02 April 2007

Education Revolution

Saturday's mention of the call for NHS patients to be allowed to top up cancer care in the private sector prompts me to quote from the thought-provoking article by Graeme Leach, chief economist for the Institute of Directors, in the current edition of The Difference magazine:

Just suppose there was a voice from heaven and the Lord commanded that Parliament enact only one more piece of legislation and nothing thereafter. Faced with such a binding absolute constraint, what would you choose? This is the last piece of legislation ever to emerge from the mother of parliaments. What can you do to have the maximum force for good over the coming centuries? Of course there are many options, but from a Biblical and economic perspective the introduction of education vouchers must surely contest for pole position.

The introduction of education vouchers could transform the economic and political culture of the UK while at the same time fulfilling the Biblical instruction to parents to take control of the education of their children. At the beginning of the 21st century we have consumer choice in every area of our lives, except the most important, the future of our children.

In the knowledge economy, education and skills are the prime factors of production. Do we really want to spend the 21st century with the number one factor of production in the hands of the state? Imagine a world where education is free at the point of use (with the option to top-up the voucher if you wish to go to more expensive schools) and parents seek out the school that best fits the needs of their child, from a multitude of suppliers meeting a diverse range of academic, vocational, sporting and, yes, spiritual needs.
What do you think? If you could enact just one more piece of legislation, what would you choose?

To read more of "The education revolution" obtain your copy of The Difference magazine here.


HS said...

I have to disagree with Graeme Leach that education vouchers would necessarily give parents more choice in the way their children are educated - particularly in relation to faith schools.
Religious freedom in education is dependent on the government being willing to give schools a measure of control over what they teach - something that is decreasing rather than increasing. Experience in other areas shows that the government's desire to control increases as the level of government funding increases. Creating a system whereby parents have access to government funding for schools that have traditionally been funded entirely by fees paid by parents is surely only likely to encourage more state interference over what they teach.
In fact, if parents want control over their children's education, want schools to have the freedom to develop an individual ethos in the way they fulfill their national curriculem requirements, then we need to rid ourselves of a government that is ideologically committed to attempting to control the way we think. Education vouchers are irrelevant where education providers' hands are tied by increasing regulation and legislation.