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Fiona Millar on the marketisation of education





Credit: Times Newspapers Ltd

This episode features a fascinating conversation with Fiona Millar, a journalist and campaigner on education and parenting issues whose work I have admired for many years.

Following a career in journalism, Fiona worked in the office of the Leader of the Opposition from 1995 to 1997, and as an adviser to Tony and Cherie Blair from 1995 to 2003.

On leaving Downing Street, Fiona started writing a monthly column for The Guardian about education, and in 2004 she made a documentary film for Channel Four called The Best for My Child, examining how the quasi-market in schools was working in practice.

In 2018, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Education Reform Act 1988, Fiona published a fascinating book with the same name as her earlier documentary - The Best for My Child: Did the schools market deliver?

Of this book, Melissa Benn wrote:

Fiona Millar combines a profound understanding of the way schools work on the ground with unrivalled political acumen. This insightful account of what the market revolution has really meant for England’s education system is an important and absorbing read.

I whole-heartedly agree. It’s very well written and I think it’s really required reading for anyone who wants to understand the weirdly hierarchical, disjointed school system that we have today - and therefore how we might create a more equitable system that works for all young people.

It’s also well worth reading back through Fiona’s many excellent articles in the Guardian, including her most recent setting out how Labour can fix the education system - a topic on which we alight in this conversation.

There’s a link to her Guardian profile below and it’s well worth an hour of your time.



The Rethinking Education podcast is hosted and produced by Dr James Mannion. You can contact him at, or via a social platform of your choosing:


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