`No role for state' in education

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Education Editor

The state should get out of education because government intervention in schools does not work, according to Dr James Tooley of Manchester University, in an article published yesterday.

Writing in the journal of the Institute of Economic Affairs, Dr Tooley argues that most young people were already in schooling and that literacy and numeracy among young people was higher before 1870, when state intervention in education began.

His proposals come as the Government is considering ways of financing more schools through private funding.

In a paper to be published next month, he will suggest that, eventually, all parents should pay fees for schooling, though there would be a small "safety net" of government money for the very poorest.

He said last night: "This would be possible because there would be a completely different tax regime where people did not have large amounts of money confiscated by the state."

As an interim measure, compulsory education would end at the age of 14, when all pupils would leave with a voucher to spend on education or training.

Dr Tooley says in his article: "Given the huge proportion of young people who are failed by the system, it is time to challenge educationists as to why they think governments should be involved."

He attacks the view that the state must intervene in education to promote equality of opportunity.

Why anyone assumes that government could promote equality or equity is not clear. Middle-class parents have always been able to buy in to better school districts and hence reinforce social inequality."