To What Extent Were the Ideals and Aims of the Comprehensive School Achieved?

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To what extent were the ideals and aims of the comprehensive school achieved?

According to Hargreaves ‘the comprehensive system had a difficult birth’ (Ball, S. 1984). Comprehensive schools developed because there were many who believed that educating all local children in a single school, where they would have equal physical facilities and equal access to high quality teachers, would raise the academic standards of all children and teachers, bring about greater equality within the schools and lead to greater opportunities outside in the world of work. (Ahonen, S . 2000). Through mixing children from various social class backgrounds it was hoped that this would lower barriers between the classes ( Ahonen, S . 2000). It was believed that the Comprehensive school would help raise academic standards, according to Jesson (2001) there could be an increase in the talents of the vast majority of students who were failing the 11+ if they were given greater encouragement and better educational opportunities as was far more likely to occur in Comprehensive schools than in the Secondary Modern schools due to the Comprehensive allowing for ‘educating for all’ (Times Higher Education. 1996). In this essay I will discuss as to what extent the ideals and aims of the comprehensive system were met. I will look at the ideals of the comprehensive system, those of educational community justice respect, freedom and non-discriminatory and evaluate whether they were achieved. The two aims I will look at are academic achievement (more specifically, the examination results) and social mobility and discuss to what extent these aims were achieved through the various studies that were conducted. The ideal

There were three main ideals which is what the common school consisted of: educational, community, justice, respect, freedom and non-discriminatory (Halstead, 1987) According to Pring, the ideal of community was that ‘education aims to create a more cohesive and enriching community, shaped by a common culture from which all benefit whatever so the cultural background from which the learners come’(Halstead, 1987.) Another ideal was that of non-discriminatory as the common school tried to not discriminate at the point of entry to secondary schools. But, the ideal of justice was not always achieved as according to Brighouse (1989), the weight that it put on the integration across differences, the common school ideal doesn’t always serve the cause of justice(Halstead, 1987). But, according to Rawls, we need to comprehend the demands of justice before we can adjudicate whether common schooling is the most just form of provision of schooling for particular individuals. (Halstead, 1987). Another ideal was respect, according to Pring, the comprehensive school should be respectful in the sense that respects both for individuals and cultures should be met. However, Cigman argued that it should not be disrespectful to educate children with special needs in a different setting. There are difficulties in evaluating as to whether these ideals have been achieved in comprehensive schools; this is due to the fact that the comprehensive ideal cannot reasonably be pursued as an ideal for a single school (Halstead, 1987). I think the Comprehensive system achieved a small amount of its ideals. I agree that justice, respect and non-discriminatory ideals were met as the comprehensive school allowed for pupils from all backgrounds and all academic abilities into one school which permitted for these ideals to be achieved. But, they failed in raising academic standards ideal as there was no great difference in academic standards between the previous system of the selective system and that of the comprehensive. The Comprehensive ideal was one of good intention as they aimed to widen educational horizons, enabling more pupils to stay longer in school and to obtain qualifications, helping all pupils to participate more meaningful educational process...
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