The changes of secondary education are the very important part in the post-war period. It has deeply influenced UK society. According to The 1944 Education Act, some disadvantages were obvious, especially for secondary modern schools although grammar schools have many advantages such as it can be seen the bridge to famous university like Cambridge and Oxford so that The labour Party abolished the selective system from 1964. The comprehensive replaced the selection education. It offers the same opportunities to almost whole students with same education. However the disadvantages of comprehensive education are easy to see, which is not academic as well as grammar schools. With the change in education, some influence happened to British society and economy. The report will focus on the change, the positive and negative effects, influence and recommendation of the comprehensive system education.
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Since 1945, the Second World War had less influence on the population trends than the First World War although it probably decreases a far greater degree of movement of population. (Lowe, 1988) No one can deny that the impact that population may have a great effect on education. According to Lowe, it had an effect of the destruction of family life. The birth rate was at 16.2 per thousand in the year 1945. Maybe it can help to explain the amazing changes of the late 1940s which were critical for education. In 1944, there was a great education revolution called The 1944 Education Act in UK which influenced greatly to society and generations of schoolchildren. (Oakland, 2006) According to the act, state schooling became free and was divided into three stages: primary schools, secondary schools and further post-school training. And the changes of secondary education are the most important part in the post-war period. This report will evaluate the changes in secondary education in UK since 1945, the reasons for change and advantages as well as disadvantages of these changes which are followed by demonstrating the effects to British society.
It is time to focus on the change itself. Following the 1944 Act, most state schools in England and Wales were divided into two type schools: grammar schools and secondary modern schools. What kinds of schools that students should go to depends on the results of eleven-plus examination. It means students who pass the eleven-plus examination would go to grammar schools which were more academic however those who failed in eleven-plus examination have to go to the modern secondary schools. (Oakland, 2006) Indeed, the Act almost replaces the previous education legislation. With its promise of secondary education for all, the state schools were free to the public. It means the tuitions fees started to be the responsibility of the government. An increasing number of students have the opportunities to go to secondary schools for higher education. The grammar schools stand for the advanced level of academic education at that time. Davis states that there are three elements to secondary school which is possible to speak of a grammar school tradition. The first one is independence. These schools do not come from the state, they are from the individuals. After that, a group of people who have a common purpose build the schools so that they have their own choice to decide how the schools work. Secondly, the scholarship plays a very important role in grammar schools because to public, grammar schools are seen as the bridge to the university. The education level in grammar schools makes it easier to university courses than any other schools. The final element is selective, which means the students selected pay for education and they have their right to control the intake (Davis, 1967). The advantages of grammar schools are definitely obvious. Students in grammar school take the further step to high education. According to Davis, because of the time and good teaching, pupils in grammar school are brought many benefits in examination. The increasing population finds their ways to famous university such as Cambridge and Oxford. However, the success brings failures. In terms of secondary modern school in this selective system, the students in secondary modern school will lose the opportunities to catch up with high education as well as academic education. Pupils in secondary modern schools are trained to focus on practical schooling. The problem is getting obvious that the education source in selective system is not equal. Oakland considers that the purpose of building selective system is to provide universal and Free State education. The opportunities would expand the education market so that a better-educated society is hoped. The government encourages more working-class children to achieve university and degrees.
But these aims were not working in the 1950s with the selective secondary school system so that The Labour Party abolished this system as well as eleven-plus examination from 1964. They pointed out the principle was totally wrong in the selective system because it is early to decide who should go to grammar school or secondary modern school at the age eleven. The government does not take the full responsibility to education. Oakland states that the eleven-plus examination was narrowing the education and testing showed the weakness. From 1964 The Labour government make a great decision that selective education system should be replaced by non-selective system which is comprehensive schools that allow that all children could enter in so that pupils could transfer when they graduate primary school. What is a comprehensive school? It is impossible to give an exact answer. Sire Graham Savage, formerly Education Officer to the London County Council and master-planner of London’s post-war comprehensive schools point out that comprehensive was an awful name because of two reasons, one of them is they offer for every activity, another one is all children have the right to go to comprehensive school regardless of ability. It means the students will receive the same education from the same teachers. The only difference may be the different classes. There are many differences between comprehensive and selective school system in terms of judgments, achievements, leaving ages, the attitudes to school and social integrations (JMRoss,WJBuntion,PEvision and TSRobertson 1974) Circular 10/65(Department of Education and Science, 1965a) believes that there are six main forms of comprehensive organization. According to this point a truly comprehensive school should accept all the students at the age of secondary school no matter what their ability or social class. Therefore it is a large change from selective system to non-selective system for in selective, boys and girls graduate at eleven years old and enter to grammar or secondary modern schools through the eleven-plus examination. However, in non-selective system, all students from the same situation are educated together; there is no eleven-plus examination to enter a comprehensive school.
