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Assess the view that the main aim of educational policy is to reduce social class inequality

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Introduction

Assess the view that the main aim of educational policy is to reduce social class inequality One of the first pieces of education-related legislation goes back as far as 1870, when Free State education was introduced. Although school attendance wasn't compulsory, it did offer children from less privileged backgrounds the opportunity to attend school for free. This is clearly an education policy reducing social class inequality, as it is allowing those having no money being allowed to attend school without having to pay. A second piece of education policy that could be said to have a main aim of reducing social class inequality is The Education Act of 1944. Before this, only the middle class children could go to grammar schools and receive prestigious education due to the cost. However, The Education Act of 1944 introduced the 11+ exam and the 'Tri-partite system'. All children sat the 11+ exam. Those who passed could go to grammar school, those who failed went to secondary moderns, and those with special abilities went to the secondary technicals. This meant that even if a working class child didn't have any money, but successfully sat the 11+ exam, they could then go onto grammar school. ...read more.

Middle

Obviously, the middle class children will not have to worry about money or paying for things, as their parents can pay for everything. However, working class children aren't as financially well off. This often means that they have to work part time in order to support their studies, which in turn effects their education, as they can't spend valuable time studying and doing homework. So in order to reduce money issues and allow children to focus on their education, giving them the same chance as middle class children, EMA was introduced for households on under �30,000 p.a. and free school meals made available. This meant that children could receive a weekly payment whilst studying for their A levels. The introduction of academy schools in 2000 by Tony Blair is also an example of educational policy reducing social class inequality. The academies were established in order to drive up standards by replacing failing schools in struggling education authorities. Inevitably, the previous failing schools would have been attended by working class children, so the academies gave them a chance to improve their education. A report by PWC in July 2007 found attainment in academies is improving at a faster rate than comparable schools and the national average and pupils are doing better overall at key stage 3, GCSE and post-16 levels. ...read more.

Conclusion

A final educational policy introduced with the main aim of reducing social class inequality was the Assisted Places Scheme. The Assisted Places Scheme was established in the UK by the Conservative government in 1980. Children who could not afford to go to fee-paying independent schools were provided with free or subsidised places - if they were able to score within the top 10-15% of applicants in the school's entrance examination. By 1985, the scheme catered for some 6,000 students per year. This is clearly a policy that helped to improve class equality, as placements at top schools were based on reward and merit, rather on finance, something which the working class lack. Overall, over the past century there have been many policies which have helped to reduce social class inequality. However, it isn't always positive. For example, the replacement of grants with loans may have deterred working-class students from entering higher education, as those from poorer backgrounds are more likely to fear getting into debt. In addition, there are many factors that can affect educational achievement outside of the classroom, such as problems at home. Educational policies can only help to improve educational experiences within school, and are not always successful (e.g. Marketization of education). ?? ?? ?? ?? AS Sociology 15th March 2010 Education Chris Cartwright ...read more.

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