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What is education for? Critically evaluate the diverse functions of education with reference to recent changes in education policy.

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Introduction

What is education for? Critically evaluate the diverse functions of education with reference to recent changes in education policy. In determining what education is for the different ideological perspectives of the main political parties has to be taken into account. This area of social welfare has become highly politicised in recent years, resulting in many reports and recommendations of which some have become social policy. It is these policies this essay will investigate and compare them to the diverse functions of education to see wether or not they are compatible. The main functions I want to consider are, education as a means of socialisation and social control. The use of education as way of reducing social inequality or as a means of reproducing social inequalities, and lastly the possibilities of education being a benefit to the individual or to society economically. This will draw the essay to conclude that although free education was secured for most children and benefits were made to the economy, I will argue it was at the expense of the less wealthy people within British life. I will also argue that it has benefited people who were already in positions of privilege pre education act 1944 namely the more affluent within society. ...read more.

Middle

It was now recognised that grammar schools had been creaming of the more able students from middle class homes while most of the working class children attended secondary modern. (Finch p20) It is important to stress that there were some children from not so affluent families who made it to grammar schools but in very insignificant numbers. comprehensives attempted to close the gap of inequality within education but the issue of privately run schools can be seen to perpetuate this problem. In tandem with state schools there was a growing number of independent schools who were financially self supporting and essentially fee charging. The main criticism of these schools is that access is only available to those who can afford the fees, uniforms books and travelling expenses. This sector it could be argued provides an education which leads its pupils into top and powerful professions. This could be partly due to the fact that children from higher income families do better at exams-which are imperative for the job market-than kids from poorer backgrounds. Indeed a 1989 study shows that six percent of the former group failed to attain any qualifications compared to fifty four percent of the latter.(DfEE) ...read more.

Conclusion

market economy which some would argue has reduced costs to the government but, tuition fees and non payment of grants has meant that further education is only available to those who can afford it or there parents/partners are in a position to support them. "Cost efficiency does not necessarily mean effective education for all students"(Ellison and Pierson, p155) In this essay I have argued that early education's function of achieving equality of opportunity failed as it did not address the wider issues of inequality within British society. Early social policy did attempt to tackle this problem but left systems in place-independent schools-that were hierarchical and virtually guaranteed there pupils a higher status within society. It is conceded that it did give for the first time a free compulsory secondary education for all. I have also attempted to show that the functions of socialisation and social control have succeeded in enhancing the economy. Selection and testing has provided a compliant work force accepting their different positions in the occupational ladder. In other words, if success or failure can be seen as a result of fair competition, then inequality can be justified in terms of different levels of educational achievement leaving virtually no challenge to the economic order. ...read more.

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