James Tooley

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James Tooley has been described as "the high priest of privatised education in Britain".[1]

He is currently Professor of Education Policy at Newcastle University (School of Education Communication and Language Sciences); and a director of the University's E.G. West Centre, which carries out research-based advocacy, particularly around the development of low-fee private schooling across the developing world.[2]

Lobbying for market-based education reform

Tooley is a vocal lobbyist for low-fee private schools in developing countries.

He also believes that countries such as Britain should have commercially-run, low-cost private schools, with bigger classes, more modest buildings, less experienced teachers and more technology.

'I want to see private schools emerge and then the state just move aside from education.'[3]

Tooley is also co-founder and chairman of Omega Schools, a chain of low-fee private schools in Ghana launched in 2009 which received significant investment from Pearson in 2012; and Empathy Learning Systems in Hyderabad, India. Tooley is reportedly an 'old friend' of Sir Michael Barber, Pearson's chief education adviser.[4]

Affiliations

As Curtis Reip notes in his study of Omega Schools, Tooley is a 'key actor in a transnational advocacy network that pushes the idea that low-cost private schools will universalise access to basic education'.[5]

‘Pro-market’ think tanks, advocacy groups and other organisations working in the field of business and ‘development’ have been keen to support Tooley and his research on low-cost private schools for the poor. With financial backing from ‘pro-market’ foundations such as the John Templeton Foundation, CATO Institute and the Institute of Economic Affairs, Tooley has expanded his initial research in India to include studies in China, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and elsewhere.'[6]

Tooley is also an adviser to a number of free-market think tanks in Britain, Brussels and the US. His biog lists the following roles (as of August 2015):[7]

UK

  • Institute of Economic Affairs (free market think tank in London); member of academic advisory council. In 1995 Tooley established the Institute's 'Education and Training Unit', which he ran for its duration.
  • Reform (free market think tank in London); member of academic advisory council
  • Civitas (right-wing think-tank in London); member of academic advisory council
  • Taxpayers Alliance (free market lobby group); Tooley does not currently list his role at the Taxpayers Alliance in his biography, however, he was known to be an adviser to them in 2010[8]

Brussels

US

  • Cato Institute, Adjunct Scholar (2009-); the Cato Institute also launched Tooley's book, “The Beautiful Tree, as a paperback and audio book.[9]
  • (Heritage Foundation; James Tooley attended an event entitled 'Resource Bank 2004' in 2004 on behalf of the E.G. West Centre. The subject was 'Social Entrepreneurship: Building Constituencies for Limited Government'.)[10]

Rest of world

International

Foundations

According to an 2007 article by Andrew J. Coulson, director of Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom on the Philanthropy Roundtable website:[11]

Tooley’s interest in [low-fee private schools] dates back to the 1980s... His work leapt into high gear in 2002, after a fortuitous meeting in Goa, India, with John Templeton Foundation senior vice president Charles Harper. Impressed with Tooley’s study of private schools in Hyderabad, Harper encouraged him to draft a proposal for expanding his investigations on an international scale. The result was a John Templeton Foundation grant of nearly $800,000... In September 2006, Tooley wins top honors in the first International Finance Corporation/Financial Times 'Private Sector Development' Competition for an essay reporting his Templeton project findings. He is invited to write an article (“Low-cost schools in poor nations seek investors”) for the Financial Times. One of the tens of thousands of readers of that article is Richard Chandler, founder of the Singapore-based Orient Global investment firm... Fast forward to 2007, when the philanthropic arm of Orient Global announces the creation of a new $100 million Orient Global Education Fund. James Tooley is named its inaugural president two months later.

As the Guardian reports, Tooley 'soon broke with Chandler, but refuses to talk about the details – except to say, in future, he will be more wary of men with Boeing 737s'.[12]

Publications

  • “The Beautiful Tree: A personal journey into how the world’s poorest are educating themselves”, published by Penguin (2009).

References

  1. Professor James Tooley: A champion of low-cost schools or a dangerous man?, Guardian, 12 November 2013
  2. E.G. West Centre, accessed August 2015
  3. Professor James Tooley: A champion of low-cost schools or a dangerous man?, Guardian, 12 November 2013
  4. Professor James Tooley: A champion of low-cost schools or a dangerous man?, Guardian, 12 November 2013
  5. Curtis Reip, Omega Schools Franchise in Ghana: ‘affordable’ private education for the poor or for-profiteering?, Privatisation in Education Research Initiative paper, 2015
  6. Curtis Reip, Omega Schools Franchise in Ghana: ‘affordable’ private education for the poor or for-profiteering?, Privatisation in Education Research Initiative paper, 2015
  7. James Tooley profile, Newcastle University, accessed August 2015
  8. Correspondence Between James Tooley and the Taxpayers' Alliance, Response to FOI Request from 31st January 2010, Newcastle University, Accessed February 2011
  9. James Tooley speakers profile, TEDxNewcastle, accessed August 2015
  10. James Tooley, 27TH ANNUAL RESOURCE BANK MEETING APRIL 29-30, 2004 - CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, Heritage Foundation, 29-April-2004, Accessed 08-May-2010
  11. Andrew J. Coulson, An “Invisible Hand” Up, 'Philanthropy Roundtable, July / August 2007 issue
  12. Professor James Tooley: A champion of low-cost schools or a dangerous man?, Guardian, 12 November 2013