Functions of Formal Education Systems: The New Right Perspective
The New Right and U.K. Party Politics
The New Right: Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism
Conservatives, The New Right and Education Policies
The Quasi- Marketisation of Education
Quasi-Marketisation, Endogenous Privatisation and Exogenous Privatisation
Labour Governments and New Right Education Policies
The Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition and New Right Education Policies
Criticism of New Right Education Policies
Part One: Introduction
Before analysing the functions of formal education systems it is necessary to distinguish between informal and formal education. Individuals receive education both informally from parents, peers, the Church, the mass media and the work place and formally in educational institutions such as schools, colleges and universities. The transition from pre- industrial to industrial society increases the relative importance of formal education because industrial societies rely very heavily on the availability of specialist work skills which cannot be taught informally. Also within the formal education system it is important to distinguish between the academic subject curriculum and the hidden curriculum which is a set of cultural values, attitudes and norms that is implicitly conveyed to pupils by teachers' actions and by the organisational processes operating inside schools all of which may have a considerable impact on students' attitudes to authority and their acceptance of traditional gender roles although some change in the nature of the Hidden Curriculum in relation to equal opportunities has been apparent in recent years .
The functions of formal education systems to be analysed are:
- the transmission of knowledge and skills;
- the provision of a mechanism for easing the transition from family life to the wider society;
- the transmission of attitudes and values via processes of socialisation and social control operating through the hidden curriculum;
- the allocation of individuals to appropriate roles within society;
- the contribution to processes of social reform, for example via processes of compensatory education, which are designed to help disadvantaged students.
These functions are to be analysed from different sociological perspectives and as we shall see the New Right Perspective is similar in some respects to the Functionalist Perspective and very different from the Marxist Perspective.
In the Functionalist Perspective capitalist societies are recognised as economically and socially unequal societies but these inequalities ar4e seen as both inevitable because they derive fundamentally from inequalities in individual talents and abilities and desirable because they provide the incentives necessary to encourage training, hard work and investment which promote economic growth and rising living standards for all members of society including its most disadvantaged members.
Also, although capitalist societies are economically and socially unequal, they are also seen as relatively fair [because based increasingly on equality of educational opportunity and meritocracy], democratic and based upon social consensus. Formal education systems are seen as fulfilling the above functions in ways which contribute to the economic efficiency and social stability of capitalist societies
The New Right Perspective is similar in some respects to the Functionalist Perspective. New Right theorists are also highly supportive of capitalist principles. They too believe that economic and social inequalities are desirable and that meritocracy is desirable because it promotes social justice and economic efficiency. However, they also believe that for much of the C20th capitalist societies have not been allowed to work effectively because of the excessive growth of state power and that the power of the state should be reduced via privatisation and reduced government spending particularly on social security. Rates of income taxation should also be reduced in order to restore economic incentives and the powers of the trade unions should be reduced in order to increase business efficiency.
They believed also that significant reforms of the formal education system were necessary to enable the system to fulfil its functions in ways which would more effectively meet the need of the capitalist economy. Their preferred policies included the following.
Expansion of the private education sector and retention of grammar schools.
Increasing the industrial relevance of the formal curriculum.
Encouraging students to recognise the importance of capitalism as a guarantor of rising living standards for all.
Major reform of the state school system based on principles of increased school diversity, parental choice and quasi-marketisation.
The quasi -marketisation of Higher Education
These issues will be discussed in the main body of the document.
[Click here for The Marxist Perspective on formal education systems. It is diametrically opposed to the New Right Perspective.]
The New Right and U.K. Party Politics
The ideology of the New Right came to especial prominence in the 1980s with the election of the Conservative Governments of Mrs Thatcher in the UK and of Republican President Ronald Reagan in the USA both of whom were much influenced by New Right Ideology. However, it is important to recognise that all governments face a variety of constraints which mean that their policies cannot be entirely determined by New Right principles even if they are heavily influenced by such principles.
As will be indicated blow the educational policies of UK Conservative Governments were heavily influenced by their commitment to New Right Ideology but the New Right policies initiated by the Thatcher and Major Governments of 1979-97 were continued in modified form by subsequent Labour Governments [1997-2010] the Conservative -Liberal Democrat Coalition [2010-2015] and recent Conservative Governments [2015--]
The policies of Labour Governments [1997-2010] reflected a commitment to a moderate version of social democracy (sometimes referred to as "the Third Way") which incorporates the acceptance of some neo-liberal principles combined with some moderate social democratic reforms such as the Sure Start programme and the Educational Maintenance Allowance. Whereas some have argued that Labour have modernised the ideology of social democracy in accordance with changes in economic and political conditions more critical analysts have claimed that Labour have essentially accepted key New Right principles which would undermine prospects for social justice and economic equality. While for some of his critics Blairism was said to represent “Thatcherism with a smiling face” for his supporters Tony Blair had attempted to revitalise social democracy to reflect the changed socio-political conditions of the 21st Century.
As Conservative Prime Minister in the Coalition Government of 2010-2015 David Cameron perhaps appeared to be more moderate Conservative but it has been widely argued that although he was progressive on social issues such as gay rights, he retained a commitment to neo-liberalism in economic matters including in relation to the administration of the welfare state. In education the continuing importance of New Right ideology can be seen in the expansion of the Academies. However, perhaps due to the considerable influence of the Liberal Democrats, The Coalition did introduce a Pupil Premium designed to help disadvantaged students although the Sure Start Programme has been scaled down and the Educational Maintenance Allowance has been discontinued which may well have had the reverse effects.
More recently during her brief Premiership Theresa May expressed strong support for increasing the number of State Grammar Schools and also introduced plans to concentrate resources in geographical areas where social mobility is particularly low. However, it is fair to say Theresa May’s plans for education were marginalised by the loss of the overall Conservative Majority in the 2017 General Election and by the need to focus upon Brexit negotiations which eventually led to Theresa May's resignation as PM. An initial critical assessment of the Opportunity Areas programme is provided here
Subsequent Conservative Governments of 2019-2021 have been preoccupied with Brexit and subsequently with COVID 19 but you may Click here for a detailed article on Conservative education policy 2015-2020. The key conclusion of this article is that between 2015 and 2020 the Conservative Party continued the plans to expand the Academies and Free Schools Programmes in accordance with the plans which had been outlined by the Coalition Government
The New Right: Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism
Click here for Mrs Thatcher Speech
Click here and here for items on Michael Gove
It is widely accepted that the political ideology of the New Right contains two interconnected but also sometimes contradictory strands of political thought: neoliberalism and neo-conservatism.
