That simple 5-word question has far from easy answers, and as a simple solution to a perceived problem, it demonstrates again the naïveté of some politicians when it comes to education, to say nothing of a blind faith in ideology.
Leaving aside private = “for profit” for the moment (because, to be honest, I can’t see where the profit in education is going to come from – are schools going to be allowed to set top-up fees, use online courses or employ fewer or cheaper (younger or much less qualified ) staff, or is it to encourage a new form of
tax-dodge philanthropy?) and let’s consider the aspect of private = autonomous.
- Should schools be free to ignore the National Curriculum (successive Governments never seem content with its contents after all)?
- Should schools be free to enter students for the qualifications they consider most fitting at the appropriate time, perhaps rendering the John Patten league tables even more meaningless than they already are?
- Should schools be free to set entrance criteria over parental choice? And if so, what happens to those who cannot meet the requirements of any educational establishment?
- What standards will deregulated schools be held to? Staff:Student ratio? Staff qualifications? The quality of teaching and learning? Suitable accommodation?
- What happens to the students when/if a for-profit school just can’t (turn a profit)?
- Indeed without Local Government oversight, will there even be places for everybody?
The reality is that apartheid in education has perpetuated: Independent and State schools have in many situations superceded Grammars and Secondary Moderns. Is this fair? Is the independent sector REALLY better? Or are they social engineering clubs?
But sending an equal percentage of all abilities to every school in the area is blatant social engineering at the other extremity. And academic success requires more than just IQ.