Sociology - Contemporary Social Policy


1988 Education Reform Act

  • Introduction of market forces in education - marketisation
  • Initiatives included to help parents and guardians make consumer choices about their childrens education
  • National Curriculum increased the amount of continuous assessment
  • Compulaory for girls and boys to take maths and science
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1988 Education Reform Act - Impacts

  • Tried to link the demands of the economy with greater consumer choice
  • Comprehensive schools had greater equality than the tripartite system as this was culturally biased in favour of middle classes and it discriminated against girls
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1988 Education Reform Act - Problems

  • Catchment area still causes class inequality as middle-class parents relocate in order to be in the catchment area of the most desirable schools.
  • Smith and Noble - 'polarised'
  • Also setting and streaming in comprehensive schools
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Studio Schools/ New Vocationalism

  • The New Right in the 1980's claimed that the British workforce lacked the skills needed by industry - we had a 'skill crisis'
  • A number of skills were developed which became known as the 'new vocationalism', which aimed to make young people more employable by giving them work experience and vocational skills. The most famous was youth training schemes.
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Studio Schools/ New Vocationalism - Impact

  • Great emphasis was laid on the acquisition of transferable skills
  • Each trainee was required to recieve a minimum of 3 months off-the-job training or relevant further education
  • A funding mechanismdesigned to encourage employers, typically larger firms with big annual intakes of school leavers, to use YTS as a recruitment method of long-term trainees
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Studio Schools/ New Vocationalism - Evaluation

  • Marxists such as Green, Finn, and Phil Cohen argued that the only 'skills' developed were those relevant to low skilled jobs with poor prospects of advacement
  • Tend to be over-concentrated with pupils from working-class and ethnic minority backgrounds
  • Real purpose of these vocational training schemes was to reinforce and legitimise class division and inequalities.
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The Pupil Premium

  • Introduced in 2011
  • Pupil premium - a sum of money given to schools each year by the Government to improve the attainment of disadvantaged children.
  • Based on research showing children from low income families perform less well at school than their peers.
  • Children who are entitled to pupil premium often face challenges such as poor language and communication skills, less family support, lack of confidence and issues with attendance and punctuality.
  • Intended to directly benefit the children who are eligible, helping to narrow the gap between them and their classmates.
  • Schools can choose how to spend their pupil premium money.
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Free Schools

Funded by the government but are not run by the local council - have more control over how they do things

Can't use academic selection processes like a grammar school as they are 'all-ability' schools

Can set their own pay and conditions for staff, change length of school terms and days

Do not have to follow the national curriculum

They are run on a not-for-profit basis and can be set up by groups such as charities, businesses, and independent schools.

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Studio Schools

  • Small schools usually around 300 pupils, delivering mainstream qualifications through project based learning
  • Working in realistic situations as well as learning academic subjects
  • Students work with local employers and a personal coach
  • Follow a curriculum designed to give them skills and qualifications needed in work, or to take up further education
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  • Publically funded independent schools
  • Do not have to follow the national curriculum, can set own term times
  • Still have to follow same rules on admissions, special educational needs, and exclusions as other state schools
  • Get money direct from government, not local council
  • Run by an academy trust which employs the staff
  • Some have sponsors such as businesses, universities and other schools. Sponsors are responsible for improving performance of their schools
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EMA - Education Maintenance Allowances

  • Payments of up to £30 a week given to students from low-income households in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland if they stay on at school or college
  • Paid directly into students bank account, not affected by other family benefits recieved
  • Did not recieve payment if pupils did not attend class
  • Piloted from 1999 but rolled out UK wide in 2004
  • Described as incentives and brought in to boost the numbers of young people from deprived backgrounds staying on in education
  • Recieved £30 a week by students from families earning up to £20,817
  • Recieved £20 a week by students from families earning between £20,818 and £25,521
  • Recieved £10 a week by students from families earning between £25,522 and £30,810
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