Education is a continuing key political issue for the UK government. It is seen as a crucial factor in ensuring economic productivity and competitiveness, in generating social mobility and tackling social inequality - but are these goals either feasible or compatible? In this fully updated edition of this bestselling book, Stephen J. Ball, a leading author in the field, guides us through the flood of government initiatives and policies of the past 20 years, including the Academies programme, parental choice, Free schools, National Curriculum and teaching standards. He looks at how these policy interventions have changed the landscape and meaning of education, turned children into 'learners' and parents into 'consumers', and played their part in the re-formation of contemporary governance. This authoritative and accessible book uses Ball's sociological approach to the analysis of current policies and ideas around education to address issues of class, choice, globalisation, race and citizenship, as well as the conflicting needs of children and families on the one hand and the economy and the state on the other.