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AS Unit 2 - Education

2) Education from 1988 onwards

1988 Education reform act

This was an important policy, it made 6 key changes:

  1. Ofsted Inspections
  2. Tests at 7, 11 and 14 (SATs)
  3. Local management of school budget – reduced the control of schools and handed it over to local authorities
  4. Opting Out – schools that were maintained by grants
  5. City technical schools
  6. A national curriculum

 All of these changes led to one major difference, the marketization of education. This is where parents have the power and choice to make a decision and “shop around” to see which school to send their child to. The New Right argued that this marketization would lead to more efficient and effective schools due to increased competition, and now many political parties share this opinion.

Other Educational policy changes since 1988

There have been many more changes since the 1988 Education Reform Act, all designed to increase the standard of education:

  • Vocational education  Includes work experience, NVQs and Applied GCEs – these aim to provide a more skilled future workforce
  • More money for nurseries and smaller primary school, and smaller primary school classes – Labour introduced a maximum class size of 30 pupils for primary schools and poured a lot of money into early education to help improve standards.
  • National League Tables – Schools must now publish all exam results, which are put into league tables. This again increases competition by allowing marketization, which in turn means the school needs to be more efficient
  • Formula Funding – Schools are funded largely on how many students they attract. This was intending to rewards schools that attracted many pupils and hence were more successful.
  • Specialised schools – Schools will receive extra funding to specialise in one certain are (technology, music, maths etc). This was introduced to improve standards in that field for that comprehensive.
  • Increased tuition fees – This was not designed to help improve education, but to save money from the government deficit

 Critisms of these policies

  • Marxists feel these polices, and the increased marketization, benefits the wealthy families thus increasing social inequality. This is because richer parents are likely to be better educated. This means that they will be able to, unlike uneducated parents, look into schools at greater depth studying Ofsted reports and league tables. This knowledge, which a lot of working class parents wont have, allows richer families to send their child to the best school and gain the best education.
  • Also this increased marketization means that parents are likely to move to get their child into the best schools catchment area. However, the poorer families cant afford to do this, so their child has to attend a poorer school. This is known as the post-code lottery and marxists feel it increases social inequality.
  • The increased tuition fees mean that many poorer working class students cant afford higher education as richer families can. This again could increase social inequality.

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A blog set up to help A Level students revise Sociology

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