In education, the words ‘for-profit schooling’ send many into a head-spin. In spite of the fact that in nursery education, SEN and alternative provision, and school improvement services, private and for-profit companies already make a significant positive contribution in education, lifting the barriers to their having full ownership and corporate governing authority over schools continues to be regarded by many on the Left as a potentially catastrophic move.
After Nick Clegg categorically blocked it last year, Michael Gove’s recent declaration that he was open mind ed on the question provoked knee-jerk reactions from both Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg and Former Education Secretary (and champion of ‘evidence-based policy’) Estelle Morris. In language reminiscent of the TES debates of the 1920s and 30s, and apparently ignorant of the long-term, low-yield nature of investment in schools, Stephen Twigg declared allowing for-profit providers into the sector would attract sharp operators wanting to make a ‘quick buck ’ at children’s expense. Estelle Morris, meanwhile, argued that allowing the private sector to run schools for profit would undermine the ‘moral purpose’ of education , implying that business people cannot be morally purposed.
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