A reading on school choice

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For those following the debate on school choice, a useful reading from an FT correspondent who went to school in both Britain and the Netherlands. The Dutch system combines publicly financed school choice and academic streaming.

Dutch parents can indeed choose their children's school. The schools are good, even though the country spends less on education than the OECD average. And, crucially, Dutch schools are selective - something that Britain supposedly lost when it abolished most grammar schools in the 1960s and 1970s. Whereas British kids used to be selected for life aged 11, in Dutch schools selection never stops. At any age pupils can rise or fall a track. In theory, you can enter the VMBO [schools in the lower academic tier] aged 12 and end up a professor. This flexibility is crucial, because schools are society's best means of redressing the inequality with which children start life. "The Netherlands combines both school choice and academic selection in what many see as an ideal education system," concludes Reform, the British free-market think-tank.

The Dutch system has its problems, as the article explains, but seems more successful than most.

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