In keeping step with the concept that the school is a reflection of society, New Labour's educational policies have been framed in their philosophy of free market competition, equality, and the recognition and reward of ability. New Labour has made a significant commitment to narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor and lessening the effects of the social and cultural capital that permeates the system. The policy is also committed to "reversing the increasing social exclusion of the unemployed and low-paid, and to equality of opportunity in education and the need to develop the potential of every child" (Tomlinson 2003, p.195). In addition, New Labour has maintained a steadfast commitment to "choice and competition, with education developing as a market commodity driven by consumer demand, fuelled by league tables of examination results, school 'choice' by parents, specialist schools and failing schools" (Tomlinson 2003, p.196). The ruthlessness of the market and cultural traditions have often compromised the drive towards equality and fairness and has created tension in New Labour's controversial educational policies.
No matter where you look in the educational system you will see the influence of the social stratification, racism, the gap between the poor and rich, and the class attitudes that are reflected in education's mirror. However, national standards and mandates have dictated that these influences must be overlooked and not considered in favour of an inclusive and performance based system. The initial enthusiasm that met New Labour's educational reforms has "dissipated into puzzlement, disappointment and concern about the direction of education policy, at least in...
The researcher of this essay concluds that education reform in the UK has followed a violent and rocky road since the beginnings of formal education. Once thought to be the property of the elite, the researcher states that education is now perceived as a right that every citizen has an opportunity to attain. The traditional view that the school should be a reflection of the society becomes problematic when trying to instil equality, while honestly accounting for the culture. The call for free market choice and competition add additional tension to the multiple goals of the educational initiatives. Traditional social and cultural groups that underperform in society or economics will also underperform in education. This results in socio-economic groupings that take on the characteristic of being exclusionary. The students with social capital will group with like peers and self perpetuate the segregation. Meritocracy further increases the gap, as the most capable students will be the ones from an advantaged background. The researcher hopes that thse phenomena will resonate through race, ethnicity, gender, and the disabled. In this scenario demands that society make some fundamental changes in correcting its own prejudice. Still, Labour has shown a willingness to acknowledge its failures and alter their approach when possible. They have begun to consider the social context of the schools and it can be concluded that educational reform is far from ideal, but continues to evolve as society pulls it along.