Headlines: February 9th, 1999

3Es Enterprises has won a bid to manage King’s Manor School, Guildford. This is the first time a private company has been given the task of running a state school. The school assets will be retained by Surrey Local Education Authority who will work in partnership with the company, which runs a successful City Technology College in the West Midlands.

King’s Manor is a failing comprehensive school with high levels of truancy and where only 20% of students achieve 5 or more CCSE passes. The national average is 46%. It is unable to fill over half the school places.

The attention of many educational stakeholders will be focused on the school. Students, parents and the Local Education Authority will want results from the company, but others will watch with equal interest. Ministers will want to see if this form of partnership deal does bring the predicted benefits. Adverts inviting companies to express interest in running failing schools have already been published. Local Education Authorities will be looking to see if the costs/benefits match their approach to failing and under performing schools. Teacher unions will be concerned about the impact on their members if private companies are allowed to engage in the education business in any numbers.