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- Author or Editor: Ruth Lupton x
This chapter discusses the failure of public services to manage the 12 small neighbourhoods effectively. It starts by addressing the problems with public services. The most obvious gap in service provision was in frontline services to maintain social order. There was a marked lack of low-level enforcement and deterrence. The interviews with residents in the 12 neighbourhoods indicated that the persistent failure of public management had become almost an expectation. The failure of local democracy to engage people in the governance of their areas and neighbourhoods is also noted. All of the neighbourhoods had some frontline provision. Over the years, the failure of public services to deal effectively with neighbourhood problems had become an expectation among many residents. Cynicism and mistrust created a barrier to engagement with services and to political participation.
This chapter revisits Bridgefields, exploring the changes on that estate close-up. Bridgefields in 2001 was fairly similar as a living environment to 1999, with evidence of better management, and with the prospect that its transition to a smaller size could at last be made, through the injection of funds enabled by Blackburn’s housing-stock transfer. Residents were more involved in estate management, and interagency working had improved. There had been further job growth on the industrial estates close to Bridgefields and unemployment continued to fall. While the estate was being better managed and its longer-term future decided, there had been little change in the wider economic and housing-market trends that were driving its decline.
This chapter reflects on the lessons learnt from the journey around the country’s ‘poverty map’ and draws conclusions about its enduring ‘poverty gap’. The stories of these 12 areas and neighbourhoods demonstrate very clearly the structural origins of neighbourhood ‘degeneration’, but also the importance of space and place. What created and maintained Poverty Street was the lack of value of some areas in relation to broader societal structures. Shrinking networks made it easy for vulnerable people to become isolated in areas that others described as friendly and inclusive. Regeneration programmes brought more benefits than disbenefits. It is concluded, somewhat depressingly, that there is no ending to what has this book has called ‘Poverty Street’.
This chapter shows the continuing trends in the economy, population movements, and housing markets. The growing population meant that Middle Row came under none of the pressures that were evident in Overtown. The interviews with employment advisers, economic-development staff, and labour-market analysts suggest genuine labour-market improvement. Britain’s economic geography was changing. The number of jobs was growing, but their distribution did not replicate the jobs map of the industrial economy. Some industrial areas outside cities were benefiting from job growth in call centres, warehousing, and distribution, although manufacturing was still in decline. It was evident that Britain was developing a new economic geography which would not replicate the jobs map of the past.
This chapter discusses the history of the areas’ decline and divergence during the 1990s. It is noted that the fortunes of Southside and West-City pull apart. These two areas represent the extremes of the contrasts between poor neighbourhoods in the 1990s. The changing profile of the labour market had its impact both for older workers and prospective labour-market entrants. Economic change affected social and psychological outcomes as well as earnings and incomes. It is also observed that, in all the northern cities and outlying industrial areas, underlying trends of depopulation were deepening poverty concentrations in the least popular areas and neighbourhoods and, in some cases, literally beginning to empty them out. The uneven patterns of development meant that the fortunes of the areas started to diverge as they continued to be driven by the wider forces of the economic change, population movements, and housing demand.
Despite the high profile given to poor neighbourhoods in the English government’s social inclusion policy, little is known about how many poor neighbourhoods there are, how many people live in them, whether their number is growing or diminishing, or in what ways they are getting better, or worse, compared with other neighbourhoods. This article examines trends in the 1990s, using 1991 and 2001 Census data. It finds that deprived neighbourhoods made substantial progress on indicators of work, education and home ownership, but that negative trends in population, health and lone parenthood tempered those improvements somewhat. Moreover, there are disparate trends within and across regions, and large gaps continue to separate poor neighbourhoods from the rest of the nation, highlighting the difficulty of ensuring that no one is seriously disadvantaged by where they live.
