Education Reform Act 1988
The Education Reform Act 1988 is widely regarded as the most important single piece of education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

 in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 since the 'Butler' Education Act 1944
Education Act 1944
The Education Act 1944 changed the education system for secondary schools in England and Wales. This Act, commonly named after the Conservative politician R.A...

. (Scottish education
Education in Scotland
Scotland has a long history of universal provision of public education, and the Scottish education system is distinctly different from the other countries of the United Kingdom...

 legislation is separate from that of the rest of the UK.) It also forms the basis for the United States' No Child Left Behind Act
No Child Left Behind Act
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is a United States Act of Congress concerning the education of children in public schools.NCLB was originally proposed by the administration of George W. Bush immediately after he took office...

 of 2001.

The main provisions of the Education Reform Act are as follows:
  • Grant-maintained schools
    Grant-maintained school
    Grant-maintained schools were state schools in England and Wales between 1988 and 1998 that had opted out of local government control, being funded directly by a grant from central government...

     (GMS) were introduced. Primary and secondary schools could, under this provision, remove themselves fully from their respective Local Education Authorities and would be completely funded by central government
    Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

    . Secondary schools also had limited selection powers at the age of 11.

  • Local Management of Schools (LMS) was introduced. This part of the Act allowed all schools to be taken out of the direct financial control of Local Authorities. Financial control would be handed to the head teacher
    Head teacher
    A head teacher or school principal is the most senior teacher, leader and manager of a school....

     and governors of a school

  • City Technology College
    City Technology College
    In England, a City Technology College is a state-funded all-ability secondary school that charges no fees but is independent of local authority control, being overseen directly by the Department for Education....

    s (CTCs) were introduced. This part of the Act allowed new more autonomous schools to be taken out of the direct financial control of Local Authorities. Financial control would be handed to the head teacher and governors of a school. There was also a requirement for partial private funding. There were only 15 schools that were eventually set up. The successor to this progamme was the establishment of Academies.

  • The National Curriculum (NC) was introduced.

  • 'Key Stage
    Key Stage
    A Key Stage is a stage of the state education system in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the British Territory of Gibraltar setting the educational knowledge expected of students at various ages...

    s' (KS) were introduced in schools. At each key stage a number of educational objectives were to be achieved.

  • An element of choice was introduced, where parents could specify which school was their preferred choice.

  • League tables, publishing the examination results of schools, were introduced.

  • Controls on the use of the word 'degree' were introduced with respect to UK bodies.

  • Academic tenure was abolished for academics appointed on or after November 20, 1987.


Date of commencement Provisions Authority for commencement
29 July 1988 ss. 1; 2(1)(b) and (2); 3 and 4; 14 and 15 and Sch. 2; 20 to 22 and 23(1); 25; 33 to 45 and Schedule 3; 46 to 104 and Sch. 4 and 5; 105; 112 and 113; 116; 119; 137 to 151; 153 to 201 and Sch. 8 as far as relating to the Education Assets Board, Sch. 9 and 10 and para. 67 of Sch. 12; 202 to 208 and Sch 11; 212 and 213; 217; 219 so far as relating to grant-maintained schools; 221 to 225 and 227(1); 230 to 235 and Sch. 6; 236; Part I of Sch. 12, paras. 60, 81, 82 and 102 of that Sch. and s. 237(1) so far as relating to those provisions and s. 238 s. 236(1)
29 September 1988 ss. 2(1)(a) and (3); 6, 8, 9, 10(1), 11 and 13 and Sch. 1 s. 236(3)
1 April 1990 Part II of Sch. 12; Part I of Sch. 13 and s. 237(1) so far as relating to those provisions ss. 236(4) and (5)

Use of the word 'degree'

The Act uses a common technique in UK legislation in that it makes it illegal to offer or advertise any qualification that appears to be, or might be mistaken for a UK degree. This restriction is then removed in respect of qualifications from bodies on a list maintained by Statutory Instrument
Statutory Instrument
A Statutory Instrument is the principal form in which delegated or secondary legislation is made in Great Britain.Statutory Instruments are governed by the Statutory Instruments Act 1946. They replaced Statutory Rules and Orders, made under the Rules Publication Act 1893, in 1948.Most delegated...



The act required "broadly Christian" acts of worship in schools. The National Muslim Education Council
National Muslim Education Council
The National Muslim Education Council is a British charity founded in 1978 by the Union of Muslim Organisations of UK. Its first chairman was Safa Khulusi....

objected that the wording to be changed to "the worship of the one supreme God".
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