Most of these schools are part of a ‘multi academy trust’, and once a school joins one of these trusts, then it no longer exists as a legal and financial entity in its own right – it is wholly ‘incorporated’ by the Trust.
In terms of standards and results, this is generally advantageous when a Trust is performing well, but when a chain performs badly, individual schools are now just stuck with that trust, with no way out, no means of lifting themselves out of the situation. There’s an interesting Observer article about this here.
There is some case study evidence that suggests some academy trusts are fraudulently claiming money from the government for school improvement works, and then spending considerably less. One example of this is the Bright Side Academy Trust which runs 10 schools in England: it claimed £556 000 to demolish and rebuild some unstable sports hall walls in one school, but then simply installed some steel supports to the existing walls at a cost of £60, 000.
And what can the individual school in these trusts do about their dire situation? Absolutely nothing. They are basically ‘stuck suffering in the chain’.
This is a feature of the new education landscape I hadn’t really considered before: the possibility of there being ‘batches’ of schools in one trust that end up sinking to the bottom together in certain areas of the country.
Was it ever realistic to expect the academy model to improve failing schools anyway?
The flagship early academies, most notably Mossbourne Academy, was a huge success, getting excellent results with some of the most disadvantaged children in London: but that was 2010, that was the flagship that had £23 million spent on it, and there have been additional motivation from it being a role-model.
Now that academies are generalised, now that they’ve become the norm – it appears that there are good academy chains, and there are bad academy chains, surprise surprise!
in fact this shouldn’t be any surprise. Given that most of the main barriers to educational achievement are all external to the school (such as material deprivation), it was always unlikely that simply changing the structure of how schools are organised )from an LEA to an academies model) was going to make a difference in the long run.
I mean, new academies don’t get any more money than LEA schools, and while they might gain from economies of scale, this can’t make that much difference. It’s not as if they can afford to pay a 50% premium to address the shortage in science teachers for example, and it’s not enough to combat the radical hardships that the bottom 10% or so face at home.
In 2005 New Labour liberalised the gambling the laws, ending the ban on T.V. advertising, which is in line with neoliberal policies of decreasing state regulation of private companies.
12 years later and we have a situation where endless T.V. adverts glamorise gambling and hook new converts, and where online gambling companies such as 888 Sport and Paddy Power are targeting children with their online gambling games – exploiting a loophole in the law in which allows online games to advertise to children, but not casinos etc.
According to the industry’s own regulator, the Gambling Commission, around 450 000 children, or one in six of all those aged 11-15 now gamble at least once a week.
It seems that in this case, the right of gambling companies to make a profit trumps the well being of our children (*), and there’s also a nice example of Toxic Childhood here…. not only do our kids now have to deal with information overload, the contradictions of staying thin while being surrounded by junk and the pressures of over-testing, they’ve now got to deal with a potential life time of gambling addiction.
New Labour were in power from 1997-2010, and during those years they certainly introduced an impressive range of new education policies – some of which were inspired by New Right principles and focused on enhancing marketization: increasing competition between schools and choice for parents, and others which were inspired by old social democratic principles, focusing more on improving equality of educational opportunity and helping the disadvantaged.
New Labour also introduced a range of new vocational education policies, but that will be dealt with in a future post.
New Labour polices inspired by the New Right
The New Right emphasized the importance of introducing free-market principles into education in order to make schools more competitive and give parents more choice – New Labour carried this on by keeping all of the main policies associated with marketization (league tables, OFSTED etc.) and by increasing the number of specialist schools; they also increased the role of the private sector in education through academies and PFI initiatives; and they increased expenditure on vocational, work-related training, which was in line with New Right ideas that education should prepare children for the world of work.
Specific details of how neoliberal ideas influenced New Labour education policy
Labour greatly expanded the role of specialist schools
State secondary schools can apply to become specialist schools in one or two of ten specialisms (e.g. maths, science, sports etc.). In order for their application to be successful, they need to raise £50 000 from private sector sponsors, which will be matched by the government. Specialist schools are allowed to select 10% of their students who show an aptitude in the schools specialist subjects (which relates to the seletive education topic, this is a form of selection by aptitude).
