Success `may bring expansion'

20th October 1995 at 01:00
Success for the Government's nursery voucher scheme could lead to a radical change in education funding, according to Edward Lister, leader of the London borough of Wandsworth, one of the three authorities pioneering the plan.

Mr Lister believes that once the nursery scheme makes vouchers acceptable, there will be a move to extend it to schools and colleges, writes Frances Rafferty.

He said: "Let's rid ourselves of the obsession with class sizes and school sizes. Let's stop protecting the unpopular school. Let's stop holding back the successful school. And let's get ready to welcome a new wave of self-confident, competitive schools that get their money direct from the customer."

Vouchers, he said, would increase pressure on schools to make themselves attractive to parents.

The major problem he foresees is the extra cost of providing vouchers for parents whose children are educated privately.

The vouchers idea has a long history and has been backed by several right-wing think tanks. Sheila Lawlor, former deputy director of the Centre for Policy Studies, said: "It is an idea that should be attractive to all parties. If the money follows the children, it does not become lost in the fog of local government finance."

The response from the independent sector is mixed. David Smith, chairman of the Independent Schools Joint Committee on Assisted Places, said a preliminary survey showed that only one in three heads in the private sector favours vouchers.

"Many would prefer to be able to explore a dialogue with education authorities and make local arrangements," he said.

Graham Able, head of Hampton School, London, is more enthusiastic. He said: "If a voucher scheme was introduced, we would reduce our fees only slightly and would use the vouchers to fund a bursary scheme to allow children whose parents cannot make up the difference to attend if they reach our academic standard. "

Ian Langtry, education secretary of the Association of County Councils, sees the scheme's future depending on the result of the next general election: if the Conservatives win it will be extended, if Labour is in power it will die.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now