OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

English, French

Reforming Education in England

Despite significant increases in spending on child care and education during the last decade, PISA scores suggest that educational performance remains static, uneven and strongly related to parents’ income and background. Better educational performance could improve labour market outcomes, raise growth, lower the consequences of a disadvantaged background and increase social mobility. Given the austere fiscal outlook, improvements have to come from higher efficiency rather than further spending. More focused pre-school spending on disadvantaged children could improve skill formation. Better-targeted funding for disadvantaged children combined with strengthened incentives for schools to attract and support these students would help raising educational outcomes. The government is increasing user choice by expanding the academies programme and introducing Free Schools, but needs to closely follow effects on fair access for disadvantaged children. The impact of increasing user choice on educational outcomes is uncertain, but the government should experiment with proscribing the use of residence criteria in admission to local government maintained schools in some local authorities. Reforms to increase supply flexibility should be pursued. All government funded schools should enjoy the same freedom in hiring and wage setting to level the playing field across different school types. To better gauge progress and inform policy makers, schools and parents on educational outcomes, additional performance measures should be developed and steps taken to lessen the reliance on grades in performance management. Insufficient supply of high-quality vocational programmes and tertiary education study places hamper human capital formation and growth. Stabilising and simplifying vocational education by more focus on high quality apprenticeships would support participation. The government needs to find efficient measures to raise participation especially among children from low income families to replace the abolished educational maintenance allowance. Further reforms to funding of higher education could lower taxpayers’ costs and help finance a needed expansion in the sector. This Working Paper relates to the 2011 OECD Economic Survey of the United Kingdom (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/uk).


Keywords: disadvantaged students, preschooling, deprivation funding, education systems, school funding, education maintenance allowance, social mobility, school system, school choice, PISA, tuition fees, school efficiency, grade inflation, well-being, primary education
JEL: I21: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Analysis of Education; I24: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Education and Inequality; I28: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Education: Government Policy; I23: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Higher Education; Research Institutions
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error