Specialist schools demonstrate New Labour’s rejection of the Old Labour idea of of the ‘one size fits all comprehensive school’. Specialist schools provided diversity and offered more parental choice, fitting in with the New Right’s marketization agenda. According to the then education secretary Estelle Morris ‘ Specialist schools and Colleges will have a key contribution to make in raising standards and delivering excellence in schools’. (Chitty 2002)
In 1997 New Labour inherited 196 specialist schols from the Conservatives. Then years later, there were over 2500 specialist schools, over 75% of all specialist schools.
Labor Increased the Number of Assessments and Targets schools were subjected to
New Labour largely welcomed the testing and assessment regime introduced by the Conservatives. They increased the number of targets schools had to reach, as well as the amount of information which schools had to publish in league tables.
New Labour continued to assess schools regularly using a range of ‘target indicators’ such as pupil achievement Key Stage Tests, GCSEs and A Levels, OFSTED inspections and also truancy and exclusion rates.
League Tables were changed so that schools had to publish data on ‘value added’ – the difference between the level of achievement students came into a school with (measured through SATs) and what they left with (ultimately still measured by GCSEs.
New Labour policies inspired by the Social Democratic View of education
The Social Democratic view of education emphasized improving equality of opportunity and tackling social disadvantage through state education. The main policies introduced to achieve these goals included Academies, Sure Start, Education Maintenance Allowance and also a general increase in state-expenditure on education.
Education Action Zones
Education Action Zones were set up to raise the attainment levels of students in low income, inner city areas. By 2003 there were 73 EAZs in England, funded by central government with additional funding from business. An action forum, made up of parents and representatives from local schools and businesses and from local and national government ran each zone.
Aan Ofsted report on EAZs praised some initiatives, such as homework and breakfast clubs. The report found some improvements in standards at Key Stage 1, but no change at Key Stage 3 or GCSE.
Excellence in Cities
The Excellence in Citiies programme gradually replaced EAZs, targetting local education authorities in deprived areas. The main initiatves of EiC were special programmes for gifted students, city learning centres with IT facilities, learning mentors and low-cost leasing for home computers.
Various reports evaluating the EiC programme produced mixed results: in general they indicated only limited success and the EiC programme was ended in 2006.
Sure Start Children’s Centres are responsible for delivering services for children under 5 and their families.
The core purpose of Sure Start Children’s Centres are to improve outcomes for young children (primarily aged 2-4) and their families, with a particular focus on the most disadvantaged families, in order to reduce inequalities in child development and school readiness.
Four core aims of Sure Start Centres included:
To provide high quality and affordable early years education and childcare.
To raise Parenting aspirations, self esteem and parenting skills.
To improve child and family health, primarily through providing education and information about local health services.
To acting as a hub for the local community, building social capital and cohesion.
In centres in the 30% most disadvantaged areas extra the centres provides childcare for a minimum of 10 hours a week, while in more affluent areas, support was limited to drop-in activity sessions for children, such as stay and play sessions.
By 2010, there were over 3300 Sure Start Centres.
A major evaluation of Sure Start programmes examined over 7,000 families in 150 Sure Start areas and found that while parents valued them, there was little measurable improvement in child development, with the exception of lower levels of childhood obesity.
The academies programme introduced by New Labour was primarily aimed at failing schools and by May 2010 there were 203 academies in England. New Labour thought that Academies could both raise standards and tackle inequality of educational opportunity simultaneously.
Traditionally school have been overseen by local councils who have managed admissions policies, term dates, pay for staff and other aspects of education in their areas, and they have provided a number of services to schools as well. In return, schools have given councils 10% of their funding. This ensured uniformity across a council area and meant the provision of education could be managed effectively.
Academies are schools which are no longer controlled by local councils and they get to keep 10% extra funding for their schools. More importantly, academies are completely independent from local councils and can set their own term dates, admissions policies; staff pay levels and much more. It is argued the extra freedom for schools gives allows them raise standards.
Academies are sponsored by an organisation which is responsible for overseeing the running of the schools. Sponsors could include businesses, charities and faith groups. For example, Lord Harris, the owner of “Carpet Right”, runs the Harris Academies which now operate 23 schools, including the Harris Academies in Purley, Crystal Palace and Merton. Commercial sponsors which take over schools must provide £2 million of additional finance.
