In writing this dissertation I have tried to identify

managerial strategies / methods used in the education system,

that could be construed as belonging to Scientific Management.

These strategies include: the process of deskilling, a reduction

in worker autonomy and the introduction of a task approach, the

role of managers in directing labour and the labour process, the

work study, the existence of a factory-like atmosphere /

production line within schools, economic incentives or efficiency

related pay and job fragmentation. I believe that this

dissertation presents a convincing argument that techniques such

as these are beginning to dominate the management of the

education system, in an attempt by top management to gain direct

control (including what is taught in the classroom)

Scientific management relies on the utilisation of a

production line or some form of continuous process whether it is

based on a factory floor or in an office. Within a secondary

school it is not difficult to locate specific evidence to suggest

that a production line exists as a school is not entirely

confined to regarding the pupil as a "worker" but also a

"product" (Handy,C. 1984, pp135-136) being processed along the

line. The subject teachers can be seen as performing different

tasks within their specialisms.

The education system expects schools to cover an age range

of 11 to 18 with the National Curriculum insisting on a number of

core and foundation subjects to be taught. Even the time

allocation for these subjects is statutory. In order to fulfil

this directive schools require a large entry of pupils at the

bottom to generate large enough classes in a range of subjects

later. School and the developing education process have resulted

in a "process plant" organisation seen as so essential to

learning and progression up the National Curriculum levels. ( For

example, National Curriculum Technology)

Before the National Curriculum and GCSE the assessment

system was aimed at one product in mind, producing the most

successful pupils. Although in theory the GCSE and the National

Curriculum allow for a wider range of abilities, employers still

see the higher grades, A to C as success. Certainly if this is

the case the school production line is extremely inefficient with

only a small minority of pupils reaching a high level of success.

This may be one reason why scientific management techniques are

being introduced, in order to increase efficiency.

The most compelling evidence that a production line exists

within schools is seen when a direct comparison is made with the

factory. Perhaps the most thorough implementation of scientific

management, as a strategy, was in the factories of Henry Ford and

this has become known as "Fordism" (Warde.A, 1989, p12). On the

classroom floor parallels to Fordism can sometimes be seen. Warde

(1989, p12) argues that the Fordist system employs the technology

of fixed dedicated machines. In educational terms this can seen

by teachers holding on to their subject specialisms. As this

dissertation points out, teachers in Technology are reluctant to

give up teaching traditional areas of work that have always

fallen within their subject boundaries. For example, Craft,

Design and Technology teachers are reluctant to allow other

subject teachers within National Curriculum Technology to teach

the design process. Here teaching specialisms can be regarded as

the dedicated machine carrying out the same functions. However,

this dissertation has described how scientific management

techniques are breaking down the monopoly of skills that some of

the subjects contributing to Technology once claimed ownership


Fordism employs a production line of "vertical integrated

operation" and mass production (Warde.A, 1989, p12). In the

school this is reflected in the way pupils progress from level to

level within the National Curriculum (for example Technology)

rather like a production line. The skills / knowledge that

teachers pass onto pupils also steadily increase in difficulty

and complexity as the pupils move up the school.

In a Fordist organisation the products are aimed at a mass

consumer market and produced relatively cheaply. In education

pupils (the product) are supplied to industry and commerce with

the average cost of educating a child between the age of 5 and 16

years being kept to a minimum. Furthermore the introduction of

licensed teachers means the labour costs can be reduced, adding

to savings. This is similar to scientific management, which

deskilled a work force, in order to reduce production costs.

Fordism ensures that the labour process is fragmented with

workers having a limited range of tasks with little worker

discretion. The illustrative survey (chapter 4) suggests that

this tendency exists in schools with many teachers believing

that the National Curriculum provides the framework for the tasks

that they are to carry out. This suggests that a Taylorist or

Fordist style of shop floor or classroom floor organisation

exists. However, the production line may not be as clearly seen

as it is in a factory.

