The Future of Public Services: Personalised Learning


Download article | By Charles Leadbeater | Published in Personalising Education, OECD/CERI, 2006


Charles Leadbeater argues that personalisation has the potential to reorganise the way society creates and delivers public goods and services. It assumes that learners should be actively setting their own targets, developing their own learning plans and goals, and choosing from among a range of different ways to learn. This chapter advances the discussion by exploring different concepts and approaches to personalisation, distinguishing between “shallow” and “deep” personalisation. The first is called bespoke service, where services are tailored to the needs of individual clients. The second approach outlined is called mass customisation in which users are allowed a degree of choice over how to mix and blend standard components to create learning programmes more suited to their goals. Third is mass-personalisation, based on participation and co-creation of value. Personalisation through participation allows users a more direct say in the way the service they use is designed, planned, delivered and evaluated. This involves the following steps:

1. Intimate consultation: professionals work with clients to discover the clients’ needs.
2. Expanded choice: users have greater choice over the solutions, the ways in which their needs may be met.
3. Enhanced voice: as professionals compare possible solutions, it helps users articulate their preferences.
4. Partnership provision: institutions—for example different schools—cooperate in order to offer the user an individualised program.
5. Advocacy: professionals help users navigate the system.
6. Co-production: users become active in the service; for example, students complete homework.
7. Funding: the users’ chosen institutions receive funding.


The context and the pressure for personalisation across a wide range of services is seen to be the chasm which has opened between people and large organisations, public and private. Hence, in education as in other sectors, this agenda is seen as a way of reconnecting people to the institutions which serve them. As far as education is concerned, this implies far-reaching changes in the role of professionals and schools. But the biggest challenge is seen to be what it means for inequality: the more that services become personalised, the more that public resources will have to be skewed towards the least well-off.


The Future of Public Services: Personalised Learning


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