A 2010 study by Stephen Machin (Machin and Vernoit 2010) found that academies that had been open for at least 2 years had 3% more students who achieved 5 GCSEs at grades A-C.
However, critics of academies say that the only reason they achieve better results is because they take fewer pupils with special needs or behavioral problems.
The Education Maintenance Allowance
Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) was paid to students aged 16-19 who were from lower income families. Students received the funding if the attended all there lessons and achieved their performance targets. The funding was designed to help with the hidden costs of education and there was a progressive approach, with the least well of pupils receiving £30 a week and the better off pupils received £20 or £10.
Evaluation of New Labour’s Education Policies
In short, New Labour successfully raised standards in education, but they were much less successful in reducing inequality of educational opportunity – the ‘attainment gap’ between working class and middle class children remained stubbornly high under New Labour.
Focusing on the successes, it’s important not to understate the importance of this as an achievement – the number of students passing 5 good GCSEs (the early academies helped here), and progression onto Further (EMA helped here) and Higher Education increased steadily under New Labour.
Specialist schools were very successful in raising standards, however, this was largely because they selected a disproportionate amount of middle class pupils.
In terms of tackling social class inequalities, most of their policies failed (except for the early academies and the EMA) – EAZs, EiCs and Sure Start were appear to have ultimately been a waste of money in this regard.
Paul Trowler (2003) argued that Labour were unrealistic in their expectations of what education could achieve in terms of tackling social class inequality. As Trowler sees it, education alone cannot tackle deep-rooted social inequalities.
Haralmabos and Holborn (2013) Sociology: Themes and Perspectives
*The 1997-201 New Labour party/ government wanted to change the image and perspective of their party so that they could appeal to a wider type of voters. They wanted to appeal to the middle classes, who traditionally voted Conservative, as well as working classes, who had traditionally tended to vote Labour. So they renamed themselves ‘New’ Labour. This meant that some of their beliefs were in line with “New Right” views which are more commonly associated with the Conservative Party, and some continue with traditionally ‘Old’ Labour or Social Democratic views.
The main aims, policy details and evaluations of the main waves of UK education policy – including the 1944 Butler Education Act, the introduction of Comprehensives in 1965, the 1988 Education Act which introduced marketisation, New Labour’s 1997 focus on academies and the 2010 Coalition government’s Free Schools.
Education policies is the largest topic within the sociology of education module. It can be a little overwhelming, and the best step is to learn the basic details of the policies first (taking a historical approach) and then focus on how each policy has influenced things such as equality of opportunity and standards of education.
This brief posts covers the main aims, policy details and evaluations of the main waves of UK education policy – including the 1944 Butler Education Act, the introduction of Comprehensives in 1965, the 1988 Education Act which introduced marketisation, New Labour’s 1997 focus on academies and the 2010 Coalition government’s Free Schools.
The 1944 Tripartite System
Selective education – students would receive a different education dependent on their ability. All students would sit a test at age 11 (the 11+) to determine their ability and sift them into the right type of school.
Equality of opportunity – All students in England and Wales have a chance to sit the 11 + . Previous to 1944, the only pupils who could get a good, academic equation were those who could afford it.
Details of the Act
Students took an IQ test at 11, the result of which determined which one of three three types of school the would attend:
The top 20% went to grammar schools, received an academic education and got to sit exams.
The bottom 80% went to secondary moderns. These provided a more basic education, and initially students didn’t sit any exams.
There were also technical schools which provided a vocational education, but these died out fairly quickly.
There were class inequalities – grammar schools were mainly taken up by the middle classes and secondary moderns by the lower classes.
The IQ test determined pupils futures at a very young age – no room for those who developed later in life.
Some of the secondary moderns had very low standards and labelled 80% of pupils as failures.
Gender inequalities – in the early days of the IQ tests girls had to get a higher score to pass than boys because it was thought they matured earlier than boys!
Equality of opportunity – one type of school for all pupils
Details of the act
The Tripartite System was abolished and Comprehensive schools established.
