Time to privatise state schools

17th February 1995 at 00:00
We have the annual predictable moans of school governors unable to sort out their finances.

The Government rather hoped that the introduction of harder headed local worthies on to schools' governing bodies would induce a sense of realism, instead of which the governors seem to have been seduced by the spendthrift culture of the educational establishment.

To judge by some of the advertisements appearing in the TES over the past few years, some schools seemingly can afford to give their senior managers huge pay rises and perks such as cars and private health insurance, but presumably these are not the schools which are grumbling.

Of course, no such problems beset the governors of the private schools. Their invariable response to looming financial deficit is to raise the fees. State schools cannot do this, but they could if they were privatised.

And now that the state schools have a number of years of experience in running their own show under local management, I suggest that the next great privatisation should be the school system.

Privatisation would at least equalise to some extent the existing two-tier system, since the Government could dispense its responsibilities by putting money or cash equivalent value, directly into the hands of parents. An indirect advantage of privatisation would be that there would be no need of the Secretary of State and hisher bureaucratic baggage since every parent would become grant-maintained.

The Treasury would simply issue a basic cash equivalent amount to parents for every school-age child. Parents would then be offered a real choice, since they could redeem their voucher at any school, including the present private ones.

The only difficulty would be the injustice done to the less well-off, but this could easily be remedied by the issue of the differential voucher. Basically this means that the less well-off would get a bigger school grant than the rich, by relating the value of the voucher inversely to the council tax band of the parents' residence. Hence the leafy-suburb schools would need to rely more upon the deeper pockets of their communities, and the inner-city schools would have more money to increase the number of teachers.


10 Orchard Street

Bury St Edmunds


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, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today