Economics and Education Studies

Undergraduate Education Studies began life as the theory for teacher education in the BEd degrees of the 1960s and ‘70s. The new degrees were to be delivered by the teacher-training colleges which had been offering two- and three-year non-graduate teaching certificates. The validating universities which awarded the degrees insisted on a rigorous theoretical basis. In a closed seminar with philosopher Richard Peters of the London Institute and CJ Gill, HMI for teacher training, it was decided that the theory for the BEd degrees should be drawn from the disciplines of Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy and Economics. In the event, Economics was dropped and replaced by the History of Education and the four disciplines have since been the underpinning for teacher training and undergraduate Education Studies, with no designated role for Economics. However, that initial proposal for Economics as the fourth discipline now looks prescient. Since the 1988 Education Act education policy in England and Wales has been driven by concepts of marketisation drawn from neo-liberal economic theory. This paper argues for the inclusion of the study of Economics in undergraduate Education Studies in order to offer students a thorough analysis of the political thinking behind education policy in the last thirty years. It offers suggestions for some of the competing economic theories and theorists with a view to inviting a discussion of the proposal.