Selection in the maintained sector is out, but the Tories are still looking at how to ensure suppliers recover costs of their involvement in the maintained sector. Shadow Education Secretary Michael Gove is shortly to meet (next month) the main suppliers to help identify the obstacles to setting up schools and what substantive measures are required to help to open up the supply side to make setting up schools easier, and a more attractive proposition to potential private and not for profit providers. Now is the time for providers to make their views known. Liberalisation of the  education supply market is now on the agenda.

 A new organisation is in the wings that will aim to help suppliers become more involved and this is due to be launched in October. Called the New Schools Network it will aim to remove the bureaucratic, political and operational barriers facing those wishing to found new innovative state schools. Working with potential providers and current academies, the network will propose to central government and all political parties substantive new legislation and guidance to help ease the establishment of new schools and to support the expansion of successful schools. It will also aim to provide legal, logistical and financial advice and support to those wishing to set up new schools. More details of this new organisation will be available in due course. But  providers are encouarged by this development.

Perhaps this new organisation will make the SSAT quango  redundant. With  a vast majority of schools now-so called ‘Specialist ‘ schools (although they arent ‘ Specialist’  in any meaningful sense ) the SSATs job is  effectively finished, as Academies  can self-evidently  look for support,  if they need it, from  the private and not for  profit sectors, or maybe this new network.The SSAT only exists because of mission creep and is currently using its  subsidised  status  to  snatch  business  from  under the noses  of unsubsidised UK education  companies in the middle east ,much to the latters  considerable annoyance. How can the market expand if  UK quangos such as the SSAT  use taxpayers money to win business against other UK companies. They simply increase  the risks and costs of UK companies participating in the market. Fair competition? Contestability?-you must be joking. Quangos are looking for new income streams  to sustain their burgeoning bureuacracies, with  their heavy staff costs and generous  public sector entitlements. But  one consequence  is that they are riding roughshod over any notion of transparency and fair competition. This cant go on.


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