- Research blog
'The Conservatives are failing to take parents seriously in education', Conservative Home, 11th February 2017.
'No decline in standards, reports think tank', Academy Today , 31st October 2016. Hannah Oakman reports on the launch of Who’s to produce and who’s to choose? Assessing the future of the qualifications and assessment market by Gabriel Heller Sahlgren, CMRE Director of Research. See also coverage in Schools Week.
OpEd from the author in Academy magazine
Geoffrey Holden, Senior Policy Adviser, City & Guilds, and CMRE Fellow, applies Gabriel’s research findings to proposals to move to a franchising model for provision of technical and vocational qualifications: ‘Learners need more choice, not less’, TES, 2nd December
See also the TES news story: ‘A de facto nationalisation of technical education’, TES, 2nd December
You can read CMRE’s submission to the Public Bill Committee regarding the provisions of the Technical and Further Education Bill here. A record of the Committee’s deliberations, referencing CMRE’s submission, appears in Hansard here.
In an interview with One Education, James discusses the state of the evidence base on school leadership effectiveness and where the future of leadership studies, policy, and effective practice, lies.
See also his comment pieces in SecEd and in September’s Academy magazine.
'Imperfect Finnish', Education Investor, July/August 2016 issue
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren considers the questions we should be asking about the success and recent decline of Finland’s schools?
‘Role of leadership unclear, says think tank’, Academy Today, 29th June 2016. Stephanie Broad reports on the launch of ‘Taking a lead: how to access the leadership premium’ by Executive Director James Croft. Following the launch of the paper, which you can view on video here, Jo Nutt wrote this comment piece for the TES, which drew this response from Bernard Trafford.
The author’s own comment piece, ‘We need to stop looking to 'hero heads' for a national school improvement strategy’ appeared in the TES on 28th July 2016.
'Ofsted: too big not to fail', IEA blog, 11th July 2016
Professor Len Shackleton considers Ofsted's burgeoning brief and the opportunities for reform presented to the new CEO
‘The End of the Bush-Obama Regulatory Approach to School Reform: Choice and competition remain the country’s best hope’, EducationNext, Summer 2016 / Vol. 16, No. 3
Professor Paul E. Peterson write-up of this year’s CMRE Friedman Lecture, including a Podcast discussion with Marty West. The essay also appears as 'Post-regulatory school reform' in the September/October edition of Harvard Magazine.
'Let's do away with excellence frameworks in higher education', IEA blog, 22nd June 2016
Professor Len Shackleton considers the purposes of University and what the government hopes to be able to achive through the introduction of a new 'teaching excellence framework'.
'Helsinking: Europe’s top-performing school system rethinks its approach', The Economist, 14th May 2016
'The Academy Question', EdCentral blog, May 2016
‘Hard road ahead’, Academy Today, 11th May 2016
James Croft considers the future implications of the white paper for the academy sector, post U-turn.
‘Missed opportunities, questionable assumptions, and inadequate incentives’, Academy Magazine, Summer 2016, and 'A step backwards?', Education Investor, May 2016
James Croft shares his view of the government white paper’s plans for full academisation - pre U-turn.
'The London Challenge', EdCentral blog, April 2016
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren gives an alternative perspective on the London effect.
'It's a myth that local schooling is the equitable alternative to school choice', James Croft, Schools Week, 4th March 2016
‘School choice increases the life chances of children from disadvantaged homes’, by Nima Sanandaji, CapX, 16th February 2016
‘School choice for the disadvantaged’, by Patrick Watson, Montrose 42 blog, 2nd February 2016
‘Do we truly want choice, or do we simply want better schools?’, by Rebecca Coulson, Conservative Home, 2nd February 2016
'Challenging collaboration', SecEd (20th January)
James Croft argues that further investment in autonomy, and in creating the market conditions under which successful collaborations are likely to arise, rather than collaboration per se, is the way forward for school improvement policy.
