Evaluating the 1870 Forster Education Act

Pages: 6 (3683 words) Published: October 30, 2014

The 1870 Forster Education Act was the primary piece of legislation which dealt directly with the provision of education in Britain. It made education compulsory, up to the age of 10. It was paired with the 1870 Factory Act, which took children out of employment, mainly from mining and factory work. This act was passed by the government to educate its work force and create a more skilled and literate labour market. Education was also seen as anti- revolutionary, by giving the working class improvements in conditions, and thus reducing the chance of a working revolt. It created a greater amount of social control, school was seen a tool to regulate the new generation. All these were beneficial to the state. But Philanthropists, Dr Banardos and Lord Shaftbury concluded the Act was beneficial for the poor and working class. Due to the fact it created a fairer society. Before this act only those who could afford school and religious people were educated. (Guy. 2014.1) Ball (1989) suggests it was bought about as a response to Britain’s decline within the industrial sector, he believed it was a technological requirement. The Act created a structure of ‘School boards’ which were formed to manage these schools. This act also created non-denominational schools unlike others schools at the time. (parliament.uk. No Date) Many families at this time disagreed with the bill, due to the fact it meant a loss of income for them. For the majority families this was the first generation to be educated which created tension within families. Val Rust (1991) proposes that the education system was not just created for a modern economy, but for contemporary society in its entirety. The act was designed to encourage national pride and a sense of belonging, trying to create a unity within different groups of society. (Lawson, Heaton and Brown, A. 2010) But Heaton and Lawson (1996) argued that this Act actually multiplied the gap between classes. This was due to the fact that there was no established secondary school system. The only secondary schools were fee paying. They saw this as a socially divisive measure as it deprived working class children from a secondary education. 2.

At school pupils get taught both a formal education and the hidden curriculum. The formal education is the actual material or subjects being taught at the school, such as history. Since 1988 this has been called the national curriculum, all state schools have to follow these guidelines. The hidden curriculum is defined as the side effect of education. It is the implicit and unacknowledged part of school life. Jackson (1971) describes the hidden curriculum as the three unofficial ‘Rs’ which are regulations, rules and routines. Pupils must abide by these to excel and survive within the education system. Also he explains the messages that pupils can derive from; teachers’ expectations of conduct, school facilities, the male and female roles encountered within a school and the consequences of the use of language. Meighan and Siraj-Blatchford (2003) Lawson, Heaton and Brown (2010) suggest that the formal curriculum disadvantages children from minority backgrounds as it reflects an Anglo-Saxon, white culture and it distorts the teaching of history. Also they underlined that the Education Reform Act of 1988 stated that Christian traditions should be the basis of all religious studies on the curriculum. Marxists perceive the hidden curriculum as a tool to exert more control over students in non-academic situations, built upon a teacher’s authority and power. School routine leads children to become accustomed to boredom and repetition, as being a fundamental part of future life, and accept the existence of inequalities. Marxists suggest children internalize the roles they encounter within the school, such as head masters and science teachers being male. The Functionalists view is that the hidden curriculum makes a positive contribution to the pupils learning, by creating...

Bibliography: Baker, M. (2007). League tables: only half the story. Available: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/education/6257063.stm. Last accessed 15th Feb 2014.
Ball, S (1989). Sociology In Focus, Education. 5th ed. Essex: Longman Group Uk Limited. p18.
bbc. (2011). Q&A: School league tables. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11947183. Last accessed 15th Nov 2013.
Guy, C (2014.2). Hidden Curriculum, Access HE, Bath College, unpublished
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Guy, C(2014.3).The development of the British Education System, Access HE, Bath College, unpublished
Heaton, T and Lawson, T (1996). Education and Training
Heaton, T, Lawson, T and Brown, A (2010). Education and Training. 2nd ed. Hampshire: Macmillan Press Limited. p10-40.
Meighan, R and Siraj-Blatchford, I (2003). A sociology of Education . 4th ed. London: Continuum. p20-23.
Paton, G
Vasagar, J. (2012). Olympics 2012: third of Team GB medallists came from private schools. Available: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/aug/13/olympics-2012-gb-medallists-private-schooling. Last accessed 15th Feb 2014.
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