The core elements of neoliberalism are support for individualism, laissez faire and limited government intervention in economy and society. Neoliberals believe that individuals are rational and therefore the best judges of their own best interests and that they should be allowed the maximum possible individual freedom to determine their own behaviour subject only to the restriction that their behaviour should not harm others. They believe also that economic efficiency and rising living standards [including rising living standards for the poorest ] can best be achieved in capitalist economies based upon high levels of laissez faire and that the economic inequalities generated in these capitalist societies are both inevitable because they derive primarily from genetically determined differences in talents and abilities and desirable because they generate the financial incentives to work save and invest leading to faster economic growth, some of the benefits of which will "trickle down" to the poor. Meanwhile although governments should act to facilitate the organisation of capitalism, the maintenance of social order and effective defence against any foreign aggressors, further government intervention is potentially counterproductive because it may undermine individual freedom, stifle initiative and divert scarce resources from the dynamic private sector of the economy into the overly bureaucratic and wasteful public sector. Paradoxically, however, neoliberals have recognised that a powerful state is necessary if a neoliberal economic programme is to be implemented.
The core elements of neoconservatism differ in several respects from those of neoliberalism. Whereas classic liberals are all in favour of free individualistic decision making, conservatives suggest that this kind of individualism is a recipe for near anarchy and that individual freedom, albeit limited, can best be guaranteed via respect for traditional norms, values and institutions. They claim that traditional institutions and patterns of social behaviour which have stood the test of time must have done so because they have been socially beneficial which leads neoconservatives to support the maintenance or at most only gradual change in the existing social order which implies support for traditional sources of authority, traditional patterns of social and economic inequality, traditional institutions and traditional values. They are therefore likely to be supporters of strong but limited government, the Monarchy and the Aristocracy, the Church, the traditional family and traditional education.
The New Right, Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism: Checklist
Dimensions of Neoliberalism
· Support for Individual Freedom
· Support for the Market Mechanism and the Private Sector
· Support for Economic Inequality combined with Equality of Opportunity
· Against Socialism
· Against the Post-War Consensus
1. Support for lower levels of government spending and lower rates of taxation
2. Support for Monetarist rather than Keynesian methods of macroeconomic management.
3. Support for privatisation as an alternative to nationalisation
4. Support for deregulation of the private sector of the economy
5. Support for lower levels of spending on welfare
6. Support for the privatisation of welfare services
7. Support for Private Health care and Private Education
8. Support for "Quasi-Markets in State Health and Education services
9. Supporting the reduction of local government autonomy
10. Supporting the reduction of "excessive" trade union power
11. Click here for a very useful article on neo-liberal attitudes to EU membership
Dimensions of Neoconservatism
Support for Traditional Sources of Authority
1. Support for the State
2. Support for strong, punitive approaches to law and order
3. Support for "traditional approaches to morality
4. Support for the "traditional family"
5. Support for "traditional" approaches to education
6. Support for "national culture" rather than multi-culturalism
7. A tendency to Euroscepticism
Neoliberals within the Conservative Party were much influenced by the conclusions of public choice theory in which it was claimed that state provision of education would inevitably be inefficient because too heavily influenced by public sector bureaucrats [who sought the expansion of the public sector of education as a means of increasing their own power, prestige and salaries] and by teachers' unions and left leaning education theorists who espoused political agendas which Conservatives rejected. Neoliberals would ideally have favoured the introduction of an education voucher system which would enable parents to choose the type of education preferred for their children which in turn was expected to result in the expansion of the private provision of education in line with parental preferences. However, because of perceived practical difficulties the Conservative Government accepted in the early 1980s that the introduction of a voucher system would not at present be possible and that parental choice would have to be increased in other ways which are outlined below.
[An important study which supported neoliberal conclusions was undertaken in the USA by John Chubb and T. Moe in 1990. They claimed that in the USA state run education had been ineffective in that it had failed to close the attainment gaps between relatively advantaged and r4elatively disadvantaged students and also failed to provide students with the skills necessary for employment in the economy.
On the basis of a survey of 60 ,000 low- income students in 1015 state and private schools they claimed that low- income students are far more successful in private schools. This , they claim is because private schools have greater financial incentives to meet the real needs of their low income pupils and on this basis Chubb and Moe recommended a voucher system whereby parents would be allocated funds by the state to spend in the schools of their choice which would ensure that relatively effective schools would receive larger funding and be able to expand at the expense of ineffective schools thereby improving the effectiveness of the education system as a whole.]
Meanwhile Neoconservatives feared that school curricula failed to emphasise the ongoing importance of British cultural traditions and instead focussed increasingly on issues of class, ethnicity, gender and sexuality in ways that could be expected to undermine support for the traditional "British way of life". Neoconservatives were therefore keen to see the introduction of a National Curriculum which would support their own traditional cultural values and the return of more traditional teaching methods at the expense of the more progressive methods favoured by many but certainly not all teachers.
It may be seen from the above two paragraphs that there were some tensions between these two strands of New Right ideology. Thus, whereas the Neoliberals hoped for much reduced state control over education and for the expansion of private schools offering a range of curricular designed to meet different parental tastes the Neoconservative support for a centralised National Curriculum could be seen as strengthening overall state control and reducing the scope of parental preference.
Part Two: Conservatives, The New Right and Education Policies
Conservative education policies have been influenced primarily by the neoliberal branch of New Right thought but neo-conservative thought has also had some influence.
Especially from the late 1960s onwards criticism of the content and delivery of the school curriculum intensified especially in the so-called Black Papers [1969-1977], in the more right wing sections of the press. and among high profile business leaders of the time such as John Methven [the then Director General of the Confederation of British Industry]. Thus it was argued that children's education was being blighted as a result of the relative neglect of the teaching of numeracy and literacy skills necessary for secure future employment and for the efficiency of the economy as a whole while ineffective progressive teaching methods, emphases on pupil autonomy and freedom of expression at the expense of traditional respect for teachers' authority, excessive concerns with issues of class, gender, ethnicity and sexuality all linked with dangers of political indoctrination by left-wing teachers were combining to create a crisis in our schools which in the future could potentially undermine the entire social order.
