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Issues Affecting Contemporary Education Policy Research Paper

Conceptual Map

Conceptual Map

Notes on the Reading

Apple (2000)

The author focuses on the way ideologies affect the development of the educational system. Apple (2000) stresses that ideologies influence the way people see education, its major role, and methods to be employed. The author adds that ideologies have a profound impact on the development of the country’s educational system as well as education policies. The author stresses that dominating groups often shape the existing ideology, which has an effect on the development and implementation of educational policies.


Although the author provides some illustrations of successful policies, it is still unclear how policies can be developed and be beneficial for all stakeholders as there is always a conflict of interests.

Ball (2007)

The author examines the role of privatisation in the sphere of education. Ball (2007) notes that privatisation has diverse forms and affects the educational system differently. The author emphasises that educational systems in some developed countries are becoming more market-driven. Students and parents are regarded as consumers, and educators are regarded as services providers. The shift towards the market-driven trends is also associated with the privatisation.

Ball (2007) states that privately-owned companies have already penetrated into the educational system as they provide various services. Testing and professional development are common spheres where companies operate. Thus, the laws of the market also have certain effects on the development of policies. Competitiveness of companies results in the development of various efficient strategies and services that positively affect the development of the entire educational system. At the same time, there are concerns that the sphere will become too market-driven, and the providers of services will focus on the profit rather than the quality of services provided and the development of the society.


It is still unclear how to find the balance between achieving educational goals and gaining profit. However, it is important to find an answer to that question as the educational system is likely to become largely market-driven.

Ball (2013)

The author explores various education policies that have shaped the educational system. It is possible to trace the development of the educational system. Clearly, the challenges of new times make people reconsider the role of education as well as its primary goals. For instance, Ball (2013) notes that the sphere of education has become a target of numerous changes throughout the past two decades. The educational sphere can be characterised by a significant degree of hyper-activism, which has manifold implications (Ball 2013). For instance, the contemporary UK educational system aims at making young people prepared for a smooth transition to a career path. Thus, the country is in need of professionals who have certain skills and knowledge in specific spheres.


It was quite difficult to comprehend the information as there is too much information on different policies and incentives. It is still unclear whether it is possible to align educational goals with the country’s budget.

Ball et al. (2011)

The researchers identify different types of policies and teachers’ (and other stakeholders’) perspectives as regards the policies. The authors note that the beliefs on the distribution of power can be regarded as factors influencing the development of policies. Ball et al. (2011) note that such stakeholders as teachers and policy-makers have different attitudes towards policies. Prescriptive policies that are associated with rigid recommendations are often negatively accepted while more flexible policies are welcomed by educators and many policy-makers. At present, it is believed that educators can evaluate the effectiveness of the policy and adjust it to their specific community and classrooms.


The authors explain peculiarities of two views on policies, but there is no clarity as regards what paradigm is the most suitable for the contemporary society. Furthermore, the view related to interpretation seems to be completely wrongful as the author seems to fail to provide sufficient information on its benefits.

Gunter and Forrester (2008)

The authors provide insights into the perceptions of educators and policy makers concerning the New Labour education policy. Flexibility is seen as a key to the success of the policy. Gunter and Forrester (2008) claim that empowerment of educators is often a priority. For instance, in the UK, head teachers obtain training in leadership, which aims at improving the quality of educational services provided.


The concept of the policy entrepreneur lacks for clarity.

Phillips and Ochs (2004)

The authors provide valuable insights into the process of policy borrowing and its major stages. The researchers note that globalisation has also had a significant influence on the development of educational policies. Thus, experiences of other countries are often taken into account when developing and implementing various education policies. Phillips and Ochs (2004) identify four major stages of this process that include “cross-national attraction, decision, implementation, and internalization/indigenization” (p. 773).


The concept of policy borrowing is properly explained, but it is unclear how it can be actually implemented in different settings.

Sorensen and Torfing (2005)

The authors state that the governance networks are diverse, and their roles in the contemporary society have changed. The authors stress that politicians should play a central role in the process. Sorensen and Torfing (2005) claim that policies often result from the interaction of private, public and semi-public actors, but dominant groups have more power and often shape the policies implemented.


It is still unclear whether politicians can develop an effective policy as they often lack experience in the sphere and the information on the contemporary issues schools meet.