Local Education Authorities would maintain control of schools.
There were poor standards in some schools – especially where progressive education was concerned.
Banding and streaming occurred along social class lines – the working classes typically ended up in the lower bands and vice versa for the middle classes.
Parents had very little choice in education – it was nearly impossible to remove their children from the local school if they wanted, because it was thought that all schools were providing a similar standard of education.
The 1988 Education Act
To introduce free market principles (more competition) into the education system
to introduce greater parental choice and control over state education
Raising standards in education.
These are the aims associated with Neoliberalism and The New Right.
Details of the act
Marketisation and Parentocracy (schools compete for pupils parents are like consumers)
League Tables – so parents can see how well schools are doing and make a choice.
OFSTED – to regulate and inspect schools.
National Curriculum – so that all schools are teaching the same basic subjects
Formula Funding – funding based on numbers of pupils – which encourages schools to raise standards to increase demand.
Competition did increase standards – results gradually improved throughout the 1990s.
Selection by mortgage – the house prices in the catchment areas of the best schools increased, pricing out poorer parents.
Cream skimming – the best schools tended to select the best students, who were predominantly middle class.
The middle classes had more effective choice because of their higher levels of cultural capital.
League tables have been criticised for encouraging teaching to the test.
Education Policies – Signposting and Find out More
These very brief, bullet pointed revision notes have been written specifically for students studying towards their A-level Sociology AQA Education exam. For more detailed class notes on each policy please see the links above or further links on my main sociology of education page.
The resurgence of neoliberalism between 1979 to 1997 resulted in a rolling back of the collectivist principles of welfare state and a return to Victorian era individualsim, a reassertion of the twin pillars of individual liberty defined as freedom to choose and market forces, or the discipline of competition.
Throughout this period, conservative economic policy was reoriented towards the neoliberal agenda of deregulation, privitasation and and liberalisation.
Neoliberalism under the conservative government (1979-1997)
Ball points to six key elements of the conservative (neoliberal) framework for education, the main platform for which was the 1988 Education Reform Act:
The establishment of a national curriculum – (What Ball refers to as revisionist – a Victorian fantasy with Britain at the centre as a benign power lighting the way for others)
Suspicion of teacher professionalism – accountability and control
‘Teacher-proof’ evaluation – more market information
Offering parents choice
Devolution of budgets from LEAs to schools
Enhancement of roles of governors and headteachers in local management systems.
These elements tied together as a reform package that provided the infrastructure for an education market and the neoliberal vision of the education system focused on market reform, which also had six key elements:
Choice for parents
Per capita funding meant schools were driven by recruitment
Diversity of provision
New organisationl ecologies – management modeled on business – focusing on ‘efficient’ use of resources and budget maximisation.
Further features of the neoliberal education system include:
A complex infrastructure of testing
A discourse of othering – constructing inner cities as a problem in need of correction, for example.
The TVEI was also established to reorient schools to the needs of employers. This was intended to make colleges more vocationally oriented, provide job-related training to 14-18 year olds and steer students into boom industries.
Neoliberalism under the New Labour Government (1997-2010)
When New Labour cam to power in 1997 there were three further shifts or ruptures which were subtle yet distinct inflections of the period of Thatcherism or neoliberalism:
A further move in political terms towards the knowledge economy
A reassertion of the state as the ‘competition state’
A re-articulation of values to new labour values Following Jessop (2002) a competition state ‘aims to secure economic growth within its borders and/or seek competitive advantage for capitals based in its borders’ by promoting the economic and extra-economic conditions necessary for competitive success.
There was a corresponding refocusing of funding so it was increasingly related to performance and competitive success and a move away from public funding to contract funding through private, voluntary or quasi-public bodies.
Specific policies to drive up standards included:
priortiorising literacy and numeracy
performance tables were amended to show student progress
every school was to be inspected every six years
failing schools were to become fresh start schools
there were more standards and effectiveness units and task forces
Policy also became increasingly complex/ diverse and dynamic – it talked of culture of success, and the economic imperative became absolutely clear – which represented a change in tone of policy making.
