Education is a central aspect of every government in Britain. It forms a fundamental aspect of the political promises of all parties. In the period of 1995 to 2006, the UK governments spent 5.2% to 5.9% of the gross domestic product on education. This often involves funding of project and the introduction of new projects to improve education in the UK. Child education is deemed important because it defines the fundamental structures of the future of the country. It is therefore an important part of educational policy since it involves funding for young Britons who are often catered for by their parents and guardians who rely significantly on government assistance to achieve this end.
Educational policy is often discharged through schools and institutions who socialise and educate the younger generation. Therefore, the government will have to work with them and also seek the collaboration of teachers to achieve the fundamental objective of training young people. In line with this, Kingdon and Gourd stated that ‘[Early child educational] Policy [by the British government] should be about supporting practitioners, children and families to flourish,’.
Early child educational policy comes with different dynamics because it targets minors and set up their formative years for serious careers in the future. The purpose of this essay is to critically analyse and evaluate the impact of social policy on children, families and practitioners. This will be done by examining the statement by Kingdon & Gourd in relation to the realities of early childhood educational policy and how this policy links up with social policy and various stakeholders – parents, practitioners, families and the children involved. In order to attain this end, the UK Labour government’s policy of Every Child Matters will be critiqued in relation to theoretical frameworks to accept or reject the hypothetical statement of Kingdon and Gourd.
The paper will examine two competing views about the policies and perspectives discussed in this report. Wherever possible, the discussions will be done in the context of a conversation whereby the different perspectives and views of people who support (Academic As) and those who are against the policy under review (Academic Bs) will be evaluated and matched against each other.
Every Child Matters
Every Child Matters is an educational policy that was introduced by the Labour government of Tony Blair in response to the murder of Victoria Climbié in 2000, an 8-year old child adopted and brought to the UK by a relative. Victoria went through systematic torture that was not documented by any authority that should have had reasonable knowledge of the situation – the police, social services, health services and local authority units.
The essence of the policy was to meet four main pointers that was to be the right of every child in the UK irrespective of his or her background including:
Enjoyment and achievement
Positive contribution and
These pointers, which became known by the mnemonic SHEEP (safety, health, enjoyment/achievement, economic wellbeing and positive contribution) guided educational authorities to make policies that were utilised in seeking convergence amongst the different stakeholders in achieving the goal. This led to many different actions and processes that allowed the UK government to work to promote the advancement of the plight of children and their care.
Theoretical Perspectives of Education Policy
As identified by Kingdon and Gourd (2014), education policy will have to be supported by some essential stakeholders including practitioners, children and families in order to flourish. This is because such stakeholders make up the core and fundamental framework for making any form of impact on children and their livelihoods. Thus, there is a way that government’s plans and agendas devolve to the children to whom these policies are meant to affect positively.
There are two competing claims and theories that are put forward by two distinct schools of thought – the liberal school of thought and realist school of thought. Authorities like Gianna Knowles argue that every educational policy for children has some aspect of social justice that is meant to ensure the distribution of resources in the society to ensure that children are nurtured and protected in various ways and forms. This is based on concepts like retributive justice and restorative justice that is done to bridge the gap that is created in the generations in the past. In this case, she viewed the Labour party as some kind of political movement that though that the Conservatives had enriched the upper class to the neglect of the poor and vulnerable including children. Hence, the use of some kind of corrective measures to get children to be represented and given what their due is was the main motive for Every Child Matters. This in her view meant that the state acted as a patriarchal entity that needed to work with stakeholders and get them to act as guardians for children that they protected. Thus, the state had to use its power and authority to enforce a new plan that will engage practitioners, children and families in order to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of the children.
On the other hand, writers like Robert Wilmott identifies that there is the realist perspective on how education interacts with the government and its operations. He stated that British educational institutions are subject to the forces of the free markets. Thus, schools and other institutions are ran through managerialism and remain child-centred. This new managerialism system is one in which parents pay a lot of money and as such, they have to be engaged in various ways and forms. The role of the government’s educational policies like Every Child Matters is just an attempt to relieve parents and involve stakeholders in the educational and school system so they can manage these educational institutions well, mandate certain actions by some agencies of government and make them work for the best interest within the current context of the school educational system.
In order to maintain consistency, two extreme views Academic A and Academic B will be used to describe supporters and critiques of the Every Child Matters policy. This will make the rest of the paper livelier and more relevant to the realities of situations and circumstances. This will help to clarify issues and make the paper review and provide information about what explains major trends in this study.
Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Policy - Conversations
There are different perspectives on Every Child Matters and this includes the different views on the success or failure of the policy and how it has met its goals and desires. The two academics are David Doyle a Professor in Education and Baroness Morgan, who is the head of the Institution of Education and was a leading education policy expert in the Labour Party when the policy was introduced.
Academic A: Baroness Morgan of Drefelin
Baroness Morgan is one of the proponents of the policy and she was called to Parliament to defend its success in 2009. She identifies that the main motive for the policy is the fact that there is extreme diversity in the UK’s child population and a lot of foster homes. These are entities and family units that require some kind of attention by government, therefore it is necessary for the government to find a way of getting all social services and schools to work with the children for the achievement of the best developmental results. There are millions of British children that are abused and neglected. She insisted that local authorities are being empowered to deal with the issues by integrating their services.
Academic B: David Doyle
David Doyle commences his assessment of Every Child Matters by stating that it is a prelude to elitism because it involves just people from England and not other parts of the United Kingdom – North Ireland, Wales and Scotland. This means that Baroness Morgan’s claims that the diversity and care is going to help people is somewhat selective. Until parallel systems are set up in the other parts of the UK, the policy remains an experiment as far as the UK is concerned and institutions in the UK is being developed whilst other parts of the country remain dejected and prone to inhibiting their young ones. Therefore, the desire and claim that local authorities are being empowered is not really something that relates to the decentralised policy of the UK, but a selected few in England only.
