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Industry calls for more privatisation

The Confederation of British Industry this week urged ministers to encourage more private-sector involvement in public services after claiming that education privatisation has been a success.

The CBI published an analysis which showed that privatised local authorities were improving their schools' results faster than similar councils which had stayed in the public sector.

Key stage 2 English results in nine privatised authorities improved by an average of 1.5 per cent per year from 2000-4, according to the research for the CBI by consultants MCA regeneration. This compared to 0.7 per cent for all LEAs and 1.2 per cent among a group of 11 previously failing LEAs which had not been privatised. At GCSE, the proportion of pupils achieving five GCSEs at C or better rose by 6.4 per cent per year over the same period in privatised LEAs, compared to 2.1 among all LEAs and 3.6 per cent among the 11 previously failing councils.

However, a TES analysis casts doubt on these figures. Hackney council which improved its results from 2000-4 is listed among the "privatised" authorities. Yet the council has been run by a non-profit partnership since 2002. There was no improvement in the proportion of pupils gaining five GCSEs at C or better from 2000-2.

On the same measure, GCSE results in Swindon, which were counted as improving by 1 per cent per year in the CBI analysis, declined over a two-year period following its privatisation in 2002.

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