Newly-opened low-cost school in Durham won’t ‘engage with the media

Janet Downs's picture
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But website features positive article published only yesterday

‘We are extremely gratified by all the national and local media attention surrounding the opening of our school’, says the website of the newly-opened, low-cost Independent Grammar School Durham (IGSD) in a statement dated 17 September.  

 ‘As a privately-funded organisation, however, our policy is not to engage with the media.’

Three days later, on 20 September, the website forgot about not dealing with the media and printed a New Statesman article which said, among other things:

‘As the British state decays, private firms are moving even into policing…Private enterprise has a usually reliable nose for where it can make money.’

Professor James Tooley, whose firm The Education Partnership (UK) Ltd runs IGSD, is not running a public service but a private one – one that will be attractive to investors, Tooley claims.   And one that aims to off-set lower pay and incentivise ‘younger teachers through a profit-share model’, James Croft, chair of the Centre for Education Economics, says in today’s Schools Week.

School accused of trading on parental anxieties

One article that didn’t appear on the school’s website was the one in The Guardian on 15 September.    This says  many in the education sector accuse the founders of IGSD of ‘using children as guinea pigs in an educational experiment and trading on parents’ anxieties about finding the right school for their child’.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), told The Guardian. ‘It’s unbelievable to me that you can run a school on £52 a week per child.’  It’s even more unbelievable if The Education Partnership (UK) Ltd expects to make a profit from the low fee.

The Guardian also said IGSD appeared not to have attracted the 65 pupils which Tooley hoped would be recruited in the school’s first year.

It’s also unlikely IGSD will reprint the comment in Schools Week’s Week in Westminster column*.  This speculates that the school’s new-found coyness was caused by the critical Guardian article.

Sun and Mail could help boost success of low-cost, no-frills schools, said Tooley

Professor Tooley once wrote that the success of his low-cost, no-frills schools would be helped by getting tabloids like The Sun and Daily Mail ‘onside’.  It’s unclear how this will be possible if it's IGSD policy not to engage with the media.

Perhaps the policy only applies when the media prints puff pieces extolling the merits of bargain basement education run for profit.

 

 

*Available only to subscribers.  Not published on line. 

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