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Market Forces and School Curriculum

Peter Davies () and Nick Adnett ()

Working Papers from Staffordshire University, Business School

Abstract: One of the promised consequences of market-based reforms of state schooling systems was an increase in the diversity of curricula offered in schools. In this paper we utilise economic analysis to explore the influence of an increase in competitive pressures within a local schooling market on the curriculum offered. We identify market forces which encourage conformity and inhibit a speedy response to quasi-market reforms. Our analysis suggests a staged response to reforms, with the pressure to innovate being greatest for those schols with the least resources to fund curriculum change. We illustrate this outcome by reference to case studies drawn from research on the development of the 16-19 curriculum and the non-compulsory 14-16 curriculum in a local schooling market.

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