Vincent et al. (2013)

The researchers explore the way race and class affect parents’ choices related to extra-curricular activities of their children. Vincent et al. (2013) note that middle-class parents (pertaining to ethnic minorities) also prefer safeguarding their children’s future. Parents tend to choose extra-curricular activities that will help their children land good jobs and remain within the middle class or even move higher in the class hierarchy.


It can be important to address the issue as regards low-income families in detail. It is also important to see the way policies are aligned with parents’ desires as to their children’s future.

Vowden (2012)

The researcher concentrates on the way the class affects parents’ attitudes towards their children’s educational environment (with a focus on mixed-class classes). The researcher argues that such factors as class and ethnicity also play an important role in the development and implementation of education policies. Vowden (2012) claims that British middle-class parents are keen to secure the corresponding educational environment for their children. Interestingly, the majority of parents positively see mixed-class classrooms, but they also have certain fears. Vowden (2012) notes that parents are afraid of the negative influence of children who pertain to lower classes, but they also feel uncomfortable if their children are placed in classrooms where children of higher class can appear.


It is unclear whether policies can be aligned with the parents’ desires and needs related to their children’s future.

Personal Position

The educational system of any country has developed in accordance with cultural, economic, political, and social peculiarities of the region. Policy-makers come up with numerous incentives and policies aimed at aligning the existing educational system with the challenges of the contemporary society. It is necessary to note that various factors have an impact on the contemporary education policies.

This research equipped me with a general idea of the educational policies. It also helped me acquire valuable insights into the peculiarities of policies, their development and their impact on the stakeholders as well as the entire system. One of the major questions to be answered is concerned with the way policymakers can align the policies with all the stakeholders’ needs as the conflict of interest often undermines the effectiveness of policies.

On balance, it is possible to note that cross-national and national political, social and cultural agendas play an important role in the development and implementation of education policies. It is also necessary to add that these issues have been extensively discussed, and researchers, as well as practitioners, have come up with numerous methodologies that are instrumental in the development, implementation, and evaluation of education policies. Clearly, various policies have been and will be developed as the society changes, and people have to face new challenges. At the same time, the efficiency of the contemporary educational systems established in many countries shows that people have managed to address the challenges successfully.


The development of the educational system is one of the priorities of any country. Education is seen as the background for the society’s evolution. The primary goal of educators of all times has always been to make the young generation prepared to address the challenges of the world (Ball 2013). As far as the contemporary society is concerned, the major peculiarities that can be seen as challenges are globalisation and innovation (Phillips & Ochs 2004). Therefore, the youth should be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to be effective members of the modern society. Young people should be ready to generate innovative ideas and use novice effective approaches to reach their aims.

They should also be able to use the array of tools (devices, strategies, data and so on) that have been accumulated during centuries. The peculiarities of the contemporary world and the philosophical paradigm concerning the role of education shape the educational goals, methods, and approaches. It is necessary to note that the educational system is influenced by a number of challenges that have to be taken into account when developing educational policies. These challenges are related to such aspects as globalisation, ideologies, class as well as economic issues.


As has been mentioned above, globalisation is one the factors that has a tremendous impact on the development of the educational system in any country. Countries interact in many areas including the educational sphere. People travel and find employment irrespective of geographical locations or cultural background. Ball (2013) states that the focus on innovation is typical of educational systems of the vast majority of countries. Western countries focus on preparing the young generation for living in a world moving at a high pace. Young people are encouraged to choose a career path that would be beneficial for themselves as well as their countries (Phillips & Ochs 2004).

Many Arab and Asian countries have started using the same approach as they try to become leading states in the modern world. The policies introduced are often aimed at the incorporation of innovative approaches into teaching. Thus, the desire to be competitive at the global level facilitates the development of educational systems making them more efficient.

It is necessary to add that policy makers often try to employ practices that have proved to be effective in other countries. For instance, English educational policies were influenced by German and American policies. Phillips and Ochs (2004) stress that many of these attempts have become failures due to people’s resistance or the difference in values. At the same time, cross-national borrowing is effective if the policy is adjusted to the peculiarities of the host country.

Phillips and Ochs (2004) provide an analysis of numerous cases of borrowing and claim that the use of elements of policies can be effective. Therefore, an influential factor affecting policy development is the culture. Any educational policy should be based on values and beliefs of people who will benefit from the policy. More so, the level of people’s preparedness is also an important factor that has a significant influence on the policy’s success or failure.

Phillips and Ochs (2004) note that a policy can be successful if people feel the need in the change and know the outcomes of the policy as well as the consequences of other steps (or inactivity). Thus, proper communication and interaction of all stakeholders involved are of the paramount importance as regards the efficiency of any policy.

