The influence of language as a tool for policy implementation : further education after the 1988 Education Reform Act
The task of this work is to show that the use of language can be an important tool in any attempt to use power. In view of the complexity of the subject the span of investigation has specifically focused on the changes brought about by the Conservative Government expressed in the Education Acts in 1988 and 1992 during the period 1991-1996, tracing their effect on three further education colleges in the public sector and one in the private sector. In order to test the hypothesis, that there has been a significant change in the value system within which further education policy has been expressed, a selection of all direct guidance given to further education colleges for the period 1944-1997 is analysed. By exploring the panoramic of the narrative it is argued that policy failure for the average student is found not to be uncommon and at odds with the vision which drove the Education Act 1944. In order to offer some explanation of these outcomes the narrative is analysed. This reveals several themes representing a journey towards modernising democracy and underlying themes which consistently tempers attempts towards radical change. Further it reveals a paradigm shift from the pursuit of educational effectiveness, based on equality and the notion of social responsibility, to the pursuit of educational efficiency did take place. It is argued that the Government's language themes challenged and altered the professional's language thus their right to decide but rendered the newly incorporated colleges less able to manage the high risk environment in which it was placed by them. In contrast, it is suggested that the private college which operates with professional autonomy as key to its success demonstrates that professional autonomy and commercial success are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, this approach has much in common with new trends in management discourse.