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James Westhead reports for BBC News
"Some fear profit and state education don't mix"
 real 28k

Brian Oakley Smith from CEA
"All our profit is at risk if we don't meet the guidelines"
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Friday, 26 November, 1999, 08:14 GMT
Private firm to run Islington's schools
classroom Islington's 70 schools are set to be run by a private firm

For the first time in the UK, a private company is to take over the running of all the school services provided by an education authority.

Cambridge Education Associates (CEA), a small educational consultancy, is to be put in charge of schools in the borough of Islington in north London.

It has been named as the preferred bidder for the 105m, seven-year contract, after the government ordered Islington to contract out its education services.

The order followed one of the most critical reports ever made about an education authority by Office of Standards in Education (Ofsted) inspectors.

Rejected for Blair children

Seven of the Labour-run borough's 70 schools - which have 25,000 pupils - were declared "failing", and a further seven identified as having "serious weaknesses".

Last year, only 23.3% of pupils in the borough achieved five good GCSE grades, while the national average was 44.4%.

Sue Seifert Sue Seifert: "Private companies are looking for profit"
Islington's most famous former resident Tony Blair rejected the borough's schools for his children.

If, as expected, CEA takes over next April, the company will provide all central services for the schools, from advising on the curriclum to running their pay-rolls.

It will also make a profit, estimated at about 500,000 a year.

'Answerable'

This has been criticised by teaching unions, but the company says it will only make a profit if it meets tough targets to raise standards.

Sue Seifert, headteacher of Montem Primary School in Islington, said she did not think it was right for private companies to provide school services.

"Private companies are looking for profit. They have shareholders, they have to pay dividends. How can you make a profit on our children's education?"

School Standards Minister Estelle Morris said CEA would be "answerable through the contract to Islington's LEA, and the elected councillors will monitor the contract".

"Both the Department and Islington are determined that this will mark a new beginning for the borough and raise expectations about the future of education locally."
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See also:
15 Nov 99 |  Education
Warning for failing authorities
06 Nov 99 |  Education
Haringey angered by privatisation threat
18 Jun 99 |  Education
Nord Anglia to run Hackney school services
18 May 99 |  Education
Council prepares for education privatisation

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