III. The Policy of the Ruling Party
Practice of Oral and Written Speech
A report on the topic
The policy of the ruling party in the sphere of education»
By Daniel Sarnacki
List of contents:
II. Major Parties and Their Stances on Education………….......4
III. The Policy of the Ruling Party………………………………6
V. List of References…………………………………………...8
Despite the seeming multitude of options, in many countries with an active parliament the political struggle tends to boil down to a tug-of-war between two to three opposing moderate parties, with everyone else calmly accepting their fate as “third-party candidates”. This is not always the case; however, in Great Britain it is.
In fact, the British two-party tradition goes back to the 17th century; with the Tories (conservatives) and the Whigs (progressives) being major driving forces behind most government decisions. Seeing multiple reforms, splits and transformations over time, the two parties were succeeded by the Conservative Party (1834) and the Liberal Party (1859) respectively.
By the 1920s, the Liberals’ popularity has declined, and their internal conflicts paved the road for the Labour Party (founded in 1900) to take their place as the major opposition party that represented the interests of the growing urban working class.
Following a near complete extinction, a reemergence in the sixties and an alliance with the Social Democratic Party (defectors from Labour who thought their party has taken a hard turn to the left), Liberals and Social Democrats merged into the Liberal Democrats, which has been the third major political force in the UK to this day.
The three parties possess their own distinct (if not always constant) outlooks on society which are, quite obviously, often reflected in the sphere of education as well.
II. Major Parties and Their Stances on Education
The Conservatives are staunch supporters of traditional values, big businesses and the integrity of the United Kingdom. They are in general opposed to multiculturalism, separatism, Big Government policies, financial help for the unemployed and the euro.
Recent conservative education policies seek to reduce the National Curriculum, give greater freedom to privately run schools and strengthen authority links between the school administration, the teacher and the students. A major point in their program is “bringing back discipline” in schools, and as such they had abolished the “no touch” rule, gave teachers permission to search their students without their consent and ensured their anonymity in case of allegations from students.
Since its conception in the beginning of the 20th century as a left-wing parliamentary (as opposed to revolutionary) party, Labour has undergone many changes. As of now, it is mostly a traditional European Social Democratic/Third Way party, which means that it seeks to reform the economy by way of moderate government intervention, public education & healthcare, supporting trade unions, etc. instead of bringing about radical socialist changes. It favours a progressive view on civil rights, though recently a Social Conservative strain called “Blue Labour” has emerged within the party.
Concerning education, Labour’s 2010 manifesto focused mostly on the usual centre-leftist policies of providing guaranteed free education to all children, regardless of their financial or social background. Like the Conservative party, they made discipline in class a major point, but replacing the abolishment of the “no touch” rule with anti-bullying measures, especially concerning homophobia.
A Social Liberal party that also supports the idea of a free-market economy coupled with left-wing policies such as progressive taxation and environmentalism. Their 2010 manifest catered to people tired with the usual “left-right” political landscape, declaring themselves to be along the lines of “best of the both worlds” and demanding democratic reform of the electoral system itself.
The LibDems’ education reform highlights are similar to that of Labour’s, mostly concerning availability and equality of education for everyone. Major points that are unique to this party include reducing the National Curriculum and cutting down class sizes in order to give students a more thorough education.
III. The Policy of the Ruling Party
The 2010 General Elections ended with Conservatives and Liberal Democrats forming a coalition government, with Conservative David Cameron as Prime Minister. It is the first coalition government in Britain since the Second World War.
Obviously, this means that the program for educational reform is a combination of the two parties’ programs, so most of the things mentioned in their respective policies have either been implemented or are planned for the near future. Conservatives’ demands seem to be the top priority, though.
In essence, the new government’s main cause was decentralization of the economy, including education, which meant giving more freedom to the schools themselves: cutting down the curriculum, fighting excessive bureaucracy and so on.
However, if the UK’s newspapers are to be believed, the situation is not at all bright, with both right- and left-wing publications criticizing the Cameron ministry’s stance on education, among many other things. Regarding University tuition fees, The Guardian offers the bleakest picture by far:
«In 2003, Gove said that any student put off by a hike in tuition fees "doesn't deserve to be at any university in the first place". If that's true, I don't deserve to be a doctor. My grandfather didn't deserve the opportunity of an education. And a generation of young people don't deserve a future»
All in all, as of 2012, the new government has still got 3 more years to improve the situation, and even independent economists draw an unclear picture, calling the magnitude of proposed reform the most remarkable feature of the coalition, and not what it had accomplished up until now.
List of references: