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About this book

This text provides a clear overview and assessment of the educational policy systems at work in the UK. Accessibly written and covering pre-school and Higher Education policy-making as well as Primary and Secondary, the author examines the evolution of education policy from the Education Act of '44 to the academies of today.

Table of Contents

1. Why Education Matters

Abstract
This chapter deals with a number of related issues: the current concern with the raising of educational standards; the campaign for a state system of education and its fairly recent origins; and the whole question of what is the purpose of schooling.
Clyde Chitty

2. The Rise and Fall of the Post-War Consensus

Abstract
In this chapter, we follow the development of the education system in Britain from the end of the Second World War in 1945 to the economic recession of 1971–3, and the breakdown of the post-war political consensus in the mid-1970s.
Clyde Chitty

3. From Callaghan to Major, 1976–97

Abstract
This chapter carries on the story begun in Chapter 2 and covers the years from the Callaghan administration of 1976–9 to the dramatic fall of the Major government in 1997.
Clyde Chitty

4. Diversity, Choice and the Measurement of Progress, 1997–2012

Abstract
On 1 May 1997, the Labour Party gained a landslide General Election victory that brought to an end 18 years of Conservative rule in Britain. Securing 43 per cent of the national vote, its 419 MPs gave it a House of Commons majority over all other parties of 179. With only 31 per cent of the national vote and just 165 MPs, this was the Conservatives’ most dismal General Election performance since their defeat at the hands of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman’s Liberal Party in January 1906. While all commentators agreed that the result was a major and largely unexpected triumph for Tony Blair’s New Labour Party, there were conflicting views as to its causes and actual significance. Above all, did it represent a massive endorsement of the policies that New Labour had been promoting since the death of John Smith in May 1994; or was it simply a decisive rejection of the policies and style of the 1992–7 Major administration, which had never really recovered from the economic crisis of September 1992? In this chapter, we look beyond the excitement engendered by the change of government and ask to what extent New Labour’s education agenda marked a real departure from the policies pursued by the Thatcher and Major administrations. We shall also examine the extent to which New Labour’s education policies were embraced by the Coalition Government under David Cameron, which took office in May 2010, the new Education Secretary (Michael Gove), being a huge admirer of Andrew Adonis’s Academies Programme.
Clyde Chitty

5. The Privatization of Education

Abstract
The idea of privatizing significant parts of the education service did not occupy a major role in the educational and political discourse of the 1960s and 1970s, when many of the post-war certainties were subject to reappraisal, though, as we saw in Chapters 2 and 3, there was a spirited campaign on the far right of the Conservative Party to promote the cause of the education voucher as a means of enhancing parental choice and undermining the powers of the local education authorities.
Clyde Chitty

6. The Changing Worlds of Education Policy

Abstract
This chapter has two chief purposes: to examine how educational policy has been made in the decades following the end of the Second World War, and more particularly since the early 1970s; and to broaden the discussion of educational policy-making and implementation to embrace the situation in Scotland in addition to that in England and Wales. Many studies of education and the social order since the passing of the 1944 Education Act have tended to concentrate on policies affecting England and Wales, even if the word ‘Britain’ sometimes appears in the title; and there has been relatively little published work that studies systematically the education system in Britain as a whole. As David Raffe has argued (Raffe, 2000: 10), this is actually an opportune moment to examine the major similarities and differences among the major British systems, since even the concept of a more-or-less single integrated system operating in England and Wales is now ripe for reappraisal. Recent developments promoting the extension of devolved power in the UK, with the establishment in 1999 of a Scottish Parliament along with Assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland, all with responsibility for education and training (though without legislative powers in the case of Wales) could well have the logical consequence of a marked reduction in the power wielded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) in London.
Clyde Chitty

7. The Evolving Curriculum from 5 to 14

Abstract
It is both extraordinary and, in a sense, a major source of shame and embarrassment, that the National Curriculum for England and Wales, details of which constituted such an important part of the 1988 Education Reform Act, has found itself subjected by successive governments, both Conservative and New Labour, to so many radical and destabilizing changes in the course of its short history of just 15 years. Most of these far-reaching changes have affected Key Stage Four (concerning the schooling of students aged 14–16), which has never actually been implemented in its original form; these changes will be discussed in Chapter 8. But there have also been very significant developments affecting the 5–14 curriculum, and it is these changes that will form a major part of this chapter, following a fairly brief account of the curious background to the initiatives of the late 1980s.
Clyde Chitty

