From the archive 21.12.1989

6th January 2012 at 00:00

Privatisation of state schools urged.

State schools should be handed over to independent trusts and funded directly through general government grants, according to a right-wing educational group.

The Hillgate Group is a loose amalgam of conservative educationalists. Its leading figures are associated with the National Council for Educational Standards, an influential group of right-wing lobbyists.

In a pamphlet, Whose Schools? A Radical Manifesto, the group advocates stripping local education authorities of their control over schools.

The attack on the LEAs is in line with the recent campaign by senior government ministers, including education secretary Kenneth Baker (pictured), to concentrate public attention on the records of Labour-controlled councils. But the group's proposal for what would amount to the privatisation of state schools goes far beyond anything advocated by Mr Baker.

The group says LEAs must be deprived not only of the power to provide schooling but also of the power to enforce it. The role of school inspectors must also be reviewed, it urges.

Self-governing schools, with boards elected by parents and benefactors, would provide a "sound curriculum". This would include reading, writing and maths and, at a higher level, history, sciences, maths, languages and some technical skills. The curriculum should be influenced through consensus and demand, although legal guarantees may later be needed to safeguard what is taught in schools, the group says.

The document is the work of Baroness Cox, Dr John Marks, Professor Roger Scruton, Mr Laurie Norcross, head of Highbury Grove School, and Mrs Jessica Douglas-Home, the artist.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today