The New Right is a conservative political perspective. However, its ideas have influenced both labour and conservative policies. A central principle of New Right thinking is the belief that the state cannot meet people’s needs and that people are best left to meet their own needs and that people are best left to meet their own needs through the free market. A number of the principles of the New Right are based on the theories of market forces. They felt that the British economy was in decline and something needed to be done to change the situation.
People had to take the responsibility for their own future rather than depend on the state. They said that there should be competition amongst schools in the same way as private companies compete against each other.
The New Right are similar in many ways to functionalists:
They believe that some people are naturally more talented than others. They believe that education should socialise pupils into shared values, such as competition, and instil a sense of national identity They broadly favour an education system run on meritocratic principles of open competition, and one that serves the needs of the economy by preparing young people for work.
However, unlike functionalists, New Right do not believe that the current education system is achieving these goals. According to New Right, the reason for their failure is that its run by state.
The New Right argue that in all state education systems, politicians and educational bureaucrats use the power of the state to impose their view of what kind of schools we should have. The state takes a ‘one size fits all’ approach, imposing uniformity and disregarding local needs. The local consumers who use the schools have no say. State education systems are therefore unresponsive and breed inefficiency. Schools that waste money or get poor results are not answerable to their consumers. This means lower standards of achievement for pupils; a less qualified workforce and a less prosperous economy.
The New Rights solution to these problems is the marketisation of education creating an ‘education market’. They believe that competition between schools and the laws of supply and demand will empower the consumers, bringing greater diversity, choice and efficiency to schools and increasing their ability to meet the needs of pupils, parents and employers.
Chubb and Moe are a good example of the New Right perspective on education. They argue that American state education has failed and they make the case for opening it up to market forces of supply and demand. They make a number of complains: The low classes, ethnic and religious minorities and rural communities have been badly served by state education. State education has failed to create equal opportunity State education is inefficient because it fails to produce pupils with the skills needed by the economy. Private schools deliver higher quality education because, unlike state schools, they answerable to paying consumers. Chubb and Moe base call for the introduction of a market system in a state education that would put control in the hands of the customers. They argue that this would allow consumers to shape schools to meet their own needs and would improve quality and efficiency.