Parent Power in Britain

Alberta, Dennis Owens, Education, Publications

Executive Summary

  • During the last election campaign in Britain, the Labour government proposed a series of education reforms to secondary schools known collectively as “parent power.”
  • The modern British school system has undergone a series of reforms since universal secondary schooling was introduced in 1944.
  • The latest wave of reform is based on a government White Paper published in 2005.
  • The White Paper called for small group tuition, allowing successful schools to expand and develop additional specialties, enhanced local control over decision-making, a “back to the basics” emphasis and a new focus on gifted education.
  • Taken together, the proposals will significantly expand the range of school choice for British parents and the ability of individual schools to specialize and compete for students.
  • While the opposition Conservatives criticized some of the specifics, their education platform was remarkably similar.
  • The “parent power” initiative has sparked a major backbench rebellion within the Labour Party. The heart of the reforms may not survive and become law.
  • Many of these reforms could and should be implemented in Manitoba.