‘Is collaboration for school improvement all it’s cracked up to be?’, Education Investor (December 2015)
'Does school collaboration really mean higher standards?',Conservative Home (28th November)
James Croft comments on his research into the evidence of its impact on pupil outcomes and considers the implications for school improvement.
‘"No evidence"’ school collaboration boosts attainment, research claims’, TES (23rd October)
Coverage of James Croft’s research: ‘Collaborative overreach: why collaboration probably isn’t key to the next phase of school reform’.
'School improvement is too important not to put parents in the driving seat', ATL Union Speak Out! (9th October)
James Croft comments on the marginalistion of parents in the current discourse about education reform in England and its consequences.
'Whatever happened to school choice?', Conservative Home (30th September)
As the Conservatives show an increasing tendency to central government managerialism, James Croft takes stock of what’s left of the school choice agenda.
'A new force for cross-sector collaboration', Independent Education Today (1st September)
James Croft reflects on central government tendency to overlook contextual realities in its optimism about the transferability of independent school leadership expertise for state school improvement.
'"Get out of your comfort zone," state school leaders are told', TES (31st August)
Adi Bloom reports on a CMRE event with Jon Coles, Richard Harman, Sam Freedman, and Lord Lucas considering ways towards a more productive relationship between state and independent school sectors in England.
'GCSE results 2015: Six ways Britain's world-beating education system could be better still', City AM (21st August)
CMRE Academic Advisor and Fellow, Professor Len Shackleton argues for the removal of the Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) requirement; government restraint in face of the constant temptation to try to ‘fix’ national qualifications; top-up fees to be permitted in state schools; a reduction in Ofsted regulation of childcare; equity-share based lending to graduates by their chosen universities; and for an end to the wasteful and time-consuming Research Excellence Framework.
CMRE Academic Advisor and Fellow, Professor Len Shackleton, argues for more competition between boards, not less.
'Immigration helps explain Sweden's school trouble',The Spectator (10th August)
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren writes about his, and CMRE Academic Council member Tino Sanandaji’s efforts to get at the real reasons for Sweden’s decline in PISA.
'Immigration effect on PISA presents a real challenge for education', Dagens Nyheter (29th July)
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren reveals the immigration effect on Sweden’s declining PISA scores in a report for the Research Institute of Industrial Economics. Shifting pupil composition explains about a third of the average fall. Further debate in Skolvärlden, Norrköpings Tidningar, New Folkblad and Västerbottens Kuriren.
'The new "coasting school" measure is a threat to Ofted's existence', TES (21st July)
James Croft argues that the Education and Adoption Bill’s ‘coasting school’ definition allows Regional school commissioners to circumvent the inspection process and presents a real challenge to the regulator.
'Immigrant children benefit from a conservative method of teaching',Tages Anzeiger (12th July)
'The disenchantment', Die Welt (5th July)
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren’s finds prevailing interpretations of Finland’s ‘PISA miracle’ to be wanting. An editorial later in the week probes the issues further.
Review of Gabriel Heller Sahlgren's research Real Finnish Lessons, Schools Week (5th July)
'Ofsted's credibility problem', Academy Today (30th June)
James Croft expresses disappointment with the lack of engagment with Ofsted’s validity problem and why present proposals are inadequate.
'Is academisation the way forward for all schools?', Academy Today (9th June)
James Croft asks whether the process of ‘academisaton’ as we know it is the best way forward for ‘coasting’ schools.
'Strategic problems with the government's plans for improvement of failing schools', Schools Week (27th May)
'CMRE appoints CfBT's Neil McIntosh as its first President', Education Investor (27th May) and in Schools Week (6th June)
'Councils with "failing schools" held by Labour', Schools Week (15th May)
James Croft comments on the failure of local democratic accountability in holding to account authorities issued with a notice to improve by Ofsted.
Review of Finnish Lessons 2.0: what can the world learn from educational change in Finland?, Schools Week (19th April)
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren reviews Pasi Sahlberg’s new book.
