Different Aspects of Education Inequality 

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Class plays a huge role in the inequality present in education. Becker and Keddie(1971) provide an insight as to how education isn’t fair with their theory of the self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. The concept that teachers themselves will evaluate the pupils. They depict a child's academic ability judged on their appearance speech and social class.Ball(1981) provides a deeper insight into this theory, he believes that this labeling within the education system then leads to streaming. Through his research, he came to the conclusion that middle-class students are taught in a different manner to those from a lower socioeconomic, working-class background. Keddie (1971) also states this in his research to the class in relation to the education system. Through his research, he found that higher class students are even taught different information. Due to the fact they are in higher streams, they are given an insight into the knowledge that is not accessible to those that are in a lower stream. Due to this negative attitude to those in lower streams, working-class children become less likely to conform, giving them a negative attitude to education as found by Hardgreaves (1975).

The negative attitude can also come to derive from the teachers' attitude to their parents. Making a decision based on their social classification, their marital status, job, etc (Bartlett and Burton). Douglas (1964 discovered that there is a huge gap in educational achievement from those children living with unsatisfactory living conditions such as poor housing or diet. He also found that children from this background are at a disadvantage in education due to cultural deprivation. Statistics furthermore prove this point with ⅓ of children on free meals leaving primary education below the expected level of achievement in maths, reading, and writing. 33% of children on free school meals leave GCSE with 5 a*-c compared to 66%, not on school meals and 21% of children on school meals go to university compared to 85% of those in private education. Also noted is that a 50% chance that a child from a poorer family will go to a school with an outstanding Ofsted compared to that of a child from a wealthier background.

Education can be seen to be unfair for both genders in different ways. Mitos and Browne (1998) came to the conclusion through their research that the education itself has been feminized. Primary teachers tend to be female, this being unfair to males as it provides girls with a positive female role model outside of the home. The government is also more focused on encouraging girls to be more active in stereotypically male subjects such as IT and science. The government push through initiatives such a WISE (women in science and engineering) to encourage girls to be involved with these subjects. There is no push for males to take subjects such as health and social care, something predominantly favored by females. Females are also provided with programs such as GIST (Girls into science and technology) this lack of a push for males is unfair.

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The legislation is also now working in favor of females, the values that exist within the education system have altered due to legislation such as the equal pay act and the sex discrimination act. This has led to more opportunities for girls once they have left education and created new values during and after education. This is making education more equal and fair to both genders.

The self-fulfilling prophecy of failure is a problem for boys (becker and Keddie 1971). They are much more likely to be labeled unfairly in school. This then leads to misbehavior and a negative attitude towards education. Government statistics show that boys are “three times more likely to receive a permanent exclusion and almost three times more likely to receive a fixed period exclusion than girls” This negative attitude is more likely to apply to those from a working-class background. Though girls from the same background still perform better with 10% of girls eligible for free school meals achieving 5 or more a*-c GCSEs compared to 5% of boys. This gap is also relevant as a whole, in 1998 35.8% of girls managed to get five or higher grade GCSEs in comparison to 29.8% this gap is rising with a gap of 10% difference between boys and girls.

In 2006, Archer conducted a study into the differences and fairness of gender in the education system. His findings showed that lower achievement in boys is used to conceal that there was still an unfairness to females in schools. Teachers also negatively label girls from a different ethnic background, with high achieving Asians or Chinese girls being seen as machine-like and black girls from a working-class background being assigned the persona of loud and aggressive. Archer believes there is still a need for improvement for gender fairness within education.

After World War 2 there was a huge review for education. The government wanted to and attempted to make it fairer. The 1944 education act or the Butler act was introduced. This led to the introduction of the Tripartite System, this meant three types of schools, Grammar school, secondary modern, and technical school. To determine which school each pupil attended an exam was introduced, the 11+. The 11+ was unfair, questions were set up in set a way that it was more depending on your cultural background then your intelligence. The 11+ also created a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. If you didn't earn a place into grammar school then you were seen within society as a failure which in turn created a negative attitude to education. If you feel like a failure you are more likely to fail. The 11+ also wasn't fair in the fact that if you were from a higher socio-economic background and didn't pass you were still able to attend a private school as your family could afford this privilege. In 1965 the government introduced comprehensive schools, meaning that the 11+ was scrapped. This was an attempt to make the education system fairer as all schools were made equal. However, there was still better school in better, more middle class and wealthy areas meaning children from a working-class background still have a disadvantage in education and the system itself was unfair. In 1976 there was a push for vocational education. GNVQ and NVQs were introduced, again another attempt to make education fair. Giving pupils with practical skills is a more equal opportunity to those with academic achievement. There was also the introduction of youth training schemes (1983), training schemes for those leaving school at the ages of 16 or 17.

The education reform act in 1988 also attempted to create a fairer education system. OFSTED was introduced as well as the national curriculum, making certain subjects compulsory to all, creating a close in the unfairness between males and females. Parents had more choice in what school to send their child too and league tables would assist them in making this decision. There were also more exams with the introduction of GCSE’S also came SATS. Education also changed when new labor took charge in 1997, classes were made smaller, increase in literacy and numeracy within schools and encouragement for pupils to continue to go on to higher education such as the university.

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