At a recent conference, Tesco’s chief executive, Sir Terry Leahy, described standards in many state schools as “woefully low”. He criticised the current system for being too bureaucratic with too many agencies and bodies offering reams of instructions which distract teachers. The end result is that companies such as Tesco, the UK’s largest private employer, are often left to pick up the pieces.

Sir Terry’s proposed solution is for the government to follow Tesco’s example by keeping instructions simple, structures flat and trusting the people on the ground. While such proposals from leading figures in the business community are obviously welcome, one wonders if on this rare occasion, Sir Terry has failed to grab the bull by both horns.

Instead of attempting to import Tesco’s management philosophy into failing government schools, why not simply develop an entirely new model of a school and then expand it into a national and then a global chain of Tesco schools?

An edited version of the article was published in Economic Affairs, March 2010