Monday, 7 May 2012

Private companies: public services: Hmmm.

I know I am not the only one to wonder why the public is not more concerned that this crazy coalition of an incompetent government is giving away public land, public buildings, the right to educate, and accountability to private industry and private people [with varying degrees of educational knowledge]. 

In Leeds our very own crazy private education company, the erstwhile Education Leeds [wrongly named on both counts] was suddenly dismembered two years back, and care of education returned to its rightful place as a council service.

Education Leeds specialised in closing innocent, viable and excellent schools, mostly in inner-city Leeds. These are the ones, in an orgy of blood-letting that they put an end to:

And only five years later they are desperately adding on extra classrooms to schools all over Leeds, while some of the poorest families still stagger up Sugarwell Hill, with their pushchairs and their toddlers from where Miles Hill Primary School once proudly stood to where Millfield Primary now caters for them.

We are short of school places in Leeds : they are short of 500,000 places country-wide, a sad indictment of both governments, and absolutely no consolation to the Royal Park team whose glorious Victorian building has stood pointlessly idle losing bits of lead here and there from its roof for seven years now.

We campaigners turned out at one public meeting after another and argued as best we could that basing the numbers of schools needed on projected live UK births wasn't that clever given the unknown variables of asylum-seeking; and one midwife in Armley even pointed out that the birth rate was actually rising there, and that merging its high schools was stupid. Suffice to say, the new Swallow Hill High School opened on two sites and now operates with staff cuts and portakabins.

The point I'm making here is that private companies' track record on education is poor.  Possibly because they don't know what they're doing; possibly because of their motivation. Councils run schools on behalf of the people they represent; teachers go into the job generally because they want to help others; what's in it for business? Hmmm, I wonder.  

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