Educational policy

Before 1988

Before the industrial revolution, there were no state schools and education was only available to a minority of the population, provided to the affluent. Industrialisation increased the need for an educated workforce, with c.19 seeing the state become more involved in education, education was made compulsary between ages 5 and 13, with class being largely significant in the type of education recieved - m/c children given academic curriculum, and w/c basic numeracy skills.

  • From 1944, education was influenced by meritocracy, achieveing status through efforts rather than being ascribed at birth. Education act '44 brought in triparitite systen, with children being selected and allocated one of three different skills according to 11+ exam. Grammar Schools offered academic curriculum, and access to non-manual jobs, Secondary modern offering non-academic practical curriculum. The system reproduced class inequality as two different schools offered unequal opportunities and girls had to recieve more marks.
  • Comprehensive system was introduced after 1965, in order to overcome class divide and make education more meritocratic, replacing triparitite system with comprehensive schools where all children would attend. Many grammar and secondary moderns still exists as local authorities could chose to either replace or keep these schools. Marxists and Functionalists see role of education as different.
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Before 1988

  • Functionists see it as fulfilling social integration and meritocracy for future work, Comprehensives providing social integration. However, Ford found little social mixing due to processes such as streaming.
  • Marxits believe that the education system serves the interests of capatilism, with little meritocracy with streaming and labelling perpetuating class divisions from one generation to the next.
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Process has created an education market in reducing state controls over educaiton and increasing competiton between schools. Central theme since 1988 ERA under Thatcher, with Blair and Cameron's governments continuing marketisation further. Neoliberals and New right favour marketisation as schools are attracting customer and can chose those who bring them success.

  • Parentocracy sees policies promoting marketisation, like league tables and reports giving parents what they need to chose the best schools, specialist schools to widen choice, Competition to attract pupils etc. Savid describes this is parent's control, parents have what they need to chose between the different school, who adhere to their needs.
  • Marketisation has been criticised for it's increased inequalities - Ball and Whitty argued that league tables and funding formula create inequality between schools. Publishing exam results in a league table ensure good schools are more in demand and as Bartlett points out, encourages cream skimming (Good schools being more selective, recruiting high achievers) and silt shifting (Good schools avoiding taking less able students). Schools with poorer results having little choice over students affecting their ability to move up in the league tables. Schools are allocatd funds based on how many students they attract, popular schools being able to afford better qualified teachers and unpopular schools unable to thrive with little funding going towards employing highly qualified teachers or acquiring better resources (textbooks and computers)
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By increasing choice, marketisation advantages middle class parents whose economic and cultural capital puts them in a better position to choose 'good schools', Gerwitz's study of 14 secondary schools found that the difference in parent's capital lead to differences in exercising choice of schools.

  • Privelidge skill choosers, mainly middle class professional, would use their economic and cultural capital to gain educational capital for their children, they knew how admissions worked and had time to visit and research their options, or pay travel for futher schools.
  • Disconnected-local choosers, working class parents w/o capital, found admissions procedures difficult and were less confident in dealing with schools, caring more about safety than league tables. Distance was an issue without the economic capital to cover travel costs.
  • Semi skilled choosers, mainly working class but were ambitious for children, lacked cultural capital to make sense of education market - middle-class parents have the required capital to have more choice, regardless of how ambitious w/c parents were.

Marketisation also legitimises inequality, Ball argues that while there appears to be a parentocracy, this is a myth as middle-class parents are better able to take advantage of their choices, while working-class parents are forced to send their children to poorer skills without the capital to acquire the knowledge etc.

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Marketisation and new labour and inequality and co

New Labour introduced a number of policies to reduce inequality in the education system, Designating deprived areas as Education action zones - providing them with more resources, Education Maintenance allowance for students from low-income backgrounds as an incentive to pursue post-16 education, and increased funding for state education. Bean saw a contradition between policies and the committment to marketisation, a New Labour paradox. While EMAs were introduced, Labour also introduced fees for higher education - defering more students from education as fear of debt is much higher in working class families.

