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Resisting the dictatorship of no alternative – super-markets or democratic spaces

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Moss, Peter
Publication Date: 
11 Jun 2011



England has a rather unique system of early childhood education and care (ECEC). It is a split system: despite administrative unification within the education ministry, the country continues to have two quite distinct sectors - ‘childcare’ and ‘early education’, with differing access, funding, workforces and, to a large extent, types of provision. Nothing strange there, most countries have such systems. But then add in other ingredients: marketisation of both sectors, with providers competing for the business of parent-consumers; privatisation, especially in the ‘childcare’ sector where most services are provided as for-profit businesses (a recent report estimated that more than three-quarters of places in nurseries were supplied by the for-profit sector); and last but not least, centralisation, with strong regulation by the nation state through a prescriptive national curriculum, a national regulatory agency and other means. All this adds up to a system that might be typified as a centrally governed market, a form of ‘quasi-market’ in which the state looks to the market and private business to deliver services, yet places strong constraints on how services actually operate. 

-reprinted from ResearchGate