Part of the 1944 Education Act
1. Free secondary education (state maintained)
2. Selective (11+ exams)
3. Three types of school:
Three Types of School
1. Grammar Schools.
For those that passed the 11+ exams. Students would have recieved an academic education.
2. Secondary Modern Schools.
For those that failed the 11+. Students would have recieved a practical education.
3. Technical Schools.
For those that failed the 11+. Focused on art and science. Not many technical schools were created.
Arguments in Favour
1. Working class children benefited from free secondary school. Opportunities for upward social mobility were therefore created.
Social Mobility = Change of position between social classes. For example a person who moves from working to middle class would be upwardly mobile.
2. The system was of benefit to pupils and teachers. Students were allocated to a school which was appropriate for their talents and abilities. For example, the most able would have done O-Levels at a Grammar school.
3. Grammar schools were and still are seen as centres of excellence. Grammar schools achieve excellent exam results. Many of the top 100 state schools in the country are Grammar schools.
1. It can be argued that 11 was too early to determine a child's future. The system led to wasted talent because it did not allow for late developers.
2. The nature of the 11+ exams favoured middle class students. This was because the tests were written in a style of language which made it hard for working class children to understand.
3. The 11+ created stigma or shame. Those that failed the test were often seen to be intellectually 'inferior' to those that passed the test.
4. Research evidence has shown that 1 in 4 students were sent to the wrong school. The system was also unfair because females had to obtain higher 11+ scores than males.
5. The tripartite system was very divisive and reproduced class structure. This was because middle class students mainly went to Grammar schools and working class students mainly went to Secondary Modern schools.
Further Arguments Against
6. There was no parity of esteem. Grammar schools were seen by most teachers, employers and parents to offer a superior education to Secondary Modern schools. They were also better funded.
Parity of Esteem = Equal status, equally valued.
7. The system served to legitimate social inequality by creating the belief that the education system and society was meritocratic.
Myth of Meritocracy = Marxist theory that students in schools are taught to accept the myth of meritocracy - their roles are not interchangable and society is not based on a system of merits.
Although Grammar schools create social divisions, postmodernists believe they do provide vital choice in the education system.