The Conservatives must give Swedish-style “free schools” a lot more freedom

The Conservatives’ plans for “free schools” are, arguably, their flagship policy. It is vital that there is no compromise when they are implemented. Schools are a good place to start a free-market agenda. Education reform is politically quite easy – unlike NHS reform – and left wing governments in the rest of the EU accept the premise that the “parent should be sovereign”. In Sweden, left wingers even accept profit-making schools.

Len Shackleton is an Editorial and Research Fellow at the IEA and Professor of Economics at the University of Buckingham. He was previously Dean of the Royal Docks Business School at the University of East London and prior to that was Dean of the Westminster Business School. He has also taught at Queen Mary, University of London and worked as an economist in the Civil Service. His research interests are primarily in the economics of labour markets. He has worked with many think tanks, most closely with the Institute of Economic Affairs, where he is an Economics Fellow. He edits the journal Economic Affairs, which is co-published by the IEA and the University of Buckingham.