'Why the golden boy of education has lost his lustre', The Times (15th April)
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren writes about his research on Finland, Real Finnish Lessons: the true story of an education superpower, showing how popular explanations of the country’s rise the PISA rankings lack understanding of the limitations of its research method, the country’s history and culture, and of the passage of reform and implementation. For further UK media coverage, visit: the BBC, The Telegraph, The Times, The Daily Mail and Herald Scotland Rest of Europe coverage: yle UUTISET, yle NYHETER, NZZ.
'Teaching the teacher', Education Investor (February)
James Croft considers some of the challenges facing policy-makers tasked with strategy for improving teacher, and teaching, quality. "No one disputes that good teachers are crucial if students are to perform well. And the evidence seems to back up this consensus. The problem is that we don’t know much about what they have in common, so they’re difficult to recruit. And if you get it wrong, what can be done to improve under-performance isn’t all that clear either."
'The money motive', ATL Report (January 2015)
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren is interviewed by ATL Report. “The current free school and academies programme is a waste of money to a large extent. You give a lot of money to schools to convert to academy status. I say, if you believe you can start up a school, use your own money, or find it on the market. Don’t take the taxpayers’ money to do it.” (pp. 12-13)
'Standards: does school autonomy make a difference?', Education Media Centre (11th December)
Considering the latest research showing that post-conversion impacts are greatest among previously LEA maintained schools, Gabriel argues that only significant increases in autonomy appear to be linked to better results. The effect is not the same for voluntary-aided schools, for example, which already had significantly greater control over their own affairs.
'Profits are progressive', ATL SpeakOut (6th November)
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren argues that gains to the taxpayer from profit, mean that profit-making companies don’t necessarily have to provide better services, they just need to produce the same quality for the same level of funding. In any case, the real gains are from the competition effect, which evidence suggests benefits all pupils equally, system-wide. His arguments were presented at the first of ATL’s Shape Education pre-election debates, which took place in London on 12 November. Laura McInerney, who chaired the debate, summarises here.
'A damning verdict on the effectiveness of central government brokered academisation',TES Opinion (30th October)
James Croft argues that the National Audit Office report on school intervention and management (Academies and maintained schools: Oversight and intervention) is a damning verdict on the ineffectiveness of the central government brokering framework for engaging academy sponsors.
'No return for Sweden's free schools',TES Connect (24th October)
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren comments on the politics and practicalities around abolishing free schools run for profit in Sweden.
'How competitive schools make a competitive economy', Conservative Home (29th July)
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren offers salient points from his latest research on the relationship between education and economic growth, published by the Adam Smith Institute. Articles also appeared in The Telegraph, The Times, and aol.
'Should we allow British state schools to be run by the private sector for a profit?', Education Investor (July/August 2014)
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren and Rick Muir of the IPPR exchange views.
edchoice.org (the online forum of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice) (15th July) Gabriel Heller Sahlgren responds to an article in Slate by Professor Ray Fisman of Columbia University (21st July)
BESA Summer Insight Day Conference address by James Croft, Director of The Centre for Market Reform of Education, 3rd July
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren participates in a panel discussion at the Almehdalen conference in Sweden, 3rd July (in English).
City AM (2nd July) Graeme Leach, Director of Economics & Prosperity Studies at the Legatum Institute, discusses the import of Gabriel Heller Sahlgren's forthcoming research on the relationship between education and economic growth.
TESconnect (29th June) Coverage of the CMRE essay collection Tests worth teaching to
Gabriel Heller Sahlgren's book Incentivising Excellence: school choice and education quality is reviewed in the Journal of School Choice: International Research and Reform, Volume 8, Issue 2, 2014
(5th June) James Croft contributes to a Westminster Forum seminar discussion on competition in the 14-19 examinations market.
Standpoint (June 2014) Gabriel Heller Sahlgren and Professor Julian Le Grand argue that injecting choice into our education system has raised standards in our schools, but that more radical reforms is needed to improve them further.
