The Centre for Market Reform of Education’s Inaugural Friedman lecture kicked off with success last week amid a plethora of events marking international school choice week. Sir Julian Le Grand delivered the lecture ‘School choice matures: lessons for policy makers’ as educationalists of all spheres, from teachers to campaigners, posed questions and examined how best to reform education systems and advocate educational freedom.
Increasing the diversification of producers and external pressure on public services, the Social Policy and Economics Professor described, would improve the quality of education. School choice is the crucial cause of both of these. Chaining people to their local schools by means of catchment-allocation alongside the state’s one-size-fits-all approach is failing. People would prefer the pressure of markets - with parents and children choosing the institutions and preferred teaching methods - as opposed to perpetual pressure from politicians imposing targets.
Public perceptions of profit-making and the belief that school choice is a 'middle class thing’ were distinguished as impediments to the truth that proponents of the freedom to choose have on their side: creating an environment conducive to competition, and thus advancement in schooling provision, requires that options within the reach of the wealthy and middle classes are available to the poorest sectors of society also. Precisely why, Professor Julian Le Grand said, the poor benefit most from school choice.