The 19th Century
In the 19th century, public and private schools educated the children of the wealthy.
Church and Charity schools educated the less well off.
This meant that the lower classes recieved far less equal education opportunities, if any at all.
There was a widespread belief that teaching the masses to read and write may lead to 'revolutionary activity' or 'questioning their position in life'!
This is one of many examples of the oppression of the lower classes by the upper classes, and gives an understanding of the Marxist system of belief and opinions on education.
The 1870 Act
The 1870 act introduced elementary schools to provide education for 5-10 year olds.
This was intended to be an inferior form of education. H.G. Wells described it as "an act to educate the lower class for employment on lower class lines, and with specially trained, inferior teachers"
At this time, education beyond fourteen years of age was available only to those who could afford to pay for it.
The 1944 Butler Education Act
Free secondary education was extended up to age fifteen.
The objective of this was to give equality of opportunity via free secondary education for all.
This introduced the tripartite system.
In the tripartite system, children were entered into an intelligence test at the age of eleven: the 11+ exam.
On the basis of this, the child would be sent to a Grammar School, Secondary Modern School, or Technical School.
Problems with the Tripartite System
Girls were given higher benchmarks for the grades nessecary to get into Grammar School, therefore maintaining inequality between the genders.
Working class pupils usually ended up in a secondary modern school, with the majority of middle class children attending grammar schools
This reinforced unequal life chances.
The content of the exam and validity of the tests was also under criticism. People questioned whether deciding a child's future at eleven was a valid method.
As a result of this criticism, a comprehensive system was established in 1965 by a Labour government.
Comprehensivisation has been criticised as problems such as labelling of pupils still exist, and there are still inequalities between different groups' achievement.
The 1988 Education Reform act
- Established a National Curriculum for all state schools
- A system of testing and assessment.
- It enabled state schools to 'opt out' of LEA control.
- Parental rights increased: parents could choose their child's school.
- Schools must publish information to facilitate this choice (prospectuses, results, league tables.)
Vocationalism was introduced to provide a different sort of education for less academic students.
They broadened the curriculum, introduced the idea of work experience and tried to create an English work force. Some examples of vocationalism include hardressing, construction and plumbing courses, and subjects such as health and social care.
However, this policy has been criticised for being a source of cheap labour.
Disruptive students are often pushed towards these schemes, whereas academically able students are pushed away from it, restricting the choice of pupils.
Marketisation is the process of introducing 'market forces' into areas run by the state such as the NHS or Education.
The ERA created an 'Education Market' by:
Reducing state control over education
Increasing competition between schools
Increasing Parental Choice of schools.
Marketisation includes the publication of school League Tables, buisness sponsorship of schools, schools being able to opt out of LEA control (e.g. academies or private schools), schools having to compete to attract pupils, and Ofsted inspection reports becoming available for parents to look at when choosing schools.
Funding is allocated based on the amount of pupils a school can attract. Therefore, a better school gains more money.
Marketisation: Criticism and Benefits
Marketisation has been favoured because:
- It allows choice for parents
- Allows for the school to gain more money
- It increases standards: schools are motivated to do well, as they have to compete for pupils through driving up standards
- Poor schools are shut down leading to better standards of schooling
- It allows identification of problem schools.
However, some argue that marketisation is problematic. For example, marketisation may further the divides in education. For example, schools get to pick which pupils they take in. As a result, they take in middle class pupils, and working class pupils continue to be sent to worse schools and fail. These schools also have less funding: they are unable to attract pupils and therefore remain in a cycle of being unable to improve.