England free school acquired by one of largest US private equity companies - ATL
1 October 2012
The management of the school, based in Brandon, Suffolk, was the subject of a controversial £21 million pound contract won by the UK subsidiary of Swedish company Internationella Engelska Skolan (IES), the first for profit organisation to take over the running of a state school in England on a permanent basis. The school opened last month, and, at the same time, IES founder Barbara Bergstrom was finalising a partnership with TA Associates, one of the largest private equity firms in the world with assets of around $16 billion.
ATL's deputy general secretary, Martin Johnson, revealed the deal at a Labour Land Campaign fringe meeting on The Economics of Education and The Education of Economists at the Labour Party Conference today (Monday).
He said: "The large majority of people in this country, including most parents and education staff, think it's wrong to run state schools for profit. One reason is this: it is a feature of the huge and growing global education business that small organisations which may run schools from the best of motives soon get swallowed up by the money people. They run schools for profit, not for pupils, and will asset-strip schools if it suits them.
"The TA Associates website now lists IES in its portfolio between HVL Inc, a Pittsburgh based manufacturer of vitamins, herbs and minerals, and Jenny Craig Inc of California, which offers weight management services. The parents of IES Breckland may not see any difference yet, but private equity businesses exist to squeeze their assets.
"IES plans to use Breckland as a model for future acquisitions of state schools in England. ATL believes that schools should be in the care of their local communities, not global companies."
Notes to editors
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing approximately 160,000 teachers, headteachers, lecturers and support staff in maintained and independent nurseries, schools, sixth form, tertiary and further education colleges in the United Kingdom.
ATL exists to help members, as their careers develop, through first rate research, advice, information and legal advice.
ATL is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). ATL is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.