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Will Tanner: Information, Choice and the English Baccalaureate

Tanner-Will Will Tanner is a Researcher at Reform.

The Government is pursuing widespread reform of the education system in order to, among other things, improve school accountability to pupils, parents and government for educational outcomes and financial management. The Schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, argued that “it is vital that schools should be accountable to parents for how well pupils do, and how taxpayers’ money is spent”. The Government has also committed to aiding parent choice by publishing detailed performance and financial data and introducing the new English Baccalaureate.

A Reform roundtable lunch yesterday explored the Government’s reforms and the best way to make schools accountable for educational and financial outcomes. The event was held under the Chatham House rule, so contributions were anonymous, but the debate raised a number of key points around the future of school accountability.

Firstly, opponents of school choice collapse in a heap when they are confronted by parents who simply cannot get a reasonable option for their children.  Those parents exist in rural constituencies just as much as in Hackney or Haringey.

Second, information matters.  The decision by the Welsh Assembly to abolish league tables led to a decline in GCSE attainment levels.

Third, the English Baccalaureate will open opportunities to pupils, not reduce them. Encouraging school pupils in deprived areas to study qualifications of little value in the labour market will do them no favours.  


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