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Making schools work for the economy : education discourse and policies from David Cameron to Theresa May

Françoise Granoulhac
p. 235-253

Résumé

Since the 1970s, a globalised discourse on education has emphasised the link between high levels of education and skills and success in the ‘knowledge economy’. Education policies in the UK, as in other major economies, have become more closely aligned with objectives of economic growth and increased competitiveness. This article looks at the ways in which these global trends have been played out in England since the election of a Conservative-led Coalition government in 2010. A rhetoric of crisis, unfolding in a context of austerity, has justified the need for reforms of the school system and of further education. Two main developments are analysed here : the establishment of a cost-effective school system, and the central role assigned to improved post-16 technical and vocational provision in the pursuit of both economic growth and social mobility. The article discusses the social implications of the reforms, especially as regards Theresa May’s commitment to social justice and social mobility, and their political implications, as the UK prepares to leave the European Union and diverging education discourses and policies in the four nations present a new challenge.

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Extrait du texte

Ce document sera publié en ligne en texte intégral en novembre 2018.

Plan

Introduction
The crisis of the education system : myth or reality ?
Raising standards, cutting costs
‘A skills revolution for Brexit Britain’
Delivering economic growth and social justice : some key issues
Conclusion

Aperçu du texte

Introduction

The relationship between educational success and economic growth is a long-running theme in the education debate. Since the mid-1970s, after decades of growth in mass schooling and education participation, it has been viewed from an increasingly instrumental angle. Several factors have played a part in aligning educational objectives with the requirements of the economy : first the emergence, from the 1990s onwards, of employability policies based on training and skills acquisition, and the development of a knowledge economy which was expected to replace the old industrial economy. Such policies can be traced to human capital theory, which based the creation of new knowledge, skills and innovation on the added value brought by human beings, rather than machinery. This had several implications : first that global standards of education had to be raised, that there had to be a better fit between qualifications and he job market, and that schools had to become more effici...

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Référence papier

Françoise Granoulhac, « Making schools work for the economy : education discourse and policies from David Cameron to Theresa May », Observatoire de la société britannique, 21 | -1, 235-253.

Référence électronique

Françoise Granoulhac, « Making schools work for the economy : education discourse and policies from David Cameron to Theresa May », Observatoire de la société britannique [En ligne], 21 | 2018, mis en ligne le 01 novembre 2018, consulté le 20 juillet 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/osb/2322 ; DOI : 10.4000/osb.2322

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Auteur

Françoise Granoulhac

Maître de Conférences en Civilisation britannique à l'Université de Grenoble

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Observatoire de la société britannique

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