Sunday Telegraph: Dr Eamonn Butler on fixing schools

28 December 2008

Published in the Sunday Telegraph here.

SIR – That parents in Clare, Suffolk, have been refused permission to start their own rural state school is entirely typical of how decisions are now made in this country (report, December 21).

The Government, in 2006, was trumpeting a new law to allow just such parent-led start-ups. Just months ago, Ed Balls was calling for “active parents" because they would “know best what is needed in their area".

Now it’s clear that this was all spin rather than substance. The legislation stands exposed as simply an attempt to undermine the Tories, who were picking up votes with their promise of Swedish-style education.

In Sweden, local parents who are fed up with state education can create their own schools and still get the money that the state would have spent on their children’s education anyway. This has led to the creation of hundreds of new schools, funded by the state so nobody is excluded, but run by parents, teachers, voluntary groups and even private companies. Parents are hugely pleased.

In Britain, by contrast, only one parent-promoted school has yet been created. Many more have been thwarted by ministers or local councillors who do not like the idea of parent-led schools competing against their own bureaucrat-run education authorities.

Dr Eamonn Butler
Adam Smith Institute
London SW1

 

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