Published Letter; The Daily Telegraph 6 October

 SIR – Anders Hultin, the former education adviser to the Swedish government, spelt out (Comment, October 2) the importance of the profit motive in the Swedish free-schools model. Although the Tories’ education policy seeks to establish free schools in Britain, drawing inspiration from these Swedish schools and US Charter schools, they would forbid companies making a profit from state schools, so removing the key driver that has made both these models so successful in the respective countries. Self-evidently, it’s no good having a model if you deny it the fuel to operate. Crucially, to make it worthwhile for private suppliers to set up state schools, you need to make it attractive for them to set up chains of schools, to expand on success, to generate economies of scale and a sufficient return, so that investment can be made in the future and deliver a return for shareholders. You cannot rely on the charitable activities of these private companies to deliver systemic change, particularly in the current economic environment. If you don’t have an attractive financial model, then providers will simply not engage. This also extends, funnily enough, to the not-for-profit sector, which the Tories want to encourage, because not-for-profit operators seek not just to recover their costs but will also want to make a surplus, so that they can invest for the future, too . The Tories should rethink their policy, and quickly.

Patrick Watson London SW8


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