All of these concerns were shared by the Thatcherites but not only by them. Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan also argued in a 1976 speech at Ruskin College Oxford that all was not well with the education system: he too believed that by neglecting the teaching of literacy and numeracy the education system was failing to prepare pupils adequately for future employment and failing also to meet the needs of the economy for a more skilled work force increasingly necessary in the more technological age. Furthermore, progressive teaching methods especially in the hands of inexperienced teachers could also be part of the overall problem.
However Callaghan also distanced himself from what he described as "Black Paper prejudices" and did not suggest that the consideration in schools of important contemporary social issues was out of place and likely to undermine the entire social order [as suggested by neo-conservatives] but his concerns as to the importance of the relationships between the education system and the future employability of its pupils were probably shared by an increasing number of parents at this time [and of course parents were also voters]. Callaghan's conclusion that the State might need to involve itself more directly in school curriculum issues was predictably unpopular with teachers and their trade unions but his ideas did point toward the eventual introduction by the Conservatives of a National Curriculum in 1988.
The commitment of the Conservatives [1979-1997] to neoliberalism meant that they were strongly committed to free market principles which, in their view, were most likely to generate economic prosperity and they then applied these principles to the management of the public sector including the education system. The general argument in favour of free markets is that competition between firms for consumers’ incomes is expected to result in the expansion of efficient firms at the expense of inefficient firms which will lead to greater economic efficiency. They were also keen to increase the vocational relevance of education as a means of improving overall economic efficiency
Therefore, Conservative Governments of 1979-1997, influenced by New Right ideology, supported the continuation of Private Schools and strengthened the private Education sector via the Assisted Places scheme [which provided grants for talented students of limited means to take up places at private schools] and supported the continued existence of selective state grammar schools. [ Note, however, that despite opposition from more radical social democrats within the Labour Party, Labour Governments also had allowed the continued existence of Private Schools.
The Conservatives also introduced a range of policies [mainly via the Education Reform Act of 1988] which they hoped would enable effective state schools to expand at the expense of ineffective schools as a means of improving overall education standards and promoted an increased emphasis within the formal curriculum on the transmission of knowledge and skills specifically relevant to the needs of industry and commerce [via the so-called New Vocationalism], and against both " liberal " social ideas related to issues of "race", gender, sexuality, poverty, disarmament and the environment and "progressive, child centred" teaching methods.
According to the Conservatives, increased educational efficiency would promote increased economic efficiency which was increasingly important in the rapidly globalising would economy and the increased effectiveness of the overall education system would improve educational opportunities and social mobility for disadvantaged students who had previously been restricted by their attendance at “failing schools”
The Quasi- Marketisation of Education
According to the Conservatives increased educational efficiency could be generated via the creation of a so-called quasi-market in education involving increasing parental choice among different schools would lead to the expansion of “good” schools at the expense of “bad” schools which would lead to overall improvements in national educational standard. Therefore, in order to facilitate the quasi- marketisation of education Conservative Governments [1979-97] introduced a wide range of education policies between 1979 and 1997.
Prior to 1979 the state education system was managed mainly by Local Education Authorities. It contained infant and primary schools and secondary schools most of which by 1979 were Comprehensive Schools although there were also a relatively limited number of grammar schools and secondary modern schools and there were also schools with religious affiliations [“Faith Schools”] which were regulated by the Local Education Authorities. These state schools coexisted alongside a smaller Private Education sector. The Conservatives argued that the state education sector was inefficient in several respects and that efficiency would be increased by promoting greater diversity and parental choice within the state system.
Consequently, the Conservatives increased the range of secondary schools available by introducing at various times City Technology Colleges, Grant Maintained Schools and Specialised Schools alongside orthodox Local -Authority-Maintained Comprehensive Schools. [Subsequent Labour governments would introduce Academies and the Coalition and subsequent Conservative Governments would expand the Academies Programme and introduce Free Schools, University Technical Colleges while Faith Schools would be encouraged to expand. Meanwhile a smaller number of Grammar Schools and Secondary Modern Schools would continue to exist as would the Private Education sector.]
The Conservatives introduced further significant reforms under the terms of the 1988 Education Reform Act.
A National Curriculum was introduced which was to be followed compulsorily in all mainstream state schools but remained optional for independent schools.
The National Curriculum was to also contain 4 Key Stages. Each National Curriculum subject would contain attainment targets and pupils were to be assessed at ages 7,11, and14 to determine whether they had met the attainment targets in each subject. These assessments were to be based on national standard assessment tests [SATS] in English, Mathematics and Science and on teacher assessments in other subjects. Various changes would subsequently be made to the National Curriculum and to the nature of the SATS
Via the introduction of local management of schools [LMS] individual head teachers and school governing bodies would have more control over the spending of their own budgets. This reflected neo- liberal beliefs that the power of Central Government and Local Government officials to control the day- to- day operations of individual schools should be reduced.
There would be more Open Enrolment. Parents and pupils would now be given more freedom in their choice of schools rather than being allocated almost automatically to schools in their local area
For LEA schools a new form of Formula Funding would depend very heavily on student numbers so that more popular schools would attract more government funds and vice versa.
Further important education policy changes were subsequently also introduced.
From 1992 Schools were legally required to publish their examination results and absence and truancy rates from which so-called performance tables or league tables were constructed so that parents might in principle be able to compare the effectiveness of different schools.
From 1993 there would be regular school inspections carried out by the newly established OFSTED whose reports would be published again in principle providing further useful comparative information for parents to use in choosing their children's schools.
The introduction of the above policies has resulted in the so-called quasi-marketisation of education which according to its supporters would enable apparently effective, successful schools to expand at the expense of apparently ineffective schools [some of which would be forced to close] which was to drive up overall standards. The process of quasi-marketisation contains the following inter-related elements
- Increased diversity of secondary schools enables parents to make a choice among a wider range of secondary schools rather than being obliged in most cases to opt for the local Comprehensive school organised and controlled by the Local Education Authority.
- All State Schools were be obliged to follow the National Curriculum which would mean that that all state school pupils would be assessed on the basis of similar examinations.
- Schools would be obliged to publish their examination results and OFSTED would also publish their inspection reports on individual schools which would include information relating to school management, the quality of teaching and learning and rates of absenteeism and school exclusion.
- Schools deemed by OFSTED to be requiring improvement would be obliged to implement action plans designed to secure improvement and failing schools would face the threat of closure.
- The publication of examination results and OFSTED Reports would enable parents to make a more rational choice as among different schools and the introduction of more open access and formula funding would mean that parents would have far greater freedom to opt for the school of their choice.
- Parents are thus provided with a substantial amount of information to assist their choice of school such that overall process of school choice has been described as a Parentocracy.
