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The Education Reform Act 1988 resulted in a shift of much of the responsibility for the management of schools from the local authority to the schools themselves. This was known as Local Management of Schools (LMS). Part of the purpose for this reform was to encourage market competition between schools. This was considered to be a more effective way of ensuring that standards of provision would rise than the previous system of strategic management by local authorities, which encouraged cooperation and collaboration between schools. Under LMS the management of the school became largely the responsibility of the head teacher and the governing body. They were required to manage the school's budget and business strategy as well as academic and curriculum matters. Some commentators (e.g. Ball 1994) suggest that one effect of this was to create a fundamental divergence between the agenda of school managers, concerned with market competition and balancing budgets, and that of teachers in the classroom, whose priorities were centred on pedagogic issues. The tension between these two agendas would become apparent in situations where, for example, financial constraints imposed by management on staffing levels led to larger class sizes, thus raising concerns among the teachers about the quality of the pupils' learning experience.

A parallel situation arose when the polytechnics were removed from local authority control following the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, which also granted them university status. Managers of these new universities were required to take control of multi‐million‐pound budgets and to enable the new university to compete, as a business, within the higher education ‘market’. Here again, this raised questions about the purpose of the organization and the potential contradictions inherent in, on the one hand, ensuring financial growth and, on the other, providing a public service.

Subsequent funding policy and continuing emphasis on market competition has had an impact on the role of management across all educational sectors. One notable consequence has been a growth in the use of business and management terminology within the education sector. Another has been the creation of new roles and titles, such as ‘school manager’, ‘senior management team’, ‘finance director’, and ‘human resource manager’. Thus, the overall trend since the 1980s has been for head teachers, principals, vice‐chancellors, and their respective governing bodies to become increasingly involved in the management of business strategy and financial growth as well as the management of education in its pedagogic sense.

All this has been reflected in the range of professional development programmes and qualifications in the field of management which are now available to leaders and aspiring leaders of educational institutions. The acquisition of management skills as a route to promotion within the teaching profession has become widely recognized and acknowledged, and is reflected in the increasing numbers of classroom teachers from all sectors choosing to enrol for continuing professional development qualifications such as a postgraduate diploma or master's degree in Education Management. See also managerialism.

Further Reading:

S. Ball Education Reform: A Critical and Post‐Structural Approach (Open University Press, 1994).


Subjects: Education.

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