Another remarkable change in the educational system related to globalisation is the way policies are developed. It is necessary to note that the past two decades have been characterised by considerable changes, and “hyperactivism” is one of the shifts that have taken place (cited in Ball 2013, p. 2). Ball (2013) stresses that governments have come up with numerous policies that have transformed the educational system. The author stresses that the abundance of policies that sometimes duplicated or opposed each other created a certain degree of uncertainty or even “welter” in the UK educational system (Ball 2013, p. 3).

The same situation is quite typical of any country as all the states try to balance traditions and innovation, which can be difficult at times. Thus, countries try to align their traditional approaches with innovative methods of teaching. These attempts have shaped the overall educational system, educational establishments as well as learners (Ball 2013). It is possible to note that globalisation is one of the most potent factors affecting the development of the educational system. It is necessary to add that policymakers have to take into account various factors when adopting a policy utilised in another state. These aspects to take into account are cultural peculiarities, goals, values as well as funds available.


Another influential element instrumental in the creation and implementation of educational policies is a set of ideologies existing in the society. This factor is closely connected with the concept of power and power distribution. Apple (2000) emphasises that the educational system develops in accordance with the concepts of the ideology that prevails in the society. The author also notes that groups that have most power tend to shape the educational system in accordance with their views, beliefs and goals. Sorensen and Torfing (2005) state that policies are often a product of an interaction between different groups such as public, semi-public as well as private actors.

At the same time, the most powerful stakeholder plays the most active role in policies development. In the UK, the influence of ideologies can be traced when analysing the policies launched in the 21st century. Thus, proximately a decade of the rule of the Labour party resulted in only a few steps that could change the status-quo in the UK society. The policies that provided financial assistance to underprivileged people or restricted some charges of educational establishments did not eliminate the segregation mentioned above. The conservative policy makers follow the principles developed in the 2000s, and little has changed as to the provision of truly equal opportunities for all.

Ball et al. (2011) argue that stakeholders often have different perspectives concerning various aspects of education. Clearly, learners and teachers often have different views on assessment and teaching. More so, educators’ ideas concerning teaching goals and methods often differ from those articulated by officials. For instance, teachers often argue that some policies are inefficient and difficult to implement (Ball et al. 2011).

There is often a dichotomy of views practitioners and policy makers have. The contemporary ideology is deeply rooted in the concept of flexibility and empowerment of practitioners. Ball et al. (2011) state that modern policymakers tend to share power as they introduce flexible policies and regulations. More so, practitioners are encouraged to share their views and even come up with ideas concerning possible improvements to existing policies (Gunter & Forrester 2008). It is possible to note that the modern ideology (as regards education) is characterised by the focus on flexibility, practitioners’ empowerment and innovation.

One of the examples of the focus on the ideology of innovation is the UK New Labour education policy. For instance, new subjects and even areas were integrated into the school curriculum (Ball 2007). Educators aimed at making young people prepared to enter a higher educational establishment or even enter the labour market. Various policies also enabled educators to use more innovative methods and change the curriculum.

Empowerment and flexibility can be regarded as characteristic features of the era of New Labour. Many policies launched in the 2010s follow the same principles. For example, educational establishments are given significant freedom. They can allocate some parts of their funds (with a different degree of freedom) without addressing the officials. Furthermore, the curriculum can be modified in accordance with the peculiarities of the community (Ball 2007).

Power Distribution

Another challenge the modern educational system faces is closely related to the concept of power. The educational system is affected by different classes since these groups try to make sure that their children will have most opportunities to succeed in life. Class segregation is quite common for western countries as families of certain income often have the corresponding educational perspectives. Thus, well-off parents can send their children to private schools famous for their high standards and corresponding academic performance of their graduates.

Low-income families have access to public schools located in their neighbourhoods, but these educational establishments are often characterised by low standards. In simple terms, educational establishments are segregated by class. Modern policies are aimed at the creation of equal opportunities for student irrespective of their backgrounds. At that, people still shape the educational system through their choices or direct addresses to policy makers.

These issues have attracted a lot of attention. For example, Vowden (2012) focused on the way middle-class parents saw educational system. It turns out that the majority of parents pertaining to the middle class have a positive view on the mixed-class environment. Nonetheless, they prefer to put their children in homogeneous classrooms as regards students’ class (and income). In this way, parents contribute to the appearance of segregated classes and schools.