Another point should be mentioned is the advantages of comprehensive system which is important to think about it carefully for the education. According to Davis, Firstly the comprehensive schools take a larger area for the whole students. It means more new buildings were built, more courses were opened and more staffs were employed. This is a great step for secondary education. Secondly in terms of “social engineering” they look attractive. Thirdly in the academic area the developers can be better improved. There are still different level classes in comprehensive school although comprehensive system accepts all children with the same education. However it is easier to transfer between classes in the same school than between separate schools. Furthermore, the changes of class size make necessary the decentralization of the headmasters’ keep in touch with pupils one to one. It is benefit to whatever the students’ academic levels and personal life. Finally they build some valuable community centres for those parents who might be indifferent about their children’s education. The parents could be involved to pupils’ life and study.
When discussing the change in secondary education, it is not objective if people only focus on the positive influence above. It is necessary to take some negative effects into consider. What are the disadvantages of comprehensive system? Oakland considers that state comprehensive schools were not taking their responsibility to produce the talents that are needed for the modern society. It is claimed that students lack of the basic ability such as numeracy and literacy and they do not have the skills for getting employment and they are not ready for the outside world although comprehensive system provide more chances to pupils to receive same education. However the grammar schools, absolutely is more academic than comprehensive schools. In terms of the secondary modern school, somehow, students are trained to have the certain skills. With comparing with the motivation between comprehensive and secondary modern schools, the students in secondary modern school have to be taught to want to learn before they can even start to think about learning (Davis 1967)
In fact, some influence should be talked about in this report. The biggest change from selective system to comprehensive system in education may not only affect the field of education but also to the economy and British society. According to V VAIZEY and DEBEAUVAIS, as we know, the time we live in is knowledge and education time. Higher education level, better education organized and new techniques change the whole world. Education has two duties in the modern life which is hand on tradition, the values and to promote knowledge for the growth of economy. What should be concerned with influence of comprehensive education are the changes to the economy and British society. No one can deny the relationship among education, economy and society although it is different from physical investment to economy. VAIZEY and DEBEAUVAIS state that education has one of the important tasks which is aiming the creation of an efficient working force. It means education plays a main role in economic growth. As for comprehensive education, it is impossible to ignore that since the change happened between selective system and comprehensive system, the school became larger and this means new buildings need to be built, some fields about building houses, for example, teaching equipment as well as the related industries had a development. Furthermore, as well known, comprehensive schools offer the opportunities to almost the all students, as the result of the increasing numbers of student educated, more social working force were strengthened. More staffs need to be employed. When coming to this point, maybe it is worth to take ideals into thinking from VAIZEY and DEBEAUVAIS, they believe that to increase some certain level or branch of education has a multiplying effect on the whole education even the whole society. What it means is a rise in the number of engineering student requires an expansion of other courses of the colleges for keeping the balance; the result of the secondary schools, especially the comprehensive schools has to be increased to allow the further step in higher education. Finally more teachers were needed which cause to create more teacher training schools and so on. The education system is like a net where a change causes changing all.
All in all, after analyzing the changes in secondary education in UK after the Second World War, the reasons, advantages as well as disadvantages of these changes and demonstrating the influence to British society. It is can be safely drawn the conclusion that the change which is abolishing the selective system to comprehensive system in UK have reorganized the education system in this country. The comprehensive system replaces the selective system which was built from The 1944 Education Act. The main purpose of building comprehensive schools is to offer more opportunities to the almost whole students to take a further step to higher education when compared with selection school. It also brings the positive and negative influence to British society according to its advantages and disadvantages. Nowadays the debate of comprehensive or selection still continues. According to Oakland, the majority of parents prefer to selective because there are assessment, interviews and choice before students enter into. Only a small proportion of parents support comprehensive education.
In the end some recommendation need to be mentioned. Another idea should be noticed is the satisfaction from public to government duty in education is not high. Oakland states that many parents do not think the state schools are run well and peoples’ wishes about students’ education are not drawn full attention by politicians. Citizens take a wide realize that more money and sources should be spent on education. Personally, a strong recommendation should be mentioned is every government should take education very seriously. It is the basic element of developing a country like economy. Any government which is blind to the importance of education will pay a heavy price. At the same time, everyone should have the equal choice to choose the way to be educated that they want. The system of education should always follow the step of society.
1. Davis, R. (1967). Grammar School (pp17-18 pp80-81).The University of Liverpool
2. Lowe, R. (1988). Education In The Post-war Years: A social history (pp9-10). London and New York: Routledge
3.Oakland,J.(2006).British Civilization An Introduction. Sixth Edition (pp213-229). London and New York: Routledge
4. Ross, J. M. Bunton, W. J. vison, P. E. and Robertson, TS. R. (1974) A Critical Appraisal Of Comprehensive Education (pp24-25). The NFER Publishing Company Ltd
5. Vaizey, J. and Debeauvais, M (1961) Ecomomic Aspects Of Educational Development. In: Halsey, A.H. and Floud, J. and Anderson,C.A, ed. (1961). Education, Economy And Society (pp37-42). The Free Press of Glencoe,Inc.
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