History of state education until 1980s
- Before World War 2, most children in the state sector remained at elementary schools until 14. A secondary education was available to those who paid for private/independent schools or those who passed selection examinations to council-run grammar schools.
- 1944 Education Act introduced secondary education for all from age of 11, different types of secondary schools were established, pupils were allocated based on results from 11+ examination. Those with the highest attended grammar schools, academic curriculum. Most of the rest went to secondary modern schools, no examinations.
- From 1965, local authorities developed comprehensive secondary schools, all children attended. This was due to the unfair system of selection favouring the middle-class.
- Since the 1970s, there's been a continuing debate about the quality of state education. There are many concerns which have resulted in a variety of school provision.
Educational change since 1979
The Conservative government elected in 1979 introduced a series of Education Acts:
- The introduction of parent governors.
- Financial control being taken from local authorities, given to head teachers and governing bodies.
- Frequent inspections.
- Development of the National Curriculum.
- Increased examinations.
- Introduction of competition between schools for pupils.
- Educational choice for parents, picking schools for their children.
- Better performing schools were given additional funding.
- Some schools allowed to pick up to 10% of their pupils based on ability.
- Grants to students at university were replaced by loans, had to be repaid when employed.
- Fees for higher education, not public funding.
The introduction of league tables and the role of inspection systems means schools are subject to more external scrutiny. There's an increased variety of school types: academies, city technology colleges, free schools, faith schools.
Supports and critics of educational change
Supporters have said education has improved for children:
- There'sbetter teaching in schools
- Schools are more responsive to demands of parents
- Competition forces weaker schools to improve
- Better links between employers and universities and schools
Critics of the changes of the education system argue that:
- Changes in funding means there's gaps between schools, with some lacking resources.
- Emphasis on league teables means schools favour more able children.
- Schools have become soexamination focussed, the idea of education for its own sake has been squeezed out.
- Some of the new school types have freedom to adapt their curriciulum.
- Ideology of equality of opportunity of all children has been replaced by an emphasis on competition and division.
Independent and private schools
There is the state provided education system, and also a system where parents can pay for their child to attend an independent school which charge fees. These are known as public schools.
Arguments in favour of independent schools are that:
- Parents can choose how to spend their money, if they spend it on education it's their right.
- By educating around 7% of pupils, independent schools are saving the state sector money. Parents are paying taxes, supporting the state sytem and then pay again through fees.
- Examination results are good.
Arguments against independent schools are that:
- People are able to buy their childern priviledge at the expense of all children, increasing social inequality.
- Many independent schools enjoy favourable tax treatments as charities.
- Those who use independent sector have little/no concern for the state system. If more influential parents used the state system there'd be more pressure for it to improve.