Neoliberal ideas were much stronger in the Coalition government’s education policies—in a context of public sector cuts, they focused mainly on the further marketization of education, scrapping many of New Labour’s policies to tackle inequality of opportunity
Funding cuts to education
- Spending on education in the UK fell by almost 15% between 2010-11 and 2014-15. The government argues it needs to do this pay of the country’s debt.
- However, critics say this is an ideological commitment to keeping taxes low. The Coalition could easily find the money to fund education if it taxed the rich more.
- The Coalition greatly increased the number academies, by allowing any school to convert to an academy if the school and parents wanted it and by forcing ‘satisfactory’ or below schools to become academies.
- Free Schools—free schools are new schools set up by parents or charitable organisations. They are free from the National Curriculum and give parents even more choice over schooling.
Policies to improve equality of opportunity
- Scrapped the Educational Maintenance Allowance AND Reduced funding to Sure Start Centres
- Introduced the Pupil Premium—schools to get extra funding for each student they take from a low income household (approximately £600 per poor kid)
- Introduced maintenance HE grants for children from low income backgrounds.
- Standards have continued to increase
- The attainment gap (between FSM and non FSM pupils has decreased)
- All this by spending less.
- Free schools reduce funding for other local education authority schools, advantaging middle class parents
- The scrapping of the EMA lowered the stay on rate in Further Education.
- Considerable regional inequalities remain—for example up north and coastal areas.
Exam practice question –
Outline three reasons why government education policies aimed at raising educational achievement among disadvantaged groups may not always succeed. [6 marks]
Answer using the (1+1) format – give a reason and explain how… do this three times for a total of 6 MARKS!
Selected Key Concepts:
- Selection by mortgage
- skilled and disconnected choosers.
- The New Right
- the privatisation of education
- All other education policy sub-topics