23 SES 03 D, Privatisation and the Private Sector
This paper is concerned with scoping widely-found and more distinctive characteristics of the privatisations of New Zealand schooling, for the purposes of a wider comparative study of privatisation of schooling in New Zealand, Finland and Sweden intended to reveal the global and local impact of ‘privatisations’ (Ball, 2007). By mapping the enabling conditions and constraints on schooling privatisation in New Zealand such as ideologies, legislation, policy architectures and recent initiatives, it is hoped that the paper will provide an heuristic for characterising schooling privatisations and defining a field within which to investigate privatisation practices in each of these three settings and others as well. For the purposes of this paper, ‘schooling’ includes funding, facilities and services that are provided directly in schools and also to schools in the form of support for those activities and services.
There are numerous elements of schooling privatisation in New Zealand that fit with international patterns as discussed by writers such as Ball (2012), Verger, Lubienski and Steiner-Khamsi (2016), and Verger, Fontdevila and Zancajo (2016). Since the 1980s there has been the growth of endogenous privatisation, adopting ideas and practices from the private sector so that schools became more market-oriented and business-like (Ball and Youdell, 2007). The everyday funding and operation of New Zealand schools has become heavily affected by this trend (Lauder et al. 1999, Wylie 2012), which has been described as a shift from social democratic to market managerial norms (Court and O’Neill, 2011). Over the last decade, however, there has also been growing exogenous privatisation in New Zealand, involving ‘the opening up of public education services to private sector participation on a for-profit basis and using the private sector to design, manage or deliver aspects of public education’ (Ball and Youdell 2007). In New Zealand, charter schools (vernacularly known as Partnership Schools Kura Hourua), Public-Private Partnerships and contracting out of school activities and Ministry of Education functions through the Government Electronic Tendering Service (GETS) are the most obvious developments in this area but there are many more (O’Neill with Duffy and Fernando 2016, Thrupp with Lingard, Maguire and Hursh 2017).
Some distinctive aspects of schooling privatisations in New Zealand discussed in this paper include the significance of educational charities and charitable status, privatisation as a strategy for Māori and Pacific groups intent on self-determination, and outsourcing of teaching and curriculum despite widespread awareness and concern about recent educational reform amongst teachers and principals. A small-steps approach, sometimes described as ‘creeping privatisation’ or ‘privatisation by stealth’ is also a distinctive feature of schooling privatisation in New Zealand.
Similar to other Anglophone jurisdictions, New Zealand’s legal framework of ‘charitable purposes’ is derived originally from the 1601 Statute of Charitable Uses in England (Poirier, 2013). Accordingly, ‘education’ is accepted as one of the standard purposes of charitable works and any organisation engaged in the provision of educational services for public benefit, that is ‘not-for-profit’, may seek registered charity status. In New Zealand, the wealthiest established registered educational charities include the public universities and the longer-established private schools. Since policy reforms in the 1980s led to routine contracting out of the delivery of public schooling services, two highly influential private educational management organisations (EMOs) have emerged, Cognition Education Ltd and CORE Education Ltd. Both of these are registered not-for-profit educational charitable trusts which operate as wholly-owned for-profit businesses. Alongside Cognition and CORE, more traditional boutique charities have been established while larger ‘venture philanthropy’ groups have funded high profile ‘proof of concept’ trials of novel interventions in schools with the explicit aim of influencing government education policy.
The research for this paper will draw especially on publicly reported data on companies, charities and school funding, as well as media reports and press releases. It will also review academic commentary and curricular materials. A small number of interviews with key private actors, policymakers, teachers and principals will also be reported in this paper. The wider project as mentioned below will include more interview data. The paper will map the vernaculars of schooling privatisation within New Zealand. It forms part of a wider research project 'Hollowing Out of Public Education Systems? Private Actors in Compulsory Schooling in Finland, Sweden and New Zealand' (HOPES) funded by Academy of Finland (1 Sep 2017 - 31 July 2021) at the Centre for Research on Lifelong Learning and Education (CELE), University of Turku. The HOPES project will examine privatisation of schooling in these three national settings and analyse their similarities and differences. We aim to develop an heuristic that helps illuminate and explain privatisation practices in these settings, and others as well.
