Education Reform

On Monday afternoon Tony Blair is set to announce new government plans for secondary education and, with rather excellent timing, the free-market think tank Reform have published a new ICM poll on education.

The poll suggests that people would be supportive of an increase in choice in education. 76% of people told ICM they agreed that the way education in Britain is organised needed ‘fundemental review’, ICM then asked respondents if they would support a system where “parents should be allowed to use the government money spent on their children’s education (around £5,500 a year per child) to send their children to any school they choose, including independent schools” (a policy very similar to the Conservative policy at the last election, though the Tory version had restrictions on spending the money on independent schools that cost more than the government figure). Overall 49% of people thought this would be a good idea, while 23% thought it would be a bad idea.

The demographic breakdown of the figures revealed two interesting factors. Firstly, young people were far more positive towards the policy – amongst under 25s 63% thought it a good idea while only 15% opposed it, amongst the 25-34 age group 56% thought it a good idea and only 13% opposed it. Secondly, support for a free market reform of education doesn’t seem to be particularly partisan – support amongst Labour voters was almost identical to support amongst voters as a whole – 48% to 23%.

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