This is another missed opportunity to unclog Britain's sclerotic education system. Giving parents a right to request one-to-one tuition for failing children is a promise that is unlikely to see the light of day given the awful state of public finances. This might be a good thing, as the policy would be unworkable in practice. Deciding upon whether a child is failing would prove a bureaucratic nightmare. As children have marked differences in skills and abilities across subject areas, failing could not be determined by tests alone. This would lead a mammoth waste of resources, the misallocation of limited financial resources and a system even more confusing for parents than is currently the case.
Instead of instituting extra teaching for children outside the school day, the government would do better to consider why so many state run schools are failing them for the six or so hours they are under their care.
Creating five-yearly checks on teachers’ competence is another distraction from the imperatives of reform. In the same way that schools should compete with each other for places, schools also need to be able to compete with other sectors for talented individuals. The only way for this happen is to inject the workings of the market into the current system, with better teachers being paid for success and poor teachers losing their jobs.
Philip Salter is Programmes Director of the Adam Smith Institute.