The 2010 Coalition government accelerated the move away from a predominantly comprehensive education system run by local governments, drawing influence from New Right ideas and neoliberals. Cameron argued their education policy was to encourage excellence, by freeing schools from the hands of the state with the introduction of academies and free schools, cuts made to the education budget as part of the reduction of state spending.

  • During this time, all schools were encouraged to become academies and leave local authority control, with funding going directly to acadademies. With control over their curriculum, over half of all secondarys converted to this status, some run by private businesses and some run by the state. However, this move removed the New Labour's efforts to reduce inequality.
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Coalition Government

  • Free schools are set up and run by parents, teachers or businesses rather than local authorities, supporters claiming they would improve education standards by placing control in the hands of parents - fulfilling areas that they were unhappy with under the state. Allen argues that research from Sweeden, with 20% of schools being free schools, show this only benefits children from highly educated families, while also lowering standards as their international average has fallen since their introduction. Fewer English schools take disadvantaged children than nearby schools.
  • Ball argues that the promotion of these schools has led to increased fragmentation (comprehensive system being replaced with a patchwork of diverse provision and a greater inequality of opportunity) and centralisation of control (central governments have the power to allow or require schools to become academies, reducing the powers of the role of local authorities) over English educational provision.
  • While their marketisation policies said to have increased inequality, certain policies were introduced to reduce it, Free school meals were given to all children in year one and year two, and money was allocated to schools for each pupil from a disadvantaged background. Ofsted found that in many cases, the pupils premium was not spent on those it was allocated towards, only 1 in 10 heads said it significantly changed how they supported those pupils. The austerity programme, spending on school buildings cut by 60%, Sure starts closed, EMAs abolished, and tuition fees trippled- discouraging w/c pupils from further and higher education
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Privatisation of education

The transfer of public assets to private companies both national and international, education becoming a source of profit for capatalists, Ball, or the education service industry. Private companies are involved in more activities in education then ever before, large scale building projects involving public-private patnerships, where private sector companies provide capital for edicational service, something previously funded by local councils. According to Ball, many of these activities are profitable, companies making ten times more profit than other projects.

  • Many senior official, local authorities and head teachers, leave to work for privte sector education businesses, who bid fo r contracts to provide services for schools, Pollack notes that the flow of personnel allows business to buy insider knowledge to help win contracts.
  • Many private companies in the ESI are privately foreign owned - Edexcel owned by American testing giant PEARSON, whose GSCE are partially marked in Sydney and Iowa, Buckingham and Scanlon suggest UK's four leading educational software companies are all owned by global multinational. Many contracts for educational services are sold on to banks, with some educ-businesses working oversees, Prospects have worked in China and Finland, private companies exporting educational policy to other countries.
  • Private sector penetrating education indirectly, through vending machines, and development of logos and sponsorships has led to the cola-isation of schools. Molnor suggests schools target private companies as they're associated with legitimacy - good for endorsement.
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Privatisation of education

  • Ball concludes that a fundamental change is taking place; Privatisation is becoming the key factor shaping educational policy. It is increasingly focused on moving educational services out of public sectors, replaced by private companies - education is a legitimate object of profit-making, a commodity to be bought. Hall argues that the coalition is part of the long march of neoliberal revolution, academies are handing over public services to provate capitalists.
  • c.19, females were largely excluded from higher education, under triparatite system girls had to achieve higher than boys in 11+ exam, however projects suh as GIST have been introduced to try and reduce gender differences in choice.
  • Similarly projects raising EM children have tried gone through assimilation (60s and 70s children forced assimilate to british culture, if English is not first language) and Multicultural education (policies in the 90s aimed at promoting minority cultures in education raising their self-esteem. Stone argues that black children aren't failing because of low self-esteem, some see it as tokenism, failing to tackle inst. racism.
  • Social inclusion of pupils from ethnic minorities became a focus of the late 90s, Amending to Race relations act etc. Matza believes there is little change in policy, rather than tackling stuctural problems, a soft approach is being taken, with little afffect on the cirriculum or ins. racism
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