- Research blog
School Vouchers for England considers the progress of the government's free school programme thus far. The paper, co-published by CMRE and the Adam Smith Institute argues that unless England liberalises the creation process of new schools and introduces a voucher-based system, no real progress will be made. The Coalition government’s reforms, while well-intended, have failed to introduce significantly greater school choice and competition and thus cannot be expected greatly to improve overall levels of attainment in education. This is largely due to the restrictive requirements for setting up free schools. Only 174 free schools had been opened by September 2013, less than one percent of all schools. Restrictions on school premises, interference from local authorities and the political nature of the authorisation process have hampered the opening of more schools. Along with simplifying the free school process, the government should give all parents an electronic voucher that covers the cost of attending a school, redeemable at all state and participating private schools. Most funding already follows pupils, but this should be expanded so that schools are maximally incentivised to attract pupils. Proximity-based admissions and catchment areas should be abolished, with oversubscribed schools allocating places through lotteries.
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