8. The 14–19 Continuum: Issues and Policies for Education and Training

Abstract
In an article published in 1992 (Chitty, 1992), I argued that, on the face of it, the 1988 Education Reform Act, and in particular the clauses relating to the National Curriculum, appeared to represent a ‘defeat’ for the thinking of two major groups: Her Majesty’s Inspectorate; and a powerful faction within the Conservative Party of the 1980s often referred to as either the ‘Industrial Trainers’ or the ‘Conservative Modernizers’. As we saw in Chapter 7, the HMI model of a common ‘entitlement’ curriculum was based on the idea of eight or nine ‘areas of learning and experience’; the curriculum programme for older students put forward by the so-called Modernizers (referred to briefly above on page 148) emphasized the concept of a 14–19 continuum or framework, with the status of vocational education and training radically enhanced. It has to be conceded that there were few among the decision-making class of the early 1990s who wished to resurrect the HMI model of curriculum planning; but the views of the Modernizers were not to be dismissed so lightly, and even in 1992 it was already becoming clear to many teachers that Key Stage Four of the National Curriculum would be heavily overloaded and that it could not be implemented in the form envisaged by Kenneth Baker and the civil servants of the DES. As we shall see later in this chapter, the idea of a 14–19 curriculum embracing both ‘academic’ and ‘vocational’ pathways steadily gained ground as the 1990s progressed, and was to find expression in major modifications to the statutory curriculum proposed by Sir Ron Dearing.
Clyde Chitty

9. Higher Education

Abstract
When the Robbins Report on the future of higher education was published in 1963 (Ministry of Education, 1963b), the proportion of young people able to go to university and other colleges of higher education was remarkably low, and these were predominantly students who had been educated in grammar and ‘public’ schools. As we saw in Chapter 6, Edward Boyle realized in the early 1960s (as the long period of Conservative administration was coming to an end) that pressure of numbers and the reorganization of secondary schooling would make it essential to expand rapidly both further education and higher education. The movement towards comprehensive education has been discussed in depth elsewhere in this book; in this chapter, we look at the major impact of post-war demographic factors on higher education, and at the steady expansion of places in all forms of higher education since the 1960s.
Clyde Chitty

10. Early Years and Childcare Strategies, and the Concept of Lifelong Learning

Abstract
This chapter involves discussion about a number of important educational and social issues: pre-school provision and childcare strategies, and attitudes towards the concept of lifelong learning.
Clyde Chitty

11. Issues of Diversity, Equality and Citizenship

Abstract
The purpose of this chapter is to examine the citizenship debate and to look at the ways in which schools are endeavouring to combat prejudice and discrimination in all their various forms.
Clyde Chitty

12. Conclusion

Abstract
Change and continuity since 1997 The General Election of May 1997 brought to a sudden end 18 years of right-wing Conservative administrations during which even ‘collectivist’ Wales and Scotland felt the effects of a succession of radical and far-reaching policies designed to destroy the educational culture that had developed between 1944 and 1979. It is fair to say that, in many quarters, New Labour’s astonishing electoral victory was, in fact, greeted with a heady mixture of hope, optimism and expectancy. As Phillips and Harper-Jones argued in 2003: ‘The majority of professionals working in all spheres of education, from early years to higher education, looked forward to working under (or even with) a new government that was genuinely committed to progressive educational reform after nearly two decades of retrenchment, declining morale and confrontation (Phillips and Harper-Jones, 2003: 126). Yet the feeling of excitement and optimism was to prove short-lived, and it became difficult to argue that the arrival of New Labour marked a new beginning and a decisive break with the past. It was indeed soon being claimed by a number of commentators (see, for example, Chitty and Dunford, 1999; Docking, 2000; Tomlinson, 2001) that, for all the rhetoric, the Blair government’s policies for education were fundamentally those of the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, ‘dressed up in New Labour clothes’.
Clyde Chitty
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