The UK Labour government sought to shift local educational authorities (LEAs) “from being a provider of education to being its local commissioner and the champion of parent choice”.
From 1999 LEAs running schools that were ‘failing’ were required by the government Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) to outsource some or all of their educational functions to the private sector, including school management which covers “decisions about priorities, about staffing levels, about equipment” and, in some cases, about which schools should close. Ten LEAs had privatised education services by 2005.
Where LEAs continue to manage educational services, they are expected to behave like private companies, seeking return on investment as a top priority.
The government has adopted the business ideology that private companies can manage schools better than the public sector. However the evidence seems to be against this faith considering the lack of educational management skills in the private sector. For a start the private companies tend to employ the same staff as the former LEA and often poach their top management from local government senior management.
’s EAZ. It aims to “increase understanding and experience of employer culture” as part of their “work related learning”. Other companies involved in managing schools include British Aerospace, Tesco, ICI, Kellogg’s and McDonald’s.
The Soil Association found in 2003 that the average school meal failed to meet recommended nutritional guidelines. It found that school meals contained “a low grade diet of dematerialised fish, mechanically recovered meat and poor quality produce containing pesticide residues” and was dominated by “cheap processed and ‘fast’ food items packed with fat, salt, or refined sugar... and precariously low in essential nutrients.” Such food not only leads to childhood obesity but can impact on the mental welfare, behaviour and academic achievement of children.
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