Speaker(s): Professor Olmo Silva, Amy Finch | Olmo Silva will discuss the conceptual framework and empirical evidence underpinning the idea that autonomy and choice can lead to improvements in education standards in England. Recent reforms in many countries around the world have injected ‘private sector’ elements in the provision of public education – in particular school autonomy and school choice – with the aim of improving education standards. But do these initiatives work? The answer to this question sparks lively debates among academics and policy makers alike – and resonates vividly among parents worried about taking the right decisions for their children’s learning and development. In England, ‘quasi markets’ have long been part of the education landscape. However, recent policy initiatives – in particular the mass academisation of secondary education – have brought these and related ideas centre stage. This dynamism makes the country an ideal “open-air laboratory” for studying these issues and provide a timely answer to some pressing questions. Olmo Silva is Professor of Real Estate Economics and Finance, LSE. Amy Finch (@amy_finch) is Head of Strategic Development, Ofsted. Julian Le Grand is a Professor of Social Policy at LSE. The LSE Department of Geography & Environment (@LSEGeography) is a centre of international academic excellence in economic, urban and development geography, environmental social science and climate change.