Post-War Policy and Meritocratic Education in England Introduction Has post-war policy made education in England more meritocratic? This seemingly simple question is actually confusing because as Sen (2000) has noted, the root word of meritocracy, ‘merit’ could mean many things, like intelligence, ability, or talent, thus the need to explain ‘meritocracy’ first…
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These social policies are important because they both aim to achieve meritocracy and they are interrelated. The BNA 1948, in the course of its implementation, exposed the limitations of EA 1944 in its purpose to making English education more meritocratic. Furthermore, the impact of the BNA 1948 to the effectiveness of the EA 1944 and the need of the latter to address the need of the former illustrates the central role education had played in Britain’s post-war reconstruction (Tomlinson 2001). Understanding Meritocracy Meritocracy can be simply understood as promotion and inclusion based on merit – e.g., A meritocratic education system accepts, promotes, and rewards students based on ability, not on social status, ethnicity or gender (Llewellyn et al. 2008). However Sen (2000, p. 14) explains that it is actually the concept of ‘merit’, itself, which complicates the definition of meritocracy because “the rewarding… and the very concept of merit itself depend on the way we see a good society and the criteria we… assess the success and failures of societies.” It was after WWII that Britain started to walk the road of meritocracy. After Britain lost its world supremacy, it had no other recourse to survive international competition but to make better use of its human resources which for the past century were left wasted due to class discrimination. To do so, Young (1961) explains, Britain had to give up its century-old feudal principle of selection by family, and use instead the principle of selection by merit. Thus, Britain progressively opened its schools and industries to clever children and workers, giving equal opportunities for social mobility to those who have the ability and will to do so. Since meritocracy presupposes that boundless opportunities for success exist for all regardless of class, colour, ethnicity, and gender, many perceive meritocracy an ideal justice principle (Yuan 2013). On the contrary Young (1961, p.14) concludes that “the rate of social progress depends upon the degree to which power is matched with intelligence.” It is no different from the social class-based hierarchy of power, wherein power and wealth is distributed only to the few to the detriment of a wider group of ordinary people. The only difference is in meritocracy what matters is ability or intelligence. Eventually, elites of talents would be created, further justifying the socio-economic ladder more convincingly. Nonetheless, Allen (2011, p. 371) still asserts that meritocratic system is just on the basis that “social status was a direct expression of their intellectual worth. The system was now “just” because it was justly unequal.” Policy Review 1: British Nationality Act 1948 Introduction. Post-war migration to Britain, to Hansen’s (2000) analysis, is actually an issue of British citizenship, which the BNA 1948 legally conferred on Britons and ‘colonial’ British subjects, giving them equal rights to enter Britain and enjoy all the socio-economic-political benefits any Briton could legally enjoy. Although prior and subsequent to this Act were the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914 and BNA 1964, the BNA 1948, Hansen (2000) notes, was most influential because it had dramatically reoriented the British migration policy,
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