Big new push towards privatizing English State schools

Whole layers of bureaucracy scrapped as well. Pretty amazing progress towards school choice for Britain. Report from The Times

Companies and top head teachers will form rival education "brands" to run groups of secondary schools under government plans for a classroom revolution. Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, aims to create local education markets to increase competitive pressures on state schools to improve standards.

Local authority controls will be swept away to give rival brands the freedom to respond to "parent power". Schools will be allowed to write their own curriculum to create greater choice and tailor education to the needs of different pupils. Ms Kelly has drawn up a list of businesses and charities to be invited to enter the schools market. The Times has learnt that new providers could be in place by next September, underlining Tony Blair's impatience at the current pace of reform.

Ambitious heads will be free to become "chief executives" of chains of schools, and private schools will be encouraged to protect their charitable status by establishing their brands in the state sector. They will be given funding to run state schools, which would use the power of the private school's image to attract parents.

Ms Kelly will publish a White Paper next week that will promise to abolish bureaucratic obstacles and harness "parent power" to reshape the education system. Local authorities will lose powers to block the expansion of popular schools or prevent new providers entering the market. School Organisation Committees, in which council officials decide policy with representatives of heads and governors, will be abolished. Instead, heads will run their own affairs in charge of "independent state schools". Councils will be left to ensure that local markets operate fairly, for example in admissions policies.

Local authority boundaries will be broken down to encourage providers to enter the market. Organisations will be able to run groups of schools across the country as part of their "brand", seeking new business by offering to run underperforming comprehensives. The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) will also steer them towards struggling inner-city schools to ensure that poorer pupils have the same opportunities as those in wealthier suburbs.

Brands will be held accountable for the performance of all schools within their group. Parents will be able to lobby for new providers to take over the management of schools if they are dissatisfied with standards. Heads with records of academic success would be encouraged to expand their influence by taking over several schools. Assistant heads in charge of individual schools would be accountable to this "chief executive" for the success of the brand in responding to parental demands

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