IntroductionChange is inevitable especially within a system such as education where practices are constantly adapting to keeping up with modern society. In this essay, I shall be reflecting on the introduction of the education reform act 1988, paying particular attention to the introduction of a national curriculum, national tests (SATs) and Ofsted. These are the most relevant aspects of the Act due to my aspiration of becoming a primary school teacher. Concentrating on the national curriculum is most relevant due to current scrutiny around its role in children’s actual development. Furthermore, personally, I consider SATs and other exams as being reflective of a person’s ability to relay information rather than a person’s intellect.National CurriculumThe education reform act leads to one of the most significant changes to the education system, the introduction of a national curriculum. The introduction of the national curriculum was originally in 1944, it is revised in the 1988 reform Act. The role of introducing the national curriculum was to take the responsibility of what is being taught to younger generations out of the school’s hands so it can be controlled by the government thus monitored and ensured its kept at a certain level of adequacy. (Carla Figueiredo, 2016)With it being so controversial, may sociological theory can be applied to it, it is vital that we look at it from a varsity of critiques point of view to understand its effect on the economy and of the people. According to Durkheim, one of the key founding fathers of sociology, education creates a sense of social solidarity in the community. (Durkheim, 1956) . So, theoretically by having the same curriculum across the whole of the UK, everyone has a shared knowledge-based, thus have a social solidarity on the base level of knowledge. So, introducing a National Curriculum meant that all the students had access to the same level of education across a variety of school, thus those that work hard during school will do well in employment because of meritocracy. (Durkheim, 1956). Although, some sociologists do argue that some students don’t achieve not because of lack of skill or effort but because of other social factors such as gender or social class. However, changing the role of who holds the responsibility for the next generations learning, it meant that the whole system of education shifted affecting lots of different communities. It wasn’t necessarily seen as a positive thing by all those involved such as teachers and LEAs. When the government took away the ability of teachers, schools, and LEAs (Local Education Authorities) to determine their own curriculum and imposed the national curriculum, it leads to an emphasis on subjects seen most relevant to the needs of employment such as math’s, English and science. (Gillard, 2011) It can be argued that Subjects that would encourage pupils to question their social position and encourage them to be critical of their society such as philosophy and sociology were left out of the curriculum. (Coles, 2014)Through this, it can be argued that this educational change can be seen to support the Marxist theory, as education as a secondary form of socialization, socializes the next generation of workers to accept their place in society. (Thompson, 2008)Alternatively, through having a set national curriculum where there is a shared belief on what the younger generations of society should be taught, it creates a shared culture, promoting social cohesion through studying certain subjects such as literature. Overall, the introduction of National Curriculum within the education reform act 1988 was controversial through the change of responsibility, its ability to place importance on some subjects and excluding others. But we must also acknowledge how its lead to a universal level of knowledge required by schools to give the next generation equipping them with key skills to be used in employment.National Test (SATs) Within education one of the major changes cause through the education reform act was the use of National tests. The National Curriculum was divided into 4 stages with standard assessment test at the end of each stage to measure children’s progress. The results of the SATs and GCSEs were intended to provide parents with information about the quality of teaching at schools enticing them to choose their schools over others. (Collins, 2011) I interpret the use of national tests as a tool to sort schools into a hierarchal system, schools can be sorted into league tables, making certain schools more desirable for the results that the students achieve than others. National tests are reflective of the idea of meritocracy and schools with higher grades would be said to be performing better thus they would be seen as a more attractive choice for parents to send their children to schools with high grades. (Louis Weis, 2013) Because of this, National tests would be favored by functionists through their belief of meritocracy. Meritocracy is the belief that our society is a social system which rewards those with the most ability with higher social position, wages, and power. (Longman, 2015). National tests mean that children can be categories into their intellectual level, this ensures that the smartest children are taught at the highest level, promoting the idea of the people most suited for the right roles. It promotes the idea that people that work hard will have good grades thus will be rewarded in the employment sector. (Stanford University, 2015) This coordinates with the idea of the national curriculum reflecting subjects important for employment that I mentioned earlier on. Moreover, it’s important to acknowledge how national tests aid capitalist agenda. Much like the Marxist approach to the national curriculum, national tests promote the idea that students shouldn’t question the system but the individuals own merit. Through applying the works of Althusser, a key Marxist, we can apply ideological state apparatus through the importance placed on National tests. We can argue that the introduction of the national test has led to the strengthen of the ideological state apparatus within the education system. (Nelson, 2015). From my