Saturday, 30 May 2009

A Mum Facing Prison for wanting School Choice

This young mother is facing either a £5,000 fine or one year in prison for wanting to have a choice to send her little boy to a good school. Mrs Patel is accused of giving a false address in order to secure the school place (although the address is her mother's and Mrs Patel was living with her at the time). What can I say about this? Good school places and school choice should not be a post code lottery! When will things ever change when governments supply and fund schooling?

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Deep Sorrow

It is with deep regret that we have learnt that 4 of our dear friends from the Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala City, Guatemala have been killed in a plane crash. Our thoughts are with their friends, families and colleagues at this time of deep sorrow. Indeed we had been working closely with the team on research into private schools. Our prayers and love go to you tonight.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Edge's failed attempt to transform secondary education

A recent parental survey carried out by Edge ( has shown that secondary schools are failing upto a third of children by not providing enough practical and vocational education. In response Edge has launched its 'Six steps to change manifesto' which includes:
  • the introduction of a broad curriculum up until the age of 14 which allows for the development of life skills
  • SATs replaced by an individual profile of attainment, skills and aptitudes
  • at 14 all students can choose a pathway matched their interests and abilities
  • practical and vocational courses taught in specialist facilities by experienced staff
  • at 16 studenst can choose to specialise within their pathway or change pathway or enter employment with training
  • beyond 18 students would have the opportunity to study at degree level at a centre of vocational excellence endorsed by employers.

Unfortunately, while these proposals may sound interesting to some, the reality is that they fail to address the key source of the problem in education, which is that it remains a nationalised sector which is monopolised by government controlled schools. Until this stranglehold on the supply of education is removed then the status quo will remain and choice, competition and entrepreneurship will be prevented from playing a key role in the sector. It sounds like what Edge really want is innovation in the delivery of education which can only be guaranteed if there are a variety of different and competing providers from across the UK and around the world. Therefore one very simple reform is required. Redirect all public funds from schools to parents and guarantee parents their right and freedom to choose.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Privatise business and law schools

In September 2007, BPP Professional Education made history by becoming the first for-profit private company in the UK to be awarded degree-granting powers by the Privy Council. While this is clearly a positive development, it also helps to shed light on the depressing fact that throughout the twentieth century successive UK governments have discriminated against for-profit institutions in higher education. The end result is that in the first decade of the 21st century, one of the UK’s most important service sectors is now dominated by approximately 133 non-profit educational charities, which nobody appears to own and which are heavily dependent on government handouts. As the profit motive plays a critically important role in a majority of the other sectors of the economy, it would be naive to believe that the crowding out of the profit motive from higher education would have no unintended consequences or hidden costs.

While some may question the use and role of the profit motive in higher education and whether private investors would be interested in investing in the sector, the recent growth of for-profit universities in the US and around the world confirms that all law and business related education and training programs do not need to be delivered by publicly funded non-profit charities. With the benefit of hindsight it should come as no surprise to find out that it is possible to generate a profit from teaching others the art of profit making (all business and related degrees). The fact that the American education investor Apollo Global has also recently shown interest in taking over BPP Professional Education (as a result BPP’s shares increased by 50%) confirms that this has the potential to develop into a highly profitable and therefore a highly competitive sector of the economy.

The simple fact that BPP can now deliver degree programmes in business and law in two years instead of three, without receiving government handouts, at a lower cost and still generate a profit, confirms that there is no market failure in the provision of these services. Instead it’s simply the case that the market has not been allowed to develop. The solution is to privatise every law and business school across the country, allowing each university to keep the proceeds from each sale.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

New E.G. West Website

This is a great day with the new EG West website going live as well as our new blog. We do hope that in the coming months debates and discussions will appear on our blog from members of the Centre as well as those who follow our work.