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EQ206-15 Policies and Politics of the English Education System

Education Studies
Undergraduate Level 2
Module leader
Jacqueline Dynes
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This module will introduce students to core areas of policy contention, innovation and development within education, as practiced in the English educational system.

Module web page

Module aims
  • To explore the historical context in which education policy has been developed in England.
  • To identify and explore a range of cultural and social issues affecting the present educational landscape in England.
  • To analyse the position and status of education within current political and economic narratives popular in England
  • To explore developments in the professionalisation of teaching and to identify the different demands experienced by education professionals.
  • To critically explore the implications of recent policy developments on a range of pedagogical factors, including curriculum design, assessment processes and issues relating to access and inclusion
  • To explore how education and learning takes place outside of formal schooling environments and to explore the status and influence of informal learning experiences on the learner and the wider society
    -To consider policy and practice impacts from the perspective of further and higher education.
Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

This module will introduce students to core areas of policy contention, innovation and development within education as practiced in the English educational system. The module will include the following components:

(i). Investigating how current educational policy and practice has been shaped by various education acts and understanding the historical context in which contemporary English education policy and practice has been developed.

(ii). Identifing and evaluating how major reviews of education conducted in the twentieth and twenty-first century have shaped developments in educational policy and practice. Through seminar and group discussion students will critically analyse the extent to which suggestions and ideas expressed in educational reviews have been embraced, rejected or diluted by policy makers.

(iii). Exploring policy and practice changes in relation to formal education assessment.

(iv). Critically evaluating the extent to which policy changes affect issues relating to educational equity and inequality.

(v). Exploring how social and cultural changes within English society have affected both the English education system and the design and implementation of its curriculums.

(vi) Exploring historical perspectives alongside current provision on teaching training. Critically evaluating the values that underpin contrasting approaches to teacher training.

(vii) Evaluating trends relating to the marketisation of education in England.

(viii) Considering the impacts of informal learning experiences on pupils' and students' identity as learners

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • - To understand developments in the professionalisation of teaching and the changes to professional standards experienced by education professionals.
  • - To appreciate the historical context of educational policy and practice.
  • - To develop understanding of the cultural and social issues affecting the present educational landscape.
  • - To appraise the position of education within the political and economic landscape of England.
  • - To have a critical insight into the implications of education policy on pedagogical practice.
  • - To be aware of the influence of informal 'non-school' learning experiences and the impact these experiences have on learners attitudes to formal education.
  • - To understand how policy relating to early years, primary and secondary education impact on how further and higher education are structured and accessed.
Indicative reading list

Smith, E. (2012) Key Issues in Education and Social Justice. London: SAGE

Ward, S. & Eden, C. (2009) Key Issues in Education and Policy. London SAGE

Ball, S. J. (2008) The Education Debate: Policy and Practice in the 21st Century. The Policy Press

The Plowden Report (1967) Children and their Primary Schools: A Report of the Central Advisory Council for Education (England): London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office

The Warnock Report (1978) Special Educational Needs Report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Education of Handicapped Children and Young People London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office

Rose, J. (2006) The Rose Report: Independent Report of the Teaching of Early Reading. Department for Education and Skills

Alexander, R. Armstrong, M. Flutter, J. Hargreaves, L. Harrison, D. Harlen, W. Hartley-Brewer, E. Kershner, R. MacBeath, J Mayall, B Northen, S. Pugh, G. Richards, C. Utting, D. (2010). Final Report and Recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review: Routledge

Green, H. McGinnity, A. Meltzer, H, Ford, T. Goodman, R. (2005) Mental health of children
and young people in Great Britain, 2004. A National Statistics Publication (HMSO)

Dyson, A. Farrell, P. Polat, F. Hutcheson, G. Gallannaugh, F. (2004) Inclusion and Pupil Achievement. Department for Education and Skills

Berkeley, R. & Vij, S. (2008) Right to Divide? A RUNNYMEDE TRUST REPORT SUMMARY DECEMBER 2008: Faith Schools and Community Cohesion

Gilborn, D. & Mirza, H.S. (2000) EDUCATIONAL MAPPING RACE, CLASS AND GENDER: A synthesis of research evidence: Office for Standards in Education (OfSteD)

Tomlinson, S. (2005) Education in a post-welfare society, second edition Maidenhead: Open University Press

Whitty, G. (2002) Making Sense of Education Policy, Paul Chapman Publishing, London

Chitty, C. (2014) Education Policy in Britain, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke

Docking, J. (ed) (1996) National School Policy. Major Issues in Education Policy for Schools in England and Wales, 1979 onwards. David Fulton Publishers, London and Roehampton Institute London.

Ball, S. (2008) The Education Debate, The Policy Press, Bristol

Abbott, I, Rathbone, M, Whitehead, P. (2013) Education Policy. London: Sage.

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills

Students should demonstrate a critical understanding of

  • the underlying values and concepts relevant to education
  • the diversity of learners and the complexities of the education process
  • the societal and organisational structures and purposes of educational systems, and the possible implications for learners and the learning process
  • constructively critique theories, practice and research in the area of education.
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of the interrelationships between political, economic, cultural and ideological contexts in the lives of children and their families and communities
  • recognise and challenge inequalities in society, and embrace an anti-bias approach
Transferable skills
  • Active listening
  • Analysis and decision making
  • Character/personality
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Communication skills
  • Complex problem solving
  • Confidence
  • Coordinating with others
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Initiative and also follow instructions
  • Intellectual ability
  • International cultural awareness
  • Interpersonal and communication
  • Judgement and decision making
  • Management of learning
  • Managing others/People Management
  • Motivation, tenacity, commitment
  • Negotiation
  • Personal development skills
  • Persuading/influencing
  • Planning and organisational skills
  • Problem solving
  • Reasoning
  • Self-management/resilience
  • Team working

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 10 sessions of 1 hour (5%)
Seminars 10 sessions of 2 hours (11%)
Private study 120 hours (65%)
Assessment 35 hours (19%)
Total 185 hours
Private study description

Independent study hours include background reading, completing reading/other tasks in preparation for timetabled teaching sessions, undertaking research using the library resources, follow-up reading work, working on individual and group projects, the completion of formative and summative assignments, revision.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A
Weighting Study time
Presentation (10 minutes) 25% 12 hours

Presentation highlighting the main issues and debates of one of the topic areas covered in the module.

1200 word assignment 50% 20 hours

Focusing on the same policy issue as addressed in their presentation, in this Policy Brief assignment students will summarise and critically discuss areas of contention and debate as well as possible solutions.

Reflection and comments on presentation themes 25% 15 hours

Students write a reflective piece commenting critically on the issues and topics which others covered on their presentations.

Feedback on assessment

(1) Oral feedback in tutorials, (2) Written feedback on assignments


This module is Core for:

  • Year 2 of UEQA-X35B Undergraduate Education Studies

This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 2 of UPSA-C804 Undergraduate Psychology with Education Studies