Running schools like businesses will not give us freedom

13th March 2009 at 00:00

Teachers want more professional freedom, but most would not want to exchange "models" - swapping state bureaucracy and micro-management for another set of regulations and possible erosion of their pay and conditions. The business model is not "the only way to give schools the freedom they want" ("Why teachers should learn to love the market", March 6).

Andrew Pollard was right to point out the previous week that "schools are not franchises, turning out the same product" ("Schools as businesses?", February 27).

Leadership is the key to a school's success. Academies' mixed results suggest changing the system does not necessarily deliver better education. We also need to be careful about sponsors' influence. Providing quality education may be less important than political, religious or profit motives.

Competition will not produce a system providing universal high-quality provision. The claim that a market in schools would give them freedom to innovate is, I believe, false. It will more likely produce a uniform system in which conformity is the driving force in maintaining a school's standing, and hence its survival in the marketplace.

Teachers don't need Orwellian advice to "learn to love the market". They need to be allowed to use their professional judgment about what, how and when to teach.

Philip Parkin, General secretary, Voice, the union for education professionals.

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