Sunday, September 28, 2008

Private education, public waste

There really isn't much more that I can add to this. But I will, obviously.
The Rev Tim Hastie-Smith, chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, claimed that fee-paying schools work out cheaper because millions of pounds of public money is spent on bureaucracy.

His claims come as research for the Independent Schools Council found state school education cost at least £9,000 per child per year. The average cost of putting a child through private school is £9,069 per year, but some charge less.

Mr Hastie-Smith said that the total state education budget for the last school year was £77.7 billion but claimed that there were “enormous extra costs from bureaucracy and monitoring” that were unaccounted for.

Now, Mr Hastie-Smith may have a particular drum to bang—although since he's actually moving from a private school to one of the state academies, not as much as you might think—but he is entirely correct here.

Some years ago, when I was still living in Edinburgh, I saw an article reporting that, in Scotland, about one third of all education funding was being swallowed up by Local Education Authorities. And for what? To pay idiots to carry out pointless fucking bureaucratic tasks of no relevance whatsoever.

Now, whilst the Tories are flirting with school vouchers (and that is very good news), they have yet to point out what it is that makes the Swedish and Dutch systems so good: the independence of the schools—although Mr Hastie-Smith does recognise this.
“The attraction of academies is in their independence,” he said. “There is every reason why an independent schools head—or a deputy looking for headship—will see academies as very attractive."

For fuck's sake, Cameron! will you please find a pair of balls. Set out a simple plan: make all schools independent, introduce vouchers and, for fuck's sake, scrap the fund-stealing LEAs and any other government involvement in education.

And with this scheme, if people maintain that you are being too radical, you can point to Sweden and the Netherlands and say, "look, you reactionary morons! This system works! We Tories are not going to keep our children in ignorance and continue to fuck up their entire, cocking lives simply because you fucks think that state-directed education is the only way to do things.

"Read my lips: it. Fucking. Works."

If the Tories only did one thing in government, then this should be it: it would ensure them an entirely positive legacy for years to come. More importantly, it would ensure that children got a decent education and were able to make something of their lives: education is the key to social mobility and success.


Mark Wadsworth said...

The beauty of the whole vouchers-for-schools idea is that, if the voucher were set at half average state spending (say £4000 per annum) and half of parents took it up (paying the difference themselves*), there'd be an overall saving to the taxpayer

i.e. half a million existing private pupils would 'cost' £2 billion, but shifting three million from State system £8k each to vouchers £4k each would 'save' £12 billion.

So that's £10 billion off taxes* AND a better educated population.

What's not to like?

* Some of the tax cuts would go back to the parents who choose the vouchers, thus making it possible for more people to send kids private and so on, leading hopefully to a virtuous circle.

Unknown said...

It might help DK, but it wouldn't ensure this 'decent education' that you desire. So much more is needed than what you suggest. A change of culture, of mentality, of expectation is needed and vouchers are not going to bring that. But yes, the Authorities employ so many people who are useless and who do nothing. And they literally waste our time, which means that not only do they take money from the system for their salaries, and their silly initiatives, but they then take money from us too - time is money after all.

Trooper Thompson said...

Need I remind everyone; there is no hope in the tories. They will never give power away once they've got it. They are just as statist as the other two main parties.

Devil's Kitchen said...


"It might help DK, but it wouldn't ensure this 'decent education' that you desire. So much more is needed than what you suggest. A change of culture, of mentality, of expectation is needed and vouchers are not going to bring that."

Of course you are correct. However, were schools to run themselves, you would at least be able to create your own discipline regimen (something that you have complained about on your blog) and set your own priorities for the children that you teach.

Vouchers do need to be coupled with teachers and parents who give a crap about their children's education, for sure, but choice and independence far is more likely to create an environment in which that can happen than the current state-mandated interference.


Trooper Thompson said...

State schools have fuck all to do with education; they are about indoctrination and enforcing uniformity. A smart kid will learn nothing at school, except dyfunctional behaviour.

John Taylor Gatto has it right.

Anonymous said...