- Popular schools with increasing student numbers would attract larger financial funds to cater for increasing pupil numbers. For ineffective, unpopular schools the reverse would be the case.
- Faced with this situation Boards of Governors, Headteachers and individual teachers would be incentivised to improve the efficiency of their schools as measured by the above -mentioned criteria and the introduction of the Local Management of Schools would give Boards of Governors and Headteachers greater autonomy relative to their Local Education Authority to determine their school’s policies.
- The net effect would be that if the strategy of quasi-marketisation was effective, successful schools would expand and unsuccessful schools would contract resulting in increases in the overall efficiency of the school system.
- It was hoped also that socially and economically disadvantaged students who had for years been denied access to a good education would also benefit from this new approach to educational policy.
- Labour Governments had aimed to improve the prospects further by compensatory education policies such as the Sure Start Programme and the Education Maintenance Allowance introduced by Labour Governments [1997-2010]. The Sure Start Programme was scaled back and the Educational Maintenance Allowance was discontinued by the Coalition Government of 2010-15 but this Government did introduce the Pupil Premium which has been retained by subsequent Conservative Governments. In practice an increased proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals do now enter H.E but the gap in H.E. entrance between pupils eligible and ineligible for free school meals remains substantial as do levels of relative poverty.
|Neoliberalism, Quasi- Marketisation and Higher Education|
It is argued also that especially since the higher tuition fees introduced in 2010 that Higher Education Institutions have also increasingly been subject to neoliberal quasi0marketisation. They are now much more financially dependent on revenues from student tuition fees and on research funding from industry and commerce with the result that they feel constrained to spend increasing amounts of money on marketing ploys including expenditure on lavish sports and leisure facilities and to allow grade inflation in order to attract students and to gear research toward the requirements of industry in order to attract funding. While traditional universities can rely on their long- established reputations to attract student numbers and research funding this has been more difficult for the newer universities many of which, although they may well be doing important and innovative work, are nevertheless being obliged to employ teachers on poorly paid contracts and in some cases to discontinue good courses because of low student numbers. Universities have also become increasingly financially dependent upon the recruitment of foreign students such that the Coronavirus has thrown their financial planning into disarray.
Although recent data indicate that overall applications to UK HE have increased in 2021 there has been a very significant decline in applications from EU countries. Click here and especially here for UCAS HE applications data 2021
Click here and here and here and here and here for further analysis of the plight of Higher Education
Quasi-Marketisation, Endogenous Privatisation and Exogenous Privatisation
The term “Privatisation” is usually taken to refer to the sale of former nationalised industries such as Electricity, Gas and the Railways resulting in the transfer of their assets to the private sector of the economy and the contracting out of services such as hospital or school meals and cleaning services to private sector companies.
In the analysis of the education system, sociologists distinguish between Endogenous Privatisation where the motivations and activities of state schools and colleges come increasingly to resemble those of private companies and Exogenous Privatisation where private sector companies increasingly provide educational resources and services for a profit.
Endogenous Privatisation consists in the following elements.
- Schools now compete for student numbers I much the same way as commercial companies compete for customers
- Successful schools will attract increasing student numbers and under the current formula funding scheme will receive increased government funding just as successful companies aim to increase sales and hence profits.
- The overall performance of individual schools is measured primarily in terms of relatively simple criteria [ most notably examination results] rather than more complex criteria which take account of the overall social usefulness of the education which schools are providing.
- Teachers’ pay and promotion prospects depend mainly on their abilities to deliver good examination results and this may well encourage teachers to “teach to the test” rather than aiming to deliver broader educational objectives.
- Schools may buy in resources from the private sector to help them to secure better examination results and /or better OFSTED assessments. [Here we have a combination of endogenous and exogenous privatisation.]
- Schools may devote greater financial resources to marketing methods including advertisements in local media, professionally produced school prospectuses and tightly choreographed induction evenings in the hope of increasing student numbers.
- School Prospectuses may emphasise the importance of school characteristics which are thought to be popular with the middleclass parents whose children are more likely than working class children to bolster the schools’ future examination results. These characteristics might include an emphasis on setting and streaming rather than mixed ability teaching, on the school’s high rate of university entrance especially to high status universities, on the school’s “Gifted and Talented “provision and on its music and drama facilities all of which are designed to increase the enrolment of mainly middleclass students.
- However, although the above description of school marketing strategies may be accurate in many cases it is also true that individual school marketing ploys will often be highly nuanced. In in their study Market Choice and Equity in Education  Ball, Bowe and Gerwitz draw conclusions which may still be relevant in the 2020s
- Thus. although many schools may go out of their way to attract middle class students the “comprehensive ethos” may be stronger in some schools than others and schools may need to attract both middle class and working class students if they are to maintain overall pupil numbers.
Exogenous Privatisation occurs where private sector companies increasingly provide educational resources and services for a profit. Such exogenous privatisation may take several forms.
Prior to the introduction of Private Finance Initiatives in 1992 the building and maintenance of state schools was undertaken by local government and financed via central government grants and the local rates/community charge. However, under the terms of Private Finances Initiatives, private consortia were set up to finance, design, build and maintain new schools which would then be leased back to the LEA or individual school board of governors or multi-academy trust which would pay annual fees usually over a period of 25-30 years to meet the costs and provide profits for the consortia which built and manage the school.
In support of PFIs it was argued that the private consortia could carry out these functions more cost effectively than local authorities and also that central government financial constraints would be reduced if large up-front payments for an entire project could be replaced by smaller annual charges over a longer period. However, critics argued that the consortia were making excessive profits out of these schemes, that the building designs were often inappropriate and that the management services provided were often expensive and of poor quality.
As a result of these criticisms, governments gradually began to scale down the involvement of private consortia in the PFIs and in 2018 the then Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond announced that no new PFIs would be arranged. Nevertheless, it will be several years before existing PFIs have run their course, and so some of the problems associated with PFIs are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
If you require further information on PFIs:
Click here for3 BBC programmes highlighting some of the problems associated with PFIs
Click here for an article on PFIs and here for an article on the end of PFIs from the Guardian
Click here for Goodbye PFI. This is a House of Commons Library publication on the gradual phasing out of existing PFIs
School meals provision, cleaning and maintenance services were once provided directly by local authority employees but in many cases these services have been contracted out to commercial service providers. Also, increasingly, private companies act as employment agencies for the placement of supply teachers; they may provide school administrative and HR services and careers advice for students.
