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Two important developments in the education systems in England and Wales since 1945

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The Development of Education - Task 2 Different governments have lost and regained power many times in Britain, and their varied political agendas have shaped the way young people have been educated since 1870. Since 1945 however, there have been a number of major developments in the education system in England and Wales. This essay will identify three of these, explain what they involved and discuss any possible limitations in their effectiveness. In 1965, the Labour party, led by Prime Minister Harold Wilson, introduced the comprehensive system of schooling. Labour describes itself as a democratic socialist party - it believes in equal opportunities for all which, critics would suggest, the previous tripartite system of schooling didn't create. Comprehensivisation involved a huge reorganisation of secondary education as schools began to take pupils of all abilities and social backgrounds. There was no entrance exam like the 11-plus in the previous system, as most children were guaranteed a place at their 'local comprehensive'. It was believed that providing academic support for pupils of all abilities would lead to a greater chance of success overall. ...read more.


The comprehensive system is also seen as a failure by some in helping to break down class barriers as pupils are drawn from similar areas, meaning that big differences in social class are likely to be limited. Those who hoped that the availability of support for every student would help to break down class differences in attainment, would be disappointed in a recent study by Ferri, Bynner and Wadsworth (2003), which suggested that "...examination results in general got better but the gap between top and bottom stayed more or less the same", as summarised by Haralambos et al. 2008, p.207. Another major development in the education system came as a result of the 1988 Education Reform Act (ERA) which was implemented by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government. The introduction of a National Curriculum was the creation of the Education Secretary at the time, Lord Baker, and the idea quickly came into effect at the beginning of the school year in 1989. From this moment, the state determined what was taught in schools including three core subjects of English, maths and science for everyone ages 5 to 16, and seven foundation subjects which had to be studied until a student was 14. ...read more.


introduced in September 2008 which gave teachers the ability to highlight issues like climate change and sustainable development in their lessons (in BBC News, 2008). The national curriculum has been subjected to criticism by many who suggest that children are only taught what is necessary to pass an exam which does not cohere with the principle of preparing students for the future. Taking power away from teachers and empowering the state is viewed as a negative step by some, as in their opinion, it leads to an ethnocentric curriculum. In other words, it predominantly revolves around the majority culture in Britain, that being white middle-class pupils, and may not always be appropriate or beneficial to someone belonging to a minority culture. Also, the national curriculum can be described as being too prescriptive with strict guidelines that don't allow teachers to adhere to student needs. A solution to this, some believe, would be to "...reduce the national curriculum to a "core" of numeracy, literacy and "life skills" (Shepherd 2009). This would allow greater scope for teachers to decide on the appropriateness of topics for individuals. ?? ?? ?? ?? Matthew Burgess ...read more.

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