Relinquishing control of schools

August 13, 2009 1:28 PM

The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) has today released a report on the affect quangos have on schools. Culling some bodies and reforming others would yield savings of over £630 million, according to the CPS. But this is not about simply abolishing quangos to save money; there is an arguably bigger conclusion to the paper. With schools under so much central control, these bodies do nothing more than enforce Government whims.

Take Becta, for example – it oversees IT procurement for schools across England and Wales. Schools are fully aware of how much IT equipment they need, and what the best software for their children is. As such there is no need for this body. If children are not taught enough IT or need to improve their facilities then Ofsted – who the CPS suggests slimming down to an inspector-only role – should make these recommendations. Ultimately schools must decide on their own procurement strategy, and be free to buy equipment in an open, competitive market. This would allow them to make the best choice according to their budget and to suit their children.

The same applies to the Schools Food Trust. Children should indeed be served nutritious meals, which doubtless help to combat obesity and improve performance. Schools should make these choices however, and having them truly accountable to parents would help to ensure that they make the right ones. The CPS suggests that the Schools Food Trust could survive as a charity; this is an eminently sensible idea as it has admirable intentions. Providing tax breaks for this charity would help too.

The paper goes in to further detail, like abolishing the QCA and letting schools decide their own curriculum, for example. The common thread in the CPS’ findings – and in our past education blogs – is that these quangos place an unnecessary burden on schools. They should be free to control their own budgets and make their own choices. This would mean that headteachers could go about providing the best education possible for children in their own school. Every child is different and the best people to cater for this are their teachers, not extended arms of Government.

The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) has today released a report on the affect quangos have on schools. Culling some bodies and reforming others would yield savings of over £630 million, according to the CPS. But this is not about simply abolishing quangos to save money; there is an arguably bigger conclusion to the paper. With schools under so much central control, these bodies do nothing more than enforce Government whims.

Take Becta, for example – it oversees IT procurement for schools across England and Wales. Schools are fully aware of how much IT equipment they need, and what the best software for their children is. As such there is no need for this body. If children are not taught enough IT or need to improve their facilities then Ofsted – who the CPS suggests slimming down to an inspector-only role – should make these recommendations. Ultimately schools must decide on their own procurement strategy, and be free to buy equipment in an open, competitive market. This would allow them to make the best choice according to their budget and to suit their children.

The same applies to the Schools Food Trust. Children should indeed be served nutritious meals, which doubtless help to combat obesity and improve performance. Schools should make these choices however, and having them truly accountable to parents would help to ensure that they make the right ones. The CPS suggests that the Schools Food Trust could survive as a charity; this is an eminently sensible idea as it has admirable intentions. Providing tax breaks for this charity would help too.

The paper goes in to further detail, like abolishing the QCA and letting schools decide their own curriculum, for example. The common thread in the CPS’ findings – and in our past education blogs – is that these quangos place an unnecessary burden on schools. They should be free to control their own budgets and make their own choices. This would mean that headteachers could go about providing the best education possible for children in their own school. Every child is different and the best people to cater for this are their teachers, not extended arms of Government.

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