As part of its ‘social investment’ policy, The New Zealand Government has adopted a targeted approach to funding the needs of children at most ‘risk’ of educational ‘underachievement’ through highly publicised partnerships with both charitable and for-profit organisations. Some privatisations of schooling such as charter schools have had support from many Māori and Pacific people in New Zealand. Desires for group autonomy and self-determination create a potential paradox whereby the most disadvantaged groups and communities in society may believe that their best interests lie in operating outside the public education system through engaging in strategic, co-operative relationships with private corporations, NGOs and philanthropic entities, rather than with the state. These enterprising network and clan relationships reinforce a counterintuitive narrative that private sector participation in state education may eventually help to reduce inequalities rather than exacerbate them. In New Zealand, teachers and principals continue to be encouraged to choose from an ever-increasing range of curricula and programmes provided by multinational corporations (e.g. McDonald’s, Honda, Macleans) and industry groups (e.g. fruit and vegetable industry, gambling industry), as well as charities and other ‘not-for-profit’ organisations (such as ‘pokie’ trusts). Despite teachers and principals being critical and skeptical of more obvious elements of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM), the outsourcing of teaching and curriculum acts as a form of ‘hidden privatisation’ (Ball & Youdell, 2007), one that creates a number of ‘hidden’ dangers for teaching and learning (Powell 2015). Many privatisation developments have been framed by policymakers as being only small scale or experimental, allowing piecemeal changes that may not individually seem very important, but which together and over time gradually add up to a significant shift. The approach of using small steps seems to have been a deliberate strategy used in New Zealand in order to conceal neo-liberal developments (Gould 2016).
Ball, S.J. (2007). Education Plc: Understanding Private Sector Participation in Public Sector Education. Oxon: Routledge. Ball, S.J. (2012). Global Education Inc: New Policy Networks and the Neoliberal Imaginary. Oxon: Routledge. Ball, S.J. & Youdell, D. (2007). Hidden Privatisation in Education. Education International. Court, M. & O’Neill, J. (2011). ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ in New Zealand: From social democracy to market managerialism. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 43(2), 119-140. Gould B. (2016, 14 December) Labour Party never really knew what they were dealing with in John Key. New Zealand Herald, retrieved from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11765941. Lauder, H. & Hughes, D., with Watson S., Waslander, S., Thrupp, M., Strathdee, R., Simiyu, I., Dupuis, A., McGlinn, J. & Hamlin, J. (1999). Trading in Futures: Why Markets in Education Don't Work. Buckingham: Open University Press. O’Neill, J. with Duffy, C. & Fernando, S. (2016). Charities, philanthropists, policy entrepreneurs, international companies and state schooling in Aotearoa New Zealand. Palmerston North: Massey University Manawatū. Pourier, D. (2013). Charity Law in New Zealand. Downloaded 23 January 2018 from: https://www.charities.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Resources/Charity-Law-in-New-Zealand.pdf Powell, D. (2015). Assembling the privatisation of PE and the ‘inexpert’ teacher. Sport, Education and Society, 20(1), 73-88. DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2014.941796 Thrupp, M. with Lingard, B. Maguire, M. & Hursh, D. (2017). The Search for Better Educational Standards: A Cautionary Tale. Dordrecht: Springer. Verger, A., Fontdevila, C. Zancajo, A. (2016). The Privatization of Education: A Political Economy of Global Education Reform. New York: Teachers College Press. Verger, A., Lubiensky, C., & Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2016). World Yearbook of Education 2016: The Global Education Industry. Oxon & New York: Routledge. Wylie, C. (2012). Vital Connections: Why we need more than self-managing schools. Wellington, New Zealand: NZCER Press.
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