James Tooley

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James Tooley
James Tooley at the Institute of Economic Affairs on 25 February 2015.JPG
James Tooley at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London on 25 February 2015, after his talk entitled "50 years after EG West's 'Education and the State'."
BornJuly 1959 (1959-07) (age 59)
EducationKingsfield School
University of Sussex
University of London
OccupationEducator, scholar

James Nicholas Tooley (born July 1959, in Southampton, England) is a professor of education policy at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where he directs the E. G. West Centre.[1][2][3][4] For his research on private education for the poor in India, China and Africa, Tooley was awarded the gold prize in the first International Finance Corporation/Financial Times Private Sector Development Competition in September 2006. From 2007 to 2009, he was founding President of the Education Fund, Orient Global,[5] and lived in Hyderabad, India. He is currently chairman of education companies in Ghana (Omega Schools Franchise Ltd) and India (Empathy Learning Systems Pvt Ltd) creating low cost chains of low cost private schools. He also holds an appointment as an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute[6] and serves on the Advisory Council of the Institute of Economic Affairs[7] as well as on the Academic Advisory Council of Civitas: The Institute for the Study of Civil Society.[8] He also serves on the Board of Visitors of Ralston College, a start-up liberal arts college in Savannah.[9]

Early life[edit]

Tooley's family moved to Bristol where he was educated at Kingsfield School, Kingswood, under the tutelage of William Haxworth, and where he was also a contemporary of Richard Scudamore, presently Chief Executive of the Premier League. In fact they both appeared in the 1977 School production of Joe Orton's The Erpingham Camp. The school was burnt to the ground during his time there.[10]

Career background[edit]

Tooley holds a PhD from the Institute of Education, University of London,[11] an MSc from the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, and first class BSc honours in Logic and Mathematics, also from the University of Sussex. He began his career as a mathematics teacher in Zimbabwe (1993 to 1996), before moving to the National Foundation for Educational Research in England in 1998. He held short-term appointments at Simon Fraser University, Canada, and the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, while completing his PhD. His first post-doctoral position was with the University of Oxford's Department of Educational Studies, under Professor Richard Pring. From Oxford he moved to the University of Manchester in 1995; at the same time he also created the Education and Training Unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London. He took up his current chair at Newcastle University in July 1998. He is a member of the academic advisory councils for several think-tanks, including Reform, Civitas, Institute of Economic Affairs, Taxpayers' Alliance and Globalisation Institute. He is an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute, and a thought-leader for Schoolventures.

Low-cost private education[edit]

Tooley is best known for his work on low cost private education. He began this work in 2000, having discovered for himself the existence of low cost private schools in the slums of Hyderabad while doing consultancy for the International Finance Corporation. A major research programme was subsequently undertaken between 2003 and 2005, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, exploring the nature and existence of private schools for the poor in India, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and China, and comparing public and private provision for the poor. This research is reported in a range of books and publications, including The Beautiful Tree: a personal journey into how the world's poorest people are educating themselves (Penguin, New Delhi, and Cato Institute, 2009). His work has also been profiled in documentaries for the BBC and PBS: for the latter it was featured alongside the work of Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus and Hernando de Soto Polar.

The basic findings of the research show that in urban and peri-urban poor areas (slums and shanty towns) in India and the African countries studied, the majority of schoolchildren are in low cost private schools. After testing 24,000 children, it was found that children in the low cost private schools significantly outperform children in public schools, after controlling for background variables and the school choice process.[12][citation needed]

In 2017 Tooley announced plans to open a low cost private primary school in Durham, England.[13][14]

Educational philosophy and thought[edit]

Tooley's work has also explored the role of government in education from philosophical and other theoretical perspectives.[15] This has resulted in academic articles challenging the work of philosophers Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift, and in the major book E. G. West: economic liberalism and the role of government in education (Continuum Library of Educational Thought, 2008).

