28 SES 05 B, The Governance of Education between States, Networks and For-Profit Companies
Across the field of education in the European Union, there is a range of activity by private companies but none more so than in England. They may supply education goods in a market which is growing and released from local control, they are subcontractors for school services, they are print and online publishers of education materials, and they manage state contracts for data, inspection and national services. Since the 1980s, this activity has been described as outsourcing, and is closely related to decentralized school budgeting.
However, in England, this new commercial activity is now worth billions of pounds as the state retreats from providing services directly. The growth of this sector depends heavily on public sector contracts, but the companies concerned, for example, G4S and Serco, have extended their activity across the public sector, into other deregulated national economies, and into related, profit making activity, built on their service contracts. In England, the work of these companies
Is associated with monopoly behavior, poor quality service, and the question of whether public monies should be to support this private business sector?
The second major question applied to these companies is ‘should the state relinquish its responsibility for its democratic functions to the private sector?’ These companies have moved from being service contract managers to powerful sole suppliers of state services, and their power is now being used to shape public services and to privatize operational knowledge about these services. State and professional governing knowledge is being lost and these private companies take this knowledge and use it for their market expansion and public power. Outsourced contracts lead to a loss of knowledge about the public sector and its practices, within government and the public.
The concept of the ‘shadow state’ is being used to describe the way that contemporary state power works, and certainly can be applied fruitfully to England and its education service. When Wolch defined it in the early 1990s as ‘‘a para-state apparatus comprised of multiple voluntary sector organizations, administered outside of traditional democratic politics and charged with major collective service responsibilities previously shouldered by the public sector, yet remaining within the purview of state control.’ [Wolch 1990], it referred to the involvement in the voluntary sector in delivering services. This stage is still in existence but now the emphasis as shifted onto private organizations; these tend to be multi sector companies working in several public sector fields, like prisons, hospitals, security and education. They are preferred contractors over voluntary or professional organizations, and they have the potential to become the shapers and brokers of public services which only they really know. It is not uncommon in England for governmental advisers to be used from the private sector to shape the regulation of their industry.
In this presentation, I want to discuss one field of private contractor operation, the operation of school inspection, over the last ten years, and the emerging power of large scale inspection companies. Studying how they work, their failures, their operational structures and employees, and their development will enable an analysis of the shadow state concept to be advanced.
Ball, S [2012a] Global Education Inc.: New Policy Networks and the Neoliberal Imaginary London: Routledge Ball, S and Junemann, C [2012b] Networks, New Governance and Education London: Policy Press Jessop, B. (1998), ‘The Rise of Governance and the Risks of Failure: The Case of Economic Development’, International Social Science Journal, No155, pp29-46 Lawn, M A Systemless System: designing the disarticulation of English state education, European Educational Research Journal Vol 12 No 2 2013 pp231 241 Muir, R  Not for Profit -The role of the private sector in England’s schools Institute for Public Policy Research Report London: IPPR pp28 Sturgess, GL [Serco Institute] ‘Managing Service Delivery under a Performance Regime: 40 Years of Experience National Audit Office Performance Measurement Conference, London, 9th November Sturgess, GL [Serco Institute] Public Sector Reform: An International Overview Efficiency Unit, Central Government Office, Hong Kong Whitfield, D The Dynamics of Public Sector Transformation - Soundings, No 46, Winter 2010. pp 99 -111 Trudeau, D  Towards a relational view of the shadow state Political Geography 27 pp 669-690 Williams, Z  The Shadow State – a report about outsourcing of public services London: Social Enterprise UK Wolch, J  the shadow state: government and voluntary sector in transition NY: The Foundation Center
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