NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 2, 2005

In England, a radical education reform based on enabling new schools to open by allowing taxpayer-funding of independent schools would be the biggest advance in education policy for a generation, says Reform, a British think tank.

An institute bulletin outlines the two components of successful school reform:

  • School funding would follow parental choice, allowing children to be sent to a state or independent school; at present, funding per pupil only covers operating costs but including capital costs would allow good schools to get the funds to expand and new schools could open.
  • By removing central control, targets and intervention, head teachers would have the freedom to run their schools as they see fit.

The 1992 radical reform of Swedish education offers a potential model for education reform in England. Consider the effects of the national voucher program in Sweden from 1992 to 2004:

  • The number of independent schools increased from 107 to 576 and the share of independent schools rose from 2 percent to nearly 12 percent.
  • The number of pupils in independent schools rose from 8,629 to 9,451 and the share of pupils in independent schools rose from 1 percent to 7 percent.

Researchers estimate, based on the Swedish experience, that eight times as many schools would open in England as opened in Sweden over a period of 12 years. Reform says the ability of good schools to expand and new schools to open is the precondition for raising standards.

Source: "The Potential Benefits of Real Education Reform in England," Reform, October 24, 2005.


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