According to a report published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) this week, allowing schools to be run for a profit would not boost education standards in the UK.
The report, entitled Not For Profit: The Role of the Private Sector in England’s Schools, examined the role of private providers in the education systems in the US, Sweden and Chile and concluded that not-for-profit providers generally prove more successful than commercial alternatives.
The report referenced a study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2010, which found that education systems that encourage schools to compete for students do not produce better results, and that students perform better in schools that are given more freedom over how pupils are taught and assessed.
Hard on the heels of calls from right-wing think tanks arguing that the government should go further and allow profit-making private providers to set up free schools, the report argues not-for-profit organisations such as churches have been involved in the running of successful state-funded schools for many years.
And after analysing the OECD information, the Institute found that countries that have introduced extensive market reforms in education do not head international performance league tables.
The Institute’s Associate Director, Rick Muir said: “The argument that the profit motive is needed for raising schools’ standards is simply ideological. It is not supported by the international evidence at all.
“There is a good case for allowing new providers into the system to foster innovation. But given the strength of the not-for-profit sector in this country, there are no compelling reasons for thinking that commercial providers would add any value.”
And he added: “In the long term, it is much cheaper for the government to raise this capital funding than for the private sector to do so at the taxpayer’s expense.”
As an accountant, Gill Freeman specialises within academy finances and charity tax.