Your Voice, Whose Choice?

A free public debate, Your Voice, Whose Choice?, sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council, is to be held at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Westminster on November 8 at 6pm.

The government regards choice as the key to improving public services such as education and health. But how much choice do parents have over their children's education, and how much difference do their choices make?

These issues are the theme of the ESRC's Annual Debate for 2006. The debate will allow experts and the public to discuss whether choice exists in British education and what effects it might have for good or ill.

Participants will be able to discuss whether choice will improve education for our children, and how it affects the other aims for education in contemporary Britain:

  • Society expects education to narrow social and economic gaps by providing opportunities for those from less prosperous backgrounds. Does increased choice make this easier or harder to achieve?

  • Does the management structure of a school, perhaps as a Trust or a City Academy, matter?

  • What is the future for local authority control of schools in a world of free parental choice?

  • Can choice exist alongside the growing trend towards personalised learning, the tailoring of education to individuals rather than groups?

  • Does choice encourage higher standards, which employers and government agree is a priority for the UK in a globalised world?

Chaired by Mike Baker, education correspondent of the BBC, the debate will feature expert contributions from:

  • Stephen Ball, professor of sociology in education at the Institute of Education

  • Simon Burgess, director of the ESRC Centre for Market and Public Organisation at the University of Bristol

  • Sir Cyril Taylor, Chairman of Specialist Schools and Academies Trust

  • Councillor Les Lawrence, cabinet member for education on Birmingham City Council

  • Melissa Benn education columnist.

Your Voice, Whose Choice? will be held at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Westminster on November 8 at 6pm followed by a reception.


The debate is open to all, but please register by emailing [email protected] or telephone 020 8542 7622.

Or Alexandra Saxon at ESRC, on 01793 413032/413119
Email: [email protected]

Notes for editors

  1. Your Voice, Whose Choice? will be held at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Westminster on November 8 at 6pm. A further free public debate will be held at The Saint David's Hotel, Cardiff Bay on November 15th.

  2. The ESRC is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It provides independent, high quality, relevant research to business, the public sector and Government. The ESRC total expenditure in 2005-07 is 169 million. At any time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes. More at

  3. The Teaching and Learning Research Programme is the UK's largest education research initiative and runs from 2000 to 2008. It is directed by Professor Andrew Pollard. More details at For more details contact Martin Ince on 0771 939 0958

  4. ESRC Society Today offers free access to a broad range of social science research and presents it in a way that makes it easy to navigate and saves users valuable time. As well as bringing together all ESRC-funded research (formerly accessible via the Regard website) and key online resources such as the Social Science Information Gateway and the UK Data Archive, non-ESRC resources are included, for example the Office for National Statistics. The portal provides access to early findings and research summaries, as well as full texts and original datasets through integrated search facilities. More at

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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