Educational Policy and Inequality

They are proper educational

HideShow resource information

The Main Phases of Educational Policy in Britain (

The 1944 Education Act brought in the tripartite system, so called because children were to be allocated to one of the three different types of secondary school, this in accordance with their aptitudes and abilities.

The three types were:

Grammar Schools- Offered an academic curriculum and access to non manual jobs and higher education.

Secondary Modern Schools- Offered a non academic practical curriculum and access to manual work for students who failed the 11+.

Technical Schools- These schools only existed in a few areas so in affect it was a Bipartite system.

The tripartite system created inequality by channel the two different classes into different schools that offered unequal opportunities.

1 of 4

Marketisation and Parentocracy (Card 1)

Marketisation- This refers to the process of introducing market forces of consumer choice and competition between suppliers into areas run by the state.

This means that schools who can provide 'consumers' with what they want, good exam results, will thrive and those that can't will go out of business.

Parentocracy- Miriam David 1993 describes parentocracy as essentially 'rule by the parents'. The power has shifted away from schools and teachers and into the hands of parents who decide where there children attend. This has created greater diversity and the raising of standards.

Policies to Promote Marketisation-

  • Publication of exam league tables and Ofsted reports to give parents the information they need to chose the right school
  • Business sponsorship of schools
  • Some politicians have even proposed educational vouchers 
2 of 4

Marketisation and Parentocracy (Card 2)

The Reproduction of Inequality

Despite claims that marketisation has benefited education, its critics argue that it has increased inequalities between pupils as middle class parents are better placed to take advantage of the available choices.

Exam League Tables

The policy of publishing each schools exam results in a league table ensures that schools which achieve good results are in demand. This not only gives parents the opportunity to chose the best schools but also gives schools the power to accept the most talented mainly middle class pupils.

The Funding Formula

Schools are allocated funds by a formula based on how many pupils they attract. As a result popular schools get more funds and so can afford better qualified teachers and better facilities. Again this popularity allows them to be more selective and attract generally more ambitious middle class pupils.

The Myth of Parentoracy

Not only does marketisation reproduce inequality it also legitimates it by concealing its true causes and justifying its existence. Ball believes parentocracy is a myth, not a reality. It makes it appear that all parents have the same freedom to choose which school to send their children to.

In fact as Gerwitz shows middle class parents are in fact equipped with more economic and cultural capital and so are better able to take advantage of the choices available. They also possess the wealth to move in catchment areas of popular schools.

3 of 4

Policies related to gender and ethnicity

Gender In the 19th Century, females were largely excluded from higher education. More recently under the tripartite system, girls often had to achieve a higher mark than boys in the 11+ in order to obtain a grammar school place.  

Since the 1970's however, policies such as Girls into Science and Technology have reduced the gender differences in subject choice.

Ethnicity There have been policies aimed at raising the achievements of children from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Assimilation- Policies in the 1960s and 70s focused on the need for pupils from minority ethniic groups to assimilate into mainstream British Culture as a way of raising their achievemernt.

Critics argue that some minority groups who are at risk of under achievement can in fact speak English and are underachieving due to racism.

Multicultural Education (MCE)

Policies through the 1980s and into the 1990s aim to promote the achievements of children from minority ethnic groups by valuing all cultures in the school curriculum.

Social Inclusion

Detailed monotoring of exam results by ethnicity.




4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Education resources »