Conservative values and education policy 1979-1990
This study provides a systematic description of the Conservative Government's education policies and their initial implementation during the period 1979-90. It charts elements of coherence between the Government's values and policies and examples of dissonance. By analysing the underlying values, it identifies conflicts which go some way toward explaining the apparent contradictions. Government policy reflects a marked switch in emphasis from regionalized provision to institutional provision within a strong, centralized framework which reflects a move from communal provision in response to individual needs to a market model where individual effort is intended to bring its own rewards. This analysis reveals the way in which policies apparently concerned with separate aspects of public services (structure, management, funding and mechanisms of reporting and accountability) culminated in the creation of a mixed market economy as a basis for transferring responsibility for the provision of welfare services from the state to commercial and voluntary agencies, as well as to individuals and their families. Whilst responsibility for the provision of education has not itself been delegated to parents, their involvement through choice, participation and voluntary financial contributions has steadily increased throughout the period in question. The transfer from the state to commercial and voluntary agencies is also evident in the provision of services to schools (meals, maintenance, cleaning) by commercial agencies under contract and the delegation to voluntary, lay governors of many of the responsibilities formerly exercised by local education authorities.