The revelation that Michael Gove has a plan to sell places in academy schools to students who currently live overseas came less than a week after the BBC reported that a shortage of school places was likely to harm the quality of education here.
England needs to find 250,000 primary places – within two months – and this means that schools that perform poorly may expand to accommodate the need, even though the education they provide is substandard.
It is into this environment that Michael Gove apparently wants to introduce a paying market.
Academies are not allowed to make profits at the moment, but it seems likely that a Conservative government would change this requirement in order to allow paying pupils in – effectively accelerating towards the privatisation of the education system.
In an environment with too few school places for the British, parents need to realise that their children will be passed over in favour of paying foreign students. In essence, this is a plan to exclude poor people from education.
The evidence suggests that this has been the plan all along. A Guardian article yesterday noted that “Other milestones are already in place: performance-related pay for teachers is on its way. Around half the country’s secondaries are now academies, reluctant primaries are being forced down the same route and the 2011 Education Act decreed that if a new school is needed, it can only be a free school or an academy.
“Once schools are out of the maintained sector, only governed by a commercial contract with the secretary of state (the basis on which “independent” state schools are set up), it is only a short step to a new procurement process, which allows multinational for-profit chains to enter this market.
“And the point about schools run for profit is that they do what they say on the tin – seek to make a profit. So the first stop may be wealthy foreign pupils seeking access to selective, oversubscribed academies, but where would that stop? Co-payments? Fees for domestic families?”
The article continues: “Profit-making schools have a very mixed record in nearly every country where they have already been tried, notably Sweden, the US and Chile. Quality is often poor.
“If they fail they are swiftly closed down or reopened under new management – hardly a culture conducive to fostering sustained improvement.”
From here on, the article suggests, we should rename the British education system the “domestic market for education businesses”.
And your child’s education can go to hell. After all, the Tories educate their children privately, don’t they?
It is not only notable but sinister that Downing Street has declined to comment on the leaked letter that revealed the proposal.
Silence is not denial. In fact, with the current government, it might as well be an admission of guilt.
David Cameron has started to privatise the National Health Service; he has started to privatise the police. Now it seems he is ready to privatise education as well.
How long do the so-called ‘Working-Class Tories’ have to be exposed to this before they realise that their government is screwing them over?