Investigating To What Extent Labour Continued the Conservatives Education Policy

Investigating To What Extent Labour Continued the Conservatives Education Policy

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Investigating To What Extent Labour Continued the Conservatives Education Policy

Traditional Conservative and Labour policy through the years have been
different for the most part. However the 1997 Labour government has
been different from those that preceded it, this is due to the
emergence of the more centre, mainstream New Labour.

There have not been very many major differences in Education policy
since Labour came into power. Labour have kept Grammar schools and
have changed the names of what were city technology colleges, to city
academies. Labour have also turned many schools in specialist schools
that specialise in certain areas. These policies have faced criticism
as private companies are sponsoring academies, which go against the
traditional labour belief of nationalisation. Grammar and specialist
schools are also argued to be creating a two-tier system of
comprehensive education, with Grammar being better than most and
schools that specialise in subjects such as P.E, music and art are
argued to be poor at the other, perhaps more important subjects.

In some cases Labour have adapted or furthered ideas the conservatives
started. League tables for schools were introduced in 88 by the
conservatives Labour have adapted them so that the schools results
take into account the schools intake, area and resources, this is
called value added. Grant Maintained schools where the LMS has the
most influence on the budget have simply changed to foundation schools
where the head controls the budget. The basic principle of the school
has remained even though Labour said they would get rid of GM schools.

However in many cases Labour have just kept Conservative policy. SATs
have remained since introduced in 88 despite heavy criticism. OFSTED
have remained as the schools inspectors, University expansion has
continued although the Conservatives now oppose it. Compulsory
Competitive Tendering has remained. Labour have continued to name and
shame failing schools, which has produced schools such as the Phoenix
school. And policies that go completely against traditional Labour
policy have remained such as Private schools maintaining their charity

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status meaning they don’t have to pay taxes, although the only
charitable service they provide is taking money from affluent families
to teach their children. Although they have set up a commission to
look into this issue, it is likely they will continue their Trend of
taking no notice of these commission’s reports. Labour have continued
with the National Curriculum although it is widely seen as a good
thing.

However Labour have managed to change quite a few things. One example
is the increase of Tuition fees for University by introducing Top Up
Fees, which is a fee all must pay to attend University, although
families with lower incomes don’t have to pay as much as higher
earning families, they have to pay more than they would have under the
previous system, this led to massive debate and criticism with many
arguing Labour were introducing something that went against their
fundamental policies of equality whatever the wealth as now some
people could be priced out of going to University.

Labour have introduced some policies, which have been widely regarded
as constructive, worthwhile and effective. Reducing class sizes
especially for younger pupils has worked well, as have the new
Educational Maintenance Allowance, which gives up to £30 a week to
students from low income families if they have full of very near full
attendance. This has been regarding as a good policy as it encourages
children who tend to be the worst attending and achieving, to attend
and therefore give them a better chance to achieve. It also means the
onus on them to get a job for money is lowered or they can work fewer
hours. They have also allowed Sikh and Islamic schools for the first
time following on from the policy to widen participation which the EMA
was also part of. They have also introduced state nurseries for
children of 4 to help this.

Some of Labour’s more criticised policies have been the huge increase
in classroom assistants and their powers, which although relieve
pressure off teachers have led to less skilled teaching of students by
the assistants who have the power to cover and take lessons.
Performance Related pay for teachers was introduced although it could
be argued it is impossible to measure a teacher’s performance as it
may not just be their teaching ability which led to good or bad
results from the students. Labour have introduced gifted and talented
and excellence in cities for higher achieving students which is aimed
to increase their chances and give them further opportunities,
although many argue it is actually the lower achieving students which
need the extra help.

Targets in schools are also a very contentious issue with many
believing there is too much interference from the state to schools,
and targets turning students into figures and statistics rather than
individuals. Labour have also made languages optional post 14 and
introduced literacy and numeracy hours, all of which has been argued
against by many teachers who believe language is an important but
dwindling talent amongst the British public, and see literacy and
numeracy hours as a waste of time and unnecessary.

Labour have completely reformed the A level system, which many people
have agreed with, this is also the sort of revolutionary policy Labour
should be associated with doing.

Overall Labour have indisputably continued many Tory policies. Some
of the policies they have introduced themselves would be policies not
out of place being proposed by the Tories. However policies seen as
more inclusive as helping disadvantage students such as state
nurseries for 4 year olds, EMA and the end of assisted places have
been introduced. Labour’s education policy matches their polices for
many things such as health which has also had an increase in
bureaucracy due to things like targets and league tables. Also
schools work towards targets rather than specifically on the success
of the students. Labour have invested more money into education than
the Conservatives, which is a more traditional Labour idea. There
have been few revolutionary policies with the exception of A level
reform and top up fees and considering Labour’s record breaking large
majority this is surprising. Labour’s lack of change from
Conservative policy is just an example of New Labour and their
similarity to the Tories.
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