Education, education, education…: an assessment of Labour’s success in tackling education inequalities

Abigail McKnight, Howard Glennerster and Ruth Lupton

in A more equal society?

Published by Policy Press

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9781861345783
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301394 | DOI:
Education, education, education…: an assessment of Labour’s success in tackling education inequalities

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One of the priorities of the New Labour government was education. Well before the 1997 General Election, the Labour party expressed its agenda of making education a top priority. In his 1996 speech, Tony Blair said that the three highest priorities in government were ‘education, education, education’. In both the 1997 and 2001 election pledges, education was featured and promised. In 1997, Labour promised to cut class sizes to thirty or under for students ages five, six, and seven by using money from phasing out the assisted places scheme. In 2001, Labour pledged to increase the number of teachers by 10,000 and improve standards in secondary schools. And recently, Tony Blair reaffirmed Labour's commitment by stating that education was, is, and will continue to be the top priority of the government. This chapter assesses the impact of Labour's education policies by focusing on those designed to tackle educational inequalities. It examines the number of policies targeted at schools such as reducing class size, literacy and numeracy hours, Education Action Zones (EAZs), Key Stage tests, Excellence in Cities, and post-compulsory education policies such as Education Maintenance Allowance and changes to the post-16 curriculum. The chapter also explores how changes to Higher Education financing have affected the socio-economic make-up of university entrants and considers the prospects for the future.

Keywords: New Labour government; education; education policies; educational inequalities; policies; class size; numeracy hours; Education Action Zones; Key Stage tests; Excellence in Cities

Chapter.  9175 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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