Just Sociology

The Controversial New Rights Perspective on Education in the UK

The New Rights perspective on education is a controversial theory that has gained significant attention in recent years. This perspective emphasizes competition and choice, considering the education sector as a market.

In this article, we will discuss four subtopics under the New Rights perspective on education and two subtopics focusing on criticisms and limitations.

GCSE Pass Rates

GCSE exams in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are the standard qualifications for secondary education. GCSE results are used as a measure of performance by schools and the government in the United Kingdom.

Between 2005 and 2015, significant improvements in GCSE grades were reported. However, these results faced significant criticism for grade inflation, particularly in subjects such as English literature and language.

The pass rate for GCSE grades A*-C increased from 60.2% in 2005 to 66.9% in 2015, and the percentage of A* and A grades awarded rose from 20.7% to 21.2%. The improvement in grades was linked to the introduction of new assessments and changes in the curriculum.

Critics argued that the improvement indicated a decline in the examination’s rigor and quality.

PISA international league tables

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) was introduced in 1997 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). PISA ranks countries through student scores in reading, mathematics, and science tests, designed to assess the application of knowledge to real-life situations.

The New Right theory often links PISA rankings to neoliberalism principles, which underpin a belief that an active market and competition offer the best educational outcomes. The United Kingdom’s ranking in PISA tables provides a comparative measure of its educational performance as an indicator of potential competitiveness.

The UK has consistently ranked lower in PISA than Scandinavian countries, far east Asian states, and Singapore. Critics suggest that ranking tables can produce competition and measurement fixation, leading to narrow and less diverse educational systems.

Stephen Balls argument on choice and competition

Stephen Ball’s study ‘Education Markets, Choice, and Social Class’ analyzed the impact of government policies promoting competition and choice on education sectors. Ball argues that policies of choice and competition benefit the middle class, who have adequate material and social capital, and not the working class, who are disconnected from social resources.

This study suggests that some parents can be skilled choosers while others might not possess the necessary skills to choose the right school. Disadvantaged parents, especially those who lack material assets, don’t have the flexibility to move house nearer schools, and therefore must enroll their children in nearby schools, regardless of their quality.

This leads to a perpetuation of social inequality within the education system. Sue Palmers argument on tests, targets, and education

Sue Palmer’s work highlights the impact of technological and social changes on modern childhood.

She claims that the New Right’s education policies emphasize testing, targets, and league tables rather than a child’s emotional, creative, and social growth. In primary schools, Year Six children face coaching and exam practice to meet unrealistic targets, which can hinder their creativity, art, drama, and emotional development.

Palmer argues that assessing a child’s development through standardized testing, instead of focusing on the curriculum, learning objectives, and assessment criteria, will reduce the value of creative experiences in schools. Her central argument addresses the PIRLS, which surveyed 10-year-olds’ literacy standards in different countries.

The UK’s average rank was 18th out of 45 countries surveyed, leading critics to question the value placed upon testing and coaching in education.

Grade inflation and international comparisons

The New Right perspective’s focus on competition and performance measuring leads to the criticism of grade inflation. The UK education system has been criticized for increasing GCSE grades at the expense of quality.

Critics argue that comparing English and Welsh students’ results is becoming irrelevant in the international education market, where PISA is placing the UK at a disadvantage. The American and Canadian education systems, which have not seen the same grade inflation, show better results in PISA tables.

The emphasis on assessment and testing in the UK education system has led to neglect of other forms of learning, innovation, and creative experiences that promote understanding and mastery of concepts.

The impact of Marketisation policies on creativity and understanding

The marketisation policies that support the principles of New Right education perspective prioritize competition and choice, leading to the production of league tables and higher stakes exams. These policies have produced narrowed curriculums that focus on examination readiness rather than supporting children’s emotional, social, and creative growth.

The PIRLS survey showed that children from the UK have weak literacy standards, attributing blame to a focus on coached tests rather than understanding. Research has shown that coaching and tests can lead to short-term memorization of information, which can be lost over time.

This approach neglects creativity, emotional development, and social responsibility, which are essential skills needed in the modern world.

Conclusion

The New Right perspective on education has had significant impacts on the UK education system. The focus on competition and choice has led to the production of grades, league tables, and coaching, which have affected some of the essential aspects of children’s growth, including creativity, emotional development, and social responsibility.

Critics have pointed to these limitations, which include grade inflation, declining international rankings, and neglect of essential concepts’ understanding. This continues to drive the need for a more balanced educational approach that highlights the importance of holistic growth, social responsibility, and creativity.

In conclusion, the New Rights perspective on education emphasizes competition and choice, which has led to significant impacts on the UK education system. Concerns have been raised about grade inflation, declining international rankings, and neglect of essential learning.

While competition and choice can have a positive impact, it is essential to balance them with holistic growth, social responsibility, and creativity to foster better educational outcomes.

FAQs:

1.

What is the New Rights perspective on education? A: The New Rights perspective on education emphasizes competition and choice, considering the education sector as a market.

2. What are some of the criticisms of the New Rights perspective on education?

A: Critics argue that the emphasis on competition and performance measuring can lead to grade inflation, neglect of concepts’ understanding, and lesser value placed on creativity, emotional development, and social growth. 3.

What is the PISA international league table? A: The PISA league tables rank countries based on student scores in reading, mathematics, and science tests designed to assess the application of knowledge to real-life situations.

4. How has grade inflation affected GCSE results?

A: Critics argue that grade inflation has led to a decline in GCSE examination’s rigor and quality. 5.

Why is creativity essential in education? A: Creativity, emotional development, and social responsibility are essential skills needed in the modern world and foster holistic growth in individuals.

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