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EDITIONS
Unions 2000 Monday, 24 April, 2000, 19:15 GMT 20:15 UK
Ministers accused of privatising education
conference hall
Delegates were united in opposing privatisation
Teachers have accused the government of seeking a "British Rail-style" privatisation of education, with the state system to be divided between private operators.

The claim was made in a debate at the National Union of Teachers' annual conference in Harrogate.

Nicole Bradley
Nicole Bradley: "It's not philanthropy"
The government needed to abandon "the mantra that private is good and public is bad," said Ian Murch, a delegate from Bradford.

In Bradford the local authority could soon become the latest to lose its education services to private contractors - with an inspection report due to be published.

"Public money should be spent on schools and not placed in private pockets," said Nicole Bradley from Islington in London.

She said that private sector involvement in education was motivated solely by profit.

Accountability

"If they were philanthropists, why don't they just give us the money?," she said.

Another Islington delegate, Paul Atkin, questioned the accountability of the private companies now running education services and asked what would happen if they failed to deliver.

And if current trends continued, Julia Alterman from Wandsworth forecast, in another five years there would be no local authorities and schools and services would be operated by hundreds of different organisations.

With few of the divisions that have characterised arguments over a proposed one-day strike over performance pay, the conference heard speaker after speaker condemning the increasing role played in education by the private sector.

In particular, delegates attacked the handing over of local authority services to private companies - a measure that the government has used after critical inspection reports in councils including the London Boroughs of Islington and Hackney.

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The BBC's Mike Baker
"Teachers will strike if necessary against privatisation"
See also:

23 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
11 Apr 00 | Education
18 Apr 00 | Hot Topics
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