The coalition government has been told it should introduce a voucher scheme similar to the one that has just been approved in the US state of Indiana.
According to Dale Basset, of think-tank Reform, vouchers can be a powerful tool in education reform in England.
They work by allowing parents to take control of state funding allocated to their children and put this towards private schools instead.
So if the government expects to pay £5,000 per year per student, parents can use a voucher programme to have this amount deducted from private school bills if they decide to pay for tuition, Mr Basset explained in the Telegraph. In this way, many more people would be able to afford private school fees.
Proponents of voucher programmes argue that they offer parents greater degrees of choice over where their children go to school, something that has been shown to lead to better results.
"England has the same need for radical reform (as the US)," he wrote. "Last year, only 30.9 per cent of children from poorer backgrounds (measured by eligibility for free school meals) achieved five good GCSEs, compared to 58.5 per cent of children not in receipt of free school meals."
Approximately 8.1 million children are enrolled in all of England's schools, with 1.2 million eligible for school meals.
Posted by Tim Colman