How to privatise the education system, without people noticing – a step by step guide.

privatise education

  1. First, design a performance system that compares every school’s outcome against the national average – thereby ensuring that there will always be a large proportion of schools whose results are deemed ‘broadly average’ (and a chunk of schools deemed significantly below average).
  2. Create an Inspection system that will declare any school that has consistently attained below-average results to be Inadequate.
  3. Where schools are found to be Inadequate, claim that this is proof that being “controlled by the local authority” is not working. Hand over all the publicly funded assets of such schools (buildings, land and all) to a private company – along with a huge cash boost to cover “conversion costs”.
  4. Wipe the slate clean, in terms of the previous years of poor results (because this is now a different school, so those legacy results no longer apply) and re-inspect it before the next set of results are published. With no official results to go on, declare that the school is now Good – now that it is no longer “controlled by the local authority”. (NB it helps if you have a very cosy relationship with the media, so that no-one actually explores the fact that schools haven’t been “controlled by the local authority” for years. Of course, you know full well the reality is that Headteachers and Governing Bodies determine how to run their school, including full control of the budget. And all statutory requirements, such as the National Curriculum, SATs tests etc, are determined by national – not local – government. Make sure this is not discussed by the media.)
  5. Change the Inspection system so that schools attaining average results are now deemed to “Require Improvement”, rather than be considered Satisfactory. (Sell this idea to the media using the very noble-sounding intention that you want every school to be a ‘Good’ school. Do not mention the fact that this is statistically impossible when you rely upon a norm-referenced data system.)
  6. Change the law so that schools that have consistently been judged to “Require Improvement” must now be removed from ”local authority control” and handed over to a private academy trust.

Result: you now have a majority of ‘state’ schools owned and run by private companies who can control decisions about school policy, curriculum, resources etc – in such a way that profits are maximised. (NB the ‘academy trust’ itself may be not-for-profit, but it can have close links to educational suppliers, publishers, contractors etc) Private investors can get richer, and those evil local authorities are decimated. (Handy hint: the canny politician can make a bit of extra income here, by investing in such companies prior to handing the assets over. Just watch those share prices soar.)

Follow these simple steps and you can achieve this aim without anyone realising that billions of pounds worth of public assets have been given away to your business associates.

If you have a particular ideological axe to grind, and you want to make things tougher for the socially and economically deprived areas of the country, abolish any data system that compares children’s progress with the progress made by children in schools in similar circumstances (a “contextual” approach) and insist on a system that ignores any such external factors. This will mean that schools that might have been considered to be doing “relatively well given their challenging circumstances” will likely be relegated to being ‘not significantly better than national average’. This will ensure a large stock of ‘Requiring Improvement’ schools situated in economically more deprived areas, where it will be easier to pursue the academisation agenda without parental protest.

You can further push the knife in to these schools by giving them a poisoned chalice of extra cash (‘Pupil Premium’) for all the pupils that are from poorer families – but state that unless this money is spent in such a way that raises the attainment of the poorest children to equal the ever-rising national average, the leadership and management of said school will be deemed Inadequate. For a hard-working Head trying their best to serve a deprived community, it’s a lose-lose situation.

Before you know it, all those loony lefty local authorities up and down the land, who seem intent on trying to serve communities and help the disadvantaged, will have been cut back to nothing, and our schools will be safe in the hands of private enterprise and market forces.


25 thoughts on “How to privatise the education system, without people noticing – a step by step guide.

  1. Add to all this the national league table comparisons which are consistently used to prove how badly UK schools/teachers are performing but which fail to mention that many of the lauded far eastern countries do not have national statistics so a our national performance data can be compared with (for example) a Chinese province which is performing well according to the authorities. Take a look at how these statistics are compiled and how we are being fed propaganda….and I am not a left wing radical!

  2. I wish I could think of a way to stop this madness.
    Why does the education establishment allow this to happen? French teachers would be on the streets as soon as the french government even thought about this level of change.
    Where are the comparative data for: income per pupil, class size, exclusion rates between private and state education. Why doesn’t this government dare publish even a small sample survey. I suspect that we all know the answers!
    Where is the evidence based analysis of actual pupil progress and attainment that drives these changes.
    It time to depoliticize education.

  3. To the above comment. Teachers have taken to the streets in strike action for these reasons – not just about pay & pensions – and been vilified for it by parents, the government and the media.

  4. Agreed. There have been strikes but the media coverage of them is so biased that they are perceived as over-unionised and politicised moaners rather than workers having a legitimate complaint.

  5. Don’t just moan – we can all do something about it!
    1. Join a trade union and support unions when you talk to others.
    2. Join your local school governing board.
    3. If you are a parent make sure that you know what is going on in your child’s school and that you discuss this with other parents. Join the PTA and talk about it there.
    4. Use your community groups such as the Neighbourhood Partnership or Parish Council, both of which can raise the issue with the Local Authority.. You could use any of the on-line campaigning groups or raise a petition yourself.
    5.Just talk about it, quietly and calmly with your friends and neighbours and make sure that next time you get a chance to vote to make a difference, you take the opportunity.

  6. The key groups that could have an impact on government thinking and public opinion are the Headteacher organisations ASCL and NAHT. They are not doing enough to protect the English education system.

