The campaign against privatisation and profit making in schools, colleges and universities was launched today (14 March) with a TUC research report.
The TUC analysed official Department for Education figures to show that since 2010 ministers have signed off £77m of public funds to lawyers, head hunters, accountants, estate agents and management consultants.
Among other findings the report reveals:
- the government has expanded its free school building programme despite the fact that many remain undersubscribed
- at least three of the 12 largest chains of academies – schools funded and overseen directly by by the government and managed independently of local authorities – have links to the Conservative Party.
The campaign's demands include:
- a commitment from all political parties that no school should be run for profit, either directly or indirectly, and for this to be enshrined in legislation
- all publicly-funded education institutions must be democratically accountable to their local communities, which includes a key strategic role for local authorities
- all pupils at state-funded schools must be taught by fully qualified teachers and all schools must be governed by the national curriculum.
Prospect deputy general secretary Leslie Manasseh said: "Prospect's members in the Aspect education sector are as affected by these changes as members of other education unions.
"Market-based reforms are rooted in the idea that schools compete against each other for the business of attracting pupils. Bad schools will improve or close and good schools will expand.
"But the evidence from home and abroad is that marketised schools, like academies and free schools, have no marked effect on pupil achievement. The quality of school leadership and what happens in the classroom are the decisive factors."
He stressed that market failure could have very serious consequences for thousands of children.
"At a time when the marketisation of public services is trumpeted as the only way to drive up standards, we, in Prospect, will repeat our demands for the facts, for careful consideration, and for evidential rigour.
"Public policy is too important to be a testing bed for ideologues and public services too vital to be offered at ministerial whim to the lowest bidder."