Policy Press

Publishing with a purpose

The Education Debate

By Stephen J. Ball


Sep 1, 2021

Page count

224 pages


4th Edition


Policy and Politics in the Twenty-First Century




198 x 129 mm


Policy Press
The Education Debate

Education policy in England is constantly evolving and becoming increasingly incoherent and it is therefore becoming harder to keep up with, and make sense of, all the changes. This bestselling book looks at the role of the UK as a social laboratory for global education policy. Covering key concepts, it then examines new areas, including:

•Global education policy mobility

•Edu-business and philanthropy as policy actors

•Marketisation of education

•Increase in performance gap

•Poverty and austerity

•Impact of COVID-19 on schools and in education policy

•New forms of governance

This extensively updated fourth edition by the key author in the field will maintain its place as the most important text on education policy and makes essential reading for all students and anyone interested in education policy more generally.

"Stephen Ball is one of the few academics who can embrace policy, research and learning with a fierce and illuminating critical spirit." Richard Andrews, University of East Anglia

"This must-read book is forensic in its analysis and points to the imperative for new thinking on education." Hugh Lauder, University of Bath

"Informative, wise and angry in equal measure about the continued injustices meted out to students in the guise of 'progress', 'what works' and equity." Pat Thomson, University of Nottingham

"This invaluable new edition of this powerful and provocative book offers fresh insights into political context and policy narratives." Phillip Brown, Cardiff University

"My students need a book that introduces them to policy analysis in a rigorous yet accessible manner; this is it." Meg Maguire, King’s College London

"Policy researchers are deeply indebted to Ball’s detailed analysis that underpins the sociological contribution in this book." Helen Gunter, University of Manchester

"This brilliant book should be compulsory reading for all sociologists of education everywhere, and for all those interested in education." Bob Lingard, University of Queensland

Stephen J Ball is Distinguished Service Professor of Sociology of Education at the University College London, Institute of Education. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2006; and is also Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences; and Society of Educational Studies, and a Laureate of Kappa Delta Phi; he has honorary doctorates from the Universities of Turku (Finland), and Leicester. He is co-founder and Managing Editor of the Journal of Education Policy.

His main areas of interest are in sociologically informed education policy analysis and the relationships between education, education policy and social class. He has written 20 books and had published over 140 journal articles. Recent books: Edu.Net (Routledge 2017) and Foucault as Educator (Springer 2017).


Key Concepts: Education Policy, Economic Necessity and Public Service Reform;

Social Class, Social Divisions and Social Distancing: A Short History of English Education Policy;

The Global Education Reform Movement, the UK as a Social Laboratory;

Poverty, Equity and Social Divisions;

A Sociology of Education Policy: Compromise, Muddle and Policy Hyperactivity;

Conclusion: Stressing the New Relations of Class/Economy/Forms of Education.