From a CV I got this week.

About Me

After completing my university studies I took a full-time position as a temporary administrator but after working in the position for eight months I decided that I would like to return to a career in retail. Although my current position has been an enjoyable return to the trade I do not feel that the role offers any chance of advancement within the company. I have chosen to apply for a role within xxxxx as it is clear that you are a growing company and would this offer me a chance to put my mark on the new xxxx and help it to become a destination for xxxxx in xxxxxx.

Now I don't remember any announcement that the comma has been abolished. This guy is applying for a management job for christ sake.

Oh did i forget. here are his qualifications:

BA English & Creative Writing 2.1 Manchester Metropolitan University
A level English (A)
GCSE English (A)

Now, I'm not a grammar geek, but this guy does not know how to express himself via the written word. When I was at school (1979) a 'C' grade at o level would demand the use of commas in those sentences.

The whole state system from GCSEs to plastic degrees is now fucked.

Old Holborn said...

Mrs Dale is hoping that the Tories have a quiet week with no major headlines.

Steady as she goes, he says.

I would like the following headlines:

1. Dave agrees with Iain Dale that a referendum over Lisbon WILL be held no matter what.

2. Dave will set about untangling the 3000 new laws implemented by ZNL during the last 11 years

3. David Davis will remind himself that he was elected on a civil liberties ticket, so why have we heard bugger all from him?

4. Dave will humbly acknowledge that the State is too large and set about reducing the burden of 7 million government jobs on the much abused tax payer.

5. Dave will instigate a public enquiry into WHY we went into Iraq (and apologise, publicly for his part in it)

6. Dave will announce his intention for a complete overhaul of the BBC and a long overdue reduction in it's services. Four radio channels, two TV channels and an internet new service. No more BBC Albania at MY cost.

7. Dave will stand up and remind him and his 645 colleagues that there are 60 million of us, we pay them, they call us Sir, not the other way round and that we know where they live.

8. Dave will announce that it is the role of the Police to PROTECT us, not film hoodies commiting crimes, whilst eating doughnuts.

9. Dave will announce that just as the Russians couldn't sort out Afghanistan, neither can we. Troops out.

10. Dave will announce that before he forms a new government, he will insist on a full due dilligence audit. I want to know exactly what shit is going to hit the fan once Labour have finished scorching the Earth.

bikeonaboy said...

One of my Dad's mates was a state Education Minister here in Aus about 30 years ago.

He reckoned that the bureaucracy swallowed at least 50% of the budget, if not more. He was told not to rock the boat.

If it was that bad back then, I imagine that it is a lot worse now.

50 fucking percent!

Roger Thornhill said...

OH - dream on, Trouper T is on the money.

The Tories will push for their fake voucher system. I say fake as they will only "allow" new schools in areas where the LEA has made a case. Think that one through. Trotskyite hell-holes will never want independent, non-state run schools, regardless of what parents want. Those who do want new schools will waste effort in lobbying -but the LEAs will LOVE the "activity" and "working groups" needed, as well as another chance to absorb some expenses. In the end, the centre will retain power, we waste money on lobbying and all that entails and in the end we see a higher risk of corruption - do you really think the centre will allow just anyone to run that new school without some fingers in the pie?

Anonymous said...

'If the Tories only did one thing in government, then this should be it: it would ensure them an entirely positive legacy for years to come. More importantly, it would ensure that children got a decent education and were able to make something of their lives: education is the key to social mobility and success.'

One thing, equally good, would be to limit the level of state benefits in all forms to each family to those currently considered appropriate to two adults and no more than three children FROM A GIVEN DATE.
End Child Benefit after the third child [with stretch room for multiple births in these days of fertility drugs]. Likewise the child premiums in Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. Likewise Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits. At the third child born to or adopted by each couple, no more allowances or premiums ever, given to the members of that couple.
Benefits only for two children to any one single person in their whole lifetime FROM A GIVEN DATE.
Solves lots of problems. The population replacement rate in this country is 2 point something, and it would be fair to the three-child couple - a first-born child and two twins, say.