Over the last decade there has been a change in approach to

managerial strategies. This dissertation has found that there

appears to be two strategies, with scientific management applied

to the shop floor, and more modern practices such as

contractualism and subcontracting, applied to other areas of

education. The increase use of subcontracting and contractualism

has developed out of the beliefs of Thatcherism, that a company

or organisation should be "leaner and fitter" (Handy.C, 1984,

P79). Companies such as Marks and Spencer PLC reflect the new

industrial practices of contracting out. These strategies have

been adopted within the education service. For example, the

Manpower Services Commission draws up contracts with LEAs and

schools in which the school is contracted to deliver targets such

as "Information Technology Across and Curriculum" or "Balanced

Science" in exchange for direct funding, thus avoiding LEA

interference. The overall chain of command from the Secretary of

State for Education and the ordinary classroom teacher has become

less fragmented and this has enhanced direct control of the


We can expect to see Education increasingly using

subcontracting among ancillary services and so moving management

into an era of contractual organisation more akin to the type of

flexibility as described by Alan Warde (1989, p11) as

"Post-Fordist", but still maintaining the control attributed to

scientific management on the shop floor. However, systems of

management that suit a company may not be appropriate to social

orientated organisations such as education.

On the classroom floor, scientific management techniques are

seen through the task approach and a reduction in teacher

autonomy (see chapter 3).

Scientific management clearly sets out the function of the

different levels of the employees. In education top management

sets the tasks for middle management who in turn set the tasks

that the workers and supervisors perform. This pattern reflects

classic characteristics of scientific management of the

production line era. Whereas modern management techniques within

industry may involve a degree of worker discretion / autonomy

(responsible autonomy) and participation over decision taking,

these techniques were more prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s in

the education system ((Shaw.K, 1990, p269). Since the Thatcherite

era discussion and participation in decision taking has been

severely curtailed with "imposition" being the key strategy, such

as enforcing salary scales or curriculum changes. Early examples

in the 1980s began with the introduction of the GCSE system, a

system rushed into operation against the advice of the teaching

profession. An example today has been the similar rapid

introduction of the National Curriculum and forced change in

working practices that have followed. Top management in the form

of government has implemented these policies, the middle

management from examination boards to headteachers have had to

prepare these policies for school consumption, while the

supervisors and shop floor workers (the ordinary teachers) have

had to turn these policies into practical reality, on the

production line (following directions from above), in the

classroom. These policies have become new rigid instruments in

the teaching process and a direct method enabling top management

to control the production process. In this way top management

have enhanced their influence over the entire 'production


This dissertation has identified specific examples of

deskilling, especially in the subject Technology. The nature of

deskilling is a very difficult point to argue. Discussions hinge

on one's own definition of the word "skill". In the 1960s and

1970s a large percentage of pupils learned many of the skills

required for work at school (for example the subject Engineering)

followed by training such as apprenticeships. Pressure through

out the 1970s increased with more demands being placed on schools

and colleges to prepare young people for work with more

vocational courses and educational experiences geared to the

world of industry and commerce. For example, the early TVEI

vocational courses introduced pupils to the skills required by

industry. However, the National Curriculum has seen a move

towards more "academic" subjects with the emphasis placed on

Maths, English and Science while there has been a decrease in the

number of vocational courses that do not fit the National

Curriculum criteria. The types of skills required of teachers

have changed with an overall reduction of the skill content

especially within subjects such as National Curriculum

Technology, as described by this dissertation (chapter 3).

Ivan Illich, 1980, p87, suggests that education should be

for the learning of specific skills not only learning subject

specialisms but should also be a liberating experience whereby

the individual explores, creates, uses judgement and freely

develops faculties and talents to the full. Although Illich never

claimed schools were good at this, this dissertation points to

evidence that the National Curriculum with its narrow structure

and restrictive tasks (especially within Technology) reduces

these skills and experiences.

An important aspect of Taylor's Scientific Management was

the accurate use of the work study. In teaching, the work study

can be seen as "teacher appraisal" and is being gradually

introduced to the workforce, as discussed in detail in chapter 2.

