Yet another blow to Tories’ “free schools” policy

Today’s short report from the LSE marks another blow for David Cameron's Tory party’s proposals to introduce “Swedish schools” into the UK education system.

Yesterday’s short report from the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE marks another blow for the Tory party’s proposals to introduce “Swedish schools” into the UK education system.

Helena Holmlund and Sandra McNally analysis points to two key differences between the Swedish system and our own as evidence that the new model might not reap the great benefits the Conservatives currently claim it will.

Firstly, they rightly point out that the reforms to Sweden’s education system to introduce choice in to the school system was on a background of no school choice. As they say:

“All pupils had to attend the state school in their neighbourhood.”

The picture in the UK is quite different, with greater school choice having been at the heart of the UK education system throughout Labour’s time in office.

Secondly, while the Conservatives propose schools relatively free from state control, the Swedish schools are compelled to follow a national curriculum.

Perhaps most interestingly, the paper asks whether building and opening new schools is the most effective means of bringing about change in the education system:

“What about all the evidence on other things that work to improve educational performance, such as teacher quality, reducing class size, etc?

Left Foot Forward has scrutinised the Conservative’s proposals a number of times over recent months:

• On the unaccounted £1 billion cost of the reforms;

• Their agenda of public service profit;

• The unanswered questions over funding the reforms;

• The abscence of any mention of Swedish schools in their draft education manifesto; and

• The head of Sweden’s Ofsted telling Newsnight that the reforms had led to falling standards and rising segregation

The evidence now seems to be stacking up against them.

While the Tories have been quick to adopt the Swedish model, they have not been so quick to spell out their wider theory of change for the education system.

And in a post-election public sector where tightened belts will be the order of the day, new schools built with private money will only be a success if matched by public money to provide good teachers and small classes.

7 Responses to “Yet another blow to Tories’ “free schools” policy”

  1. James Cowley

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yet another blow to Tories’ “free schools” policy: http://is.gd/8IeSD

  2. Ben Cooper

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yet another blow to Tories’ “free schools” policy: http://is.gd/8IeSD

  3. 97Reasons

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yet another blow to Tories’ “free schools” policy: http://is.gd/8IeSD

  4. Rosanna

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yet another blow to Tories’ “free schools” policy: http://is.gd/8IeSD

  5. John Pearce

    I completely agree. It’s just another repackaged pile of worthless and ineffective drivle designed to get them elected. I’m suprised I havn’t heard the Tories talk more about their usual pre-election gimmick: to save money by “cutting waste”… I’m convinced that the British electorate is not as “intelligent” as the maintstream media keep telling us we all are.

  6. Questions for Michael Gove on the Tories' schools policies | Left Foot Forward

    […] should we expect that a school independent from the local authority is intrinsically better? A recent report from the LSE concluded that free schools are not cost-effective and may not make any difference to […]

  7. Patrick

    Both the ‘Free Schools’ and the free for all over ‘Academies’ are part of the general Tory attack on the powers of County Councils.

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