# Couples are still free to have as many kids as they like, but the taxpayers don't pick up the bill for doley baby-breeders like this.


# The public only supports, if it must, families with the relatively manageable number of children. Some possibility of them knowing where the kids are in cases of marginally competent but stupid parents.
# An end to large houses or next-door houses for 'families' with huge numbers of unmanageable children.
# Smaller doley families on the Social for teachers to deal with, for my kid to be harassed by on the street and bullied in school by, and for us all to be robbed by.
# An end to career brood-mares who can have a child every two years for ten years and who therefore aren't made to seek work until the youngest is [ I think and please correct me ] about twelve. That's up to 20 years of Child benefits Housing and Council Tax Benefit, numerous Tax Credits, for one fertile, work-shy mother. There are many many thousands of them. I meet some of them or talk to them every day.
# People still free to have large families if religion or fertility demands, but not at the taxpayer's expense.
# Simple to get through Parliament - no need to change much other legislation.

The cut-off date would be ten months after its announcement in Parliament, so nobody not already pregnant could be caught by it.

Oh, and if any of the kids dies after the third one is born, then no further child - related state benefits or allowances to their parents, ever. this for the same reason the Victorians made it illegal to insure the lives of children against death.

Mark Wadsworth said...

NNW, nice one.

The MW manifesto long ago decided that Child benefits would be restricted to the first three kids per family, i.e. the next larger whole number above the replacement rate.

Roger Thornhill said...

I have no truck with social engineering. If people want 3 kids, then they need to find the resources for it themselves. I hate this idea that people are somehow "entitled".

The "three kids rule" is still a hammock, not a safety net. Most people, myself included, have to think really hard about having kids. One of the main things being accommodation. We cannot bleat about "overcrowding" and get on a waiting list - we need to earn more money so we can afford a bigger place to live and to cope with loss of earnings if Mrs Thornhill is to stay at home to ensure our kids have at least some chance of staying off the ritalin.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be too keen on comparisons with Sweden to be honest. Is a Socialist disaster area even worse than our own.

I see no merit in an examination system where you pass by turning up.

See here

Anonymous said...

Vouchers aren't enough. You also need to:

- scrap OFSTED, otherwise it'll force all the new "independent" schools to operate in the same crap way that the old ones did;

- remove planning controls, otherwise the local councils will use their planning powers to protect their own schools;

- abolish all government education departments, otherwise the schools will spend half their time filling in statistical returns;

- make sure that the EU's "TUPE" system doesn't apply (otherwise new schools would be forced to take on crap staff from the failing old schools), and generally scrap most of the employee protection so that schools can get rid of useless teachers easily.

Anonymous said...

I can't speak for the Swedish system, but having been "educated" by the Dutch system from the age of four until I left university I can tell you it does not work, it did once, but not anymore. The curriculum is set by the Government and has been dumbed down, correction...reorganized/streamlined to such a degree that the Dutch equivalent of a high school degree is virtually worthless. Trade schools have been gutted to the extent we need Eastern Europeans to fill up vacancies (over 500.000 Dutch people are unemployed (Government figure)) The Dutch system is very opaque, it is not what it seems. In our largest cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht) proposals have been made to force white parents to send their children to badly performing schools in order to boost the ratings of these schools, which have large numbers of first and second generation immigrant children. It might come as not much of a surprise but it has been the Dutch equivalent of Labour party (PvdA) that, after having first wrecked the system, now says they know how to fix it. The bottom 10% of Dutch students make it into the top 3 of the world when compared to those from other countries in the bottom 10%. The top 10% doesn't even make it into the top 20. Bring on the "knowledge economy"

Enough of a rant.


Roger Thornhill said...

Re: Anon 02:54.

This is why I am in favour of only allowing the state to use Literacy and Numeracy as criteria for assessing if a school is doing well. However, Literacy should not include exams on regurgitating AGW bullshit, "Social Justice", "diversity" or Fabian bullshit, for example.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Richard - excellent further points.

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