The Politics of the 1988 Education Reform Act
The political origins of the Education Reform Act can be located in the crisis of the social democratic settlement of the post-war years (Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS), 1981; Whitty and Menter, 1988). This led to a breakdown and reassessment of the traditional compromises between old humanists, industrial trainers and public educators which had shaped the development of state education (Williams, 1965), and to the dissolution of the partnership between central and local government and the teaching profession which is often seen as the basis of the post-war settlement (Kogan, 1975). In that settlement, central government had provided broad policies, which were then administered and interpreted by county or district councils acting as local education authorities, which in turn entrusted curriculum decision-making largely to professionals on the ground. The settlement worked best in the period when the contradictions between the various functions ascribed to education, and the different aspirations of the parties involved, could be broadly reconciled in an expanding system.
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