“The wholesale privatisation of our education system is coming another big step closer” said UNISON, the UK’s largest union today (26 March). The claim is in response to reports that a federation which runs the college and a chain of academy schools in Luton, plans to be the first in the country to run a state further education college as a profit making business (1). This privatisation of a public asset would see the college paying out dividends to shareholders.
UNISON is writing to the Minister of State for Further Education and Lifelong Learning, John Hayes, urging him to block the planned ‘privatisation’ of Barnfield College.
The Chief Executive of the Barnfield Federation has confirmed that he has already made contact with private equity groups over the proposed privatisation. Even more worryingly, reports say the federation is also looking to create a new business model for schools that would raise funds from private equity and again pay dividends to shareholders.
Jon Richards UNISON National Secretary for Education and Children’s Services said:
“The Government cannot stand by and let our colleges and schools be run as profit making ventures. UNISON is writing to John Hayes today urging him to intervene and block the privatisation of Barnfield College.
“The government has said the deregulation of colleges will set then them free, but this is not about freedom it’s about opening up colleges as prey to private equity funds and asset strippers. It’s about the privatisation of our Further Education System. On its own it’s an outrage, but when you see that the Barnfield Federation also want to use this model for their schools – the wholesale privatisation of our education system comes another big step closer.
Ministers must immediately intervene.
Over the next few weeks UNISON will be working with other unions and community groups to lobby Barnfield College governing body. The governors are due to vote on the proposed privatisation in the run up to Easter.
Notes 1) Barnfield College is part of the The Barnfield Federation which is made up of Barnfield College, Barnfield South and West Academies, Moorlands Free School and the country’s first FE sponsored Studio School.