Vaughan, R. Times Education (5 June 2012)
“Education providers have thrown their weight behind Michael Gove after he announced that free schools could be run for profit if the Conservatives secure a second term in office.” Gove believes that schools could “move toward” a for-profit model. While the for-profit model is unlikely under the current coalition, Gove said the quality of education would be “augmented by extending the range of people involved in its provisions.” Although teacher unions have expressed outrage at Gove’s proposal, Sir David Bell, who had been education’s highest-ranking civil servant until this year, now supports the measure. Bell “said that the profit motive should be trialled in some of the country’s most underperforming schools before it was rolled out elsewhere.” Others, like Trevor Averre-Beeson, founder of Lilac Sky Schools, an approved academy sponsor that runs the management of two schools for profit and is to take over two more from September, support Gove’s proposal. “It seems completely appropriate that if we do something successful, such as raising pupil attainment or getting a school out of special measures, we would get a bonus on a performance-related contract,” Mr. Averre-Beeson said. “And if we don’t, we would get a fine. I think it makes the running of schools more accountable.” Supporting the measure for the profit motive in schools, a Times Education Supplement opinion piece reads, “So come on, Mr Gove. Make everyone happy. Stop being coy. Allow for-profit providers to run schools. You know it makes cents.”
Gove’s thoughts on a wide-range of educational issues, especially issues related to school privatization and accountability, are addressed in the following video from an oral evidence session for the UK’s Education Committee:
I find it to be despicable that creating schools for-profit would even be considered. I have the concern that many students would not be able to attend the schools, if they are funded by private organizations. Schools must continue to be funded by the people and the government, so they can continue to progress and so all students can have the opportunity to receive a quality education. I am also appalled that this Governor would propose that poor performing schools be the “guinea-pigs” to try this new approach. Poor-performing schools need intervention the most, but what if this new approach doesn’t work? Then, those schools fall behind even further and this is undoubtedly the wrong approach. If schools are performing poorly, they need to make attempts to improve the quality of teachers or resources, not to find a way to fund them more cheaply.