After 1997,Labour Governments have introduced a number of policies that aim to reduce inequality. These include:
*Identifying deprived areas (Education Action Zones) and supplying them with additional resources.
*The Aim Higher programme to raise the aspirations of groups who are under-represented in higher education.
*EMA payments to students with low income backgrounds.
*Proposal to raise the school leaving age to 18 (currently passed)-hopefully this reduces to the number of 'neets' (those 'not in education, employment or training')
Promoting Diversity and Choice
"Education needs to move into the 'post-comprehensive' era"-Tony Blair 2002
After 1997 they aimed to create a system built around the needs of the individual child and where power is in the hands of the parents.
To do this, the Labour Government introduced the following policies:
*Secondry Schools were encouraged to apply for specialist school status in particular curriculum areas. By 2007, around 85% of all secondary schools had become specialist schools. However, within the last few years, the new coalition government has withdrawn all funding from specialist schools.
*Labour has also promoted academies as a policy for raising achievement and plans to have 200 acadmies by 2010. "The number of academy schools in England has trebled over the last year to one in six secondary schools, government figures show."
Postmodernism and New Labour Policies
Kenneth Thompson (1992) argues that in postmodern society- 'schools can break free from the 'oppresive uniformity' of the old centralised 'one size fits all' mass education system, where all schools were expected to be the same'.
-Education has become 'customised'-the growth of faith schools for different religious groups, the growing demand for specialist schools in technology, languages and so on.
-It exaggerates the extent of diversity in education-The National Curriculm is a 'one size fits all', state-controlled curriculum that gives little scope for expressing minority ethnic cultures.
Criticisms of New Labour Policies
Whitty (2002) sees a contradiction between Labour's policies to tackle inequality and its commitment to marketisation. EMA's encourage working class students to stay on until they are 18-tuition fees deter people away from university.
Despite the Labour Party's long-standing opposition to private schools as bastions of middle and upper-class privilege, Labour governments have neither abolished them nor removed the charitable status that reduces the amount of tax they have to pay.