To what extent have recent educational reforms increased equality if opportunity Essay Example
To what extent have recent educational reforms increased equality if opportunity Essay Example

To what extent have recent educational reforms increased equality if opportunity Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1268 words)
  • Published: November 26, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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In the 1960s comprehensive schooling was introduced. Its aim was to try and combat the failures of the tripartite system, and to make schooling more meritocratic. Comprehensives were introduced to encourage social mixing and to eradicate testing at 11. In 1965 local education authorities (LEA's) were required to introduce the comprehensive system into all state schools.

This was strongly opposed by the conservatives, as they favoured the tripartite system. However, in 1974, 80% of secondary school pupils attended comprehensive schools. Comprehensive schools tried to increase equality of opportunity.However, some saw that this had not been achieved as class inequalities still remain. Heath suggested that the comprehensive system is the tripartite system under one roof.

Even though there were criticisms, throughout the 1980s examination results improved. Working class children were still at


a disadvantage, but their attainment rate was increasing much more rapidly, which may be an indication that the comprehensive system had been a success in starting to reduce inequalities between the classes. In the 1970s vocational courses were brought in to combat the criticisms that schooling was too academic and not technical enough.Youth opportunities programme was established in 1978 to encourage less academic children to participate in vocational courses. In 1986 GNVQ's and NVQ's started to be discussed. Vocational courses both increased and decreased equality of opportunity.

The increase was that the less academic child could get more choice and train in a field they are interested in. The disadvantages of vocational courses are that they are seen as a lower status than academic qualifications, they are also sometimes seen as a way of covering up unemployment figures and that they are used to

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get a cheap source of labour.In 1988 the Education Reform Act (ERA) was introduced. It reflected the conservatives 'new right' views. It attempted to introduce parental choice and market forces into education to make school raise standards, so they attract pupils. The ERA introduced a National Curriculum.

This was over four key stages of school. The National Curriculum entitled all children the same education, regardless of class, gender and ethnicity. Testing at the end of each key stage was introduced, but this was not to done to put a child into a specific set, it was to see how well the school was doing and to ensure high standards.SATS were taken at the age of 7,11 and 14, and GCSEs at the age of 16. League tables were introduced.

All schools had to publish their exam results, this enabled parents to see how well a school is doing and to choose were they send their child. This increased parent power and decreased the power of LEAs. ILEA was abolished. Formula funding meant that schools are paid according to how many pupils they attract and how successful it is. CTCs were set up, they were funded directly by the government and also partly funded by industry. They specialised in technology and it was hoped that they would be 'beacons of excellence'.

Local management of schools meant that state schools would have responsibility for there own budget. They get this directly from the government and can spend it how they see fit. This was known as 'opting out' of LEA control, these schools are called grant maintained. OFSTED was set up to monitor school, this was not directly

said in the act, but was closely linked to it.

In theory ERA has increased equality of opportunity as all pupils do get the same access and chance to education, and raising standards has defiantly benefited all students.However, it seems to of benefited middle class children more than working class. This has been argued by Stephen ball. The middle class may have benefited more, as the National curriculum is ethnocentric, as it reflects white, middle class culture. This is shown in history, where only British history is taught. The National Curriculum also doesn't apply to private schools, they can choose what is to be taught.

This can't create equality because it's saying if you can pay you may be able to get a better education.So only the rich have a choice. Giving parents the right to choose is all very well, but not all parents have the time to spend doing this. The middle class are more likely to get into a school of their choice due to the material and cultural advantages they possess.

Parents also judge on league tables, which may not be a fair representation of the school, as it leaves out information on the type of area its in and also how many special needs children it has. The league tables have meant that schools only want to attract academic pupils.This has encouraged selection. More time and only is spent on the marketing of the schools, rather than being spent on the students. Children are still labelled in comprehensive schools were setting has been introduced. All the testing means that more pressure is put on children at an early age, and

those who can afford private tutoring are at an advantage.

The competition between schools has increased the inequalities in education, and has altered school from what they should do for the pupil to what the pupil could do for them.This means that school will want a more academic and middle class pupil, so they look better and so gain more money. So the ERA benefits middle class and so has not increased equality of opportunity. In 1997 Labour got back into power.

There aim is to raise academic performance, and to reduce inequality of opportunity in terms of social class. To improve standards they have introduced literacy and numeracy hours, which will enable all children to have an equal education. To tackle the problem of equality of opportunity, they have set up Education action zones.They are in Britain's most deprived areas and elite teachers are being sent in. Nursery places have been given, free of charge, to all children under the age of three.

The National Curriculum has been changed, so that children can now be disapplied, so they don't have to carry on with the National curriculum. A'levels have been split into AS and A2, they're meant to be boarded and have an emphasis on key skills. More vocational A'levels have been introduced (AVCE). All these things do appear to be reducing inequalities, but at such an early stage we cannot tell how effective they will be.Labour has also introduced some policies that discriminate.

One of these is specialist status. To get this a school must raise i?? 50,000, this is all very well but for a school in a poor this would be

inconceivable. The introduction of universities fees has increased inequalities dramatically, as the brightest children cannot always afford to go to university. This is not meritocratic and the talk of introducing Top up fees will mean that only the very rich will be able to go to university.

The debts people now leave university with also put off children who no there parents can't afford it and so discourages those from a working class background. The recent educational reforms have had good theories behind them but in practice they don't work as well as once thourght. To raise inequalities vocational courses need to be seen as just as good as academic subjects. University should be free and people should be selected on their ability rather than there money. The more recent reforms, in many ways are in their early stages so, it is to early to comment on them and to see how well they will do.

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