Key Developments in Education

Identify and explain milestones in the development of education policy including; The Education Reform Act 1988, Apprenticeship reform in 1994, The Education Act 1996, The Education Act 2011 and the Academies Act 2010.  The New Right’s Education Reform Act of 1988 is seen as the most crucial piece of education enactment in the UK since the ‘Butler’ Education Act 1944; it shaped the modern education system.  It implemented policies that strived to achieve raised standards. The 1997 New Labour and the 2010 coalition government that followed this Act, kept to the primary system established in 1988.

This Act introduced league tables, the national curriculum, OFSTED, and open enrolment and selection. A supporting argument includes; the fact that no succeeding government has changed the fundamental foundations of the Act, which suggests it is working. A criticism of this Act contains; the focus of league table positions and exam results can have harmful effects on the pupils – over-testing.

The apprenticeship reform in 1994, introduced Modern Apprenticeships from September 1994 and were up and running by September 1995, across England.

Accelerated Modern Apprenticeships were also announced in May 1994, aiming at 18-19-year-olds. Modern apprenticeships attempted to combine the traditional strengths of apprenticeship, with innovations to target the weaknesses. However, MAs were always swamped by concerns of quality and went through numerous reforms over the years. The MAs included a written agreement between an apprentice and employer, which detailed the training and qualifications which would commence – underwritten by local Training and Enterprise Council (TEC). The MA would obtain an employed status and be paid a set wage.

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Removed, however, was the stress on time serving, superseded by the competence based NVQ. Furthermore, the required NVQ was at level three, thus distinguishing MAs from former publicly financed youth training programmes, such as YT, which achieved a level two NVQ.

The Education Act of 1996 led to the establishment of special local authorities (LAs), who would, such as, identify children with special educational needs, e.g. dyslexia. This Act required that LAs would; identify children with special needs; when necessary, assess those needs, taking into account of psychological, medical, educational and other factors; where required, make a formal statement of those specific needs and define the provision which should be made to satisfy them. This Act helped students to excel in education, as they received the support they needed to succeed.

The 2011 Education Act was the first significant piece of education legislation to be introduced by the coalition government. It made changes to numerous areas of educational policy, including; the level of authority school staff had to discipline students, the regulation of qualifications, the administration of local authority maintained schools, academies, how newly trained teachers are supervised, the provision of post-16 education, student finance for local education and vocational apprenticeships. The Act also contributed to the abolition of; the General Teaching Council for England, the Training and Development Agency for Schools, amongst other bodies and the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency.

The Academies Act of 2010 aims to make it feasible for all publicly funded schools in England to become academies. Although still publicly funded, there is an increased degree of autonomy in issues such as determining teachers wages and deviating from the National Curriculum. This Act enabled; all maintained schools to apply to become academies – OFSTED ‘outstanding’ rated schools being pre-approved; deems academy trusts to be exempt charities, the removal of the requirement to consult the local authority before opening an academy; allows maintained primary and individual schools to apply to become academies in their own right. It also gives the secretary of state the jurisdiction to issue an academy order, requiring the local authority to terminate support to the school. (parliament, n.d.)

National College for Teaching and Leadership is responsible for administering the training of new and existing teachers in England, as well as the regulation of the teaching profession. It was established on 1 April 2013. Education and Skills Funding Agency formed on 1 April 2017, responsible for distributing funding for state education in England for 3-19-year-olds. As well as the regulation for estates of schools and colleges, they are also responsible for the funding skills training for further education in England and running the national careers and apprenticeship service. Standards and Testing Agency is responsible for producing and delivering all statutory assessments for school pupils in England, formed on 1 October 2011.

New labour policies designed to achieve this, these were; extra money for schools in deprived areas, 12 hours a week of free nursery provision for children ages 2-4, £30 per week to encourage students from low-income households to continue onto 16-18 education. The impacts of these policy changes include; standards being improved, and there are more choices and diversity; GCSE and SATs scores have improved significantly under New Labour; and a higher diversity of schools. These include a negative impact also; schools are too test-focused, reducing real diversity; they have not improved equality of educational opportunity; the gap between middle and working-class accomplishment continues to increase, the introduction of tuition fees in higher education discourages working-class children to continue to university.

During the conservative rule, their main aims were similar if not the same as the New Right; they strived to reduce public spending on education due to the financial crisis, at the time. The details of their policies include the removal of the EMA, which allowed them to cut funding to education. They also introduced; forced Academisation, Free schools and pupil premium. The impacts of these policy changes: is the standards are stagnantly increasing – the bar has continued to rise. Free schools and Academisation are ideological; there is no substantial evidence that they improve standards more than LEA schools. Free schools only help to advantage the middle classes., as they duplicate resources.


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Key Developments in Education. (2021, Dec 20). Retrieved from

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