Report -government funded privately provided schools

How do you regulate and ensure accountability in autonomous state schools

Lessons from practice  abroad


The CfBT Education Trust report ‘ Nurturing a thousand flowers International approaches to government funded, privately provided schools’ was  launched at the Sunday Times Wellington College education Festival  on 26 June.

This paper seeks to examine how policy makers and providers operate successfully within the context of the supply-side reforms in selected countries. The authors focus on the role of regulation and provider management but do not seek to explore the rights and wrongs of the reforms themselves. Countries examined include the Netherlands, New Zealand and the US, as well as  examples from England, Korea, Denmark and Sweden where relevant to the  discussion.

The main conclusions of the report are:

Effective reform requires effective, responsive and tailored regulation; and reforms are successful if school providers use their autonomies to target specific needs and  have the capacity to scale up good practice.

The recommendations aimed at education policy makers and school operators interested in the reform process.

For policy makers:

1.  If reform is to expand choice for all families, policy makers should:

• Actively promote new provision where there is currently limited choice and standards are low

• Put in place systems to disseminate performance information about all schools, including private provision, within a common framework

• Remove barriers to entry including admissions criteria based on proximity to the school

• Put in place progressive financing that ensures schools compete for disadvantaged pupils.

2. As reform becomes embedded, policy makers should encourage high quality provision to grow whilst ensuring school chains do not become monopolies acting in their own self-interest.

This may require regulatory frameworks akin to other industries.

3. Systems need authorising frameworks that have sufficient flexibility to approve innovative and diverse educational models. Using a range of non-government authorisation bodies can contribute to achieving this goal.

4. The process of approving, renewing and closing government funded, privately provided schools should be independent and transparent. Accountability systems need to be targeted in order to protect school autonomy, but robust enough to intervene where there is real and sustained failure.

5. Effective and systemic intervention often involves policy makers working with a wide range of partners (including high performing schools and non-government actors).

For school operators:

1. School operators should seek to generate economies of scale through efficient back office procurement and sharing of best teaching practice.

2. Looking ahead, successful school chains should play a greater role in training leaders for their schools and for the system as a whole.

Nurturing a thousand flowers; International approaches to government funded, privately provided schools-Laura Lewis, Oli De Botton ;June 2011; CfBT Education Trust


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