Privatisation ‘affecting education’

The privatisation of schools is having a severe effect on children’s education, according to the man investigating commercialism’s effect on children.

David Buckingham, professor of education at the Institute of Education and the man charged by education secretary Ed Balls to investigate the effect of commercialism on children, says his review would examine all aspects of marketing to children and the effect of the private sector in education, despite the fact that ministers might “not like it”.

“The involvement of commercial companies in the running of schools – that’s something which potentially has implications for children’s wellbeing,” he said.

“From my point of view commercial resources in classrooms – Shell’s introduction to the oil industry, Coke machines in schools – there’s a continuum from there to commercial companies that provide school meals, to commercial companies being involved in education on all sorts of levels including management,” he continued.

The move comes despite government attempts to increase the involvement of the private sector in state education. Schools minister Lord Adonis recently said all schools should be in partnership with a business.

Buckingham’s inquiry will report next year, with interim findings expected before the end of 2008.