In their latest bulletin Reform argue that the education system in the Netherlands show that school choice and academic selection can go together.
In the Netherlands children are assessed either through a test or by teacher assessment. Just over 20% are then taught in a separate, academically orientated institution, about 3% are taught in vocationally orientated institution, while the majority go to a school that offer both academic and vocational courses.
It is this breadth that makes the Dutch system so admired. In 2004 55% of children took vocational courses from the age of 15, a sharp contrast with the UK.
There is also considerable diversity of provision. Two thirds of secondary schools in the Netherlands are run by independent organisations and are funded by the taxpayer through parental choice.
As they look to the Netherlands David Cameron and David Willetts are right to recognise the benefits of school choice, but they must not ignore the academic selection which is central to the success of Dutch education.
To read Professor James Tooley’s paper for Reform on school choice in the Netherlands and to read of their other education policies please click here.