We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Education under New Labour, 1997-2010.

Heath, A. and Sullivan, A. and Boliver, V. and Zimdars, A. (2013) 'Education under New Labour, 1997-2010.', Oxford review of economic policy., 29 (1). pp. 227-247.


This article reviews the evidence on New Labour’s educational achievements. It focuses on those aspects of policy that Labour itself highlighted in its manifestos, such as the raising of educational standards. A major issue, particularly on the issue of standards, is the methodological weaknesses of the statistics used. No firm conclusion can be drawn on whether standards rose or not: they probably merely kept pace with those in other countries. However, Labour clearly put more resources into education than the previous Conservative administrations had done. There is also evidence of increased participation in post-compulsory (16–18) education, and Labour policies probably contributed towards this. There is also evidence of narrowing inequalities in achievement at the end of compulsory schooling. Conversely, the introduction of fees for higher education does not appear to have made inequalities worse. On balance, then, education represents a modest success for New Labour, although the biggest story is really the over-claiming from both sides about their respective successes and failures and the poor quality and lack of commensurability over time of the statistical data.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Education, Standards, Inequalities, Methodology.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Oxford Review of Economic Policy following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Heath, A., Sullivan, A., Boliver, V. and Zimdars, A. (2013) 'Education under New Labour, 1997-2010.', Oxford review of economic policy., 29 (1). pp. 227-247 is available online at:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:23 July 2014
Date of first online publication:2013
Date first made open access:No date available

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar