Between Rocks and Hard Places

Prof Richard Kimbell
2009, Vol. 14, No. 2,

Abstract


I have always been interested in the twists and turns of
education policy. It’s tempting to dismiss a lot of it scornfully,
as the ravings of some semi-informed nutters. But the hard
reality is that education is a very difficult area of policy and
one in which it is hard to make an impact quickly. The
political cycle (4 years) frequently demands quicker results
than can be produced – and few education ministers
progress to serious high office. Thatcher I suppose has to be
considered an exception. But her education policy is itself
revealing. If there is a single political idea with which she will
forever be associated, it is ‘privatisation’. Her central belief
was that governments should not run utility companies –
since she believed they could be more efficiently run in the
private sector. Based on this political belief she oversaw the
most enormous sell-off of state assets (telephone/gas/water
etc) and her successor then sold off the railways. She was
an absolute privatiser. But what of her education policy?

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