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Forthcoming events

Challenging the OECD PISA Analysis: Implications for Education Reform

Gabriel Heller Sahlgren, CMRE Director of Research, James Croft, CMRE Executive Director, and Lindsey Burke, Will Skillman Fellow in Education Policy, The Heritage Foundation.

When: Tuesday 17th October, 2015, 10am to 11.30am
Where: Lehrman Auditorium, The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington DC

This event is open to the public. If you wish to attend, please book a place here.

Over the past 15 years, the education debate has become increasingly internationalized following the birth of the OECD’s PISA survey. PISA scores measure the skills and knowledge of students internationally and have become widely interpreted as a measure of countries’ education policy success. Policymakers in countries with lower PISA scores often look to countries that fare well on PISA for ideas to improve student performance.

But is this a good way to conduct education policy? This forum will discuss the value of PISA and alternative measures for school reform. Often, a country’s success is more complex than a PISA survey can capture and ignores the potential of free market solutions. Using a range of education policy examples, with Finland, Sweden, England and the United States as case studies, the forum highlights the pitfalls associated with “best practice” and the OECD’s analyses for finding out what works. It will also consider implications for U.S. policy within the context of growing school choice options.

It is not School Choice, but School Competition, that is Key to School Reform

Professor Paul E. Peterson

Paul E. Peterson is the director of the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance; a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University; and editor-in-chief of Education Next: A Journal of Opinion and Research .

Sponsored by The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

When: Tuesday 26th January, 2016, 6.15pm for 6.30pm start, to 8.30pm
Where: Hoare Memorial Hall, Church House (Great Smith Street entrance), Westminster

*This event is open to the public, but is a ticketed event as places will be limited. If you would like to attend, please register your interest early by emailing us.

[School vouchers] would bring a healthy increase in the variety of educational institutions available and in competition among them. Private initiative and enterprise would quicken the pace of progress in this area as it has in so many others. (Milton Friedman, 1955)

When Nobel-prize-winning economist Milton Friedman first proposed school vouchers, he did not claim that students would learn more in one particular type of school but, rather, that the 'pace of progress' would be greater if one had 'a healthy increase' in school competition. Yet scholarly research on school choice typically focuses on whether 1) private schools are more effective than state schools or 2) whether less closely regulated schools (charters in the United States, academy schools in England) perform at higher levels than schools tightly regulated schools operated by local authorities.

A few studies, using cutting-edge experimental and quasi-experimental techniques, have nonetheless assembled international evidence that consistently provide empirical support for Friedman’s 'competition' hypothesis. They are finding that learning rates increase substantially when competition is introduced.

After briefly summarising these studies, Professor Peterson suggests ways in which competition among schools can be enhanced when introducing or expanding opportunities for school choice.

Past events

Why schools can’t do without politicians

James Croft interviews Sir Michael Barber about his latest book How to run a government and discusses its implications for education policy and the business of schooling
with opening remarks from CMRE's President, Neil McIntosh CBE

Sponsored by Dukes Education

When: Tuesday 6th October 2015, 6.30 for 7.00 to 8.30pm
Where: 2 Lord North Street (Great Peter Street entrance), Westminster, London SW1P 3LB

The effectiveness or otherwise of governments is fundamental to the prosperity and well-being of society, and of markets. In a time when politicians struggle to make and fulfil meaningful promises in face of the weight of expectations on them and the sheer complexity of delivery, fresh thinking is required to overcome the barriers to implementation presented by the public bureaucracies that have developed as a result. Interviewed by CMRE's Executive Director, James Croft, Sir Michael Barber explores the issues as they relate to education services.

Sir Michael Barber is Chief Education Advisor at Pearson, leading the development of its worldwide programme of efficacy and research into the learning impact of its education services offering.

Read more about the event here.

Transferable expertise and contextual realities: does the independent schools sector really have all the answers for state school improvement?

Presented by Jon Coles, Group Chief Executive of United Learning
Chaired by Lord Lucas, Member, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Education,
with panel contributions from Sam Freedman, Director of Research, Evaluation and Impact at Teach First, and Richard Harman, Chair of the Headmasters' & Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) and Headmaster of Uppingham School

When: Wednesday 19th August 2015, 6.15 for 6.30 to 8.30pm
Where: 2 Lord North Street (Great Peter Street entrance), Westminster, London SW1P 3LB

Faith in the capacity of the independent schools sector to effect improvement in state school provision has been an enduring feature of the policy debate about how to raise pupil attainment for many years. Since the introduction of the Academies programme, securing independent school leadership and resources for the most challenged schools in particular has been a key part of the government’s strategy. But is this faith well placed?

At this event, Jon and panellists explored the implications of contextual realities for the prospects of system-wide school improvement, for policy-making in general, and for the relationship between central government and autonomous state schools.

Read more about the event and subsequent media coverage here.

Real Finnish Lessons: the true story of an education superpower

Tim Oates in conversation with Gabriel Heller Sahlgren

When: Wednesday 22nd April 2015, 6.30-8.30pm
Where: 55 Tufton Street, Westminster, SW1P 3QL

At this joint event, co-hosted by The Centre for the Study of Market Reform of Education (CMRE) and The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), and sponsored by Cambridge Assessment, Tim Oates and Gabriel Heller Sahlgren considered Finland's rise, and demise, in the international PISA rankings, drawing lessons for policymakers, educational practice, and research.

Read more about the lecture and access a video of the event here.

The Inaugural CMRE Friedman Lecture:
'School choice matures: lessons for policymakers'

Presented by Professor Julian Le Grand

When: Tuesday 27th January 2015, 6.30-7.45pm
Where: Hoare Memorial Hall, Church House (Great Smith Street entrance), Westminster

Read a summary of the lecture or listen to an audio recording.

Good teachers are crucial – so how can we make them better?

Presented by Professor Olmo Silva
with a panel discussion chaired by Gabriel Heller Sahlgren and panel contributions from David Weston and Laura McInerney
When: Thursday 27th November, 6:30-9.30pm
Where: 23 Great Smith Street, Westminster, the offices of the Adam Smith Institute.

Read more about the event here.