Education Media Centre (6th June) Gabriel Heller Sahlgren argues that if you get the design of performance pay schemes right, they can increase pupil attainment. See also Muddled incentives, BBC News
Education Investor (June) James Croft considers the rise of activity-based education and its potential for soft skill development and character education.
Education Investor (June) Gabriel Heller Sahlgren explains Sweden's troubled schools market and why poor design of the overall education policy architecture, not market forces, is to blame for falling international performance.
Total Politics (April 2014) James Croft takes a fresh look at parental involvement in school choice and how league tables can be improved.
Estates Gazette (5th April 2014) James Croft questions the wisdom of the government procuring free school sites on the open market and asks why private investors are not permitted entry.
TES Connect (28th March) Gabriel Heller Sahlgren examines the evidence and questions what the unions contribute to improving our education system.
www.parliament.uk (19th March) Gabriel Heller Sahlgren gives evidence to the Education Select Committee on the impact of academies and free schools
An Entrepreneurs’ Manifesto (The Entrepreneurs’ Network, 2014) James Croft examines constraints on the development of a truly entrepreneurial education sector.
Financial Times (18th February) Gabriel Heller Sahlgren, with Professor Julian Le Grand, argues, with reference to the PISA report, that trying to copy the country with the highest grades is not the right way to improve a school system. What we need is greater competition between schools.
City AM (14th February) Graeme Leach, Director of Economic & Prosperity Studies at the Legatum Institute, puts the case for voucher funding, with reference to Gabriel’s work with CMRE.
Affärsvärlden (4th February) Gabriel Heller Sahlgren comments on grade inflation in the Swedish education system
Dagens Nyheter (21st January) A rejoinder, replying to criticism of the original article in Dagens Nyheter (see previous, below)
Dagens Nyheter (13th January 2014) Gabriel Heller Sahlgren, with Professor Philip Booth, of Cass Business School in London, and program director at the IEA, and Professor Henrik Jordahl , of the IFN, exposes the flaws in the PISA approach to international benchmarking and education system analysis.
The Spectator (10th December) Gabriel Heller Sahlgren argues that Pasi Sahlberg's Guardian article on school choice reform is misguided.
TES (6th December, also print) Gabriel Heller Sahlgren discusses Pisa's rising influence in education policy and suggests TIMMS rankings should be as equally studied, in light of Finland's poor performance in the latter, when compared to Pisa.
City AM (4th December) Gabriel Heller Sahlgren argues in City AM for introducing the recommendations of School vouchers for England.
The Guardian (3rd December) The Guardian reports on Gabriel Heller Sahlgren's views on why Finland performs poorly outside of PISA tests.
Business Insider (3rd December 2013) Gabriel Heller Sahlgren's views on Finland's fall from grace in international league tables are discussed.
TES (2nd December) TES reports on Gabriel Heller Sahlgren's view that the United Kingdom does not take international rankings as seriously as other countries.
TES (15th November) In light of doubts over the credibility of PISA rankings, Gabriel Heller Sahlgren argues that this may have implications for policies and research.
Svenska Dagbladet (6th November) (in Swedish) Gabriel H. Sahlgren and Karin Svanborg-Sjövall, Project Manager for Welfare Policy at TIMBRO, write for the second largest Swedish daily, discussing reforms to improve the Swedish voucher system from a market-based perspective.
Spectator Coffee House (29th October) Gabriel H. Sahlgren argues that school choice, decoupled from parents' choice of residence, can decrease residential segregation in England.
City AM (25th October) Gabriel H. Sahlgren argues against Nick Clegg's suggestion that free schools and academies should not be allowed to hire non-qualified teachers and deviate from the national curriculum.
Radio Sweden (24th October) Gabriel H. Sahlgren comments on the collapse of JB Education, one of Sweden's largest free school companies.
The Telegraph (22nd October) Gabriel H. Sahlgren argues against Nick Clegg's suggestion that free schools and academies should not be allowed to hire non-qualified teachers.
