Britain’s two recent referenda - on Brexit (2016) and on Scottish independence (2014) - have raised in the public mind fundamental questions about the future of the UK. It seems that for the first time, the public, the media and the political elite have woken up to the fact that in different parts of the UK, there are different histories, different aspirations and different imagined futures in relation to a whole range of vitally important political issues. But what the public debate often fails to recognise is that in many areas of public life – perhaps especially education – the UK is already a federal state and in key respects has been so for many years.
The aim of this volume is therefore to take stock: to try and capture what the current state of educational policy and practice is across the whole of the UK. This has been achieved by commissioning two different papers from each of the four countries – Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England. The first is an overview, exploring the distinctive history, principles and current policies of each country. The second paper has been specifically chosen as a case study of a key policy that highlights the distinctiveness of each country – the Foundation Phase for Wales, assessment policy in Scotland, ‘shared education’ initiatives in Northern Ireland and higher education policy in England. Taken together these eight papers give an important insight into the complexities of educational policy and practice across the whole of the UK today. This volume was originally published as a special issue of Oxford Review of Education.
Introduction: Education in a Federal UK John Furlong and Ingrid Lunt
1. Education and nationalism in Scotland: governing a ‘learning nation’ Margaret Arnott and Jenny Ozga
2. The meaning of curriculum-related examination standards in Scotland and England: a home–international comparison Jo-Anne Baird and Lena Gray
3. The politics of education and the misrecognition of Wales Sally Power
4. Implementing curriculum reform in Wales: the case of the Foundation Phase Chris Taylor, Mirain Rhys and Sam Waldron
5. Education in England – a testbed for network governance? Geoff Whitty and Emma Wisby
6. The Coalition’s higher education reforms in England Nicholas Hillman
7. Education in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement: Kabuki theatre meets danse macabre John Gardner
8. Shared education in Northern Ireland: school collaboration in divided societies Tony Gallagher