This man wants to privatise education. Genius or fantasist?;Book of the week;Reclaiming Education by James Tooley;Features and arts

26th November 1999 at 00:00
Already generating controversy ahead of its publication next week, James Tooley's 'Reclaiming Education' argues that market forces can and should run schools more successfully than the state. LEA chief Tim Brighouse and policy analysts Sheila Lawlor and Tom Bentley examine Tooley's claims


"Why do we assume we need government here (in education), and not the private sector? Our first challenge leads us to seek evidence about the ways in which 'the private alternative' can satisfy educational demand and how it has done so historicallyI" "The solution to (a) sweeping range of problems always seems to be couched in terms of what schools can do to solve them. I think a MartianI would find this somewhat puzzling. Perhaps schools are such powerful places that they can solve every problem besetting us from global warming to adulterous relationships, but it wouldn't be clear at the outset how the place where children spend only 15 per cent of their waking hours would necessarily have such power."

"Without government being involved in (education), we are told, we will never achieve equality of opportunity or equity. Or we will never achieve real democracy. Or society will disintegrate. The main thrust of this book is to challenge these assumptions. It considers whether these ideals. . . can be satisfied by government, or whether they are aspirations better met outside of the state."

Reclaiming Education by James Tooley is published by Cassell pound;40 (pound;12.99 pbk). James Tooley is professor of education policy at the University of Newcastle and director of education and training at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

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