General Overview: England

by. Michael Carver

England’s Educational System can be best viewed through the Education Reform Act (ERA) of 1988.

The ERA involved four main policy changes:

  • “A restructuring of school governance roles and duties,
  • A call for parental choice in determining their children’s schools,
  • The adoption of a national curriculum, and
  • The establishment of national student assessment guidelines.” (Kubow, 2007, p. 174)


The governing bodies wanted to put more structure in the schools, industrialize the system (make the system more in tune with industrial growth and economic improvement), and put more pressure on the schools to improve their educational practices. The ERA attempted to do this by limited the monetary input into the educational system, and enacting a set of nationalized educational standards that the schools would need to follow.

The goal of putting more choices into the parent’s hands on what schools their children attended was meant to inspire and spur the educational institutions to improve in order to increase their own attendance. Due to the fact that funding was tied directly to the number of students enrolled, it was thought that every school would improve to compete for students which would be better off for the educational system.

A national curriculum was supposed to standardize the school and put them on equal footing; however it was more effective in highlighting the differences between the schools and created an even larger disparity between the schools. This is also the same result from the establishment of national student assessment guidelines.

The ERA was meant to centralize education and incorporate commonality throughout the system. There are groups that are trying for movement back to local autonomy and decentralization.


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