Tuesday 11 November 2003

The Campaign for Real Education

Here's another call for a degree of privatisation in education:
Private schools should be given the chance to provide "state" education, a prominent figure in UK education claimed yesterday.

Pauline Davies, the president of the Girls’ Schools Association, said independent schools want parents to be able to put the cost of a state education towards a place in an independent school.

You've got to laugh when a local government education spokesman (Labour of course) says:
... there were no failing local authority schools in Scotland.
Eh! So how come the Labour leader in Dundee is sending her son to a private school?

I note that the Executive rejects suggestions that the private sector is no more expensive than state provision:

The cost of fees at a private day school is about £7,000 a year at secondary level and more than £5,000 at primary.

This year, Scottish Conservatives claimed that, while the Executive gives authorities £4,500 for each pupil, £1,500 was lost in bureaucracy.

A spokeswoman for the Executive rejected the Tories’ claims, insisting that authorities had to retain funds to pay for nurseries, special-needs education, school transport, school meals and education psychologists.

This completely ignores the question of economies of scale. The private sector supplies a very small proportion of the education "market". Imagine what the cost of food would be in Tesco or Safeway if groceries were also obtainable free from a National Food Service. "Free" at the point of consumption that is! Prices in private shops under such a food regime would be far higher than at present. Once education is solely provided by private institutions costs will plummet. If we must have taxpayer-funded education let's at least give the job to those best able to do it. Privatise the schools now.