No Country for the Young. From New Labour to the Coalition
Tufnell Press (www.tufnellpress.co.uk)
Can the ‘Lost Generation’ find its way? Young people, education and society
Martin Allen and Patrick Ainley
As recognised by the parents, teachers and school pupils who joined F&H students demonstrating against fee rises and for a restoration of Educational Maintenance Allowances, the Coalition’s reception of the Browne Review ofundergraduate fees, combined with their cuts to HE funding in the Public Spending Review, marked the end of higher education as it has developed since the war. More broadly, it closed a phase of progressive reform aimed at changing society through education that began with the official introduction of comprehensive schools from 1965. These freed primary schools for child centrededucation and prepared the ground for expansion of further and higher education, including the polytechnic experiment.
Unlike 11+ selection, which became a thing of the past in eighty per cent of English secondary schools and more in Wales and Scotland, reforming education at all levels no longer aimed to reinforce existing social hierarchies but to breakdown class divisions by opening equal opportunities to careers for all. The logic of comprehensive reform carried forward to inclusion of children with special needs, a common exam at sixteen and a National Curriculum sold to teachersas an entitlement for all, as well as more recent widening participation in HE to nearly half of eighteen to thirty year-olds.
Now the traditional order of academic excellence is to be reasserted,educational selectivity re-established and the division with vocational learning widened. The market for higher education with universities competing on price for various specialist options becomes the model for schools given increased autonomy. This paper places Coalition policies for upper secondary education and beyond in this wider economic and social context, beginning with…….