The Centre for Market Reform of Education is a new education research and policy unit based at 2 Lord North Street in London, the offices of the Institute of Economic Affairs. While working in cooperation with the IEA, the Centre is financially independent.
Its purpose is to explore the potential for more diverse, competitive and entrepreneurial provision in the education sector, and the feasibility of market-led solutions to public policy issues.
Whereas most sectors in society have gone through fundamental transformations in the past century, education provision is very much the same as it was a hundred years ago. We believe that the main problem in education is the lack of incentives to improve pupil performance. We also believe that the incentive structure cannot be fundamentally changed for the better without a move towards a more market-based education system that gives parents the freedom to choose the education that best suits their children, and providers autonomy to tailor their services in response to demand.
There are various ways in which these goals could be advanced, and the Centre has no corporate position on the exact way forward. For example, it does not prescribe the specific regulatory framework, if any, that should accompany markets. Instead, the Centre seeks to stimulate debate from different perspectives on how we can produce a functioning education market that advances the goal of increasing overall quality in the system.
Our ultimate aim is to change the policy framework in which schools and other educators work. We advocate an experimental approach to policymaking where pilots are required, and the development of an integrated set of complementary reforms, which means that we are often thinking to a longer-term political timeframe than is commonly the case. In keeping with this emphasis, we publish books and in-depth policy studies which in turn frame and inform our shorter reports and comment pieces on day-to-day education policy matters.
The Centre facilitates consultations and runs a variety of practitioner engagement projects to inform its research. In addition, it organises a variety of forums and events to present its work and engage the public in the policy debate. Our forums are designed to stimulate independent and innovative thinking about the way we resource and provide education in the UK, and to open up possibilities for educational entrepreneurs to devise new solutions.
In 2013-14 we are progressing projects considering the impact of school choice on segregation and equality of opportunity in education; the reform of 14-19 examinations; policy options for demand-side reform of state provision; funding and incentive structures in schools; and for-profit schooling.
We aim to make published content as freely available as possible in order that the Centre may disseminate its ideas to as wide a readership as possible.