The increased computerisation of education has involved the increased sale by private companies of computers together with accompanying whiteboards, staff training facilities and maintenance contracts. Also, large multinational companies such as Apple and Google are increasingly providing learning programmes for schools and colleges.
For several years private companies were employed by OFSTED to deliver their inspections but from 2015, perhaps as a result of some dissatisfaction with the quality of some private companies’ inspections, OFSTED now employs and trains its own inspectors directly and private companies no longer undertake official OFSTED inspections. However private companies do provide inspections advice and actual inspections based around OFSTED criteria which are designed to help schools to prepare for official OFSTED inspections.
The Edexcel Examination Board has been taken over by Pearson PLC which is a large multinational publishing company. Thus, Pearson now develops GCSE, BTec and GCE Advanced Level courses, organises the setting and marking of examinations, publishes related course textbooks and provides advice and guidance to teachers re effective delivery of courses and assessment of students’ work. Pearson has also set up fee-paying schools based entirely on home learning via the internet in several countries and has most recently set up such a school in the UK which is designed to deliver full GCSE and GCE Advanced Level courses although Pearson state also that their facilities may also by pupils [in return for payment of fees obviously] as adjuncts to their own school resources. Can this scheme catch on? Will it replace schools as we know them? Might Governments decide to finance this type of education as an alternative to school-based education?
It has been pointed out that in the C21st schools have increasingly experienced a process of so-called cola-isation whereby companies such as Coca Cola and Cadbury’s and others have been able to increase the advertising and sale of their products inside schools, sometimes organising voucher schemes in which by buying their products students can accumulate vouchers which can be collected and exchanged for free sports equipment for their schools. However, the ironies and inconsistencies of encouraging students to consume high calorie sugary products in exchange for sports equipment were quickly noticed and Cadbury’s were obliged to withdraw one such scheme where the consumption of chocolate necessary to receive a limited amount of sports equipment was shown to be particularly high.
However, writing in 2005 Stephen Ball listed promotional schemes run by Weetabix, Tescos and Sainsburys which were popular with many schools. More recently, large companies have become increasingly conscious of the need to burnish their reputations for corporate social responsibility [or, as others have more critically put it , to engage in Greenwash activities] and their websites often provide information and teaching resources pointing to their efforts to promote ecological sustainability which, the companies hope, will also promote brand loyalty and sustain corporate profits. Click here and here for Coca Cola and here for Tescos and here for McDonald’s and here for Cadbury’s [ where you can “Dive into our Chocolatey World of Learning “]. Other websites are available!
While approximately 7% of UK school pupils attend private feepaying schools, increasing numbers of parents of state and private school pupils hire private tutors in the hope of improving their children’s educational prospects. You may Click here for a BBC radio 4 programme from 2018 on the growth of private tutoring which indicates that for a small number of successful and well- connected private tutors, financial rewards can be very high although the overall quality of private tutoring is variable.
It is also important to note that private tutoring is to play a considerable role in the Government’s School catch-up programme designed to compensate foe the effects of the Covid pandemic
Click here and here and here for links to further information on the role of the private sector in the National Tutoring Programme
Academies, Free Schools and Privatisation
The process of quasi-marketisation has involved the growth in numbers of Academies and Free Schools [which are also academies]] and there have been disputes as to whether this expansion amounts to the increased privatisation of the state education system. According to Government spokespersons, academisation does not involve privatisation because academies and free schools are run by charitable trusts, are subject to state regulation and are not allowed to make profits from their activities. However, according to the education journalist Warwick Mansell, academisation might be said to involve privatisation because academies are controlled by boards of governors in such a way that their accountability to the local community and to pupils; parents is much reduced in comparison with local authority schools. Also, academy board members often have business backgrounds which may make them especially likely to buy in private commercial services [= exogenous privatisation ] and also to manage their schools in accordance with business practices [= endogenous privatisation].
You might like to discuss this issue further with your teachers.
It would appear that the conclusion as to whether or not academisation necessarily involves privatisation depends upon one’s definition of privatisation.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Education Privatisation
Although government spokespersons deny that the growth of academies and free schools amount to the increased privatisation of state many sociologists accept the conclusions of Stephen Ball and Dianne Youdell that processes of endogenous and exogenous privatisation are occurring and that these processes do have potential advantages and disadvantages.
Thus, it is argued that endogenous privatisation promotes increased organisational efficiency which will drive up educational standards for pupils and that exogenous privatisation enables schools to buy in a range of resources from the private sector which will also result in increased efficiency.
However, it has been claimed also that endogenous privatisation may have a range of disadvantages
If school performances are assessed primarily in terms of students’ attainments in a narrow range of academic subjects, school leaders may de-emphasise other important broader aspects of education.
Attention may focus especially upon the borderline pupils whose attainments are likely to have a significant impact on overall performance data. It could be argued that the introduction of the Attainment 8 and Progress 8 metrics may reduce the validity of this criticism.
Resources may be deflected from teaching to increased spending on advertising and marketing methods designed to capture increasing student numbers although it must also be recognised that if this results in poorer examination results this could offset the impact of marketing techniques.
It is argued that middle class parents will be able to use their economic, social and cultural capital to secure places for their children in high performing schools thereby weakening the prospects of working class children.
It has been argued that the growth of academies and free schools has done little to improve overall educational standards and that although many academies and free schools do perform well there have been also been several criticisms of academies and free schools based upon their lack of democratic accountability, high salaries of chief executives and Headteachers, off-rolling and the incidence of so-called “Zombie Schools” which have no established management and are waiting to join a new Multi-Academy Trust because they have “either been abandoned or taken away from their previous sponsor.”
Click here and here and here for recent  Guardian articles on Off Rolling.
Click here for a BBC item on proposals to reduce the extent of off-rolling. I am uncertain whether these proposals have as yet been put into practice !.
Click here and here for recent Guardian articles on Zombie Schools
Click here for Guardian editorial on Academies
Click here for forced academisation
Click here for free schools article
With regard to Exogenous Privatisation it has been argued that the buying in of educational resources and services from the private sector can result in increased school and college efficiency at reduced cost but it has also been argued that the building and maintenance of schools and colleges via Private Finance Initiatives has had a range of adverse effects [see above] and that in general the involvement of private sector companies in the provision of education resources and services enables them to siphon off revenues in the form of profit which could have been used to further improve educational provision.
