Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

School Vouchers Are Catching On

The following snippet comes from the excellent think-tank Reform's Media Summary for the weekend, which can be found here.

Neil Collins: Tony Blair’s “big idea” should be education vouchers.
In Monday’s Telegraph, Neil Collins advised the Prime Minister to adopt education vouchers as his “big idea”. He said: “For many parents, the process of trying to get a child into the school of their choice is one of the most stressful experiences they suffer, short of seeing the child being ill …. It’s no surprise that parents will try any trick they can think of, from a sudden interest in religion to renting a property they have no intention of occupying, or even straight bribery, to get that precious last place in a decent state school …. [The Chancellor] is spending enough on education, Lord knows; £59 billion last year, £63 billion this year, £72 billion next, and £77 billion by 2007-08. This last sum is equivalent to £5,500 per pupil, and is quite enough to buy a decent education; annual fees for a Girl's Day School Trust school outside London – if you can get in – are currently £5,025 …. The way out of this slough of despond is to empower parents and teachers with education vouchers. The bureaucrats are terrified of the very word, since it would mean the end of them; an education department cut down to a few hundred administrators, local authorities cut out completely, and Ofsted disbanded …. Any small group of teachers could start their own school; 20 pupils would produce an annual income of £100,000 …. New schools would spring up everywhere, competing for pupils; some would strive for academic excellence, but some would target those who are today being excluded …. A dream? Almost certainly. A chance for Mr Blair to change the face of Britain for the better? Absolutely. Education, education, education, as someone once said, long, long ago.


School vouchers really are the right's big idea for education. They've been thought about for decades, ever since Friedman came up with them. They work wherever they've been tried. They help poorest kids most of all. The only people they harm is the educational Establishment: the unions-bureaucrats axis. There is a real opportunity in the coming years for the economic libertarians in our society to become the revolutionary, anti-Establishment heroes. This is one of the many ways Britain can be transformed.

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