30 June 2008

Deregulating education becomes Tory policy

Well at least a move towards the Swedish model, which the left in the UK, US and NZ all remain willfully blind about. The Spectator describes it in some detail. It was discussed, wholly positively, on the BBC today. In summary in Sweden:

- Anyone can set up a school, a charity, church, private trust or private company. It can operate for profit.

- The school must demonstrate it meets certain conditions for registration (committing to a bare curriculum), but can then teach whatever it wishes and however it wishes beyond the state defined minimum.

- Parents choose the school, and funding follows the student. Parents can change schools and funding follows.

In Sweden it is a roaring success, so successful that all political parties in Parliament support the policy, except the communists. It means that consumers (parents) have the power, the schools have to be attractive to parents and pupils, and that decisions on how teachers are paid and how schools operate are made at the school level (you can see how scared teachers' unions get when central bargaining gets undermined). Some government schools have folded as a result, some local authorities have sold schools - and the sky hasn't fallen in.

It would be a great step forward if this policy came to pass in the UK, it would be too much to ask for the New Zealand National Party to actually be so bold as to consider this. Wouldn't it?

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