Would “John Lewis” Style Schools Improve Our Education System?

A recent report from the Policy Exchange,  one of the coalition’s favourite think-tanks, has suggested that the sheer scale of involvement by profit making organisations in the state education sector made a mockery of the current opposition to running schools for profit.

Current law prohibits companies from making a profit when opening and administrating schools for 5 to 18 year olds. However, companies are already successfully and profitably running nurseries, IT services for schools and units for expelled pupils.

The fear, supported by teaching unions, is that organisations will put shareholders before pupils, resulting in reduced standards of state schooling.  However, this has been refuted by the Social Enterprise Schools report who say profit making was already allowed in many areas of the education system without damaging performance, and therefore suggest it should now be be extended to schools themselves.

James Groves, Head of Education at Policy Exchange, commented, “A John Lewis model of school where private companies, including teachers and school staff are encouraged to personally invest, offers one such innovative alternative.”

While this would be a revolutionary approach that flies in the face of traditional government funded education and will be met with huge opposition, surely pursuing a national education programme that produces results and educates our children to the highest standard, whether for profit or not, should be explored.

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