Svenska Dagbladet (17th October) (in Swedish) Gabriel H. Sahlgren writes for the second largest Swedish daily newspaper replying to commentators claiming that school choice increases educational inequalities. He argues that the evidence suggests the opposite and that choice also reduces residential segregation.
Dagens Nyheter (7th October) (in Swedish) In Dagens Nyheter, Sweden's largest daily newspaper, Gabriel H. Sahlgren provides a rejoinder to two replies to his article from the Swedish Library Association and six Swedish academics in information and library science. He argues that most available research on school libraries is flawed and should cannot be used to support detailed regulation of schools. The only rigorous study finds no impact at all. For these reasons, he claims that experiments with school libraries are necessary to find out whether they have positive effects before country-wide regulation is put in place.
Dagens Nyheter (1st October) (in Swedish) Gabriel H. Sahlgren writes for Dagens Nyheter, the largest Swedish daily newspaper, replying to the head of the Swedish Green Party who wants to force all schools to have staffed libraries. He argues that the only rigorous study available suggests that school libraries have no impact and that mobile librarians in fact have a negative effect. There are other studies, but these are methodologically unsound, and they cannot be used to support regulation.
TES (20th September) Gabriel H Sahlgren argues that headteachers, rather than bureaucrats, are best placed to hire the best teachers.
Channel 5 News (6:30pm, 17th September) Alexander Blackburn debates the expansion of the free school meals programme.
Financial Times (6th September) '... Proposals put forward by The Centre for Market Reform of Education, a think-tank, for a tutors’ association have been supported by some of the country’s biggest tuition agencies...'
TES (29th August) '... A report published today by the right-leaning think tank the Centre for Market Reform of Education (CMRE), has recommended heads of good schools be given bonuses as an incentive to take on the work involved in increasing pupil places...'
City A.M. (15th August) Anton Howes, CMRE Research Consultant, argues that we should embrace diversity in qualifications and move away from rigid examination structures.
EducationInvestor (July 2013 issue) James Croft, Director of CMRE, discussing improving information provision.
Spectator Coffee House (19th July) CMRE Director of Research Gabriel H. Sahlgren replies to Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg's recent attack on for-profit schools in the Independent
Education Executive (2nd July) '... James Croft, director of the Centre for Market Reform of Education (CMRE), agreed with plans to allow private companies to invest in schools. "Moves to simplify the requirements placed on new academy and free school sponsors are long overdue," he said...'
Public Service (2nd July) '...CMRE director James Croft said that the removal of arbitrary restrictions on private sector investment in free schools and academies was crucial for the development of the government's school reform programme...'
Spectator Coffee House (15th June 2013) CMRE Director of Research Gabriel H. Sahlgren writes about Finnish school performance and school choice.
Times Educational Supplement (7th June) CMRE Director of Research Gabriel H. Sahlgren writes why the profit motive is important to ensure equity in education.
The Telegraph (22nd May) The Telegraph features CMRE's work on the Tutors Association.
Education Today (22nd May) Education Today reports on CMRE Direct of of Research Gabriel H. Sahlgren's book 'Incentivising Excellence'.
Education Investor (May 2013, Vol 5, No 4) Education Investor reports on CMRE Director of Research Gabriel H. Sahlgren's book 'Incentivising Excellence', highlighting how the book suggests the coalition's school reforms don't go far enough.
City AM (19th April) CMRE Director Gabriel H. Sahlgren explains why we should not expect more than marginal gains from most available school choice programmes worldwide, and what is needed to produce a fundamental transformation in education.
ConservativeHome (16th April) Graham Evans M.P. writes about CMRE Director of Research Gabriel H. Sahlgren's book Incentivising excellence in support of why he advocates vouchers in education.
Education Investor (12th April) 'The coalition's education reforms will have "little quantifiable impact" on the quality of England's schools because they don't go far enough, a new book has argued.'
