Mark held Cheadle in the by-election a few months ago and was even a member of the Liberator Collective before my day. He has a letter in today's Guardian and its central paragraph runs:
One only has to consider the government's battle cry of allowing good schools to expand to see the folly of this argument. If the policy is taken to its logical conclusion, a local authority such as Stockport metropolitan borough council, for example, would eventually have only a handful of secondary schools serving its 50 square miles. All the rest would, presumably, succumb to market forces and disappear.But would any schools want to grow to this enormous size? Would any parents want to send their children to them if they did? Mark's case seems to be that governing bodies and parents are both criminally stupid and need local education authorities to save them from themselves.
One of the hopes behind opening up education to other providers must be that it will lead to the existence of more school schools. For a weakness of the state comprehensive system as it was originally introduced was that schools needed a huge intake at 11 in order to have a viable sixth form in years to come. So it is not as if the local education authorities are always noted for their small schools.
In a comment on this blog Theo Butt Philip (Hello, Theo) suggests that after abolishing the national curriculum and league tables we should "we should let democratically elected and accountable councils get on with running schools as they see fit".
Where the councils are running the schools well I am sure this is what will happen. The question is what we do where schools are run badly. Is it enough to tell parents whose children are in bad schools - and who cannot afford to go private or move house - that they have a vote once every four years? I do not think it is.
And if you want really strong meat try Stephen Tall, who comes out in support of education vouchers. I am more interested in exploring what a Liberal education system should look like than committing myself to a particular mechanism, but see what you think.