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Conservative group advocates for-profit state schools

16/01/2013 Joanna
New jobs in education could potentially be created in free schools set up by for-profit organisations, if a Conservative party pressure group's plans were to be realised.

Bright Blue claims to campaign for the Conservatives to implement "liberal, progressive policies" that draw on the party's traditions and includes higher education minister David Willetts and home secretary Theresa May on its advisory board.

In a book being launched today, the 2,000-strong group has warned that while education secretary Michael Gove hopes that nearly 200 free schools will have been opened by September, thus far rhetoric on these institutions "does not match the reality", the Independent has reported.

The book has instead advocated that the for-profit sector could provide vital funding for the establishment of these new schools, arguing that relying on not-for-profit bodies and parents' groups, which are encumbered by limited funds, is not enough.

Mr Gove has reportedly told friends he has no objections to this proposal and while the Liberal Democrats have vetoed its implementation by the current government, it could potentially be included in the Conservatives' manifesto for the 2015 election.

Bright Blue has nonetheless acknowledged that it needs to demonstrate to the public that the policy does not stem from "an ideological position", but is instead a "sensible, hard headed" measure designed to enhance the "diversity and ultimately quality of education" on offer.

The group asserted: "For-profit state schools are an example of applying Conservative means - faith in markets and competition - to deliver progressive ends – better free education for children with parents who lack the resources to give their children the best education."

It also cited cases of profit-making schools that have been opened in the US, Chile and Sweden and apparently improved attainment levels.

However, the National Association of Head Teachers has warned against the scheme, with its general secretary Russell Hobby asserting: "Profit-making schools are incompatible with the ethics and ideals of a universal state education system."

Mr Hobby claimed that there was no public appetite for the proposal and that there was a risk of for-profit schools selecting and deselecting pupils to suit the firm's own needs.

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801522854-ADNFCR
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