Prizes and awards[edit]

The following are the major awards won by Tooley:

  • Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Prize, for The Beautiful Tree, April 2010
  • Gold Prize Winner, 1st Financial Times/International Finance Corporation, Private Sector Development Research Paper Competition,[16] September 2006
  • Templeton Prize for Free Market Solutions to Poverty, 1st Prize, March 2006
  • Alexis de Tocqueville Award for the Advancement of Education Freedom, May 2007
  • National Free Enterprise Award, Feb 2007


The following are the books and monographs published by Tooley:

  • Tooley, James (2016) Imprisoned in India: Corruption and Extortion in the World's Largest Democracy; Biteback Publishing; Great Britain
  • Tooley, James (2009) The Beautiful Tree: a personal journey into how the world's poorest people are educating themselves. New Delhi: Penguin; Washington, DC: Cato Institute
  • Tooley, James (2008) E. G. West: economic liberalism and the role of government in education (Continuum Library of Educational Thought). New York and London: Continuum
  • Tooley, James & Dixon, Pauline (2005) Private Education is Good for the Poor: a study of private schools serving the poor in low-income countries, Washington DC: Cato Institute.
  • Tooley, James & Dixon, Pauline (2005) Private Schools Serving the Poor: a study from Delhi, India. New Delhi: Centre for Civil Society
  • Salisbury, David & Tooley, James (eds) (2005) What Americans Can Learn from School Choice in Other Countries. Washington, DC: Cato Institute
  • Tooley, James (2004) 教育的全球化能够使穷人受益吗? (Could the Globalization of Education Benefit the Poor?), Beijing: 九鼎公共事务研究所 (Cathay Institute for Public Affairs) (in Chinese)
  • Tooley, James (2004) 全球教育产业——发展中国家私立教育的经验教训 (The Global Education Industry); translated by Professor Qu Hengchang. Shanghai: People's Publishing House (in Chinese)
  • Tooley, James (2003) Mehr Bildung für die Armen (Occasional Paper No. 3). Potsdam: Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung
  • Tooley, James & Stanfield, James (eds) (2003) Government Failure: E. G. West on education, London: Profile Books
  • Tooley, James; Dixon, Pauline & Stanfield, James (2003) Delivering Better Education: market solutions to education London: Adam Smith Institute
  • Tooley, James & Dixon, Pauline (2003) Private Schools for the Poor: a case study from India. Reading: CfBT
  • Tooley, James (2002) The Miseducation of Women. London and New York:Continuum
  • Tooley, James (2001) The Global Education Industry; 2nd edition, London and Washington DC, Institute of Economic Affairs and International Finance Corporation, in association with Profile Books, London
  • Tooley, James (ed.) (2001) Buckingham at 25: freeing the universities from state control. London: Profile Books
  • Tooley, James (2001) The Enterprise of Education: opportunities and challenges for India. New Delhi: Liberty Institute
  • Tooley, James (2000) Reclaiming Education. London: Cassell
  • Tooley, James (1999) The Global Education Industry. London and Washington DC: Institute of Economic Affairs in association with International Finance Corporation
  • Tooley, James with Howes, Andy (1999) The Seven Virtues of Highly Effective Schools. London: TC Trust
  • Tooley, James with Darby, Doug (1998) Educational Research: a critique London: Ofsted
  • Seville, Adrian & Tooley, James (1997) The Debate on Higher Education: challenging the assumptions London: Institute of Economic Affairs
  • Tooley, James (1996) Education without the State London: Institute of Economic Affairs
  • Tooley, James (1995) Disestablishing the School Aldershot: Avebury Press
  • Tooley, James (1993) A Market-Led Alternative for the Curriculum: breaking the code. London: Tufnell Press
  • Mason, Keith & Tooley, James (1992) Moving Forward in Mathematics: a diagnostic teaching approach. Windsor: NFER/Nelson


  1. ^ "Staff Profiles - Education, Communication and Language Sciences - Newcastle University". www.ncl.ac.uk.
  2. ^ "E. G. West Centre".
  3. ^ http://www.jamestooley.net
  4. ^ "Topic Experts". Fraser Institute.
  5. ^ "Orient Global".
  6. ^ "James Tooley".
  7. ^ "Fellows and Academic Advisors". Institute of Economic Affairs.
  8. ^ http://www.civitas.org.uk/books/about.php#academic
  9. ^ "Collegium Ralstonianum apud Savannenses - Home". www.ralston.ac.
  10. ^ Tooley, James (2017-08-27). "Only a new breed of low-cost private schools for the masses can save the UK's failing education system". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-08-27.
  11. ^ Tooley, James Nicholas (1994). "E.G. West and State Intervention in Education: A Philosophical Exploration". Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  12. ^ "Laurie Penny on girl trouble: we care about young women as symbols, not as people". www.newstatesman.com.
  13. ^ Turner, Camilla (2017-02-21). "Britain's first cut-price private school will charge parents just £52 a week". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  14. ^ "The Independent Grammar School: Durham". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  15. ^ "Major's call for an energy windfall tax offers the Tories an escape route". www.newstatesman.com.
  16. ^ "James Tooley".

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