History - education

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The education system

There was an Education Act passed in 1944 that created a national system to control education

Primary schools were for children aged 5-11. The classes would be mixed gender but divided by ability. Primary schools focused on literacy and numeracy.

There were 3 options for seconday schools: secondary technical school (mechanical and technical), secondary modern schools (general education) and grammar schools (more academic). If children passed the 11+ then they would go to a grammar school.

The authors of the 1944 Education Act hoped that a 'parity of esteem' would exist but grammar school education was seen to be superior.

Boys studied woodwork while girls did home economics so gender stereotypes were inforced from a young age.

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What were the criticisms of the tripartite system?

Grammar schools had three times the resources of secondary modern schools which did not promote 'parity'. Parity had been promised in the 1944 education act.

Anyone who failed the eleven plus would automatically had have a life with fewer opportunities at the time.

The middle class was favoured over working class because the eleven plus favoured them.

The government only intervened directly in a few matters.

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How did the government try to change these critici

The government issued a document in 1966 which said that funding for new schools/school refurbishment would only go to LEAs which adopted comprehensive reform.

This financial pressure led many LEAs to feel forced to adopt the new system.

The Conservative government from 1970 until 19774 did not try to stop the reform but they did criticise the lack of support for intellectually gifted students. They also felt that there was a lack of discipline in the classroom.

The Labour government in 1976 emphasised free and comprehensive education for all. It was clearly believed by them that the principles for education should not be based on selection.

The newly elected Conservative government in 1979 tried to revserse the principle of no selection but by this time there were only 150 grammar schools left.

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What were the immediate consequences of any change

By 1979 there were only 150 grammar schools remaining in the British system.

The percentage of children who were at comprehensive schools increased dramatically from 1970 until 1979:

  • In 1970, 33% of students attended comprehensive schools
  • In 1974, 62% of students attended comprehensive schools
  • In 1979, 90% of students attended comprehensive schools
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Why did grammar schools die out?

Government Policies

The 1976 Education Act showed that the principles for education should not be based on selection.

Grammar scools had three times the resources of secondary modern schools. This did not promote 'parity' wich had been promised in the 1944 Education Act.

Government Statements

The Labour Education Secretary issued a document in 1965 called Circular 10/65 and it called for universal comprehensive education.

In 1966 the government issued a document regarding funding. It said that funding would only go to LEAs who reformed.

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Why did grammar schools die out?

Local Governments

Some LEAs had rejected the tripartite system from the start because they had a great deal of autonomy.

LEAs were told that funding for new schools or refurbishment would only go to them if they reformed so they felt forced to adopt the new system.

Failure of Opposition

The Conservative party did very little to stop the changes that Labour was making whne they were in power.

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What were the consequences of the reforms on...

The Management of Schools

LEAs did not have the powers to control headteachers and teachers so headteachers and teachers were able to independently decide how pupils were taught in their schools.

This created large variations in the way pupils were taught at different schools.

Many headteachers and teachers did not like the input that LEAs were trying to put in, e.g. 'the head and most of the teacers went on strike because ILEA (Inner London Education Authority) decided to carry out an inspection'.

Teaching Styles

Because schools were able to operate more independently some teachers took the reforms to an extreme. In some schools disciplie was completely relaxed.

More secondary schools introduced reforms from the Plowden Report which recommended a more 'child-centred' approach to education.

The Plowden Report suggested children need the 'right environment' to 'be themselves' and tat a more academic education is 'faulty'.

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What were the consequences of the reforms on...

Qualifications

The education reforms had more of an effect on opportuities than the change to comprehensive education did.

Only the top 20% of students took O levels. In 1965 the CSE was introduced. Students either did CSE or O levels. O level classes remained at 20% of students.

CSE was seen as a second class qualification by employers.

Employment

In 1972 the Education (work experience) Act meant that the compulsory schol leaving age was raised from 15 to 16.

LEAs were allowed to set up work experience as a replacement for lessons for final year students.

The idea of this was to help any school leavers find work in the tough economic climate that existed in the mid 1970s.

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What were the consequences of the reforms on...

University

There was more government funding in place to boost the number of places that were available at new universities such as Sussex and Kent.

This led to an increase in the number of students who ent to university so it was effective.

The entry requirements were also canged so O level Latin was no longer needed to get into some universities. This increased applications from comprehensive schools because they often did not teach O level Latin.

In 1960 only 5% of 18-19 year olds went to university but in 1970 this had increased to 9% of 18-19 year olds going to university.

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