Where should we look to find the causes of education inequalities? Introduction
Education it seems has been at the heart of each new government’s agenda. Acts have been passed to better the education of children in the UK, policies introduced and agencies made responsible to ensure that schools, colleges and universities all deliver the best quality education. Despite these interventions, inequality in education still exists. To find the causes of educational inequalities, this essay will look briefly at the history of state education and key acts that helped define today’s system of education. It will then look at what educational inequalities exist and the reasons why – specifically Government policies and the way in which these can serve as an advantage to some sections of society and as a disadvantage to another. It will also look at stratification and its different representations, media representations of those from different classes, and dominant ideologies of the media. There are a number of issues currently affecting pupils and students in England; social class, race, gender, religion and disability are all contributing factors in the causes of educational inequality; however this essay will focus on social class as this appears to be a factor that can affect those from different races, gender, religion and whether they have a disability or not. Brief History of Education
During the industrialisation of England, various types of schools were introduced to deal with the growing number of uneducated youth. Sunday schools taught children and adults to read the Bible and memorise its scriptures, however, writing and arithmetic were not taught as these were seen as unnecessary, even dangerous. Schools of Industry were introduced to provide poor children with training in areas where they would be able to find employment; knitting, sewing and housework for girls, and shoemaking or machine work for boys. Here, children were also taught the ‘three Rs’ – reading, writing and arithmetic. Monitorial schools were a combination of Sunday schools and schools of Industry, the Bible and ‘three Rs’ were taught alongside practical subjects such as cobbling, agriculture, cookery or sewing. Here, teachers used the method of repetition so that a school master could teach hundreds of children at one time. The first infant school was set up in 1816; these were for children aged 2-6 years, providing basic instruction of the ‘three Rs’. Elementary schools were for those children aged 6-12 years, again instructing children in the Bible and ‘three Rs’. The upper classes did not send their sons to elementary schools, private preparatory schools were initially chosen, after which their children were sent on to public schools. There was a general reluctance to educate the masses in England, and it was not until 1870 that the Elementary Education Act 1870 was introduced. Chitty (2007: 12) argued that England was the last major country in Europe to create a national education system. This was largely due to the fear of mass education, and the changes in attitude to social class that this would bring about. Chitty (2007: 12) explores attitudes of the time: “In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, teaching the masses to read was seen as a foolhardy and potentially dangerous enterprise, particularly if it gave the common people access to God’s Word”. Chitty (2007: 12) Years before the Education Act 1870 was introduced, some political figures would argue that teaching the poor and laboring classes could lead to them becoming restless with their place in the world, and uprising to fight against their superiors. The Education Act 1870 was introduced to ensure all children between 5-12 years of age in England and Wales were provided with elementary education. However, parents were still required to pay fees; those that could not pay would have fees paid by the school board. A big turning point in education was during and...
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