I had lunch with a number of our researchers from City Hall and the main topic of conversation was the education reforms in the Queen’s speech.
As the Mayor’s Youth Ambassador I saw the results of educational under-achievement many times and listened to the frustration of parents who felt trapped in an educational system that failed many of their children. There are lots of great schools in London in both the public and private sectors but lots isn’t enough.
Everyone agrees that improving quality is important but the real question is how? I have long believed that while there is a shortage of school places there can be no real parental choice and without choice there will be little chance of driving up standards.
Currently the options open to a parent whose child is in an under performing school are all individually focused. They can pay for their child’s education by going private, they can move to the catchment area of a better school or they can pay for extra tuition. All these options are closed to parents of lower incomes and none really benefit the other children in the school.
Under Michael’s plans a parent can organise local support to start their own school or create the demand for a charity or company to set up a school in their area. This will not only benefit their child but also the other children in the area.
I am yet to find an example of greater choice leading to a poorer product or poorer service. Almost everyone has a huge choice of consumer products from mobile phones to types of milk, why do some people still believe that they should be denied choice in something as important as the education of their children?