The centrepiece of Michael Gove's speech at yesterday's Tory conference was the idea of private institutions establishing schools.
The Tories had clearly spent much time in Sweden looking at Kunskapsskolen- roughly translated "knowledge schools". Gove had announced this policy at last year's conference, so I was surprised that it still seemed not fully thought through.
Sweden's Kunskapsskolen, rely on a voucher system. Parents are given a voucher with a cash value they exchange for education. The architect of this system is Anders Hultin who, not unsurprisingly, was in the audience listening to Gove.
I suspect he was disappointed in what he heard.
In the October 9th issue of the Spectator, Hultin wrote a piece headed, ' Profit is the key to success in "Swedish Schools" '. It was still there on the Spectator's website this morning.
After his speech, Gove was interviewed by Andrew Neil on the "Daily Politics". You can see the interview here. Neil's question can be heard just over 6 minutes in. Gove unequivocally rejects the idea that those who run these schools can "make a few bob". Without the profit motive, Hultin believes the schools' transplant to the UK is unlikely to succeed. Notice how Gove smartly moves the subject off Hultin on to American Charter schools.
It's a pity that Neil didn't have time to challenge Gove on the Charter Schools.
The most authoritative study on those schools was conducted by the Center Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University in 2009.
It analysed 70% of the nation's students attending charter schools and compared those students with demographically matched students in nearby public schools. The report found that 17% of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools; 46% showed no difference from public schools; and 37% were significantly worse than their traditional public school counterparts. The authors of the report consider this a "sobering" finding about the quality of charter schools in the US.
The executive summary of CREDO report is here (pdf). Interestingly enough, Gove uses the Charter schools in Texas as an example. A poor one as it turns out. Texas Charter schools are at the bottom of the class.
Back to the Remove Michael!