Ball refers to New Labour’s third way as warmed-over neoliberalism. The Third Way preferred a flexible repertoire of state roles and responses (following Eagle 2003) rather than being into market fundamentalism…. but ultimately the aim of the state was not to replace the market, but to make sure it worked properly.
Later on through the agendas of increasing diversification, differentiation and personalisation of learning we see policy being adapted to the interests/ fears and skills of the middle classes.
There was a new emphasis on modernisation, flexibility and dynamism – responding to globalisation – Schools should be innovators
There was a move away from the discourse of the comprehensive school, minimum standards and the start of what Kenway (1990) calls a ‘discourse of derision’ – bog standard comprehensives were stereotypically portrayed as bad – in order to undermine public services.
Post sumarised from Stephen Ball’s (2013) – The Education Debate
Stephen Ball argues that there are four central mechanisms through which neoliberalism has transformed the British education system (these are also the mechanisms of public service reform more generally):
Top down performance management
Greater competitivenss and contestability
Choice and voice
Measures to strengthen the capability of public servants to deliver improved public services
All of this leads to a self-improving system.
A lot of discursive work has gone into making the case for public service reform. Challenges and changes in public attitudes make reform necessary. Lister (2000) argues this is a discourse which has no opposition.
These four policy genealogies run through from the conservative government of 1979 to New Labour and can be traced into the Coalition government. Although there is no simple, linear relationship between government to government, overall there has been a gradual weakening of the welfare model of public service provision.
The initial moves can be traced back to certain neoliberal think tanks and individuals such as Joseph Seldon, Hayek, the Inst for Ec Affairs, Centre for Policy Studies, Adam Smith Institute, and later on the following:
Giddens – The Third Way
Michael Barber – World Class Education (NB MkKinsey)
Tom Bentley – Creativity
Charles Leadbeater – Personalisation
Andrew Adonis – Academies/ Selection
David Halpern/ Social Capital/ nudge economies
Ideas underpinning the policy commitment of the ‘new’ conservatives are supported and reinforced by the existence of a sprawling and highly interconnected network of influence. (NB – there is an awfully huge sum of money in the UK education system!) Ball and Exely 2010
These ideas also chime with various gateways of centre right thinking
Conservative Home CEsociety
Ian Duncan Smith – Welfare Reform/ Social Justice
Sheila Lawlor Anti statiism Traditionalism
There are biases that emerge from think tank policy making – urban/ London/ middle class.
Top Down Performance Management
Has its origin in the Ruskin Speech – the notion that education was no longer seen as fit for purpose – the profession being seen as both resistant to change and too progressive. The construction of the untrustworthy teacher and the mediatisation of policy – Tyndale School – Lead to the National Curriculum and the 1988 Education Act – and here starts the long history of the denigration of teachers.
Introduction of league tables in 1992 – providing market information to parents and national and local press- coverage has now become ritualistic (Warmington and Murphy 2004) – public discourse now centres around good and bad schools.
New Labour took these ideas much further – standards being one of the buzzwords of 1998. Ministers started to judge themselves by standards, and meeting national targets.
The setting of national targets is indicative of the reconceptualisation of the education system as a single entity and as a fundamental component of national economic competitiveness.
Ozga (2008) describes regimes of audit, inspection, evaluation and testing and the use of measurement and comparison as governing by numbers and as forms of governing knowledge that constitute a ‘resource through which surveillance can be excercised’.
We now have a discourse which centres around around failing and underpefrorming schools and Fresh Start Schools governed by Superheads
The Coalition took up governance-by-numbers (Ozga 2010) and changed key performance indicators – E-bacc, eliminated 2000 courses from GCSE indicators, and raised benchmark targets.
It also made strategic comparisons between unreformed and progressive schools.
Macguire 2004 – we now have a cycle of problem, solution, success and new problem…
Competition and Contestability
Hatcher (2000) refers to endogenous and exogenous privatisation – The first of these was emphasised by early conservatives – making public sector organisations act in a more business like way by creating quasi-market systems – mainly through linking funding to recruitment and thus consumer choice and devolving managerial and budgetary responsibility…. and publishing league tables.
Then tweaking to avoid cream skimming/ exclusions.
