State control of the English education and training system—playing with the biggest train set in the world
This article examines the causes and consequences of the increasing control of English education and training (E&T) by central government and its agencies. It poses three questions?what are the reasons for national government becoming the dominant player in this area of policy, why is the English system so statist in design and operation, and what factors underlie the continuity of this trend in policy over the last quarter of a century? In seeking answers, it argues that policy has become caught up in a cycle of intervention that is heavily path?dependent, and that this is the result of the interplay between a set of paradoxes about what the state believes it can and cannot do within the labour and product market. E&T has come to act as a substitute for regulation in both these areas. The article concludes that unless and until the state ?lets go? of some element of control it will be trapped into having to do more and more, as other actors take a passive role and fail to develop their capacity to act as strong partners in the E&T system.