In the UK private schools. Academies and free schools are run as charitable trusts which do not aim to make profit from their activities. However, some Charter Schools in the USA and Free Schools in Sweden are run on a profit- making basis and it is conceivable that in the future UK laws might be altered to permit the setting up of profit- making schools. Supporters claim that the pursuit of profit provides incentives for profit making schools to meet consumer demand effectively while critics argue that the pursuit of profit might override educational objectives. For example, profit making schools might be more likely to be set up in affluent areas than in poor areas; cost cutting measures might reduce school effectiveness; profit taking might result in reduced educational expenditures and unprofitable schools might be subject to sudden closure with adverse consequences for pupils’ education.
The New Right and Vocational Education.
It has been argued that although one of the key functions of education systems is to meet the needs of the economy for a skilled work force the UK education system has failed to fulfil this function effectively and the increasing competitive pressures associated with neoliberal globalisation have highlighted this issue even more clearly. From the 1980s UK governments have adopted policies involving the quasi-marketisation of English education as a framework for the improvement of overall education standards and have also introduced a range of policies designed to increase the vocational relevance of the education system.
Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan had focused on this issue in his Ruskin College speech designed to stimulate a “Great Debate on Education” but it was subsequent the Conservative Governments of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher which introduced policies which came to be known as “The New Vocationalism. These policies included the introduction of work experience schemes, a new Certificate in Pre-Vocational Education for 16–18-year-olds, TVEI initiatives designed to focus on matters of commercial and industrial relevance within the school curriculum and Youth Training Schemes designed to improve employability. There followed successive attempts to provide for vocational education by new courses such as NVQs and GNVQs, the Advanced Certificate in Vocational Education, Vocational GCSEs and Applied Advanced Level GCEs, BTEC Nationals, OCR Nationals, the Technical Baccalaureate and T Levels.
Further information on the UK provision of vocational education and criticisms of it is provided here.
It should be noted that the introduction of the New Vocationalism in the early 1980s was, to some extent, seen as a NEW Right policy since then party-political differences in vocational education policies have perhaps to a considerable extent been administrative rather than ideological differences.
Part Three: Labour, Coalition and Conservative Government Policies and The New Right
[ Conservative Government Policies 2015-202o have not yet been covered]
Labour and New Right Education Policies
Most Social Democrats have traditionally argued against the existence of Private education and State selective education on the grounds that both of these forms of education undermine equality of opportunity. They would admit that top private schools and state grammar schools may well enable their pupils to reach higher educational standards but point out also that private school education is available primarily to the children of rich or comfortably off parents and also that it is middle class children who have benefited most from the existence of state grammar schools. For these reasons Social Democrats have been strong supporters of Comprehensive Secondary Education which in their view would be most likely to increase equality of educational opportunity and to raise average educational standards.
However, in practice Labour Governments failed to abolish Private Education and also allowed the continued existence of a limited number [currently 164] selective State Grammar Schools. Labour accepted much of the Conservatives "choice and diversity agenda based around the introduction of a quasi- market in education via increased support for Specialised Schools, Faith, Schools and City Academies. Whereas some Social Democrats argued that these latter policies are consistent with Social Democracy and amount to a modernisation of the comprehensive system which can further promote meritocracy others argue that they indicate clearly that Labour has adopted a New Right Education policy agenda which will undermine the prospects for educational meritocracy as upper and middle class parents are able to use their economic, social and cultural capital to secure places at the more successful state schools for their children at the expense of working class children. That is: in the view of critical Social Democrats the criticisms of Conservative New Right education policies apply also to New Labour education policies which are seen as equally influenced by the ideology of the New Right.
Social Democrats have supported the mildly social democratic initiatives introduced by the Blair-Brown Labour Governments such as increased nursery provision, reduced class sizes and the Sure Start, Education Action Zones and Excellence in Cities programmes which were clearly designed to target additional resources on poorer children. However many Social Democrats claim also that these policies were are insufficient to reduce the massive social class, ethnic and gender inequalities of educational achievement which continue to exist and that the relative educational opportunities of disadvantaged pupils can be increased only via the abolition of private and state selective grammar schools and additional financial resources for the Sure Start Programme and for future programmes replacing the EAZ and EiC programmes and by the rethinking of Labour policies on diversity and choice. Even then broader social and economic and social policies to reduce poverty and inequality will also be necessary because many Social Democrats believe that it may well still be true that, as Basil Bernstein stated in the 1970s"Education cannot compensate for society."
The Coalition and New Right Education Policies
As Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove often stated that his overall approach to education policy was based upon a practical search for "what work" rather than upon ideological considerations. He also expressed support for several of the education policies developed by Labour's Schools Minister Lord Andrew Adonis and backed strongly by Prime Minister Tony Blair. However. it has been argued that Labour's approach itself reflected some sympathy with New Right thinking and with the New Right-influenced education policies which had been pioneered in the era of Thatcherism. It has of course been argued that the influence of New Right thinking on Labour governments was moderated to some extent by their commitment to a rather mild version of social democracy and it might similarly be argued that Coalition education policies have also been influenced heavily by the Conservatives' ongoing commitment to New Right Ideology modified to some, perhaps limited, extent by the mild social liberal ideas of their Liberal Democrat coalition partners.
- Main Coalition Education Policies.
- Head teachers and individual teachers would be given greater powers to maintain school discipline including powers to search pupils, to restrain them physically using reasonable force and to make use of "same day detentions." Also, the process of school exclusion would be streamlined to facilitate exclusion of "difficult" pupils.
- Schools would be encouraged to introduce blazers, school uniforms, house systems and Prefect systems as additional means of maintaining good order
- A clear indication that the Government remained supportive of setting and /or streaming as efficient methods of grouping.
- Measures would be taken to improve the effectiveness of teacher training with a greater proportion of such training to be spend inside actual classrooms.
- Career changes into teaching from other professions including the military would be facilitated in the hope that this too would improve the overall quality of the teaching profession.
- There would be an acceleration of the development of the quasi-market in education via the reorientation and rapid expansion of Labour's Academies Programme and the introduction of the Free Schools Programme. Most importantly, whereas Labour's so-called Sponsored Academies were designed to replace schools which deemed to be under-performing the Coalition, while continuing with Sponsored Academies also legislated to enable schools that were already performing well to opt for so-called Converter Academy status.
- There would be a review of the National Curriculum with the aim of increasing its complexity and rigour. Greater weight would be given to correct spelling, punctuation and grammar in the assessment of examination grades.
- The teaching of reading via synthetic phonics would be encouraged.