There are three main aspects to the ‘drivers’ embedded in the theory of quasi market competition –
efficiency – more focus on performance, assumes outputs are appropriate
market failure – taking over failing schools
bringing in choice as a competitive force.
This third aspect does not sit well with top down performance management – as pupils are valued differently, with white middle class students generally seen as being the best value.
Labour gave much more emphasis to exogenous contestability – allowing new providers to come in….. Flexible contracting… Outsourcing. Connexions National Strategies. – If public models don’t work the private sector takes over! – Creates diversity of providers.
A final element here is diversity – More faith schools, grammar schools, grant-maintained schools, CTCs, Specialist schools and of course academies alongside a criticism of ‚Bog standard comprehensives‘ and weakening the role of LEAs
The Coalition took this further – extending academies, and introducing free schools.
ALL OF the below respond to glob and choice and voice.
Choice and Voice
This involves power being but in the hands of the service users, and the system is open, diverse, flexible (Blair, 2005). This supposedly provides incentives for driving up standards, promotes equality, and facilitates personalisation – all of which are contestable. Choice and voice are part of the move from a producer to a consumer culture and are about creating citizen-consumers (Clarke et al 2007), although experiements with voucher schemes by the conservatives have not been extended.
2006 legistation offered parents the possibility of ‘personalisation through participation’ – as part of an ‘agenda’ of government to reconfigure the environment for learning with new spaces and time frames both within and outside of the school day and incorporating new technologies. Ball argues that this can be read as a decomposition of a universal system of education – moving towards commodification.
Student participation was made mandatory in the 2002 Education Act and is now part of OFSTED inspections.
He now notes that choice policies increase inequality along class lines – classic Ball!
Choice Policies were accelerated by new labour in order to appeal to its individualistic, middle class voter base, and taken a stage further by the Coalition with ‘Free Schools’.
Choice policies (free schools) reflect a number of different aspects of Coalition Policy – greater choice, more competition, new ways of tackling deprivation, traditionalism, local community involvement and marginalisation or LEAs, and opening up opps for business.
While businesses are calling for more chains, it is unclear the extent to which the profit motive is manifest – it remains unclear. Where academy chains and communities are concerned, there is a tension between neoliberalism and classical liberalism.
Ball cites The New Schools Network, University Technical Colleges and Studio Schools as examples of where the Coalition government is taking education.
Taken together this involves what Castells (2000) calls ‘reprogramming’ – addressing social problems through philanthropy, social ent and market solutions to supplement or displace state action. This extends to many areas of education – teacher education and development, school management, curriculum development, HE, policy research, NEETs.
These changes are not simply about who does what, they are about changing the forms and purposes of public services.
Capability and Capacity
Again contains a dual element of intervention and devolution – a further set of moves through a new discourse of leadership, which enhances the roles of public sector managers, crucial agents of change, and the ‘remodelling’ of the teaching workforce as part of a more general strategy of ‘flexibilisation’ and ‘skill mix’ across the public services. This also involves reprofessionalisation (training a new cadre of school leaders) and de-professionalisation – in that teachers jobs are more closely scrutinised, more LA’s and now the abolition of the GTC with the Teaching Agency, tying teacher’s pay more to performance.
Policy moves to bring about improved capability and capacity have three dimensions –
Leadership – Heads play a crucial role in reculturing schools – New Labour’s ideal leader instills responsiveness, efficiency and performance improvement – and they emphasise the above three!
The NCSL – And the Headship Qualification are two relatively new innovations here.
Leaders are managers of performance, not teachers – discourse of school leadership is drawn from Business writing and gurus (see Thomson 2009 and Gunter 2011).
Collaberation/ Partnership – Under the coalition, management has become about competition and co-operation – possibly just rhetoric. Michael Gove sees innovative schools as being models for other schools, these and academies and federations are seen as working together to drive up standards. Partnerships are also part of this – a buzzword of new labour – but this is a slippery word that dissolves the difference between private and public sector while obscuring the relationship between financial relations and power.
Remodelling of teachers – Performance related pay set at an institutional level – teachers are now seen as units of labour to be managed (Mahoney 2004) also academies and free schools allow the appointment of non qualified teachers.
