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Social policy refers to the frameworks put in place in order to guide the wellbeing of the overall society. These frameworks usually involve the interaction of many other fields which are nevertheless, all directed at serving the public. The education policy has been among such policies which focus on providing reputable education services. The practice of education policy incorporates a vast number of stakeholders and together with the services provided, it makes for a very complex arrangement. This paper seeks to provide an analysis of social policy with particular interest in secondary school policy. In a bid to accomplish this, the essay discusses its organization, the government's role and eventually the problems which arise between the government and other involved stakeholders.
Education policy has basically been influenced by the use of education as a means of social control which further increases its complexity. The ideologies of democracy and liberation are what have cemented the belief in education. Initially, most governments have been the sole policy makers and this often caused major conflicts as there are governments who aim at using education policies for furthering their individual agendas. In this sense, these policies impose themselves in people's lives with the intention of inflicting harm. It is such predicaments which fostered the reorganization of secondary school policy. Back in the 19th century, the system of secondary education involved the revival of public schools and grammar schools which with the inculcation of high fees aimed at attracting the gentry's class as opposed to the poor who needed education for prosperity (Alcock et al, 2008: 118).
At the helm of social policy is the government which intricately shapes it. In addition, the success of the education policy is dependent on other civil servants who are directly engaged in its implementation. Other factors which influence social politics range from economic to political implications. A fundamental aspect of the secondary school policy is the interventionist control of the government. The 1988 reforms of the education policy have continued to shape secondary school education. Secondary schools are organized in such a way that they are funded by the government but on the other hand they are not in control of the school's operations. The internal market strategy initially introduced by Mrs. Thatcher continues in the secondary school policy although there have been some changes. The running of secondary schools is removed from the local education authorities and left to school management and government bodies (Blakemore & Griggs, 2006: 140). There has been the introduction of different kinds of secondary schools. State schools are expected to manage their individual budgets and plan for any educational developments.
The central government plays the key role in policy making of secondary school education. The new labor government is guided by the ideology of providing education for all individuals to prosper and add value to their lives. As such, this policy assumes that equalization of education opportunities is very crucial as opposed to equalizing education outcomes (Blakemore & Griggs, 2006: 145). Regardless of the central government's insistence on the belief that individual efforts are capable of overcoming any social disadvantages there is still an underlying hefty agenda. The central government remains the ultimate decision maker which imposes its agendas and instantly centralizes the control of secondary education. This can be well illustrated in the creation of city academies which are independent state schools. These secondary schools are run by the organizations which sponsor their creation. Therefore they are fully in charge of their management and financial control. Consequently, they lie outside the secondary school system and none of the education authorities can influence their management.
A major policy problem arising from the creation of such academies has been the lack of involvement of all stakeholders. Civil servants especially parents have been helpless in communicating their concerns over the management of these schools. Following this, the failure of this secondary school policy to improve academic achievements of secondary school students still persists. Notably so, surveys indicate that schools not included in the new policy have performed better than the city academies which clearly reflects a loophole in the policy (Blakemore & Griggs, 2007: 149). Furthermore, the city academies are seen as instruments of the central government in imposing its authority which significantly distances all other important stakeholders. In essence, such a secondary education policy will eventually culminate to a complete alienation of the state in control of education policies. Another problem reflected has been the imposition of general policy ideas at an instant go without step by step implementation. This has failed to take into consideration any ensuing changes within the determining factors of the secondary school policy.
In conclusion, this analysis has showcased the organization of the secondary school policy with emphasis to the role of the central government. With a background framework of the 1988 education policy reforms, the current policy has improved greatly and aimed at providing equal educational opportunities for all. However, the authoritative control of education policies by the central government may consequently impact negatively to secondary education. It is thus crucial to induce changes in order to seal the portrayed loopholes of lack of adequate control and involvement of the state in policy making and implementation.
- Alcock, C, Daly, G, and Griggs, E 2008, 2nd Ed. Introducing Social policy, Longman Group Limited, London.
- Blakemore, K and Griggs, E 2006, Social policy an Introduction, McGraw-Hill, New York.