This paper aims to give an introduction to the central concepts and the literature of policy studies in education. The first part of the paper addresses the questions of what policy is. How is it made and why is it relevant? It looks in particular at the role of the state and the Policy cycle framework which is an analytical tool that helps to analyse how policy is made and later implemented. The second part then focuses on the central concepts. The two main paradigms of education policy studies relate directly to these central themes. On the one hand a series of policy concepts cluster around social justice, inclusion and the fight against discrimination on the basis of race, gender and disability. On the other lie the debates raging around efficiency, effectiveness and quality of education. These include the issues of accountability and measurement of pupil achievement. The role of the market is discussed and a short section on globalisation explains how the nature of education policy is changing in light of globalisation. In the last part of the paper four studies were chosen to look at how the concepts elaborated in the earlier part have been used in studies relating to Education For All (EFA). The paper concludes that the transferability of the concepts discussed above and their related debates to the context of EFA in developing countries require a re-contextualisation which takes into account the EFA priorities of equity and access. The basic question remains of how governments will manage to reconcile expanding the educations system and creating a true EFA system, while maintaining high levels of quality. The role of education policy analysis is key in looking at this debate from a different vantage point.
CREATE Pathways to Access Series, Discussion Paper Number 11, 37 pp.