The Perils of Privatising Education

[BPSDB]Professor David Colquhoun has been investigating the teaching of woo to schoolchildren. The offending subject matter is found in the OfQual accredited Edexcel Level 3 BTEC Nationals in Health and Social Care.

Click the link and read how his queries were routed through the Byzantine interlinked quangos that run education today. He discovered that health care, in the eyes of Edexcel and OfQual at least, is not science based. An email to Professor Colquhoun contains the following telling comments:

Thank you for email communication concerning the complementary therapies unit which is available in our BTEC National in Health and BTEC National in Health and Social Care qualifications. I have replied on behalf of Stephen Nugus, our science subject advisor, because your questions do not refer to a science qualification … The qualification as a whole is related to the National Occupational Standards for the vocational sectors of Health and Health and social care with consultation taken from the relevant sector skills councils. … The aim of BTEC qualifications is to prepare people for work in these particular sectors.

So their intention is to train people to be woosters. And I thought Twenty First Century Science was bad. Professor Colquhoun attempted to find out how this Unit had been drawn up via a Freedom of Information request. I quote his request and the reply in full:

Freedom of Information Act


I should like to see please all documents from Edexcel and OfQual or QCA (and communications between then) that concern the formulation and approval of Unit 23 (Complementary Therapies) in the level3 BTEC (page 309 in attached document). In vew of the contentious nature of the subject matter, I believe that is is in the public interest that this information be provided

David Colquhoun

The reply:

Dear Mr Colquhoun,

Thank you of your e-mail of today’s date. I note your request for information pursuant to The Freedom of Information Act. As you may know this Act only applies to public bodies and not to the private sector. Edexcel Limited is privately owned and therefore not subject to this Act. Edexcel is therefore not obliged to provide information to you and is not prepared to give you the information you seek.

Please do not hesitate to contact me again if you have any further queries.

Kate Gregory
Director of Legal Services
Pearson Assessments & Testing

To my mind, the crucial point is found in the sentences I have emboldened; Edexcel are a private business and therefore (in their view) are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act.

There are two problems with examining boards being run as businesses. First, they want customers so they give the customers what they want. The customers are schools & colleges and, driven by the league tables, they want lots of examination passes. The examination boards duly deliver easy-to-pass exams such as Twenty First Century Science and the above mentioned BTEC in Health and Social Care.

The second problem is that which Professor Colquhoun encountered. As businesses they are accountable only to their shareholders and not to the public. Unfortunately, it is the public who are effected by this dumbing-down and quackery promotion. Not so long ago, the examination bodies were run by Universities or other public bodies. If that were still the case, they would be covered by the FoI Act and Professor Colquhoun could have got to the bottom of this nonsense. As it is, the Government’s mania for privatising public provision ensures that we remain endarkened.


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One Response to “The Perils of Privatising Education”

  1. dvnutrix Says:

    National education resulting in national outcomes – these should not be walled off by having a break out in a private company that is not available to public scrutiny.

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