The Times (10th April)* 'Parents should be given vouchers to spend on their children’s education, with more available for those from poorer backgrounds, a think-tank has proposed.' The Times reports on the book Incentivising excellence, by CMRE Director of Research Gabriel H. Sahlgren.
Svenska Dagbladet(30th March) CMRE Director of Research Gabriel H. Sahlgren argues, in a reply to fellows of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, that the research indicates that school choice decreases residential segregation and improves equality of opportunity.
The Daily Telegraph (6th March) 'Schools should receive funding directly from parents through a "voucher system" to drive competition and allow the worst–performers to fail, ministers have been told.' The Daily Telegraph writes about the book Incentivising excellence, by CMRE Director of Research Gabriel H. Sahlgren, after a pre-publication briefing at the Institute of Directors on 5th March.
City AM (24th January) CMRE Director James Croft writes about the importance to ensure a diverse qualifications market.
Indian Policy Review(no. 5, December) In the latest issue of the journal, published by the Centre for Civil Society, a Dehli based think tank, CMRE Director of Research Gabriel H. Sahlgren reviews the Swedish voucher and free school model, highlighting its achievement and considering gaps in the model and the political currency of this policy in present day Sweden.
Education Investor(November)* CMRE Director James Croft argues that an inadvertent consequence of the government's 14-19 qualifications reform is that employers are dis-engaging
City AM (15th October) CMRE Director of Research Gabriel H. Sahlgren argues that we need to change the incentive structure in education fundamentally.
City AM (18th September) CMRE Director James Croft is quoted in relation to the CMRE discussion paper 'When qualifications fail: Reforming 14-19 qualifications'
Public Service (2nd October) CMRE Director James Croft writes about the the government's exam plans and argues that the move towards more rigorous exams for all would be counterproductive.
Public Service Europe(24th September) CMRE Director James Croft and Research Consultant Anton Howes argue that we need less government intervention in qualifications and exams.
The Assignment Report (1st October) CMRE Director James Croft argues that markets are necessary for a and well-functioning qualification and examination system.
Education Investor (September 2012)* CMRE Director James Croft argues that while apprenticeships are widely seen as key to rebalancing the economy and tackling youth unemployment, it’s not at all clear where they’re going to come from.
The CMRE Private Schools Conference (28th April) James Croft, CMRE Director, Keynote presentation.
Education Investor (March) CMRE Director James Croft argues that the government’s decision to further tighten student visa requirements is hastening the demise of private pathway providers. That’s bad news for Higher Education and bad news for Britain.
FIS magazine (February) Proprietorial and corporate governance models are regarded as inferior by many in the independent sector. CMRE Director James Croft considers whether the charitable trust framework works as well as is often claimed and reviews the alternatives
City AM (18th January 2012) Philip Salter, author of forthcoming CMRE report on developments in ed tech, writes about the current and coming technology revolution in education.
Education Investor(December) CMRE Director James Croft writes about the impact on awarding bodies of the government's reforms to 14-16 vocational qualifications.
(8th December) CMRE Director James contributed to the panel discussion on ‘The impact of Free Schools and the future for the programme’.
(23-24 November) CMRE Director James Croft spoke on 'The strengths and growth potential of England’s proprietorial schools' on the first day of the forum.
City AM Forum pages (7th November) CMRE Director James Croft argues that we need more choice and competition in education.
Education Investor (October)* CMRE Director James Croft writes about land reform and free schools.
Funding for Independent Schools (October) CMRE James Croft discusses the implications for the independent school sector.of greater autonomy in the state-funded sector.
Public Service Europe(26th September) CMRE Director James Croft writes about for-profit schooling.
BBC Radio Berkshire (5th September) James Croft talks to Andrew Peach on the issue of free schools.
Press release (5 September) Coverage from The Guardian, Conservative Home, Politics Home, The Huffington Post, Government Opportunities, Montrose42 blogs
The Sunday Telegraph (28th August) CMRE Director James Croft speaks to Julie Henry on the importance of allowing for-profit free schools.