AQA AS Sociology Education Full revision notes


Sociology of Education

Education Policy

  • Five major issues: (SCIECMPI or MICE PICS)
  1. Selection and Choice 
  • What kind of schools there should be?
  • Should there be variation in local schools?
  • How should schools select pupils?
  • Open entry or entry test?
  • Should parents have a choice?
  1. Inequality/Equality
  • Should there be equality of educational opportunity, and how should it be achieved?
  • Do policies ensure equality regardless of class, gender and ethnicity?
  • Or do they make the differences worse?
  1. Comprehensivisation
  • Should all pupils attend their local school, run by elected local council
  1. Marketisation/Privatisation 
  • Should state run education act like a ‘market’ acting like competing businesses?
  • Who should run state-funded education (central govt., local councils or private businesses?
  1. Who should Influence education policy?
  • Teachers, parents, central govt., local councils, businesses or trustees?
  • Pre-1944 policies
  • Basic education provided up to the age of 13 (only enough for working in mined or factories)
  • Middle class children could attend private schools (mostly boys)
  • 1944 onwards
  • Meritocracy brought the tripartite system (1944 Education Act) with Grammar schools (top 20%), Secondary Modern and Technical schools- which school they attended was determined by if they passed the 11+ 
  • Criticisms- 
    • 11+ culturally biased towards white, middle class
    • Intelligence is impossible to assess objectively 
    • The idea of ‘academic’. ‘technical’ and ‘practical’ intelligences is dubious
    • Wealthy parents could still obtain grammar education even if their child failed
    • In theory, grammar and secondary modern were ’equal but different’ but in practice they were not
    • Marxists would claim that it effectively reproduced and legitimated inequality - claiming it to me meritocratic when really not everyone has the same chance of passing 
  • Comprehensive education (1960s onwards)
  • Tri (or bi) partite systems were largely replaced by comprehensive education (not all)
  • Labour governments saw that tripartite system reproduced educational and social inequalities 
  • All pupils had access to the same educational opportunities
  • No selection process
  • Functionalists claim that this aimed to integrate all social classes, more integrated as late developers are given more opportunity (11 is young)
  • Criticisms 
    • New Right- comprehensives ‘dumb down’ educational provision, with more academic pupils being held back
    • Inequality was not abolished, streaming and setting caused the ‘tri-partite system under one roof’
  • Education policies under Margaret Thatcher and John Major (1979-1997) 
  • Main Aims 
  • Raise standards by creating a ‘education market’
  • Increase parental choice 
  • Establish government control over what is taught in schools (national curriculum)
  • Reduce the influence of LEAs (Local Education Authorities)
  • Introduce more vocational education
  • Marketisation and ‘parentocracy’
  • Influence of New Right snd Neoliberals, as they thought state control lowered standards and efficiency, and a market force was needed to increase standards. Focusing on ‘customers’ (parents and students) and ‘competing’ with other schools to drive up standards
  • Policies 
  • 1988 Education Reform Act- Introduced a national curriculum, brought in a system of national assessment (SATS, at ages 7,11,14 and 16), Schools could choose to more away from their LEAs, Open enrolment gave parents the choice of what school to send their child too, Formula funding meant schools must ‘attract’ pupils in order to be funded
  • Truancy


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