A case study of the National Union of Teachers as a pressure group: the Oxfordshire dispute

Stapley, Robert Charles (1990). A case study of the National Union of Teachers as a pressure group: the Oxfordshire dispute. MPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000fc70


This thesis is a case study of an attempt by a specific pressure group, the National Union of Teachers, to influence the policy-making process of a local education authority, Oxfordshire County Council, at a time when the local authority had embarked upon a course of expenditure reductions in its education budget.

The study seeks to identify, and assess the significance of, national developments during the mid-1970s which had a bearing on the course of this particular dispute. Three significant factors are identified: the impact upon local education authorities of the reform of local government in England and Wales in the early 197Os; the changing relationship between teacher unions, the Department of Education and Science and local authorities during the 1960s and '70s; and the impact- of the nation's economic difficulties upon the funding of the education service. It is argued that the Oxfordshire dispute of 1976-77 illustrates a turning point in relations between local education authorities and teacher unions as they were each required to adjust to the new realities which confronted them.

The major theoretical approaches to the policy-making process are identified as systems theory, pluralism, Marxism and neo-liberalism and the particular contribution of each of these to tins study of policy making is discussed. The events of the dispute are analysed using the models provided these theories each of which provides a different explanation of the underlying factors which determined the policy-making framework within which the dispute occurred. The study points to pluralism as the theory which most closely accords with the practical realities of policy-making as viewed by those involved in the process.

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