Top critical review
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on 16 May 2011
The reader looking for a broad analysis of 'Key Issues in Education Policy' will be disappointed.
A more accurate title would be: 'A Description of some English School Education Policies'.
There is nothing in this book about the education policies followed either in other anglophone countries, or in neighbouring countries in Europe. The result is a text that fails to contextualise. How can the reader make sense of the information about the introduction of the National Curriculum in England, for example, without knowing how, or if, this fitted into a wider trend? If the National Curriculum was the chosen policy solution in England, what solutions did other countries choose, and with what results?
Indeed, the authors hardly even mention the different policies pursued in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland; they thereby waste a valuable opportunity to compare and contrast different policies, philosophies and outcomes.
The book's evidence base seems somewhat limited; research findings that could help the reader to understand the outcomes of policies are seldom mentioned. Surely it is relevant to ask, for example, how the policies described actually impacted upon student performance. But this kind of question is not addressed.
Furthermore, the text focuses almost exclusively on schools. Policy approaches to education before compulsory school age, education in the workplace, informal and non-formal education, or lifelong learning, are not described. This means that the reader cannot situate the information provided in its wider regional, let alone national or international context.
So, while the authors present a clear and accessible, diachronic description of major developments in English government policy on school education, they have some further work to do before this book can accurately be called 'Key Issues in Education Policy'.