The government is to hand over schools to businesses—for free. It announced this week that it is dropping the requirement for academy sponsors to make a donation to take over schools.
Academies, which are state-funded but removed from local authority control, are a way of increasing the influence of business in education.
The government is trying to sell its latest manoeuvre as a way of encouraging more “education friendly” organisations to sponsor academies.
The government knows that the thought of putting car dealers, carpet salesmen and hedge fund managers in charge of children’s education repulses people.
So it is trying to encourage other organisations to sponsor academies to improve the programme’s image.
But its latest move is also a reflection of the fact that businesses are less likely to invest in academies because of the economic crisis—and the government is desperate to shore up one of its flagship education policies.
Labour’s move will result in a huge transfer of wealth from the public to the private sphere, as school buildings, resources and land are simply handed to business.
The fact that the government is so desperate to offload schools that it is giving them away for free speaks volumes about New Labour’s unwavering commitment to business and the free market.
At a time when that same free market has been shown to be a dire failure, it is a further indictment of the government and another reason to protest at the Labour Party conference on 27 September.