- Secondary schools were to be encouraged to enter larger proportion of their students for more traditional subjects. This was to be achieved by designating English, Mathematics, Sciences, Modern Languages, History and Geography as so-called EBacc subjects and announcing that School league table positions would now be assesses in terms of the proportions of pupils attaining 5 or more GCSE A*-C grades in EBacc subjects as well as in terms of the proportions of pupils gaining 5 or more A*-C grades in any subjects but including English and Mathematics.
- Eventually the A*=G grading schemes would be replaced by a 9-1 grading system and schools and pupils would also be assessed in terms of their Progress 8 scores.
- The system of vocational education would also be reformed to deal with its perceived inadequacies. The provision or more facilities for technical education for example via the setting up of University Technical Colleges and the greater emphasis on basic literacy and numeracy as a means of promoting future employability. The Wolf Report would subsequently lead to the downgrading and/or scrapping of many vocational courses which had previously been ranked equivalent with GCSE courses.
- The White Paper referred to what the Government perceived as the defects of modularisation at both GCSE and Advanced level which signalled thateforms to both GCSE and GCE Advanced level courses might in future be considered necessary.
- Subsequently proposals were announced for the introduction of a new EBACC certificate which appeared to signal the eventual demise of the GCSE but in response to criticism this proposal was shelved fairly rapidly and the Government announced instead that new and apparently more rigorous GCSE syllabi would be introduced beginning in September 2015.
- A Pupil Premium would be introduced to help to channel additional resources towards pupils who were at an economic disadvantage as indicated by their eligibility for free school meals.
- The Government signalled its intention to increase the age at which young people would be able to leave education and training to 17 in 2013 and 18 in 2014.
Students are invited to note which of these policies might be said to be influenced by neoliberalism, which by neoconservatism and which are ideologically neutral administrative changes designed to improve efficiency.
- Main Conservative Government Education Policies 2015—
You may click here for detailed coverage of Conservative Government education policies 2015-2020. The key point made in this article is that the Conservative Government of 2015-2020 continued with the expansion of the Academies and Free Schools programmes which had begun in 2010-2015 and retained the Pupil Premium. I hope to extend this section of the notes in the near future
New Right Education Policies 1979- 2021
|Education policies based on the strategy of quasi-marketisation were initially introduced by Conservative Governments of 1979-1997 and then extended, albeit with some moderate social democratic additions by Labour Governments of 1997-2010. Quasi- marketisation was accelerated by the Coalition Government of 2010-2015 which significantly extended the Academies Programme and introduced the first Free Schools and introduced the Pupil Premium. You may click here for detailed coverage of Conservative Government education policies 2015-2020. The key point made in this article is that the Conservative Government of 2915-2012 continued with the expansion of the Academies and Free Schools programmes which had begun in 2010-2015 and retained the Pupil Premium.
Supporters of the quasi-marketisation strategy in the UK have argued that overall school effectiveness has increased. Initially this resulted in improved GCSE and GCE Advanced Level results although in recent years governmental concerns with grade inflation have restricted further improvements in examination results. Nevertheless since 1979, according to their supporters, the success of these policies has been indicated by the increased overall access to Higher Education including greater access for working class and ethnic minority students and it is noted also that the introduction of the National Curriculum and specifically the categorisation of Science as a compulsory subject at GCSE Level increased female entries for GCSE Science subjects and subsequently for GCE Advanced Level Sciences although they remain for less likely than boys to opt for GCE Advanced Level Physics..
Critical Assessments of UK Government Education Policies.
The Education policies of ULK Government 1079-2020 have been criticised most heavily by Marxists who argue that education systems under capitalism are designed to legitimise the continued existence of capitalism which Marxists see as an exploitative, unequal, unjust social system which must be replaced possibly by revolutionary means. The best- known Marxist critique of capitalist education systems is Schooling in Capitalist America [S. Bowles and H. Gintis 1976] which I have discussed here. More recently the nature of education systems under capitalism has been passionately criticised by the radical democrat Henry Giroux whose criticisms may provoke some discussion.
It is important to note also that despite the considerable improvement in female educational attainment in recent years Feminists have also made significant criticisms of the UK education system. Working class girls’ educational attainments continue to lag behind those of middle class girls and middle class boys; the subject choices made by girls may restrict their future career opportunities; and sexual harassment in schools and colleges is rife.
Specific criticisms of UK education policies 1979- 2020 include the following
It is true that that the educational attainments of free school meal eligible students have increased at GCSE and GCE Advanced Levels and that the rate of enrolment of free school meal eligible pupils on Higher Education courses has also increased but critics have argued that recent changes in education policy have done little if anything to narrow the gaps in educational attainment as between students eligible and students ineligible for free school meals.
It is argued that quasi-marketisation has enabled more affluent parents to use their economic, social and cultural capital in various ways to secure entry for their children to the more effective state schools at the expense of disadvantaged children.
In their study "Markets, Choice and Equity in Education "  Ball, Bowe and Gerwirtz criticised Conservative education policies designed to provide parents with a wider choice of schools for their children because in their view middle class parents and their children would be especially likely to benefit from this choosing process because they possess the economic, cultural and social capital to choose more effectively. With regard to parental choice, Gerwirtz, Ball and Bowe distinguish between mainly middle class "privileged choosers" and mainly working class "semi-skilled and disconnected choosers" admitting however that these categories are, to some extent ideal types and that many parents may be difficult to classify exactly.
Privileged choosers are overwhelmingly middle class and are likely to opt either for private education or for the more successful state schools. To achieve this objective they may have purchased expensive houses in the catchment areas of effective state secondary schools; they may have chosen Middle Schools which are known to have especially good links with effective secondary schools ; they can afford to organise any necessary transport arrangements if the required schools are some distance away; they are both willing and able to take the time to assess information relating to examination results and related issues; they are comfortable in discussions with teachers and also ready to challenge them if they feel it to be necessary; they are familiar with sometimes complex application processes all of which puts them at an advantage in securing their children's entrance to the more effective schools.
By contrast "disconnected choosers" are primarily working class and are more likely to opt for their local neighbourhood school which consequently is likely to have a more working class intake. These parents certainly do show considerable interest in their children's education but their choice of secondary school is often not seen as especially important because "they typically see all schools as much the same". For this reason, they are very likely to choose the secondary school in their own neighbourhood partly for reasons of convenience and partly because financial and time constraints inhibit their abilities to organise transport to more distant schools. They may also be influenced by friends, neighbours and relatives with similar views and their choice of school may to some extent reflect their sense of belonging to their own local, working-class community. Thus, the authors conclude that " choice is very directly and powerfully related to social class differences" and that " choice emerges as a major new factor in maintaining and indeed reinforcing social class differences and inequalities".
