From education to employment

The Impact of Politics on Teaching in England: A Perspective from an Education Student

Gavin Hoole

Politics plays a crucial role in shaping the educational landscape of a country. In England, the influence of politics on teaching has been profound, with significant changes and reforms implemented since the year 2000. As a student researching education policy, I have observed the transformative effects of political decisions on teaching practices and educational outcomes.

In this blog post, we will explore the key ways in which politics has affected teaching in England and discuss the direction in which the education system appears to be heading.

National Curriculum Changes

One of the primary ways politics has impacted teaching in England is through revisions to the National Curriculum. Successive governments have sought to prioritize core subjects, such as English, mathematics, and science, to enhance academic standards. The introduction of the revised National Curriculum in 2014 under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government aimed to provide a more rigorous and knowledge-focused curriculum (Department for Education, 2013).

Increased Standardization and Accountability

Politics has driven a push for increased standardization and accountability within the education system. Policies such as standardized testing, including SATs and GCSE exams, have been implemented to measure student achievement and assess school performance. The publication of league tables and the introduction of school inspections have further emphasized accountability, making school results and performance publicly available (Ofsted, n.d.).

School Autonomy and Academies

The concept of academies has been a significant political development in England’s education system. Academies are publicly funded but independently managed schools that have greater autonomy over their finances, curriculum, and staffing. The aim is to raise educational standards by providing schools with more flexibility in decision-making and encouraging innovation. The academies program, introduced by the Labour government and expanded by subsequent governments, including the Conservatives, has transformed the educational landscape (Boliver, 2011).

Changes in Teacher Training and Professional Development

Politics has influenced teacher training and professional development policies. Reforms have been introduced to improve the quality of teachers entering the profession and enhance ongoing professional learning. Initiatives such as Teach First, which recruits high-achieving graduates into teaching, and School Direct, a school-led training program, have aimed to attract talented individuals to the teaching profession (Department for Education, 2011).

Introduction of Free Schools

Free schools are state-funded but independently run schools introduced as part of the coalition government’s education policy. These schools offer greater autonomy in curriculum design and management, aiming to provide more choice and diversity in education provision. The political objective behind free schools is to increase parental choice and drive improvement through competition (Department for Education, 2010).

Funding Challenges

Funding issues have been a significant concern for teaching in England. Budget cuts, austerity measures, and changes in funding formulas have put pressure on resources and impacted schools’ ability to deliver high-quality education. The National Education Union has raised concerns about inadequate funding, class sizes, and reduced support services (National Education Union, n.d.).


From the perspective of a MA.ed student researching education policy, it is clear that politics has had a profound impact on teaching in England since the year 2000. Changes in the National Curriculum, increased standardization and accountability, the rise of academies and free schools, reforms in teacher training, and funding challenges have all shaped the educational landscape. As for the direction in which the education system is heading, the emphasis on core academic subjects, continued autonomy and school choice, recognition of vocational and technical education, efforts to address inequality and social mobility, and the ongoing need for adequate funding are key trends to watch.

Moreover, it is essential to acknowledge the role of open-minded, free-thinking individuals who consider the wider impact and learn from the mistakes of the past. These individuals, including educators, policymakers, researchers, and stakeholders, play a crucial part in shaping the effectiveness of teaching practices and the overall educational system.

By fostering an environment that encourages innovation and adaptation, open-minded individuals challenge traditional approaches and explore new teaching methods that cater to the diverse needs of students. They recognize the importance of holistic and inclusive education, going beyond academic achievements to promote social-emotional learning, creativity, and cultural awareness.

Furthermore, as reflective practitioners, these individuals engage in ongoing professional development and critically evaluate their teaching strategies. By learning from both successes and failures, they strive for continuous improvement and better outcomes for their students.

In their decision-making processes, open-minded individuals value evidence and research. They seek reliable data, research findings, and best practices to inform their choices, promoting evidence-informed decision-making in education policy and practice.

Collaboration and engagement are also crucial aspects of the work of open-minded individuals. They actively involve various stakeholders, including students, parents, and fellow educators, recognizing the power of diverse perspectives. By fostering dialogue, exchange of ideas, and collective problem-solving, they make better decisions and develop more effective teaching strategies.

Finally, open-minded individuals possess a long-term vision for education. They consider the broader impact of policies and practices, understanding that meaningful change takes time and that the consequences of decisions can have far-reaching effects. By taking a holistic and forward-thinking approach, they work towards creating a sustainable and equitable education system.

In conclusion, the impact of politics on teaching in England has been significant since the year 2000, with reforms and policies shaping the educational landscape. However, the role of open-minded, free-thinking individuals cannot be overlooked. Their innovative approaches, inclusivity, reflective practices, evidence-informed decision-making, collaboration, and long-term vision contribute to the ongoing improvement of teaching practices and the overall educational experience for students. As the education system continues to evolve, the involvement of such individuals becomes increasingly crucial in shaping its future direction.

By Gavin Hoole

Related Articles