Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Chains of for-profit branded schools are the future

In an article in the Calgary Herald (Canada), Peter Cowley (Fraser Institute) imagines what schools might look like in the future and suggests that the concept of chains of for-profit branded schools provides an exciting alternative to the existing government monopoly. Cowley therefore concludes that "If the government of Alberta wishes to provide the best possible education to all of its young citizens, it would do well to ensure that its education policies encourage the kind of productive competition that branded, for-profit, school chains will encourage".
I think there can be no doubt that at some point in the near future, chains of branded for-profit schools will slowly start to dominate education sectors around th world, with both national and international brand names emerging. Governments are therefore faced with a number of choices. First, they can completely ignore and refuse to accept that such developments are taking place. Second, they can acknowledge these developments and do nothing. Third, they can acknowledge these developments but do everything in their power to stop them. Fourth, they can acknowledge these developments and look for ways of positively encouraging them, with tax breaks and other incentives. What governments can do to positively encourage private investment in education is still a relatively untouched area of research and will need much more attention in the future.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Daily Telegraph "Parents should educate children as they wish"

I totally agree with yesterday's comment in the Daily Telegraph "Parents should educate children as they wish". The government believes that parents are 'not safe to be trusted with the education of their children at home'. It is proposed that those who home school (about 50,000 according to the article) will have to register annually, have an inspection visit to the home and submit a statement of the intended approach the child's or children's education at home will take. This makes me so mad. And by the looks of it the Telegraph, which calls this 'meddlesome nonsense'. Just think the cost and bureaucratic machine that will have to come about in order to carry this out. The article also states that the proposal is wrong because it 'arrogantly assumes that state functionaries are better qualified than parents to decide what is right for their children'. But isn't this the case with education as a whole? The link to the article is at the top of this blog and it is well worth a read. Let's hope that Brown and his bunch soon leave office and this proposal never gets off the ground.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Outright radicalism needed in university reform

The Daily Telgraph has called for outright radicalism in any future attempt to reform our universities. I agree and a good place to start is with tuition fees. While the Telegraph discusses the pros and cons of increasing tuition fees from £3,000 to £6,500, this debate fails to address the kep issue - which revolves around the question of whether universities are independent and autonomous institutions or not. While the current Secretary of State continues to claim that they are, it is difficult to see how any institution can be defined as independent and autonomous if they are not free to sell their services at a price of their own choosing. Therefore instead of simply increasing the cap on tuition fees, any future government must stop all interference in the question of tuition fees and respect the right of independent institutions to make these critical decsions themselves.