New Labour Policies since 1997

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Mind Map by holliekingdon95, updated more than 1 year ago
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A Levels Sociology Mind Map on New Labour Policies since 1997, created by holliekingdon95 on 02/24/2014.
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New Labour Policies since 1997
1 They sought to reduce inequality of achievement and promoting greater diversity, choice and competition. Achieving these goals would also make Britain more competitive in the global economy by making it a high skill and a high wage society.
2 Reducing Inequality.
2.1 After 1997, Labour governments introduced policies aimed at reducing inequality in achievement by targeting support for disadvantaged groups. These include;
2.1.1 Designating Education Action Zones and providing additional support
2.1.2 The Aim Higher Programme to raise aspirations of groups that are under-represented in higher education.
2.1.3 Education Maintenance Allowance which are payments to students with a low-income to encourage them to stay and gain qualfications.
2.1.4 Proposal to raise the school leaving age to 18 so there are no longer any 'not in education, employment or training' (NEETS) who are largely working class and unqualified.
2.2 Labour introduced policies to raise achievement more generally, such as the National Literacy Strategy, literacy and numeracy hours and by reducing primary school class sizes.
2.3 They claim these policies are of greater benefit of disadvantaged groups and so reduce inequality.
3 Promoting Diversity and Choice.
3.1 Labour governments have aimed to promote greater diversity and choice, e.g. Tony Blair said education needs to be moved into the 'post comprehensive' era.
3.1.1 The existing 'one size fits all, mass production' education system run by bureaucrats from the centre would be scrapped. In its place would be a new system built around the aptitudes and needs of the individual child and where power is in the hands of the parents.
3.2 Labour introduced a number of policies to promote this. For example, Tony Blair suggested that secondary schools needed to apply for specialist school status in particular curriculum areas. It has been argued that this offers parents a greater choice and raises standards of achievement by enabling schools to build on their strengths.
3.2.1 There has been lots of evidence to suggest that specialist schools have outstripped non-specialist schools. However, it is unclear whether this has reduced inequality between different social groups.
3.3 Labour has also promoted academies as a policy for raising achievement. Many of these are former comprehensives with poor results and mainly working-class pupils, and that by creating academies this will increase achievement. However, results have been mixed and some academies have improved whilst others have worsened.
4 Postmodernism and New Labour policies.
4.1 Labour's policies promote diversity and choice in part reflect ideas put forward by postmodernists.
4.1.1 For Example, Kennedy Thompson (1992) argues that in postmodern society, schools can break free from the 'oppressive uniformity' of the old centralised 'one fits all' mass education system, where all schools were expected to be the same. Instead he argues that education becomes 'customised' to meet the differing communities.
4.1.2 Critics of postmodernism argue that it exaggerates the extent of diversity in education. For example, the National Curriculum is a 'one size fits all', state-controlled curriculum that gives little scope for expressing minority ethnic cultures. Critics also argue that postmodernism neglects to continuing importance of inequality in education.
5 Criticisms of New Labour Policies.
5.1 Critics such as Whitty (2002) see a contradiction between Labour's policies to tackle inequality and its commitment to marketisation. For example, EMA's may encourage working-class students to stay on until they are 18, tuition fees for higher education may deter them from going to university. He concludes that Labour's anti-inequality policies are merely 'cosemetic' and present a positive image without actually reducing class inequalities.
5.2 Others point to the continued existence of both selective grammar schools and fee-paying private schools. Despite the Labour Party's long-standing oppositition to private schools as bastions of middle- and upper-class privilege, Labour governments have neither abolished them nor removed the charitable status that reduces the amount of tax we pay.
5.3 However, Whitty and others argue that Labour governments' commitment to marketisation has prevented them from tackling class inequalities but others disagree. For example, Paul Trowler (2003) points to policies such as increased funding of the state education, raising standards and a focus on a 'learning society' as evidence of Labour's commitment to reducing educational inequality.
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