New Labour has found a new way to bring privatisation into education with its plans to scrap pupil referral units and leave young people at the mercy of private companies.
Pupil referral units provide education for children who have been excluded from mainstream schools or who have special educational needs. They currently teach 70,000 children.
The government’s white paper describes the new “schools” that will replace them like this: “They will be run as groups of small businesses, closely linked to particular industries with young people as much workers as students.”
Those over 16 years old would receive a wage, although it is not specified what this wage would be.
Students under 16 would effectively be a pool of unpaid workers for business.
And, as the government plans to raise the school leaving age to 18, those over 16 would have no choice but to stay and work for whichever company is running the school.
Pilots of the scheme could begin later this year.