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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 5 November 2016
This is a readable Cook's Tour of English education policy since the foundation of public education. It does this by presenting successive waves of policy that are not [always] coterminous with changes of government. The origins, unsurprisingly, are rooted in the class system where a little education was deemed necessary for the new urbanised society in order that factory hands would be literate and able to follow instructions, but not extensive enough to allow social mobility. Some will argue with this model, but they just need to look at the history of the Combined Cadet Forces that lodged in with schools, training officers in private schools, NCOs in state grammar schools, whilst secondary moderns churned out the cannon fodder. More progressive governments changed tack to develop education as a means of emancipating the masses, whilst less progressive governments were led by economic needs - but interestingly in a common direction of increasing the length and scope of school education and increasingly focusing on creative skills rather than simple learning of random facts.

This is not a long read, and the universality of its wisdom is questionable given the focus almost entirely on England. Successive Secteraries of State for Education are paraded like a Book of Saints - anyone remember Shirley Williams or Mark Carlisle? - and we revisit the education initiatives of our childhoods. We remember the introduction of the Curriculum, the closure of grammar schools and the development of grant maintained status. In more recent years, we see the Tory/Lib Dem Free Schools.
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And it is all jolly good fun. But whether there is real enlightenment to be had from the journey - anything that could be relevant to the present day educator or education administrator - is doubtful. The education field has moved so far over the past century and a half that anything historical is probably only of... er... historical interest.
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on 14 April 2013
This book presents some interesting perspectives on the education debates happening currently with some good background material and history. A lot to read and get through ; perhaps some sort of brief timeline or diagram of educational policy and debates through the ages would have made some of the ideas more concrete and easier to grasp.
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on 9 December 2014
I enjoyed this comprehensive summary of the policy angles of the various parties in the debate on education. The book touches on international issues but is `primarily seen through the lens of the United Kingdom, particularly England. I recommend it as a good read for anyone who wants to refresh their memory of recent history and give themselves a perspective on the evolving debate. Stephen Ball does an excellent job of keeping back his personal opinion even when the wasted opportunities, bureaucratic nightmares and systemic failures are more than evident.
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on 28 March 2014
This is by far one of the best books I have read on education and its politics. I am currently using it for my dissertation and its been brilliant. The author is very profound and the book seem a easy read (if you are into this kind of stuff). As a second edition it has included recent debates on education policy from New Labour to the coalition. I will totally recommend for anyone who wants to explore more on debates on education policy. Absolutely fascinating.
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on 9 December 2016
This book really helped me at the start of my education degree, a quick and interesting read, would recommend.
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on 22 March 2016
A brilliant overview of the current education malaise in (largely) England.
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on 5 April 2016
What can i say about this book - brilliant. Just what I needed.
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on 30 November 2014
Bought for wife as a part of her degree. Very helpful.
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on 8 January 2015
an excellent read, highlighting the educational debate
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on 16 February 2016
One of those that any educator can't miss
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