The European Union referendum result in England focused increasing political attention on ‘left behind’ places sidelined in the ‘post-regeneration’ (Matthews and O’Brien, 2015) era of 2010 onwards. This shift creates space for thinking anew about reviving and reconfiguring regeneration policies to address enduring forms of place-based disadvantage. To this end, this chapter takes a close look at the ‘New’ Labour approach to urban regeneration from 1997 to 2010 and what can be learned from it. It offers a new conceptual analysis of how the New Labour years were characterised by a tension between ‘ameliorative’ and ‘transformative’ policy logics, with valuable ameliorative outcomes around improving neighbourhood conditions eventually reassessed as failure through the lens of transformative objectives around wholesale economic regeneration. The chapter concludes that these tensions and contestations need to be acknowledged and resolved in less binary and divisive ways than in recent policy history within any new round of regeneration policy.
This book is about the mistakes that have been made in education policy in England and Australia since the 1970s and how we can begin to put them right.
England and Australia are very different countries, with different education systems, histories and governance structures, but they have been following similar education policy trajectories. We argue that in many respects, these trajectories have made schooling in both England and Australia less rather than more able to meet the educational challenges our societies present.
In particular, as economic, social and spatial divisions have grown, the evidence is mounting that our education systems have become increasingly unfair in terms of access, opportunities, experiences and outcomes. And this is despite repeated political claims, over decades, that a major objective of education policies is to achieve greater equality of opportunity and greater social mobility based on more equal outcomes.
As we enter a new period of rapid technological, environmental, demographic and labour market change, super-charged by the COVID-19 pandemic and its disruptive effects, it is imperative we find ways to make our education systems work for all.
In this book, we argue that positive change is possible. There is no shortage of contemporary international examples that help point the way. But we need big policy changes, not policy ‘tweaks’. Taken-for-granted assumptions and well-established structures must be challenged, and a new consensus built for substantial change.
This will require changes in the nature of policy debates and a greater willingness to set aside whims, prejudices and long-standing antagonisms. We need to reclaim some of the common ground that exists in collective aspirations for children’s and young people’s wellbeing and success.
Many people reading this book will know a lot about education in England or in Australia, but perhaps not about both. This chapter sets the scene.
In an era of international ‘policy borrowing’ and ‘policy convergence’ (Ball, 1999, 2019; Sahlberg, 2015), there are many similarities between their education policies. We argue that politicians in both countries have made the same wrong turns and are dealing with some of the same consequences. Yet there are important differences in the structures and organisation of the systems themselves. These enable, or constrain, particular policy choices, creating so-called ‘path dependencies’ in the policy process, and they mean that policies play out in different ways. So, we start by setting out some of the essential characteristics of these education policy landscapes.1
A fundamental issue is who makes decisions about schooling. England2 has a highly centralised system. Central government, in the form of the Department for Education (DfE), sets teachers’ pay scales and professional standards. Systems of assessment and qualification are national, as is the curriculum, and school inspection, although these functions are managed by semi-independent organisations (see Table 2.1). Until relatively recently, there was also a strong role for local education authorities (LEAs). This has been much reduced by the creation of autonomous schools that all report to the DfE. The funding system is now also based on a single national formula. So, the system is simultaneously becoming more centralised and more subject to hyper-local variation as schools can make more of their own decisions.
The Commonwealth of Australia is a federal system of government.
Our fifth mistake relates to the nature of education policy making and the characteristics of policy processes.
Our central argument is that for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways, educational policy making has become increasingly divorced from knowledge of educational theory and practice. This is not to say that the knowledge of teachers, school leaders, academics and researchers who study teaching, learning and other aspects of the educational day-to-day is the only kind of knowledge that should count in education policy. As with many of the issues we have discussed, the problem is not that everything that has happened is bad, but that the balance has tipped too far in one direction, making it more likely that the wrong decisions will be made and that established policies will continue to be followed even when the evidence is clear that they are mistaken.
In this chapter, we draw on research about policy, rather than about specific policies as we have done in earlier chapters. We describe some of the problems with education policy-making processes in England and Australia, how they have come about, and why we think they are getting in the way of making education better and fairer.
In their book on social policy mistakes in England, King and Crewe (2014) identify 12 factors that lead to ‘policy blunders’. Five of these come under the category of ‘human errors’: cultural disconnect (policy makers not understanding that other people’s lives are not like their own); group-think; prejudice and pragmatism; operational disconnect (policy makers not understanding how policies will play out on the ground); and panic, symbols and spin.