Laissez-faire localism

Dianne L Gomery
  • Management in Education, March 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0892020617747610

Technical education meets market mechanisms

What is it about?

Since 1988 education reform in England has supported the expansion of a wide range of publicly funded institutions operating in a 'quasi-market' that is, supposedly, responsive to parental demand. This study empirically researched one University Technical College, as a new form of technical education, to explore what was happening in practice.

Why is it important?

It was claimed that education reforms would provide parents with greater choice, generate innovation and competition in the market, stimulate school improvement and enable schools to develop collaborative partnerships. The research findings indicate that in practice the laissez-faire market, largely free from government intervention, creates competition between existing and new institutions as they work to maintain or achieve their Pupil Admission Numbers (PAN) and associated funding. The findings also indicate that this competition may significantly impede schools' capacity and willingness to collaborate and work in partnership.


Dianne Gomery (Author)
UCL Institute of Education, London

I hope this article spikes researchers and practitioners' interest as they consider the varied and complex challenges the laissez-faire education 'quasi-market' can present at a local level, and the impact of these reforms on schools, school leaders and, most importantly, students.

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