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Policy discourse surrounding Britain’s unusually well-resourced private schools surrounds their charitable status and their relationship with low social mobility, but informative evidence is scarce. We present estimates of the extent to which private and external benefits at age 25 are associated with attendance at private school in England in the 21st century. We find a weekly wage premium of 17 percent, and a 12 percentage point lower chance of downward social mobility. By contrast, private schooling is not significantly associated with participation in local voluntary groups, unpaid voluntary work, or charitable giving and fundraising; this finding casts doubt on claims that private schools deliver ‘public benefit’ in this way.
There is a perception among some commentators and policy analysts that leadership and managerial practices in private schools are superior to those in state schools. Analysing a survey of workplaces in Britain, we find little evidence to support this contention when examining the prevalence of modern human resource management (HRM) practices in schools. Rather, the evidence points to greater use of such practices in state schools. Those practices are correlated with improved school performance in the state sector, but not in the private sector. We discuss the implications of these findings for the policy of encouraging managers of private schools to sponsor state schools.
The aim of this article is to investigate the argument that choice and competition will unleash entrepreneurial innovation in free schools. Free schools were introduced as a subset of the Academies by the Conservative–Liberal Democrat Coalition government, following the general election in 2010. The government made it possible for non-state providers to set up their own independent, state-funded schools in order to create more choice, competition and innovation. We conclude that a higher level of substantive innovation is taking place in regards to management practices than in respect of curriculum and pedagogical practices. Innovation in curriculum and pedagogical practices is very limited. Creating a free school offer that seems to differ from other schools appears to be done through marketing and branding rather than innovation. We argue that parents, OFSTED, and the relative isolation of free schools constrain innovation from taking place.
Legislative changes and a recent court ruling allow private schools in England and Wales to determine how to provide the public benefits required to justify their charitable status. We investigate how private school headteachers and other informed stakeholders perceive their public benefit objectives and obligations. We find that schools interpret public beneficiaries widely to include one or more of state school pupils, local communities, other charities, and general society through raising socially responsible adults. Private schools pursue their own goals through public benefit provision, and balance the advantages of public benefit activities against the costs. The schools are not constrained by the ‘more than tokenistic’ minimum set by the regulator. The findings highlight the difficulties faced by governments who seek to pursue redistributive educational policies through charitable law.
In the last two decades or so education and training have become central in the discussion of Britain's economic performance. There have been substantial changes in education and training policy (OECD 1995) and, at the same time, an expansion of participation in post-compulsory education. Both current and recent governments have aimed to raise work-based training through a mixture of persuasion and limited, selective, measures. Yet, there is considerable uncertainty about the extent to which the education and training system is enhancing skills in Britain or, for that matter, in many other countries. This paper concentrates on one dimension of the issue, namely work-based training statistics. There is uncertainty both over the amount of inputs into training and over its impact on skills. It argues that the uncertainty is, in part, the consequence of poor training statistics and that policy debate would benefit from improvements in the ways in which these statistics are compiled and interpreted.
This chapter argues that training may do little to improve the skills of the British workforce where it is undertaken in response to government regulations on health and safety or to occupational requirements, or as the outcome of drives to achieve quality ‘kitemarks’ or standards. The significance of this type of training appears to have grown in the recession. For example, off-the-job training courses have become much shorter during the recession and more qualifications are now being awarded for short courses, suggesting that they may not be of a particularly high standard and certainly not of any depth. Yet these factors have helped to maintain training volumes in economic circumstances which have hitherto seen training cut back.
It would therefore be incorrect to conclude that it was unbridled market forces that held up training activity in the early 1990s, with British employers at last realizing the importance of training for their own and Britain's long-term future. On the contrary, it is argued in this chapter that the force of regulation has served to protect training from the business cycle. While the maintenance of this sort of training should be welcomed, it may well do little to upgrade the skills of the British workforce and thereby lay the grounds for a more prosperous future.
Even where [training] provision exists, it can often be highly vulnerable when recession or restructuring make their demands. Training is costly and may not always be seen as producing a prompt return.
(House of Lords, 1990, p. 208)
It has become almost conventional wisdom to assume that training volumes in Britain move pro-cyclically, and that they are particularly prone to fall in times of recession.