Sunday, 9 December 2012

Studio Schools - the unreported scandal

Almost any business can set up a studio school by paying a voluntary subscription of just £8,000 to the government. In return, the government builds and maintains a school, but the power to run the school remains firmly in the hands of private sponsors. National Express, GlaxoSmithKline, Sony, Ikea, Disney, Michelin, Virgin Media and Hilton Hotels are just some of the corporate players who have bought into the scheme.

So what is in it for these investors? First, they hope that graduates of studio schools will work for them in the future – the taxpayer is paying to train their future employees. Second, pupils must spend up to 40 per cent of their school lives working for these companies. Predictably, these sponsor firms only pay the minimum wage – and that’s only for their over-16 students.

Under-16s, meanwhile, must work at least four hours a week for local sponsors unpaid. It is perhaps ironic that a system that is supposed to teach children what it is like to work in the real world does not pay them to do a job. Moreover, the introduction of cheap child labour into the workplace is likely to drive down wages for adult workers doing similar jobs. 
Red Pepper

Why isn't this scandal the subject of a Panorama special? Why isn't that vile pipsqueak, Gove, being grilled to an inch of his life by Paxman and Humphrys? Is it because the BBC's become too cowed, after being slapped down by successive governments, to ask challenging questions? Or is it just that we've absorbed so much propaganda and self-loathing that we no longer believe that our children merit a decent all-round education, or that their work deserves to be paid for? For a government that claims to stand shoulder to shoulder with 'strivers', this lot seem very keen on schemes that should only appeal to people with the most miserably low expecatations.