Nice aims, shame the law’s a mess

Document type
Jonathan Simons; Tim Oates; Gary McCulloch;
Policy Exchange
Date of publication
7 March 2017
Education and Skills
Social welfare
Material type

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This short collection of essays examines the importance of ensuring that the legislation associated with education both supports the policy aims of the state and matches our understanding of high quality provision. As all the essays in this collection show, the current situation is not optimal. Tim Oates discusses in his essay how the previous National Curriculum review created a messy situation where the new National Curriculum Programmes of Study were a legal requirement, but the Schemes of Work were not – although many teachers believed that they were. Similarly, Jonathan Simons and Tim Oates both discuss in their essays the concept of the English Baccalaureate, and the impact of it on actions taken by headteachers, despite being not a statutory measure but an accountability one. Does it matter, ask both authors, if such a measure is not legally enforceable? Both suggest that it does, but interestingly differ on why. Finally, Professor McCulloch shows that while governments in the past have preferred to 'steer at a distance', such a model was not as simple or innocent as has sometimes been presumed.

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