The National Curriculum means that the appraisers can for the

first time accurately determine whether targets and tasks have

been reached by both the teacher and pupils. Both the National

Curriculum and job specifications increasingly determine the

organisation of departments, the curriculum and teaching methods

/ strategies (for example, the reorganisation of Business

Studies, C.D.T. and Home Economics into a Technology faculty).

Now school managers can clearly see what levels pupils at a

certain age should have reached and use this to appraise the

"success" of subject teachers. Also the managers now know what

should be taught in the classroom. One of the claims of appraisal

is that it is aimed at helping the teacher improve his / her

efficiency, just as the work study aimed at the systematic

analysis of production with a view to improving efficiency.

Taylor believed in economic reward as being the incentive

for a workforce and so pay should be related to efficiency. In

teaching it is often the case that allowances are offered for

extra responsibilities. However, the work study or appraisal has

been seen by employers as part of a reorganised pay structure.

According to Keiron Walsh (1990, p155) one of the first reports

of a group of officers appointed by the Burnham Management Panel

as early as 1981 suggested that pay should be related to

performance. Walsh further argues that between 1981 and 1986 both

the D.E.S and the Secretary of State for Education were

encouraging performance related pay ( Walsh, 1990, p.156) and the

D.E.S suggested that the salary structure should be designed "to

offer relatively greater rewards to the best classroom teachers"

(D.E.S. 1983, P.16). The National Curriculum may allow appraisal

to link economic reward with the teachers ability to aid the

progression of pupils up the levels and so complete the

relationship between the work study (appraisal) and economic


Few would dispute the reduction in autonomy that teachers

have suffered at the "chalk face" in terms of the selection and

presentation of materials (as described in chapter 3, in relation

to Technology). This dissertation has shown this aspect of

scientific management to be a fact as top management increase

their control of the curriculum. However, we must not ignore

other factors that conspire to limit teacher influence.

The current economic climate has also reduced the power and

influence once enjoyed by the teaching profession. A surplus of

teachers in most subjects means that the profession no longer has

the bargaining power it once had. Some schools face closure due

to falling rolls and therefore popularity has become the prime

aim of many, with schools having to ensure that they follow

recent educational directives, including National Curriculum

guidelines so that their professional approach cannot be doubted.

Exam boards have always presented an effective block on

teacher autonomy as a means of curriculum control. Many now have

a centralised administrative structure and operate on a committee

basis (see structure of the Schools Examinations and Assessment

Council, appendix 9, fig.3). Control of the exam structure and

the National Curriculum has been drawn into the central

administrative machinery which means autonomy, power and

influence disappearing from the grassroots teacher to examination

board officials. In the early 1980s Bowe and Whitty (1983, p237)

suggested that officials such as these dominate the boards

committee structure and where grassroots professional concerns

sometimes arise, the officials become clearly identified with the

organisational needs of their boards rather than the

requirements of their colleagues on the classroom floor.

The position of the examination boards has been

strengthened because opposition to increased teacher control has

come from many quarters ranging from the D.E.S, Conservative

Government and the Examination Boards, and is acceptable if they

limit teacher autonomy. Also recent competition between the

examination boards have led to amalgamations of some boards in a

attempt to consolidate their influence, for example, the Northern

Examinations Board.

Parents are another power group who have been encouraged to

take an interest in shaping the curriculum. When the aspirations

of middle class parents are allied with the power of the

examination boards and government and employers they provide an

effective opposition to teacher control / influence of the


Nigel De Gruchy (1991,p1) suggests that there should be a

revolution in management across public and private sectors with

the emphasis placed on "employee participation". He further

states that the Thatcherite formula, "managers right to manage"

has failed with the autocratic, aggressive style having being

given its chance. He calls for the need to develop a different

management ethos based on a sense of professionalism and service

with the removal of contempt for views and interests of


However, with the current atmosphere of mistrust between top

management and the classroom teacher, and the politics

surrounding the education system, it is likely that scientific

management will remain as an uncontested managerial strategy.