Standards in education: privatisation, profit and values
I believe that schools will be putting all their back office services [once mainly supplied by LEAs] into the private sector within a few years . . . Everyone will want to earn a reasonable margin.
(Graham Walker, Head of Arthur Andersen’s government services department, quoted in the
Times Education Supplement, 09.01.98)
The UK Labour Government’s Education Action Zones (EAZs) which were announced in June 1998 as ‘the standard bearers in a new crusade uniting business, schools, local education authorities and parents to modernise education in areas of social deprivation’ (Department of Education and Employment 1998). Michael Barber, then Head of the Standards and Effectiveness Unit, in a speech to the North of England Education Conference described the initiative as ‘a great opportunity for the business world to play a direct and central role in the management and leadership of Education Action Zones’. He talked about being impressed with US experiments, referring to the involvement of Procter and Gamble in Cincinnati schools, who ‘had halved the money spent on red tape in one school district’, and citing a California project sponsored by management consultants Arthur Andersen.