Parents, charities, voluntary and mutual groups, or even private business may well run schools more effectively. They are likely to be more user-focused than centralized state bureaucracies. And today’s information and communications technology makes possible wholly new forms of education, either in the classroom or at home. There can be a role for ‘branded’ learning systems, for charter schools, and many other diverse ways of delivering learning.
Parents want the best education for their children. That is a powerful human force, and we should harness it. In a world of diverse forms of provision, we need to give all parents the power to choose the school that they think best fits the specific needs of their children.
We need to explore ideas such as the education cheque and in particular to extend the power of choice to the very poorest families, perhaps through voucher systems focused on low-income groups. We need to look at overseas models that give all parents access to any state school and even to non-state schools. Instead of allowing bad schools to struggle along as ‘sink schools’, we need to give effective and imaginative educators the incentive to step in and turn them around. And devolve the budget directly to schools so that they can run things in their own way without endless bureaucracy.
For more on these and other ideas, see our Rainbow Papers on education. non-state schools. Instead of allowing bad schools to struggle along as ‘sink schools’, we need to give effective and imaginative educators the incentive to step in and turn them around.