Collaboration: the big new idea for school improvement?
This paper traces the trajectory of New Labour education policy since the formation of the first New Labour government in 1997. During that time the policy discourse has moved from a position of individualized school improvement through competition, to one where there is an emphasis on 'partnership' and 'collaboration' as key mechanisms for improvement. We note, however, that 'specialism', 'diversity' and 'choice' are still key components of policy and that 'partnership' often denotes a deficit model, with more successful schools supporting (or in some cases taking over) less successful ones. Although there are the beginnings of a recognition that social class and social deprivation are factors which make achievement at school more problematic, generally New Labour policy has not attempted to alleviate the tendency to social polarization which has emerged as a result of school choice policies.