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Open Access Rethinking general education in the English upper secondary system

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The Secretary of State for Education's recent announcement of an English Baccalaureate at 16+ has opened up a debate about the nature of general education in the English upper secondary system. Drawing on evidence from national and local studies, we argue that it is important to see general education in England, not only in terms of the curriculum, but also as the product of a range of inter-related factors, which together form a 'model'. Using this analytical framework, we describe and analyse the two models of general education associated with the New Labour and Coalition administrations respectively. We conclude by suggesting a set of challenges and principles to inform the development of a third, curriculum-led model.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • London Review of Education (LRE) is an international peer-reviewed journal featuring rigorous, theoretically based research into contemporary education. Based at the UCL Institute of Education in London, the journal reflects the Institute's broad interests in all types of education in all contexts - local, national, global - and its commitment to analysis across disciplines using a variety of methodologies. It shares the Institute's aspiration to interrogate links between research, policy and practice, and its principled concern for social justice.

    Drawing on these strengths, LRE is an eclectic and engaging journal that features analysis across key themes in education, including: public goals and policies; pedagogy; curriculum; organization; resources and technology; and institutional effectiveness. Its articles and book reviews are written by experts in education, psychology, sociology, policy studies, philosophy, and other disciplines contributing to education research, and by experienced researcher-practitioners working in the field.

    LRE welcomes relevant articles and book reviews. Please email them to

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    LRE is planning to feature the following subjects: learning in London; academic literacies. Please see publication homepage for deadlines and how to submit articles on these and other subjects.
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