This is transnational – and Smyth et al (2000) argue that they make sense of what is happening to teachers work with practical and emancipatory intent requires a critical theory capable of connecting globalisation to the every day life of the classroom.
Teacher net – The teacher workload study – teacher working hours fifty to sixty working hours a week are the norm.
Also mentions teach first as being part of this.
Over time as the effect of these policy moves teachers have been remade within policy and their work and the meaning of teaching have been discursively rearticulated: there is a new language about what teahers do and how they talk about themselves.
Bates 2012 – Coalition publications seem to prepare the ground for increased differentiation within the teaching profession.
What is happening within this ensemble of policies is a modelling of the internal and external relations of schooling and public service provision on those of commercial and market institutions. This involves new relations of power in the way policy is made. This means a wearing away of professional-ethical regimes and their value systems and their replacement with entr-competitive regimes and new value systems. Also involves the increasing subordination of education to the economic and rendering of education into the commodity form.
Education is increasingly for profit and education plays its part in fostering an entr culture and the cultivating of entr subjects. Parents are cast as consumers and offered personalized learning, and schools are expected to compete and yet also cooperate.
This is also a reorientation to economic global competitiveness as part of a global flow of policy based around a shift towards a knowledge based high skills economy, although conceptualisations of this are vague.
Inside classrooms teachers are caught between the imperatives of prescription and the disciplines of performance. Their practise is both steered and rowed. Teachers are not trusted, and exemplars of best practise are standards against which all are judged.
Key to all of this are the league tables, but what is avoided is what these indicators actually stand for. And whether they represent meaningful outputs. Does the adaption of pedagogy actually mean improvement?
Also this is part of a new global policyscape – involving more advocates and pressure groups.
There are three main strands to New Labour’s Education Policies –
Raising standards – which essentially meant building on what the New Right had done previously
Increasing diversity and choice within education
Improving equality of opportunity
1. New Labour Policies designed to Improve Standards
Class sizes – were reduced to 30
Literacy and Numeracy Hour – one hour per day of reading and maths
Extension of school career and the school day – children now start at 4, even younger in Sure Start nurseries and the leaving age is being raised to 18.
Tougher Line on Inspection – Expanded the role of OFSTED
City Academies – 10% funded by the private or voluntary sector – extra money should help improve standards
Higher Education – expanded the number of places available in universities
2. New Labour Policies designed to reduce inequality of opportunity
Education Action Zones – Extra money for schools in deprived areas
Sure Start – 12 hours a week free nursery provision for children aged 2-4
Education Maintenance Allowance – £30 per week to encourage students from low income households to stay on in 16-18 education
3. Polices designed to increase diversity
Specialist schools – Specialise in various subjects, providing expertise in areas from sciences to the performing arts.
Child centred learning (differentiation within schools) – Teachers are expected to focus more on each child’s individual learning needs and OFSTED focus on this more.
Special Educational Needs Provision – there has been a massive expansion of study and support under New Labour to support those with Special needs.
Faith schools – expanded under New Labour
Evaluating the Impact of New Labour’s policies
Positive Evaluations of New Labour Policies
Standards have improved and there is greater choice and diversity –
SATs and GCSE scores have improved significantly under New Labour
There are now a greater diversity of schools (Specialist Schools, City Academies) and a greater variety of subjects one can study (AS and A levels, Vocational A levels, the mix and match curriculum), meaning there is more choice for parents and pupils.
New Labour have established a ‘Learning Society’ in which learning is more highly valued and created opportunities in which adults are able to relearn new skills in order to adapt to an ever changing economy,
Criticisms of New Labour policies
New Labour have not improved equality of educational opportunity
The gap between middle classes and working classes achievement continues to grow because of selection of by mortgage, cream skimming etc. (see last sheet)
The introduction of tuition fees in Higher Education puts many working class children off going to University
The Private school system still means that those with money can get their children a better education
City academies enable those with money to shape the curriculum
Gilborn and Youdell argue that more students have a negative experience of education in the ‘A-C economy’
Schools have become too test focussed, reducing real diversity of educational experience
Students are too taught to the test and less able to think critically
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