I trained and worked as a teacher in state schools in Scotland. After moving to Canada, I found that the regulatory body for education would not recognise my UK teaching qualification, and that I was unable to work in Canadian state schools without re-training. I was, however, able to apply for work in independent schools.
My experience in an independent school was very mixed. On one hand, I enjoyed great freedom to create my own curriculum and order my own resources. I had a small class of hard-working pupils with supportive families. On the other hand, I faced constant pressure to provide 'value for money' for the families I worked for, who expected high test scores in return for their investment. During my time at the school, numerous students with behavioural or academic problems suddenly and unaccountably left the school. The requirements for staff training were low, and the school had a very high staff turnover. I saw untrained teachers struggle, fail, give up, and finally leave or get fired.
My experiences have confirmed for me that universal, high-quality, non-selective education is the best way to serve children and families, and is the best environment for teachers and staff to work in. I hope that the UK Coalition learns from the problems that the US, Canada, and Sweden have encountered with their private, charter and free schools.