Topic 6 - The privatisation of education


Privatisation of education

Involves transfer of public assets eg schools to private companies. Recently, trend to this in ed. In process, ed becomes source of profit for capitalists in what Ball calls 'education services industry' or ESI. 

Private companies in ESI involved in activities in ed, inc building schools; providing supply teachers, work-based learning, careers advice + Ofsted inspection services; + even running entire local ed authorities. Large-scale school building projects often involve public-private partnerships (PPPs), private sector companies - capital to design, build, finance + operate ed services. Last 25+ years - local council pays monthly lease + management fee out of public funds.

Many of activities profitable. Ball (2007), companies involved in work expect to make up 10x profit as on other contracts. However, local authorities often obliged to enter into agreements as only way of building new schools b/c of lack of funding by central gov.

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Blurring public/private boundary

Many senior officials in public sector eg directors of local authorities + head teachers, now leave to set up work for private sector ed businesses. Companies bid for contracts to provide services to schools + local authorities.

Pollack (2004) - flow of personnel allows comapnies to buy 'insider knowledge' to help win contracts, as well as side-stepping local authority democrats.

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Privatisation + globalisation of ed policy

Many private companies in ed services industry foreign-owned. Edexcel owned by US ed publishing + testing giant Pearson.

Buckingham + Scanlon (2005) - UK's 4 leading ed software companies all owned by global multinationals (Disney etc). Many contracts for ed services in UK sold on by original company to others eg banks + investment funds. In globalised world, often bought by overseas companies.

Some UK edu-businesses work overseas. Eg, Prospects has worked in China, Macedonia + Finlad. Often, private companies exporting Uk ed policy to other countries (eg Ofsted-type inspections) + providing services to deliver policies. As result, nation-states becoming less important in policymaking, shifting to global level - often privatised.

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Cola-isation of schools

Private sector penetrating ed indirectly, eg vending machines in schools - logos + sponsorships - 'cola-isation' of schools.

Molnar (2005) - schools targeted by private companies b/c carry enormous goodwill + can therefore confer legitimacy on anything associated w/ them - product indorsement.

However, benefits to schools + pupils of private sector limited. Beder (2009), UK families spent £110,000 in Tesco in return for single computer for schools.

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Education as commodity

Ball concludes fundamental change taking place, privatisation key factor shaping ed policy. Policy increasingly focused on moving ed services from public sector controlled by nation-state, provided by private companies instead. Privatisation means state losing role as provider of ed services.

Marxists eg Hall (2011) see Coalition gov polivies as part of 'long march of neoliberal revolution'. Sees academies as eg of handing over public services to private capitalists eg ed businesses. In M view, neoliberal claim that privatisation + comp drive up standards is myth used to legitimate turning of ed into source of private profit.

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Policies on gender

19th century, females largely excluded from higher ed. More recently, under tripartite sys, girls often had to achieve higher mark than boys in 11+ to obtain grammar school place.

Sinve 1970s, however, policies eg GIST been intro'd to try to reduce gender diffs in subject choice.

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Policies on ethnicity

Policies aimed at raising achievements of children from minority ethnic b/g gone through several phases:
 - assimilation policies 1960s + 70s focused on need for pupils from minority ethnic groups to assimilate into mainstream British culture as way of raising achievement eg by helping someone w/ English as not first language. Some argue some minority groups risk of underachieving already speak English - real cause lies in poverty.
 - multicultural education (MCE) policies through 1980s + into 1990s aimed to promote achievements of children from minority ethnic groups by valuing all cultures in school curriculum - raising self-esteem + achievements. MCE criticised by Stone (1981), argues black pupils don't fail for lack of self-esteem so MCE misguided
 - social inclusion of pupils from minority ethnic groups + policies to raise achievement, became focus in late 1990s inc detailed monitoring of exam results by ethnicity + amending Race Relations Act to place legal duty of schools to promote racial equality. Gillborn argues institutionally racist policies in relation to ethnocentric curriculum, assessment + streaming continue to disadv minority ethnic group pupils.

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