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School Choice Week 2016

In the UK's first School Choice Week (25th to 29th January 2016), leading academics and educationalists from around the world gathered to debate the subject of choice in education.

CMRE, the Centre for Education Economics's predecessor, inaugurated this focus week with support from the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

Since its beginning as CMRE, the Centre for Education Economics has been at the forefront of research to explore the potential of market-oriented solutions to improve education, focusing in particular on the role of incentives in the system. International evidence indicates that increasing school choice, and thereby diversity, and competition among schools (something which has to date gained greater traction in the United States), with appropriate supporting measures, could have a transformative effect on education provision in UK schools.

CMRE's School Choice Week got underway on Tuesday 26th January with a public lecture by Professor Paul E. Peterson of Harvard University on the subject of ‘Why School Competition is Key to School Reform’. Professor Peterson also led a seminar on the subject with analysts and economists at the Department for Education the following day. A full day conference exploring the school choice paradigm, 'School choice, opportunity, and equity', took place on Thursday 28th January. The conference brought together academics, policymakers, politicians and practitioners to consider the range of issues relating to school choice – from new schools, to funding and admissions reform, curriculum and qualifications, and what information is required for parents’ to navigate the system successfully.

Participants in the school choice conference included leading academics in education from Israel to Sweden: Professor Victor Lavy, Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; policy expert Dr Nima Sanandaji, Research Fellow at CMRE and the Centre for Policy Studies; Dr Henrik Jordahl, Programme Director at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics Stockholm; data analysis expert Dr Rebecca Allen, Director of Education Datalab; Professor Lorraine Dearden and Luke Sibieta of the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS); Professor Sir Julian Le Grand, Professor of Social Policy, and Dr Olmo Silva, Associate Professor, of the London School of Economics; and Tim Oates CBE, Group Director of Assessment Research and Development at Cambridge Assessment.

The full list of speakers and chairs are profiled here.

During School Choice Week, the Westminster Education Forum also hosted a seminar on ‘Social mobility and education’, considering school choice, character education and the Pupil Premium, on Wednesday 27th January.

James Croft, then Director of the Centre for the Study of Market Reform of Education, said:

"CMRE are excited to widen the debate on school choice in the UK and welcome influential voices from around the world to London to discuss this important issue. “We hope that this inaugural School Choice Week will be the first of many, encouraging a new focus on incentivising the pursuit of excellence right across our education system.”