Edison – profiting from running schools

The Department for Education has approved a private US education company to sell services to groups setting up free schools and academies in England.

Edison Learning has already sold partnerships with more than 80 schools in the UK.

Director of Edison Learning, Tim Nash, stated that “if the opportunity arose” the firm might want to manage schools, but that the outlines for running state schools for profit had not been clearly outlined as of yet.

Edison used to run Turin Grove school in Edmonton. This contract was worth £1 million over 3 years. In October 2008 governors were dissatisfied with the schools results, down from 22% A*-C GCSE’s with English and Maths to 19% this year. Edison’s contract was not renewed.

Edison Learning is an international company based in America.

The American experience

Edison Schools Inc was formed in 1992.

Edison was bought out in 2003, after failing to make a profit, by Florida pensions funds. Edison founder Chris Whittle was set to earn up to $28 million over 5 years.

Edison is closely linked to the Republican Party, sponsoring a banquet in 2003 where Geb Bush received an award.


School results

“The data show that while students at Edison schools occasionally perform better than similar students at schools elsewhere in the same district or state, the Edison students mostly perform as well as or worse than students in comparable schools.”



In 2002 Edison was caught in the stock market meltdown, with its shares plummeting from over$21 to under $1.

The company solved this by selling off their books, computers, lab equipment and musical instruments. Chris Whittle is reported to have told a meeting of school principals “he’d thought up an ingenious solution to the company’s financial woes: Take advantage of the free supply of child labor, and force each student to work an hour a day, presumably without pay, in the school offices.”


A new strategy ‘E2’ (2007) continues to see pupils working in the schools to reduce costs with students “serving as prefects and to perform certain school tasks result in cost savings and revenue enhancements”


In June 2008 Philadelphia Schools District ‘seized’ 4 schools back from Edison.

“At one point, officials considered turning the entire district over to Edison Schools Inc., a for-profit provider that currently runs 20 schools, four of which will return to district hands.”

“But over the past six years, the privately-run schools have not proven to be a silver bullet. The schools they operated failed to deliver higher test scores than district schools, despite costly interventions.”


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