Links between commerce and schools to come under scrutiny

A government review into the impact of the 'commercial world' on children's wellbeing is to investigate its own controversial policy of allowing companies to link up with schools and set up sponsored academies.

The spotlight will also fall on other links between businesses and schools, including classroom resources such as Shell's introduction to the oil industry and vending machines dispensing confectionery products and soft drinks.

The investigation will come under a review, commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), which will cover all aspects of how children come into contact with brands.

This will include media and entertainment, marketing and promotion, commercial websites and sponsored events.

The review was announced at the end of last year, which then led to the opening of a wide-ranging consultation on the issue in April.

The inquiry will be led by David Buckingham, a professor at the Institute of Education at the University of London, who said the commercial sector's involvement in running schools had implications for the wellbeing of children and was also being scrutinised in the US.

In the US, a tie up between Channel One and thousands of schools, in which the firm lent schools camera equipment in return for a commitment to showing a 12-minute news programme with ads, caused controversy.

Lord Adonis, the schools minister, has said that every school should be in partnership with a business, and the government is encouraging trust schools -- a model that allows businesses to run and advise schools.

Buckingham said that companies were also increasingly sponsoring school sport, music classes and homework club.

Other businesses to forge links with schools in the form of sponsored academies include Carphone Warehouse, Microsoft, Dixons and Granada Learning.

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