Schools are increasingly being run like businesses, where the object is not to increase profits, but to maximise results and/or climb the league tables. This has the effect of skewing the reasons why schools exist in the first place, and needing to at all times protect the schools ‘corporate image’ by spinning and sweeping under carpets.
As an extension of this, there are several ways in which corporations (real ones, not schools pretending to be one) are making money from schools, and the amount of this activity is increasing under the current government. Schools exist to be not-for-profit places of learning and this is being eroded by the increasing involvement of businesses.
Recently the ‘John Lewis’ business model has been suggested as a possible future way in which schools should operate. John Lewis is a department store where it’s employees are made ‘partners’ and receive a dividend of the profits every year. It is suggested that schools operate in order to make a profit, so that teachers then have a vested interest in pushing up the standards, in order to earn more.
Academies are partly funded by the state, and partly sponsored by outside agencies. Academies are able to become fully funded by the state when they become outstanding. They are allowed more free reign over what happens in their school, which will mean changing the curriculum, working practices, working conditions and salaries in order to please their corporate sponsors.
More and more consultants are being relied on to provide training, professional development and support to teachers. I don’t need to tell you they command very high salaries. As well as being booked to deliver INSET days, consultants are also used with departments or individual teachers who are deemed to be ‘struggling’. Despite the expense, this is probably a cheaper way of working than actually improving working conditions for every single teacher.
Some schools don’t allow them, which probably makes some parents complain that their children get hungry in between lessons. Some have special healthy versions, which in my opinion still allows students to be advertised to by mineral water and cereal bar companies. Some schools are visited by ice cream vans in the summer, which is similar. Are schools allowed to ban ice cream vans from parking up around the corner of the school? I don’t know. Either way, food and drink companies know schools can make them some serious money.
This isn’t anything new, but most schools use contract catering to provide lunches, and of course this is big business for the catering companies. They have to please the school as far as healthy eating goes, but if the students aren’t buying it, they’re not making any profit, so they’re always going to sell some junk.
How do you feel about corporations making money from schools? Have your working conditions changed as a result of turning into an academy and having to please sponsors? If you’re working life is being made worse by the involvement of companies, and you need to talk, then email me.
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