Baby steps towards educational freedom

June 13, 2008 10:49 AM

CrowdedschoolThe Times reports that successful schools are going to be given the right to expand a little.  This will mean more places in successful schools and a bit more pressure on poor performing schools to up their game.  Unfortunately, schools have only been allowed an extremely limited amount of new freedom.


Expansion is still severely limited.  Being allowed "up to 26 extra pupils a year above their official limit" does not leave a lot of room to grow.


More than that, this only allows schools freedom in one direction.  The Government have now gone some way towards accepting the principle that the right response to a shortage places at the best schools is to ensure their are more such places, instead of dreaming up new ways of rationing quality education.  Why are they restricting educational freedom to the expansion of existing schools?


There are good reasons to think that the best schools are small ones.  By only allowing good schools to expand we might put them in the unfortunate conundrum of either staying small and not offering opportunities to more children or expanding and risking their standards.  A better solution might be for new schools to be established.  Beyond that, why are we assuming that the best providers of new school places are necessarily existing schools?


What if a business can run a great school effectively, or a co-operative of teachers, or an existing school wants to support a new institution in some kind of franchise arrangement?  A successful innovation system would encourage a diversity of providers and real innovation in the way schools are run.  Swedish-style school reforms can put power over the education system in the hands of parents and allow any organisation to set up a new school and respond to parental demand.

CrowdedschoolThe Times reports that successful schools are going to be given the right to expand a little.  This will mean more places in successful schools and a bit more pressure on poor performing schools to up their game.  Unfortunately, schools have only been allowed an extremely limited amount of new freedom.


Expansion is still severely limited.  Being allowed "up to 26 extra pupils a year above their official limit" does not leave a lot of room to grow.


More than that, this only allows schools freedom in one direction.  The Government have now gone some way towards accepting the principle that the right response to a shortage places at the best schools is to ensure their are more such places, instead of dreaming up new ways of rationing quality education.  Why are they restricting educational freedom to the expansion of existing schools?


There are good reasons to think that the best schools are small ones.  By only allowing good schools to expand we might put them in the unfortunate conundrum of either staying small and not offering opportunities to more children or expanding and risking their standards.  A better solution might be for new schools to be established.  Beyond that, why are we assuming that the best providers of new school places are necessarily existing schools?


What if a business can run a great school effectively, or a co-operative of teachers, or an existing school wants to support a new institution in some kind of franchise arrangement?  A successful innovation system would encourage a diversity of providers and real innovation in the way schools are run.  Swedish-style school reforms can put power over the education system in the hands of parents and allow any organisation to set up a new school and respond to parental demand.

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