Impact of Neoliberal Education Policies and Academisation on UK Education Introduction Education undergoes continuous evolution with the intention of furthering man’s knowledge and skill development. Along with such every-changing educational practices come modifications in educational policies…
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This paper shall briefly discuss what neoliberalism is and how it impacts educational policies in the United Kingdom. It will then dwell on the issue of forcing some identified low performing schools to become academies. The Academies programme is part of the New Labour Coalition government’s efforts to improve the educational climate of schools. This paper shall evaluate if students’ educational attainment had indeed improve with the implementation of their educational policies. Educational Policies in the UK Ball (2008) summarizes the history of educational reform policies from the 1800’s. The early education policy was drafted to respond to the various needs of social classes, namely, to manage the new urban working class and to give the new middle class a chance to realize their aspirations. Next policy came in the mid 1990’s which found divisions within the public education systems culminating in the creation of comprehensive schools. Ball continues on to the third prominent policy period from the last quarter of the 90’s wherein the New Right attempted to dismantle the welfare state and stress the importance of individual choice in education. Finally, the current policy reform was put into place under Tony Blair’s New Labour party from the late 90’s, advocating for a “competition state” taking practices from businesses into education. This current policy reform under the New Labour government is greatly influenced by neoliberal ideology. Ball (2008) criticizes the “policy overload” (p.2) as a manifestation of politicians creating an image for themselves that they are being proactive in their role as well as succumbing to pressures of globalization. Neoliberalism Neoliberalism was borne out of Adam Smith’s advocacy of classic liberalism as well as the concept of man, society and economics (Clarke, 2005). At its earliest stages, neoliberalism was viewed as an entirely new framework for managing the economy and drafting policies, which make up a capitalist society. Neoliberalism is associated with a set of political beliefs that strongly uphold the state’s purpose of safeguarding individuals specifically commercial, liberty and even their property rights (Nozick, 1974). It respects independent thinking of individuals enough to liberate them or minimize its hold on them and any transgression by the state beyond its purpose of safeguarding them is not acceptable (Harvey, 2005) Freely adopted market mechanisms are believed to be the right way of organizing exchanges of goods and services (Norberg, 2001) because it releases the creative potentials and entrepreneurial nature of people. In turn, it leads to more individual liberty and well-being and a more efficient allocation of resources (Rothbard, 2004). Munck (2005) argued that when government agencies intervene, it is almost always undesirable because it disturbs the natural rhythm of the marketplace, thus reducing its efficiency. Neoliberal Educational Policies Applied to education, neoliberals saw students as global capital and valued according to the skills they have gained to be contributory in the global marketplace. Hence, they should be invested upon and be trained to be competitive in order to bring out the best in them (DenBesten, et ...
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