The Bow Group
have today published a policy brief with this title, challenging some currently received wisdom in education policy.

Its author, Mark Nicholson, is a Chartered Accountant, financial analyst and former candidate for Ealing Southall.

He reveals some reasons for the failure of Labour’s five education secretaries to produce results
(despite a 53% real increase in their budget since 1997). His main findings are:

  • Internationally, there is no correlation between performance in reading and maths, and per pupil spending.
  • A lot of funding has gone into reducing class sizes, but international comparisons suggest that small classes make no meaningful
    difference to learning.
  • Teacher salaries have increased but bureaucracy is putting them off, with the number of vacancies as a proportion of available positions staying at a similar level to 9 years ago.
  • Money has been pumped into quangos (such as the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the Learning and Skills
    ) with little to show for it.


Nicholson concludes that resources are most effective when they affect "softer factors" like teaching time, teacher-student relations and school discipline. If the government had
focused its massive influx of funding on these things, the quality of British
education could have been transformed over the last decade.

Deputy Editor 

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