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CPS - Abolishing Quangos

The Centre for Policy Studies has produced a report recommending the dissolution of seven education quangos. In the report published this week (click here), CPS has looked at the 11 quangos they felt had the greatest impact on schools to see how their functions can be abolished, transferred to government or privatised. The quangos were:

  • Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (now QCDA) & OfQual
  • Ofsted
  • Becta
  • Training and Development Agency for Schools
  • National College for School Leadership
  • General Teaching Council for England
  • School Teachers’ Review Body
  • Partnerships for Schools
  • 11 MILLION (The Office of the Children’s Commissioner)
  • Teachers' TV
  • Schools Food Trust
As a result CPS recommends:
  • abolition of the QCDA to be replaced by a small Curriculum Advisory Board leaving schools free to develop their own curriculum.
  • Ofsted return to being a school inspection body and focus on educational standards, particularly poorly performing schools. There is no recommendation for the inspection of any of the other areas that Ofsted currently cover.
  • abolition of the TDA with teacher training provided within schools as an employment-basedsystem, or via short.  
  • abolition of British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) as the development and use of technology in schools should no longer require a central, publicly-funded organisation.
  • abolition of 11 MILLION (previously The Office of the Children’s Commissioner) to give a clear statement on the part of an incoming Government that ... the remit of state intervention should focus on those children at most need.
  • the abolition of Teachers TV, suggesting that the private sector should fill this demand.
The CPS report is interesting from a number of perspectives - political, sociological and financial.   While CPS are non-political, the proposals are apparently intended to "reverse permanently" New Labour's education project.
But what's all this quango stuff about?
quango (n) - a "non-departmental public body" which performs functions on behalf of government; or an independent administrative body which relies on government funding. 
There are currently over 1000 quangos which include:
  • Equality & Human Rights Commission
  • Ofsted
  • Construction Industry Training Board
  • Learning and Skills Council
  • Quality Improvement Agency
  • Sector Skills Development Agency
  • Training and Development Agency for Schools
  • Criminal Records Bureau
  • Disability Rights Commission
The growth of quangos was a result of government policy in the 80s of reducing the size of central government.   According to the Taxpayers Alliance, the number of quangos has fallen from 1128 in 1997 to 827 in 2007. The cost has however increased from £19 billion to £31 billion in this period.  The funding is quite complex and the cost isn’t really accounted for within official figures, but it is estimated that these organiastions currently cost £34 billion a year.   
Quango bashing is quite fashionable (see RSA article) and grabs some great headlines, but remember that the work undertaken by many of these organisations still needs to be done even if the organisation disappears. Some may have outlived their usefulness, and all should be reviewed, but they are often filling a very necessary role. 
The Centre for Policy Studies founded in 1974 by Sir Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher to “promote the principles of a free society” and plays a key role in developing the policies of privatisation, low-tax government and support for the family.


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