The ERA has also had important implications for the organisation of schools themselves as they must give more attention to marketing methods if they are to maintain student numbers and especially if they are to attract the middle class children who are most likely to boost league table performance. Individual schools may have some freedom of manoeuvre to decide upon their response to the implications of the ERA and if Governors, Head teachers and senior staff are very committed to the ideals of comprehensive education and do not face strong competition from rival schools the impact of the ERA may be limited. However, this is unlikely and Ball et al suggest that the 1988 Education Reform Act has influenced school policy in several ways: it is more likely that resources may be diverted from actual teaching to improvements in the school buildings; new reception areas may be built; more professional prospectuses may be designed; open evenings are carefully choreographed; music and drama may be given a higher profile partly in an attempt to appeal to middle class parents. It is also possible that some schools reject mixed ability teaching in favour of setting because they believe that setting is most likely to be favoured by aspirational middle class parents
Insofar as successful schools succeed in attracting increasing numbers of mainly middle class pupils via careful marketing of the good examination results, the school numbers and hence financial resources available to less successful schools in mainly working areas will decline leading to declining educational opportunities for the mainly working class pupils who still opt to attend these schools. The processes of increased parental choice under the terms of the Education Reform Act 1988 were therefore likely to result in increased inequality of educational opportunity
In his 2003 study Class Strategies and the Education Market: The Middle Classes and Social Advantage Stephen Ball argues that upper- and middle-class children are likely to be more successful in education because upper- and middle-class parents can deploy economic capital, cultural capital and social capital to ensure that their children have educational advantages not available even to relatively affluent working class families and certainly not available to the poor.
Upper- and middle-class parents can afford to purchase relatively expensive houses in the catchment areas of successful state schools thus helping to ensure that their children will be able to attend such schools while working class children are more likely to attend less successful schools.
If upper- and middle-class children are having educational difficulties their parents can afford to purchase additional relatively expensive private tuition for their children.
If upper- and middle-class parents are dissatisfied with the quality of state education in their local area they can more easily arrange for transport to state schools located further afield, or they can relocate closer to more effective schools or they can opt to have their children educated privately. Private secondary education may be unaffordable for working class parents, costing as it may around £6000-£ 8000 per year even for non boarding pupils. Click here for information from a recent  Sutton Trust Report suggesting that "almost a third of professional parents have moved home for a good school.”
Upper- and middle-class parents are often relatively well educated and will almost certainly be able to help their children with homework if this proves to be necessary.
They are likely to have the confidence to believe that any educational difficulties experienced by their children can be resolved through discussion with teachers and are unlikely to assume that such difficulties are evidence of their children’s' limited academic abilities.
They are more likely than working class parents to be able to interpret the fairly detailed statistics on school performance which are nowadays published and therefore better able to make an informed choice of schools for their children. If popular schools are over- subscribed upper- and middle-class parents may be able to create favorable impressions which help to secure entry for their children to over-subscribed schools. They may socialise their children so that they present themselves sympathetically in the eyes of mainly middle class teachers. They may provide leisure activities for their children [ such as Music, Drama and additional sporting activities which enable the children to present themselves more effectively, for example in university interviews
Upper- and middle-class parents may be in social contact with other upper- and middle-class parents who can help them to evaluate the relative effectiveness of different schools prior to school choice.
They may know of particularly effective private tutors and they may also be able to arrange particularly useful work experiences or contacts with personal friends who are university lectures which will enable their children to prepare far more effectively for university entrance.
Click here to access Parent Power: Sutton Trust Report 2018 by Rebecca Montacute and Carl Cullinane. In the introduction to the report, you will find a very good summary of the various factors which enable affluent, well- educated parents to secure a range of educational advantages for their children much as was suggested in the above study by Professor Stephen Ball.
Although the adoption of quasi-commercial practices within the education system [=endogenous privatisation] and the increased involvement of private sector companies in the provision of state education [=exogenous privatisation] are said by their supporters to increase overall educational efficiency this is disputed by critics for a variety of reasons.
It is argued that that there is no conclusive evidence that Academies and Free Schools have increased the overall effectiveness of the education system or improved the relative educational opportunities of disadvantaged pupils; that the Coalition's inadequate funding of the Sure Start Scheme and the scrapping of the educational maintenance allowance were counterproductive and that the Pupil Premium , although well- intentioned, is insufficient to meet the real needs of disadvantaged pupils and may in any case have been used to offset the effect of spending reductions in other parts of the education system .
It has been argued that governments have often relied on comparative international tests to influence the determination of education policies in ways which are inappropriate. I hope to provide some information on the PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS tests in the near future,
It is argued that the policies used by UK governments to improve vocational education have not been especially effective.
Despite the existence of various bursary schemes for less affluent students the continued existence of private education [ and in particular the most prestigious "Public Schools" such as Eton and Harrow] is seen as providing unfair educational advantages for the children of parents who can afford to pay for it .Privately educated students are disproportionately likely to gain places at Oxford , Cambridge and the Russell Group Universities and subsequently more likely to find employment in high status, well paid occupations because of the higher status associated with degrees from these universities.
Click here for Elitist Britain Sutton Trust 2019 [See especially pages 8-9 and 12-18] and click here for BBC coverage of this report
It is argued also that well educated private school persons are more likely to achieve occupational success than equally well- educated state school persons because privately educated pupils are more likely to be able to afford to enroll on postgraduate degrees [Masters and Doctoral programmes] and/or to take up unpaid internships and more likely to possess the kinds of cultural capital and social capital which appears to be necessary for career advancement in some professions.
Critics have also opposed the introduction of university tuition fees by the Labour Government and the subsequent significant increases the level of these fees by Coalition and Conservative Governments. It is true that despite these increased tuition fees Higher Education enrolment has increased among pupils eligible for free school meals but it may be argued that such enrolments would have increased much more rapidly if these fees had not been introduced and subsequently increased and these tuition fees are blamed for the significant reduction in enrolments of part-time students.
Consequently, for all of these reasons critics have argued that recent education policies have done little to increase equality of educational opportunity and that this helps to explain why relative rates of upward social mobility have changed little in recent years. Click here for further information from Professor Lee Elliot Major
This concludes my document on The New Right Perspective on Education.