understanding, the ideological state apparatus refers to the idea that a social institute can control a communities’ ideology, ideas and beliefs, through agents of social control (religion, peers, media, and school). (L.Althusser, 1977) For example, if schools want pupils to work hard, children with high grades will receive the most praise. The way in which this can be applied to national tests it attitudes and beliefs applied to student’s success. This means that People who fail or leave are seen as doing so to their own lack of ability or motivation rather than the fault of a society where some pupils have better educational opportunities than others. (Stanford University, 2015). Overall, the introduction of a National test within the education reform act 1988 led to an importance placed on reflective grades scored in schools by pupils. It led to competition among schools to improve student’s grades using meritocracy to motivate students. But we must also acknowledge how its led to the further promotion of capitalist ideology through avoiding the lack of challenging of the education system as being at fault for student failure.OfstedState schools have always been subject to government inspection, however, with the uprising in political perspectives in the 1940s, the introduction of the office for standards in education (OFSTED) was set up in 1993. (Education Sub-Committee Parliament, 1999) The first previsions of this external inspection company were in the education reform act 1988. The introduction of this educational change through the Education Reform Act was seen mainly with positive responses. From my understanding, Ofsted itself is promoted through its ability to maintain a standard amongst various educational sectors. (The Secretary of State for Education and Employment, n.d.) It holds the ability to ensure the government is upholding the standards set and can enforce penalties if this is not the case. It has become a key method of social control that safeguards all educational practices and checks they’re abiding by the standards required. Furthermore, Ofsted is reflective of New right ideology, through its ability to promote that schools who have better Ofsted reports are seen as more desirable for their ability to uphold or proceed the standards set. According to New right the introduction of the marketization of the education system will lead to an increase in the standards of educational institutions. (Trueman, 2015) The ground of Ofsted was that it was to be used to benefit those children attending schools and ensuring they get the best education that can to according to government-set standards. (Trueman, 2015) However, the results of Ofsted reports were quickly used to market schools, using scores as an incentive for parents to send children to their schools. (Louis Weis, 2013) The effect of this though agrees with the new rights view of pushing up standards. They uphold the belief of Ofsted can be used as a method to ensure schools have better standards because they are answerable to a board of professionals. They believe that the monitoring of learning through Ofsted will lead to better education across the United Kingdom and that reports can be used to create competition between schools. (Bob Jeffery, 2005)Much like their approach to National curriculum and tests, Marxists are very critical of the role of Ofsted and their ability to increase social inequality. As mentioned earlier, Ofsted can be used as a tool to promote new right views, with the marketization of schools which they view as benefiting the upper class, key Marxist theory counter-acts the positives placed forward by the new right. One way Ofsted increases social inequality according to Marxism is through limitations to accessibility and knowledge. (Peters, 2001) The way I understand this occurring if the upper class have access to private schools who are answerable to a fee-paying parent basis thus offer the highest standard of education. The effect of this is that it means the wealthier parents are more educated and informed about the process of picking schools for their children. This means they’re more likely to go in-depth when choosing a school, focusing on league tables, grades amongst other things. (Mullen, 2009) Unlike educated parents with high accessibility and understanding of the social system involved with picking schools, lower class parents won’t be informed enough to look at Ofsted reports in detail or league tables thus they cannot pick the best schools for their children or gain the best education. (Exley, 2013) Furthermore, families with more money can afford to move into areas with better schools, the poorer families cannot afford to do there so send their children to attend poorer schools. The Marxist call this the post-code lottery and feel it increases social inequality. (FABIAN REVIEW The quarterly magazine of the Fabian Society, 2015)Overall, the original proposal of Ofsted and the later implementation of it has led to raised standards of educational institutions across the United Kingdom. It has led to a greater competition between school promoting increased standards of educating young people. However, it has also led to increasing social inequality through lack of understanding of how Ofsted reports and league tables can be used to educate parents on which of the best schools to send their children to.ConclusionThe use of the Education Reform Act in 1988 was the beginning of the ground upon today’s modern education systems was built upon, the changes made are still influential to today’s system. The Education Reform act has led to a variety of changes across the board, it’s led to layers of change within the education system. Whilst it’s important to look at the positives the introduction of national tests, curriculum and Ofsted has led through promoting higher standards, setting a baseline of knowledge for all students and assessing students at each level of education, it’s also important to acknowledge the side effects of administrating these policies. Collectively, the policies promote social inequalities, capitalist ideology and limit students understanding of their society and limit their ability to challenge it.