Sociology - Educational policy

The history of education in the UK

HideShow resource information

Introducation of compulsory education

*1870 - Introduction of optional mass schooling

Compulsory education was introduced in 1880 for these reasons:

  • Britain needed a skilled workforce to compete with other countries such as Germany in the industrial revolution
  • The increase the effectiveness of the army - to teach tactics and logic
  • Re-socialise the feckless poor
  • Reduce street crime
  • To stop a revolution
  • Human Rights
1 of 13

Butlers education act 1944

In 1944 under a coalition government, the Butlers Education act was introduced.This education act meant that:

  • Secondary education for all
  • Upper classes continued to be educated in public schools and top universities
  • Aimed to abolish class based inequalities within education
  • Tripartite system was to be introduced
  • Three types of school each suited to different abilities
2 of 13

Tripartite system

Three kinds of school each designed for different abilities:

  • Grammar schools for the academic
  • Secondary technical schools for the artistic/creative
  • Secondary Modern for everyone else
  • The 11+ was a test designed to decide which type of school you would attend
  • Parity of esteem - all schools were meant to have similar standard of provision and provide the most suitable education the development of each type of learner
3 of 13

Problems with the tripartite system

The Tripartite system failed because:

  • Its was class biased
  • The secondary moderns had a reputation- if you went to them you were stupid
  • Parity of esteem was not evident
  • Labels
  • The 11+ test was culturally biased towards the middle class
  • Very few technical schools built
  • There were more grammar schools built for boys than there were for girls
  • Regional variations - some areas had no nearby grammar schools and some had many
4 of 13

Failure of the tripartite system


  • It was agreed in the mid 1950's that the system was not working
  • Most working class children would leave school at 15 and go into work
  • Middle class children continued into further education and university
  • 20% went to grammar schools
  • 5% went to technical schools
  • 75% went to secondary moderns
  • The system failed three quarters of school children so lots of wasted talent
  • Many middle class parents wanted to keep the system
  • In an attempt to apply the principle of equality of opportunity for all, the system was abolished
5 of 13

Comprehensive schools


  • 1965 - Labour government instructed all LEAs to submit plans for comprehensive re-organisation
  • Comprehensive - educated all children under one roof
  • Aim to promote both social justice and social equality
  • Labour government also expanded higher education provision
  • All aimed at increasing working class access to higher education
6 of 13

Progressive Education and mixed-ability teaching


  • The school leaving age raised to 16 in 1972
  • All pupils had to sit exams
  • Mixed ability teaching experimented with to enable pupils to achieve their maximum potential
7 of 13

1979 - 1988


  • Conservative government came into power with Margaret Thatcher becoming Prime Minister. Teachers were never to have the freedom to exercise their professional autonomy again
  • She abolished free school milk and became known as Thatcher the Milk Snatcher
8 of 13

Conservative initiatives


  • Emphasis on preparing young people for work and industry - YTS, work experience in schools, new vocationalism
  • Assisted Places Scheme - Bright working class children, free places in public schools if they passed the school entrance test
  • Centralisation - Power taken from LEAs and back to central government
9 of 13

1988 Education Reform Act

  • Assisted Places Scheme expanded
  • National Curriculum - same subject contact at varius key stages from age 7 - 16 in Maths, English , Science, History, Geography, Technology, Music, Art, PE and modern languages.
  • SATs implemented
  • League tables introduced
  • Marketization
  • City technical colleges to be introduced - co-funded by business would provided special opportunities for pupils in inner-city areas
10 of 13

New Labour - 1997 - 2010

  • Took most conservative initiatives forward to Curriculum 2000
  • Curriculum 2000 - mixing of vocation and academic subjects became possible
  • Introduction of AS and A2 in further education
  • Integrating these has largely failed to materialise
  • Abolished HE grants - Top up fees introduced
  • Renamed grant maintained schools to foundation schools - still had control over how to recruit pupils even though funding stopped coming to them directly from central government
  • EMA introduced


11 of 13

Diversity and Pariy of Esteem Revisited

  • Specialist school status encouraged
  • City academies to be established to provide high quality education for all age groups in deprived inner-city areas.
  • Now being expanded to deprived rural areas
  • Increased use of banding and streaming
  • Emphasis on coherency system for 14 - 19 education - unified qualifications network.
12 of 13

Tomlinson Enquiry

  • A single diploma framework with four levels of qualification (entry, foundation, intermediate and advance)
  • Increased stretch for the best (raising standards), participation for all
  • Less (but more rigorous) assessment
  • Aspiration to parity between vocation and academic programmes
  • Learning at your own pace - levels will be divorced form age
  • Work experience will be a key component
  • More detail will be available to HE/employers on learning outcomes
13 of 13


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Education resources »