The Conservatives have today set out plans for a supply side "revolution" in education. Below are the proposals:
"Provide over 220,000 new school places. That would meet the demand from every parent who lost their appeal for their first choice school in our most deprived boroughs.
"Allow educational charities, philanthropists, livery companies, existing school federations, not for profit trusts, co operatives and groups of parents to set up new schools in the state sector and access equivalent public funding to existing state schools.
"Ensure funding for deprivation goes direct to the pupils most in need rather than being diverted by bureaucracies.
"Divert more resources to pupils who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, ensuring they get the earliest possible opportunity to choose the best schools and enjoy the best teaching.
"Make it easier to establish the extended schooling (from summer schools through Saturday schooling to homework clubs and breakfast clubs) which drives up achievement, especially among the poorest.
"Remove those obstacles in terms of centralised bureaucracy, local authority restrictions and planning rules – which prevent new schools being established.
"Allow smaller schools and more intimate learning environments to be established to respond to parental demands."
Interesting ideas, particulaly the one to "allow educational charities, philanthropists, livery companies,
existing school federations, not for profit trusts, co operatives and
groups of parents to set up new schools in the state sector and access
equivalent public funding to existing state schools."
That is exactly what is needed. It has worked spectacularly in Sweden and it will work in Britain. Existing schools, in competition with the new schools for the first time, will be forced to raise standards. Parents in the most deprived areas of Britain, for the first time, will have a real chance to send their children to a better school.
There were also a number of more immediate proposals to improve standards, most of which are unlikely to make much difference as they are of the same centralised mindset that has failed so spectacularly in the past. But no matter, the best way to drive up standards in existing schools is the threat of competition, which will trump other measures.
So all in all, a good move. Fraser Nelson also has some interesting comments on Coffee House.