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Education Policy in the UK - Term Paper Example

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The author of the paper discusses the proposition that English education policy in the 20th has been shaped on the one hand by the desire to uphold class privilege and on the other by the necessity to broaden access so as to stay competitive internationally…
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Education Policy in the UK
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Download file to see previous pages British society is one of the most stratified in terms of social class.  In contrast to the United States, where politicians at least pay lip-serve to the notion of a classless society, class divisions are woven into the fabric of the nation's social, political and economic institutions.  Barring occasional rhetoric from Labour benches, Realpolitik considerations often stifle any attempts toward diminishing class privilege.  This is as true with respect to our education system as it is in other opportunities for social mobility. A survey of government education policies of the last century indicates two persistent tendencies in the system. Firstly, the divisions between the ruling and working classes are maintained through entry restrictions to quality higher education. Secondly, the content of the syllabus and curricula relegates class discourse to the margins of academic thought. (Ball, 2003, p.147) For example,

“Although education has often been portrayed in terms of its positive and liberatory potential, not least within more recent widening participation and lifelong learning rhetoric, there is also a long history of sociological theorization that has been critical of the ways in which education reproduces and reinforces class inequalities. It can be argued that higher education has particular potential for reinforcing inequalities because, by definition, it is not open to all and is non-compulsory.” (Archer, et. Al, 2003, p.1)
A brief survey of published literature on the subject shows its deep-rooted class bias. Author Peter Wilby neatly sums up the situation when he says that the 20th-century education system was tribalistic. Other scholars have made similar claims about the English education system: “R.H. Tawney called it the hereditary curse upon English education, Anthony Crosland the strongest remaining bastion of class privilege, Neil Kinnock the very cement in the wall that divides British society.” (Wilby, 1997, p.139) A reflection of the biased education policies of the last century is discerned from the role played by Britain's public schools. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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