US & UK Education Privatisation: The Differences

Renowned historian of education, educational policy analyst, and research professor Diane Ravitch today summarises nicely how education ‘reform’ “now in full operation in states across the nation” works in the US.

First, set an impossible goal, say, 100% proficiency for all students.

Second, say that there can be “no excuses,” no reference to social conditions in which children live.

Third, insist on accountability for schools, teachers, and principals. If they can’t meet the impossible goals, fire the staff and close the school.

Fourth, hand the school over to private management.

Mission accomplished!”

In the UK, the strategy would seem to be fairly similar but with some touches of its own:

1. Set unachievable goals and/or keep moving the goalposts (e.g. make ‘satisfactory’ now ‘unsatisfactory etc. etc.) and/or don’t explicitly tell schools what the inspection rating criteria (i.e. goalposts) are etc. etc.

2. Say there can be no excuses for ‘failure’ given the needs of the UK economy, the UK is slipping down the international league tables, education the key to social mobility etc. etc.

3. Make schools and especially teachers responsible for pupil ‘failure’ – without any mention of poverty, social conditions, unemployed parents etc. etc..

4. Force schools rated badly by OFSTED to be academies, handing them over to private management. Sack and reemploy all staff on lower wages, poorer working conditions etc. etc. if they complain/were held to be responsible for failure.

5. Employ less costly Teach First grads to make up inevitable shortfall in teacher numbers when inevitably experienced staff leave/retire.


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