Profit and education are still two words that should only be put together with caution. The coalition has long-accepted this is a toxic area, as typified by Nick Clegg in September when he proclaimed: ‘Yes to greater diversity; yes to more choice for parents. But no to running schools for a profit; not in our state-funded education sector.’ But as Fraser argued last year, we need profit-making schools to spread the
benefits of Michael Gove’s reforms to the most deprived children.
To straddle this divide, Policy Exchange has proposed a halfway solution today: social enterprise schools. Similar to a private company, the proposed model has full financial transparency and a duty to reinvest 50 per cent of any profits back into the school while sending the rest to shareholders. Anyone could invest, but the teachers would be particularly encouraged to do so. Special clauses would also prevent buildings and facilities being sold off for profit.
The authors are so sure of this model they suggests the schools should be piloted in the most deprived areas, as they would benefit the most. The report is well worth reading in full.
Even this compromise solution is unlikely to satisfy the Lib Dems, so it’s unlikely we’ll see any form of these proposals introduced during the current Parliament. But, as a policy from the Cameroon’s favourite think-tank, it’s the sort of thing that might turn up again as the Tories’ 2015 manifesto approaches.