Do you find it difficult to keep up with the pace of change in education policy? This essential book takes an historical perspective to illuminate current educational issues. The authors draw on documentary evidence to describe, record and analyze education policy in England and Wales since the Second World War.

Inside you will find in-depth interviews with a number of former Education Ministers, and others who were directly involved in the development and implementation of education policy. Key decision-makers such as David Blunkett, Ed Balls and Michael Gove are asked to discuss the historical context of their period of office and to consider the lasting legacy of the policies they have been responsible for.

This is a must-read for graduate students in education courses. It will be a valuable resource to undergraduates studying modern history and social policy, as well as international students who wish to gain an insight of the English education system. From Butler to Balls and beyond, this book provides a unique insight into the impact and legacy of education policy.

1988–1992: Education Reform: A Period of Turbulence

1988–1992: Education reform: A period of turbulence
  • Increasing ‘competition’ in education
  • Education reform:
    • – a National Curriculum
    • – testing and assessment


Throughout its period in office from 1979 the Conservative government had been determined to make significant changes to what was seen as a failing education system. This chapter is concerned with the final two years of Margaret Thatcher's term as Prime Minister (1988–90) and the first two years in office of John Major (1990–2).

The political background and the school and college context is reviewed, followed by a discussion of the Education Secretaries, Kenneth Baker (1986–9), John MacGregor (1989–90) and Kenneth Clarke (1990–2) and the policies they developed.

The Education Reform Act (ERA) of 1988 is considered in some detail. It was the culmination ...

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