Academic A: Baroness Morgan
She insisted that children are responsive to the care of the program. This is because children need to be given insight and all stakeholders have been educated. This is based on evidence of 3 years of pilot projects that were observed and examined. This was meant to show that there was a lot of effort that was put into the Every Child Matters process and it was appropriate and was meeting its ends. She also insisted that the program was converging all other different processes and programs like Care Matters which focused on disabled people.
Academic B: David Doyle
He argues that education is something that can best be given through the family’s effort. Family must lead and guide education. Therefore, the attempt to reach children through a broken system was contributing to a problem of destroying the traditional family structure and system. This means the policy was leading to a convergence that was destroying the traditional socializing process that the British people knew or accepted. Hence, he thought the policy was invading the privacy of children and how they can develop normally.
Policy Influence & Development
The Every Child Matters policy was one of the foremost and leading policies that had a significance for children and their families. This is because they were developed with the view of trying to promote inclusion and ensure that family who were traditionally isolated from education policy could be brought into place.
The fundamental position of the education policy is to create a formalised position of matters and try to find solutions to problems and issues. And in the case of Every Child Matters, the policy was meant to promote the inclusion of families of minorities and refugees and others who were exempted and excluded from the educational system and processes. Therefore, the development of this policy was somewhat responsive to the brutal torture and murder of a child born to migrant parents who were from a culture where some degree of torture of children was justified and accepted as a part of the society and the community.
Gianna Knowles (an Academic A who supports the policy) argues that migrant families and families that were targeted were those that had major deficits in the development of their children so Every Child Matters was fundamentally created to bridge the gap and help to empower the agencies to provide social justice to these disadvantaged families – primarily families of refugee migrants with no skills. She quotes some foreign documents including the Convention on Refugees and other migration factors that created a cultural gaps which justified this policy and its role in society. Therefore, to her, the main factors that led to this particular educational policy is steeped in the deal with exceptional cases and create a system whereby all families of all backgrounds will get some kind of support from educational practitioners and social service providers in achieving results.
On the other hand, Wilmott (an Academic B) identifies that educational policy is the work of the Policy Unit of Number 10 Downing Street. In his views, educational policy is based on advice given to the Prime Minister and this is often put together by think tanks and policy lobbyists who use statistics and other data to justify various policy choices for education. Once the policy is formulated, it has to be implemented and this naturally has to involve relevant stakeholders – parents and guardians who take most of the decisions for children, family which happens to be the first point of call in the socialisation process, schools which are the main institutions which socialise children and social services. Thus, the trickle-down system and approach is viewed by the likes of Wilmott as the process through which educational policy gets to affect the children.
The debates of the two writers give room for the discussion of the role of family members in the four types or methods of educational policymaking:
Normative policies are those that are proposed and present a standard form of policies and actions that must be pursued by a given educational authority. Structural educational policies are those that use rational approaches to deal with a given situation in order to make education work out. Constituentive policies draw a balance between pressure and support through education. Whilst technical policies are based on specialised pointers and issues that are presented.
Academic B is viewing this in more critical context and this is within the procedure through which the family of children becomes the central place. This will limit the influence of government and the utilisation of taxpayer money in a positive manner and process that leads to a more centralised authority from authorities.
Perspectives of Educational Policy
Policies are viewed as texts by most people and most stakeholders related to educational policy. However, these policy texts have intentions that can be inferred and evaluated to provide information for the attainment of the policy goals and ends. Foucault presents the idea of criticism as a fundamental part of educational policy because there are features and ends these policies are meant to achieve. There are several approaches that are used to evaluate and assess an educational policy. The procedure for the evaluation of a policy can be classified in two contexts:
The actor-oriented system of analysing and understanding the history and organisational context. This include the formulation of pointers and guidelines for evaluation that will be based on the stakeholders and what these stakeholders are to do at all times and in all situations. The process-oriented system of viewing and evaluating educational policy includes the procedure that led to the formulation of the educational policy and how it was applied.
In the case of Every Child Matters, the idea was to create an all-inclusive system through which all children can be given more than just education and academic guidance. But also, social goals and wellbeing matters that must be taken into account to ensure the optimal development of the personality of young people.
Many authorities viewed Every Child Matters as the creation of integrated services and the formulation of a system through which children could have their own system through which they could be given a higher quality of care. This led to the following pointers that evolved outwards to improve the safeguarding of children;
Outcomes for children, parents, families and the community;
Integrated frontline delivery;
Integrated strategy and
This shows that the chronology of matters is to view the improvement and betterment of children within their homes in relation to parents and families as well as the community at large. This shows the centrality of the community and children and their families, schools and other agency of socialisation as a means for the provision of services and the protection of these young people.
However, critics identify that there are many realistic problems that children go through which the policy does not address. Others, particularly conservatives identify that children have the right to be free and just enjoy being children without government interference and other demands. Therefore, they think of Every Child Matters as an invasion of the privacy of these children and something that can potentially politicize children even before they are old enough.
The findings show that the statement of Kingdon and Gourd seem to carry a lot of weight. Policies like Every Child Matters no matter how it is viewed, has implications for the practitioners, parents and children. However, there is the need for some kind of convergence to be done by the authorities and powers in the government to guide these policies and ensure they work. This includes the monitoring and constant evaluation. This is done by conducting pilot projects and getting service providers to converge their effort. However, above all, there is the need for the creation of an integrated set of experts and authorities to guide relevant stakeholders and get them to work. However, education policy is fundamentally a part of the socialising process. And children are minors. So in effect, children and parents will have to work with stakeholders and agencies of the government to achieve optimal results.
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