Education policies Essay

Using material from item A and elsewhere, assess the claim that the main aim of education policies in the last 25 years has been to create an education market.

The conservative governments of Margret Thatcher and John Major in the last 25 years were strongly influenced by New Right philosophy who see educational improvements as a way of promoting economic expenditure, but they think that state spending should be cut, not increased, and that competition is more important than equality of opportunity. This suggests that they marketised the education system into competing against each other much like businesses. They introduced significant reforms in school in the 1988 Education Reform Act, which support the idea that the main aim of education policies has been to create an education market.

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One reason to suggest the main education policies has been to create an education market is by introducing the national curriculum. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that basic skills e.g. maths English and science are taught consistently so school leavers are employable and also to provide a common basis for measuring progress and evaluating school performance. The national curriculum restricted choice of subjects designed to meet local need and interests and some saw a cultural bias. This would be seen to create an educational market because schools are being able to be compared and parents are able to choose the best performing school just like they do with normal consumer goods. Another reason to suggest education has been marketised is the introduction of testing and attainment targets.

Performance tests at ages 11, 14 and 16 can provide information at all levels of school and targets focus the efforts of schools on achieving key targets and not teaching what people want to necessarily learn. A criticism of this is that the amount of testing is seem to be excessive and mimics the tests businesses have to do. This is also suggested in Item A where it suggests league tables and open enrolment aim to create competition between schools and to increase parental choice. (Not sure if I’m on the right track here will do again if completely off as didn’t fully understand question)