Markets are for Commodities, Not Children (FORUM 3)

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Publication date: September 1, 2011

PETER MORTIMORE

Recent governments have transformed the English education system from an arrangement of local, democratically managed, groups of schools into a market free-for-all in which individual schools compete for pupils, status and resources. Elements of a market exist in the relationship between parents and private schools but much market behaviour is inimical to a fair education system. Successive governments’ clumsy attempts ‘to fix the market’ in favour of the schools they have created has led to stressed parents, over-tested pupils and a deeply fractured system. Two simple changes could improve the system: ensuring schools receive balanced intakes of pupils (with all receiving fair shares of those who find learning easy and difficult); and spreading high quality teachers between schools. Ways to achieve these changes are proposed.

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