In 1999 the Blair government set an official target of having 50 per cent of 18-year-olds attending university and turned the expansion of numbers from an aspiration to an actuality. The reasons for this policy, supported by both parties, were economic rather than educational in the traditional sense. It was thought that expanding student numbers ... Continue reading

Reshaping the UK's Higher Education for the post-pandemic world

Summary Covid-19 is bursting the bubble in universities and higher education (HE), exposing the fundamentally unsound nature of the policy of successive governments and of the entire array of HE institutions. Many institutions were in a weak financial position prior to the pandemic. They are now facing a massive cash-flow crisis. The present difficulties could ... Continue reading
Great controversy has followed the decision by OFQUAL, the exam regulator for England, to downgrade some 40% of teacher-assessed A-level results. It follows a similar row in Scotland where the figure is nearer a quarter for Highers. This is in the context of pandemic-inspired cancellations where the results are based on expert guesswork not exams. ... Continue reading
Although teachers’ pay has slipped back in recent years, it is still a secure job carrying a goodish pension. So the news that teachers have been awarded a pay increase greater than that for nurses will have raised many eyebrows. Whatever the questions over the NHS bureaucracy’s performance in the Covid-19 crisis, very many ordinary ... Continue reading
Many people are increasingly worried about the slow pace of school reopening in the UK. The focus has mainly been on the harms done to the welfare of children and their families. But there are also rising concerns about the wider impact on the economy. This article summarises both the social and economic issues, and ... Continue reading
The idea behind education vouchers has solid academic and research backing. It arguably began in the 1950s with Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman. He proposed various models for public-private partnerships to guarantee that basic services were provided more efficiently and with greater freedom of choice. That’s where education vouchers came in. Friedman believed that all families, ... Continue reading

Christopher Snowdon writes for The Spectator

Independent schools "show that a better way is possible" and it would be "perverse" to ban the schools which deliver the best results, writes Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs. Writing in The Spectator, Christopher argues there is no mechanism by which  "abolishing some of the best schools in ... Continue reading

Professor Len Shackleton quoted in The Telegraph

Professor Len Shackleton, IEA Editorial and Research Fellow, has criticised plans by the Labour Party to remove the business rates exemption for private schools, forcing parents to pay more for their child's education. Quoted in The Telegraph, Len labels the plans "a threat to the freedom to educate children as parents wish” and warns other ... Continue reading

Professor Len Shackleton comments on Labour plans

Commenting on Labour's consideration to scrap discounted business rates for independent schools and impose VAT on fees, IEA Editorial Fellow Professor Len Shackleton said: "This proposal is unlikely to raise the sums suggested, as some independent schools will close while others may relocate abroad - a plausible scenario given the rising proportion of overseas students ... Continue reading

Len Shackleton writes in The Daily Telegraph

Len Shackleton, Editorial and Research Fellow at The Institute of Economic Affairs, has written for The Telegraph. The piece outlines "complaints about A-levels. The latest suggestion is that there should be a single national awarding body for schools examinations." "Many of the problems faced are either intrinsic to the services involved, or the result of ham-fisted ... Continue reading