1988 Education Reform

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International Studies in Sociology of Education
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Markets in public policy: The case of the United Kingdom education reform act 1988 Stephen Gorard , Chris Taylor & John Fitz
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Cardiff University, United Kingdom Version of record first published: 04 Mar 2011.

To cite this article: Stephen Gorard , Chris Taylor & John Fitz (2002): Markets in public policy: The case of the United Kingdom education reform act 1988, International Studies in Sociology of Education, 12:1, 23-42 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09620210200200081

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International Studies in Sociology of Education, Volume 12, Number 1, 2002

Markets in Public Policy: the case of the United Kingdom Education Reform Act 1988 STEPHEN GORARD, CHRIS TAYLOR & JOHN FITZ Cardiff University, United Kingdom

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ABSTRACT This article contains a summary of the findings for a recently completed ESRC-funded project (R000238031). The purpose of the project was to examine the extent to which the introduction of educational markets gave rise to changes in the social composition of secondary schools in England and Wales. Using official statistics for this purpose, from the introduction of the Education Reform Act 1988 (ERA88) onwards, we measured changes over time in the tendency for pupils with particular socio-economic characteristics to cluster in particular schools (termed segregation). We considered a variety of reasons for the changes and regional differences in segregation that we encountered, and also began to relate these to changes in school output figures (i.e. public examination results). The project therefore moved from description and measurement to exploration and explanation. It also raised unforeseen methodological and research-capacity issues.

Background Reinventing the principles and organisation of the allocation of public services has been a feature of public policy in the United Kingdom (UK), Australia, New Zealand, the USA and some nations in continental Europe and Scandinavia over the last two decades. Characteristic of these reforms is the creation of competition between and within public sector institutions, diversification in the forms of provision, the advocacy of choice for newly constituted consumers of public services and the consequent manufacturing of client-provider relationships in the pursuit of efficiency gains in public service provision (Osborne & Gaebler, 1993; Clarke & Newman, 1997). These themes are manifest in the interlocking policy initiatives of the 1988 Education Reform Act (Maclure, 1988; Whitty et al, 1998). The creation of markets in education, increasing parental choice, advancing the autonomy of educational institutions...
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