By Jack Demaine (eds.)
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Extra info for Education Policy and Contemporary Politics
To say as much is not to argue for 'teacher autonomy'. But there is a real danger Education Policy and Contemporary Politics 23 that the assertion of the professional status of the occupation of teaching will fail to match potential recruits' perceptions, and that the references to law and medicine will merely have the effect of highlighting the status difference of teaching. What really matters to teachers, and patential recruits, is the support they might expect to receive, their working conditions, their rights as well as their responsibilities as workers and their prospects for decent rates of pay during their careers, and not pretentious and spurious comparisons with other occupations or having a few extra letters after their names.
From a perspective concerned with equity, it is taken to be necessary to avoid competition for the more desirable school places being heavily skewed in favour of already advantaged applicants (Hargreaves 1996: Hirsch 1997). However, such competition is unavoidable where a local hierarchy of secondary schools is so largely determined by their positions on annual league tables of school performance. In the quasi-market which the secondary sector has become in many areas, traditional academic values have tended to be emphasized to fill places and particularly to attract able middle-class children.
I have merely sketched out an argument about the changes of education policy over the last twenty years and provided some illustrations. I have left much of the detail on specific policy issues to the specialist contributors to the book- and in some respects a proper conclusion must be left till2001-2, when we will be able assess the results of new Labour's promises and the electorate's verdict on the new Labour project as a whole. ACKNOWLEDGMENT I am grateful to Lorraine Culley for discussion of many of the important points in this chapter and for her reading of earlier drafts.