A recent article in the Guardian explores how the publishing giant Pearson commands the education world in Britain.
Pearson not only sells textbooks and testing, but also owns Britain’s biggest national examination system, which is operated for profit.
But that’s not all.
Pearson is now promoting itself as a policy studies outfit and think tank, studying the problems of British education and offering solutions. In whose interest, one wonders.
And of course it is developing a model school with a computer-based curriculum called the “Always Learning Gateway,” covering 11 subject areas. It is being tried out for free but will eventually be offered for profit.
Pearson is preparing a report on which the English examination system is promoting high standards and positioning Britain to be a global leader.
“Alasdair Smith, national secretary of the Anti Academies Alliance, which is critical of corporate influence in education, says: “This stuff frightens the life out of me. My concern is that business dictates the nature of education, and especially the aims of education, when it should be one voice among others.”
“Ball says private influence does not stop at Pearson. He mentions McKinsey, the management consultant that has published two widely cited international reports on successful education systems, as evidence of companies’ incursion into policymaking. Sir Michael Barber, Tony Blair’s former education standards guru, was an author of both McKinsey reports. He now works for Pearson.
“Last month, it was reported that ministers want to “outsource” some policymaking to companies, consultants and thinktanks in a bid to scale down the civil service.”
The British government, it seems, is outsourcing education policy to the nation’s largest vendor of education products and services.