Vincent et al. (2013) study another aspect of this phenomenon and emphasise that parents also try to safeguard their children’s future through extracurricular activities. Middle-class parents tried to encourage their children to participate in certain types of extracurricular activities as they believed this participation would be beneficial for their children’s future careers. These choices and preferences are studied by researchers and practitioners as well as policy makers, which translates into certain changes in the entire educational system.

For instance, as has been mentioned above, educational establishments are now capable of distributing funds. Thus, administrators can study parents’ and students’ preferences and make sure that the most popular extracurricular activities are available to all while less successful courses can receive less funding.

Economic Aspects

Finally, economic issues also have a significant impact on the development of the educational system. Of course, financial constraints countries face have a detrimental effect on the educational sphere (Ball 2007). Recent major financial issues (for example, the crisis of 2008) made governments allocate funds wisely, but a shortage of money is obvious. Public schools receive limited funds, and the quality of services provided often deteriorates.

At the same time, private schools raise educational standards, which makes it more difficult for public school graduates to enter higher educational establishments that choose the best applicants. Governments try to address this issue through the provision of funds and limiting institutions’ charges. In the UK, for example, there are certain limits set for universities that cannot charge for full-time education (Ball 2007). Such policies are aimed at enabling more people to obtain higher education. This approach can be especially important for underprivileged people as schools in low-income communities will be able to adjust their curricula to the needs of people rather than officials. The empowerment of educational establishments can help them in reaching educational goals.

Apart from these effects, the educational system is influenced in an interesting way. Ball (2007) stresses that privatisation shapes the entire system, and the educational sphere may soon become a part of the private sector. The author notes that the involvement of the private sector has already become rather considerable. Ball (2007) expresses the concern of many who fear that one of the most important areas may become too market driven.

Some say that the educational system is still a public sector while others argue that it has already become saturated with private businesses. For instance, privately-owned companies often provide assessment materials or offer training services to teachers. Educators also fear that there is insufficient control of these companies’ operations. There are concerns that these businesses will focus on their profit rather than achieve educational goals.

Educators also fear that the private sector may have a significant influence on the educational system and will shape policies (especially those related to training and assessment). Policy makers also try to restrict the influence of the private sector through the introduction of particular limits of the interaction between educational establishments and businesses.


On balance, it is possible to note that the development of educational policies faces a number of challenges related to such aspects as globalisation, ideology, culture, power distribution, class, and economic issues. The contemporary society sees education as the platform for passing knowledge and experience to the younger generation and making young people fit to face the challenges of the new times. Innovation and flexibility are primary peculiarities of educational policies in the vast majority of countries.

The focus on these aspects has proved to be effective, and policy makers try to empower practitioners and educational establishments to innovate. At the same time, economic issues can become some of the most considerable pitfalls.

The modern educational system is becoming more market-driven, and policy makers may fail to restrict the influence of business, which can lead to the deterioration of the quality of education due to the failure to achieve educational goals. Finally, the balance of power is one of the pillars of the efficient education system. It is vital to make sure that all stakeholders have their stand and can articulate their needs and worries. This diversity of ideas will contribute to the development of effective educational policies that will contribute to the creation of equal opportunities for all.

Reference List

Apple, M 2000, Official knowledge, Routledge, New York.

Ball, SJ 2007, Education plc: understanding private sector involvement in public sector education, Routledge, London.

Ball, SJ 2013, The education debate, Policy Press, Bristol.

Ball, SJ, Maguire, M, Braun, A & Hoskins, K 2011, ‘Policy subjects and policy actors in schools: some necessary but insufficient analyses’, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 611-624.

Gunter, H & Forrester, G 2008, ‘New Labour and school leadership’, British Journal of Educational Studies, vol. 56, no. 2, pp. 144-162.

Phillips, D & Ochs, K 2004, ‘Researching policy borrowing: some methodological challenges in comparative education’, British Education Research Journal, vol. 30, no. 6, pp. 773-784.

Sorensen, E & Torfing, J 2005, ‘The Democratic anchorage of governance networks’, Scandinavian Political Studies, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 195-218.

Vincent, C, Rollock, N, Ball, SJ & Gillborn, D 2013, ‘Raising middle class Black children: parenting priorities, actions and strategies’, Sociology, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 427-442.

Vowden, K 2012, ‘Safety in numbers? Middle-class parents and social mix in London primary schools’, Journal of Education Policy, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 731-745.

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