The Managerial School: Post-Welfarism and Social Justice in Education

The Managerial School: Post-Welfarism and Social Justice in Education

The Managerial School: Post-Welfarism and Social Justice in Education

The Managerial School: Post-Welfarism and Social Justice in Education

Synopsis

As schools are increasingly seen as small businesses and parents of pupils regarded as consumers, the author offers a unique insight into the effect of this phenomenon on school culture and values.

Excerpt

The 1988 Education Reform Act fundamentally transformed the organisation of school provision in England and Wales. This major piece of legislation redefined parents as consumers, who-at least in principle-were given the right to choose a school for their child, rather than be allocated one by local authority bureaucrats. At the same time, schools were effectively reconfigured as small businesses whose income was to become dependent on their success in attracting customers within competitive local school markets. These were not free markets, however, as various mechanisms were put in place by the 1988 Act to enable a tight regulation of schooling by the state. In particular, the 1988 Act gave central government the right to specify precisely what was to be taught in schools and to monitor closely the performance of schools through the national curriculum, regular testing of students, the publication of those results and inspection. Since the 1988 legislation, a series of further reforms have consolidated and extended the marketisation and regulation of school provision. The New Labour government, first elected in 1997, appears to have adopted a more humanistic approach to the curriculum than their Conservative predecessors, who had been responsible for the 1988 Act. It has also sought to introduce a degree of compensatory funding for (some) socially distressed areas and uses the language of partnership and collaboration rather than competition. Nevertheless, in a number of crucial respects, New Labour policies represent a continuation of the Conservatives' crusade to make the provision of education more business-like.

The essays collected together here are about the effects that this business model of education provision is having on schools in England and, more particularly, on the culture and values which pervade them. What kinds of schools are the reforms producing? Who and what is valued in them? What impact are the reforms having on the roles of headteachers and teachers, on how they think and talk about their work and on the . . .

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