    Is the reason for their lack of action that they do not want to upset their members who are now able to earn mega salaries as part of Academy chains. ASCL and NAHT do release statements criticising government education policy but they are saying things so quietly that the government must assume that they don’t really mean it.

  7. Conversion to Academy did for me. I was a high achieving teacher with excellent results, but once academy status was achieved, I was swiftly shed and forced into retirement before I was ready. This had a very detrimental effect on my mental health, but fortunately I have an understanding and supportive partner. I can no longer go anywhere near my ex-place of work, and shall never go within sight of the premises again. It also didn’t help that I was female, as rugby playing old boys of the school were favoured over anyone else.

  8. This article succinctly captures what I was saying about the system over ten years ago: that it was based on a false premis that all schools in a ‘norm referenced system’ could not possibly be above average, and as a consequence it was deeply unfair on all schools because at any one time at least 1/3 would be judged to be under performing (that percentage has since increased).

    A little while ago I remember Michael Gove being challenged on this issue when he claimed he wished to see all schools ‘above average’ – a statistical impossibility. For once he was completely lost for words and moved matters on very quickly.

    I have often felt how ironic that the judgements being made about our education system should be based upon such an uneducated understanding of simple statistics. The people that I feel have a great deal to answer for are those Ofsted Inspectors and HMIs who legitimise such a system. As educationalists, they need to take a long look in the mirror and ask themselves how can they justify perpetuating such an unfair and rigged system.

  9. I’ve taken to the streets to try to put these points across and I agree with a previous comment – we are all so badly reported by the press. (I did hear that Gove’s wife works for the Daily Mail -is that true?) They report that all we want are higher wages and improved pension, when it had absolutely nothing to do with either of those things!
    Most parents don’t get it – ‘ we have such long holidays! ‘ I wonder if they realise we lose a day’s pay when we go on such marches?
    I care deeply about where education is going and feel totally disempowered to do anything about it.

  10. “private system good state system bad”… How many examples of this can we find, examples which can disprove this statement! Read Mariana Mazzucato’s book The Entrepreneurial State to see how the State actually paves the way for the Private companies to make insane profits after we tax payers have funded innovations to help them do this…and now this Tory government is actually giving away billions of our hard earned assets to oligarchs who then charge us huge fees to enjoy what was ours in the first place…wake up UK and next time you get a chance vote the f@£&ers out!

  11. I think it’s time parents woke up and realised working class parents are being taken for patsies by the Government once again. Get behind the teachers and make your voice heard before it’s to late.

  12. It’s not about education, it’s about power. The Tories have been steadily breaking up any alternative power bases since Thatcher was in power. Hence the attack on local authority power and influence, the attack on Trade unions. In fact anything that is not a particular version of Tory , ie the one that maintains power and privilege for a select few based on who mated with who, rather than any great ability and of course money. It does not mater where from and even better if you can fleece it from the modest and below to keep them out of power in thinly disguised raids to benefit their City friends via privatisations and “freedoms”.
    In the broadest generalisation, the cultures they seem to admire are typified by the characteristics of compliant, deferential behaviour by people who unquestioningly accept what they are told and do not challenge the status quo. What is there for an aspiring Tory who sees themselves as the natural leader not to like?
    The answer, join your Trade union, don’t but one of their papers and do not vote for them but anyone else who can win. Write to your MP and demand they explain their maths and demand the evidence too. With the Swedish Free schools now failing it will be hard to find anything to support their assertions

  13. On the other hand, no one wants to sent their kids to private schools do they?
    No one thinks private education is successful?
    According to this article, private schools must all be failures, dragged down by profiteering private companies.
    A final observation would be that this conspiracy started in New Labour. Go figure.

  14. What this doesn’t account for is the vast amount of teachers leaving the profession because of this whole scenario. Maybe there should be two more bullet points saying:
    – all previous dedicated staff will leave because of unrealistic expectations and added stress
    – academy trust to employ unqualified teachers and NQTs to further maximise profits

  15. I am a conservative and agree with every point in this except the blaming of conservatives. Blame it on Republicans. There is a difference.
    (Herc, there is a difference between private and privatized.)

  16. Manipulative policies are always suspect & the current situation leaves me wondering where loyalties lie.
    Where is the patriotism to GB that I knew in my youth gone?
    Our best private education is now priced out of the market for most of those who previously benefited.
    Why attack the State School system?
    Surely reform could be accomplished within the existing structure, even reform of the structure.
    A piecemeal system can too easily deteriorate and disintegrate.
    Sabotage UK?
    What a legacy for our young?

  17. Sorry but private education is not better, just very expensive. The state educated outperform public school educated at university.
    The public schools get their results by selection and via scholarships poaching bright state educated children. That’s good for marketing.
    If this new regime is so good then let’s have a level playing field and apply it to all schools.
    What do you do with a “failing” public/free/ sponsored academy school?
    They have answered for that!

  18. It is not by changing the schools into Academies and handing them over to private companies that anything will change. This has been happening now since – yes very discreetly but it has been happening all that time and the results have never been better than the results before the handover. You can’t change the people who live in an area and you can not force people to understand that education is their way out of poverty and the Benfits trap. Until that day happens, Teachers are on to a losing battle……..

  19. Part of the problem in challenging education policy is that teachers have no united voice. My brother always says we are not a profession because we sometimes strike, and he has a point. We don’t have one strong professional body to express our views as doctors, nurses and the legal profession do.

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