Evidence of declining standards:
- Grade inflation (increase in better grades). - Increasing number of ‘failing’ schools. - Easier exams - modular/coursework.
Exam League Tables: The ranking of schools based on various data such as Exam Results. FOR: · Provide parents/students (of all social classes etc.) with vital information to make informed choices. · Drives up standards in all schools (working class and middle class areas) by opening schools up to competition. · Means of measuring a schools performance over time.
Against: · Subject to manipulation by schools e.g. not entering students who may fail. · Take little account of the social profile of catchment areas. Hard for schools in deprived working class areas to compete against schools in wealthy middle class areas. · Creates a divisive education system where high ranking (e.g. middle class) schools attract high ability pupils and low ranking (e.g. working class) schools attract less able pupils.
Open enrolment - gives students the chance to enrol at any school, even if outside their catchment area. For: - Makes schools (working and middle class) more responsive to the needs and wants of parents (parentocracy) and students. - Drives up standards as unpopular schools (e.g. in working class areas) will have to improve or close down. - Offers students (working and middle class) a greater degree of choice in the school attended. Against: - Choice is exaggerated as it depends on a school having places available. Often popular schools in middle class areas do not. -Middle class people are better placed to take advantage of the choices available (knowledge of good schools & able to move into good catchment areas). - Some students (e.g. working class) may be unable to afford the transport costs to get to a school outside of their catchment area.
Other marketisation policies · OFSTED - inspection organisation that monitors standards in schools. Findings are made public e.g. on the internet (although this perhaps favours middle class households who have more access to the internet). · Business sponsorship of schools e.g. City Technology Colleges & City Academies (see below). · Performance management of staff - staff set themselves yearly improvement targets and pay linked to targets. · Schools being allowed to opt out of LEA control - head teachers given greater control over their budgets and the way their school is run. ·Formula funding, where schools receive the same amount of funding for each pupil.
Wider polices concerned with raising standards
Formal curriculum provision:
· Numeracy & literacy hours - dedicated times each week in primary schools to improve English & Maths skills. · National Curriculum - originally set up core and foundation subjects that all schools should follow. New core (English, Maths, Science, and Citizenship) but schools now have more flexibility over other curriculum content. · SATS - regular tests on the core National Curriculum at 7 & 11 (14 too until 2008). · Curriculum 2000 -introduction of modular AS, A2 & AVCE exams for sixth form students
New types of school diversity:
· Specialist schools - schools follow the core National Curriculum but also focus on particular areas e.g. Technology, Sport, and Science. · City Academies - private and public sector initiative to turn around ‘failing’ schools, often in deprived working class areas. · City Technology Colleges - private and public sector initiative which established a limited number of schools focusing on technology.
Compensatory educational policies
Expansion of higher (university) education: Advantages: ·Increases chances for social mobility. ·Better skilled and educated workforce Disadvantages: ·Increasing problems of graduate unemployment. ·Increase in student debt due to the introduction of tuition fees and greater student loans.
Vocational Education Policies
Modern Apprenticeships – on the job/college training.
Advantages: Trained up for a specific job. Gain NVQs whilst working.
Disadvantages: Source of cheap labour· Serves to massage unemployment figures.
Vocational GCSE’s and A Levels – replacing GNVQ’s.
Advantages: Gone some way to raise the status of vocational education. Disadvantages: Still seen by some employers to lack the credibility of more traditional academic courses.
New Deal – right for all unemployed people to education and training.
Advantages: Given many a route into employment and higher education. Disadvantages: Success depends on the strength of the Economy.