New Right perspectives
There's similarities between the New Right and functionalism. The New Right believe in meritocracy and see the failure of children to attain as being due to lack of ability or the will to succed. They also have a comitment to the concept of social competition or market forces. The New Right view is that state cannot run a good education system as there isn't enough competition to power school improvement schemes. Their focus is on schools, and other causes of under-attainment are underlooked.
New Right explanations of failure
- Schools had declined as a result of grammar and secondary modern schools. Selection was believed to be good for children. Chubb and Moe found poor children in fee-paying schools achieved better than in state run schools.
- School discipline had got worse, it became more difficult for teachers to punish children.
- Lack of accountability.
- New teaching methods involved children in more active learning, they were deemed to fail.
- Teachers were indoctrinating children into Marxist and left-wing attitudes
- Schools and local authorities were inefficient and wasteful of money.
Not everyone agreed with these criticisms. A huge range of reforms and changes were introduced that have affected the British education system to this day. New Right solutions to problems included:
- Encouraging competition between schools and pupils
- Reducing the power of local councils, allowing schools to make their own financial decisions
- Encouraging employers into schools
- Increased testing, inspection and publication of results
Three strands to policy making
The education reforms of the 1980s and subsequent Labour and Conservative/Liberal governments followed a broad trend of:
- Central control of assessments, Natioal Curriculum, examination systems and funding. These were taken away from the regional centres and put into the hands of government departments.
- Earmarked funding for specific projects, governments allocated monet to certain key targets, money spend on achieving those government aims.
- Assessments by outcome, target setting, performance criteria, league tables and payment of teachers by results has become the norm.
Evaluating the New Right
Examination results have improved, if examination systems are reliable and valid, New Right changes to the education system have been a success. There are many reasons to account for changes to results.
Gorard and Gerwitz argue that middle class children can get into more desirable schools, failing schools that become academies attracted more middle-class parents, initially they were better funded and had newer buildings.
Teachers and school managers claim that low standards of some state schools are a reflection of general poverty and poor funding. If a system has schools in competition, in addition to winners, there will also be loosing schools who may only attract challenging pupils.
New Right aims of education
- Encouraging competition and market forces, ensuring that schools are run efficiently and in a business-like maner
- Meeting the needs of employers
- Improve educational standards for all children
- Create equality of opportunity between children, encouraging a meritocratic society
- Allow freedom of choice, parents can choose the education that they believe will be best for their children
- Make teachers and schools accountable for their performance, if children fail, teachers should change their practice and improve
- Performance of a school and of teachers can be measuerd by success rates in public examinations