Will Pearson Australia follow through on offer of transparency?

The recent research report and media interest in the commercialisation of public schooling have prompted a response from Pearson Australia Managing Director, David Barnett, in which he agrees to the possibility of laying bare all of Pearson’s contracts with Australian federal, state and territory government authorities, which would reveal, among other things, the amount of taxpayers’ money that Pearson receives.

The exchange took place on Twitter, between Federation President Maurie Mulheron and Mr Barnett, beginning with Mr Barnett tweeting a list of statements about the nature of Pearson’s work in education and their engagement with teachers and education systems.

Mr Mulheron responded, saying he would “table all teacher concerns on Pearson” if, in exchange, Barnett would “table all Pearson contracts with government authorities”. While Barnett agreed in principle, it was with the caveat that such an exchange would be subject to approval from government authorities.

Federation welcomes the opportunity to have an informed, transparent discussion with the head of one of the largest edu-businesses operating in Australia about the extent and impact of its commercial operations on Australian education, and hopes Mr Barnett is able to secure the necessary permissions from government authorities.

Teachers’ concerns over the growth of commercial interests in public education were identified and explored in the recently published Commercialisation in Public Schooling, detailing the findings of research  commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation and conducted by Professor Bob Lingard of the University of Queensland’s School of Education and a team which included Dr Sam Sellar (Manchester Metropolitan University), Dr Anna Hogan (University of Queensland) and Associate Professor Greg Thompson (Queensland University of Technology).

The full research paper, and a summary report, can be downloaded from www.nswtf.org.au/CIPSint.

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