal memos suggest the Department for Education could reclassify academies to the private sector, or run them as ‘statutory corporations’.

Labour has a clear red line on this. We will not allow schools to be run on a for-profit basis. This is based not on dogma, but on the evidence that doing so would threaten standards and bring chaos to parents and pupils.

Stephen Twigg MP is Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
 

Never underestimate the power of the National Trust

Boyd Tonkin
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss