Рефераты. Education in Britain

reinforced by statements from employers. According to them, Britain’s

workforce is under-educated, under-trained and under-qualified! These

criticisms of standards are pitched at different levels. First, there

are worries about low standards of literacy and numeracy. Second,

international comparisons give weight to misgivings about the

performance of British schoolchildren in mathematics and science. And,

therefore, the subsequent changes have tried to define standards much

more precisely, and o have regular assessment of children’s

performance against these standards.

II. Changing Political Control

a) After 1944

The key educational legislation, until recently, was the 1944

Education Act. That Act supported a partnership between central government

(Local Education Authorities or LEAs), teachers and the churches - with

central government playing a minimal role in the curriculum.

The 1944 Education Act required the Secretary of State to promote the

education of the people of England and Wales and the progressive

development of institutions devoted to that purpose and to secure the

effective execution by local authorities, under his control and direction,

of the national policy for providing a varied and comprehensive educational

service in every area.

In the decades following the Act, «promotion» was perceived in very

general terms - ensuring that there were resources adequate for all

children to receive an education according to «age, ability and aptitude»,

providing the broad legal framework and regulations within which education

should be provided (for example, the length of the school year or the

division of education into primary and secondary phases), and initiating

major reports on such important matters as language and mathematics


Within this framework, the LEA organized the schools. The LEA raised

money through local taxation to provide education from primary right

through to further and indeed higher education, and made sure that the

schools and colleges were working efficiently. They employed and paid the

teachers. And ultimately they had responsibility for the quality of

teaching within those schools.

The Churches were key partners because historically they (particularly

the Church of England) had provided a large proportion of elementary

education and owned many of the schools.

The 1944 Act had to establish a new partnership between state, LEAs

and the church schools.

b)After 1980

However, the changing economic, social and cultural conditions

outlined in the previous section caused the government to reexamine the

nature and the composition of that partnership. The questions being asked

during the 1980’s included the following:

Has central government the power to make the system respond to the

changing context? Are the local authorities too local for administrating a

national system and too distant for supporting local, especially parental,

involvement in school? Have the parents been genuine partners in the system

that affects the future welfare of their children? And what place, if any,

in the partnership has been allocated to the employers, who believe they

have a contribution to make to the preparation of young people for the


1) New governing bodies

Various Acts of Parliament since 1980 have made schools more


Teachers, employers and parents have been given places on the governing

bodies. Governors have to publish information about the school that enables

parents to make informed choices when deciding to which school they should

send their child. Each LEA has to have a curriculum policy that must be

considered and implemented by each governing body. Schools also must have a

policy on sex education and must ensure that political indoctrination does

not take place. This accountability of schools and LEAs has to be

demonstrated through an annual report to be presented to a public meeting

of parents. The government gave parents the right to enrol their children -

given appropriate age and aptitude - at any state school of their choice,

within the limits of capacity. Parents already sent their children to the

local school of their choice. The decision to publish schools' examination

results, however, gave parents a stark, but not necessarily well-informed,

basis on which to choose the most appropriate school for their child.

Increasingly parents sought access to the most successful nearby school in

terms of examination results. Far

from being able to exercise their choice, large numbers of parents were now

frustrated in their choice. Overall, in 1996 20 per cent of parents failed

to obtain their first choice of school. In London the level was 40 per

cent, undermining the whole policy of 'parental choice' and encouraging

only the crudest view of educational standards. Schools found themselves

competing rather than cooperating and some schools, for example in deprived

urban areas, faced a downward spiral of declining enrolment followed by

reduced budgets. Thus the market offered winners and losers: an improved

system for the brighter or more fortunate pupils, but a worse one for the

'bottom' 40 per cent. Schools in deprived parts of cities acquired

reputations as 'sink' schools. As one education journalist wrote in 1997,

'There is a clear hierarchy of schools:

private, grammar, comprehensives with plenty of nice middle-class children,

comprehensives with fewer nice middle-class children and so on.'

2) Central control

The government has looked for ways of exercising greater influence

over what is taught in schools. New legislation gave the government powers

to exercise detailed control over the organization and content of

education. The 1988 Education Act legislated a National Curriculum and a

system of National Assessment. In addition, significant changes were

enacted to make possible the central financing and thus control of schools

through creating a new kind of school outside LEA control (first, the

provision of City Technology Colleges 9CTC), and, second, the creation of

Grant Maintained Schools (GMS)). The government also significantly reduced

the power of local authorities by transferring the management of schools

from the LEA to the schools themselves (known as the local management of

schools or LMS).

At the same time, within this more centralized system, parents have

been offered greater choice through the establishment of different kinds of

schools (GMS and CTC), through the delegation of management to the

governing bodies of the schools (LMS) and through the granting of parental

rights to send their children to the school of their choice.

The various Parliamentary Acts (but especially the 1988 Act) gave

legal force to a massive change in the terms of the education partnership.

First, the Secretary of State now has powers over the details of the

curriculum and assessment. Second, a mechanism has been created whereby

there can be more participation by parents (and to a much smaller degree by

employers), in decisions that affect the quality of education. Third, the

LEAs have been required to transfer many decisions over finance, staffing,

and admissions to the schools and colleges themselves. Fourth, the LEA

responsibility for the curriculum has been transferred to the Secretary of


3) Employer involvement

The voice of the consumers will be heard more, and the consumer

includes the employer. Several initiatives encouraged employer

participation. First, and possibly the most important in the long run, has

been the encouragement of business representatives on governing bodies of

schools. Second, there has been a range of initiatives which have given

employers a greater say in the purposes which schools are expected to serve

and in the means of attaining them.

4) The role of assessment

The government decided to develop a reformed system of examinations

which would specify the standards against which the performance of

individual schools and of pupils might be measured.

The 1988 Education Act legislated for assessment of pupils at the

ages of 7, 11, 14 and 16, using attainment targets which all children

should normally be expected to reach at these different ages in different

subjects - especially in the «foundation subjects» of English, mathematics

and science. The assessments relied partly on moderated teacher-assessment,

but more importantly on national, externally administrated tests.

As a result of these national assessments, exactly where each child

was in relation to all other children in terms of attainment in each

subject. And it would be possible to say how each school was succeeding in

these measured attainments in relationship to every other school. These

assessments, have subsequently, provided the basis of national comparisons

and league tables of schools.

In the reform of National Curriculum in the early 1990’s, it was

decided that, because of public examinations at 16 , the national

assessment should finish at 14.

5) Inspection

For over one hundred years, there had been an independent inspection

service. The inspectors were called Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) to

indicate that ultimately they were accountable to the Queen, not to the

government from whom they ardently preserved their independence. Until

about ten years ago, HMI numbered about 500. They inspected schools and

they advised the government.

Senior HMIs were based at the Department of Education and Science

(now the department for Education and Employment) but the big majority were

scattered over the whole country so that they could advise locally but also

be a source of information to central government. Indeed, they were known

as «the ears and the eyes of the Minister».

Much of this has now changed as government has sought greater central

control. HMI has been cut back to about one third of its previous size. The

Chief Inspector is now a political appointment, not someone who has arisen

from the ranks of an independent inspectorate. A new office has been

created, the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED), to which HMI now

belong and which is much more at the service of government policy.

Under OFSTED a very large army of «Ofsted inspectors» has been

created - often teachers - who, after a brief training, are equipped to

inspect schools. The initial plan was to inspect all 25,000 schools every

four years and to publish a report which would be accessible to everyone.

Every teacher is seen and graded. OFSTED is able to identify «failing

schools» and «failing teachers».

It has been very difficult to get rid of very poor teachers. It is

now hoped that, with more regular inspection and with clearer criteria for

success and failure, it will be easier to sack teachers who are

consistently under performing.

The recent changes are increasingly redescribed in managerial and

business terms, as the educational system is managed as part of the drive

to be more economically competitive.

However, one must be aware of the doubts and dismay of many in this

«philosophy». First, there is little consideration of the aims of education

- the values which make the relationship between teacher and learner an

educational encounter, not one of «delivering a service». Second, the new

language of «education» is drawn from an entirely different activity, that

of business and management. The language of control, delivery, inputs and

outputs, performance indicators and audits, defining products, testing

against product specification, etc. Is not obviously appropriate to the

development of thinking, inquiring, imagination, creativity, and so on.

Third, the key role of the teacher is made peripheral to the overall

design; the teacher becomes a «technician» of someone else’s curriculum.

The changing economic and social context in Britain seemed to require

a closer integration of education, training, and employment; at the same

time, a sharper focus on personal development; greater concentration of the

partnership to include employers and parents; and a dominant position given

to central government in stipulating outcomes were all factors which led

the framework of the system is adapting to the new contexts.

a)The public system of education might be illustrated as follows:

|Age |Type of school |National exams and |

| | |assessments |

|4 |Nursery school | |

| |(optional and where | |

| |available) | |

|Beginning of | | |

|compulsory education | | |

|5 |Primary school |Baseline assessment |

|6 |Primary school | |

|7 |Primary school |Assessment Key Stage |

| | |1 |

|8 |Primary school of | |

| |Middle school | |

|9 |Primary school of | |

| |Middle school | |

|10 |Primary school of | |

| |Middle school | |

|11 |Secondary school of |Assessment Key Stage |

| |Middle school |2 |

|12 |Secondary school of | |

| |Middle school | |

|13 |Secondary school of | |

| |Middle school | |

|14 |Secondary School |Assessment Key Stage |

| | |3 |

|15 |Secondary School |Start of GCSE course |

|16 |Secondary School |GCSE exams |

|End of compulsory | | |

|education | | |

|17 |Secondary School |Start of A-level |

| |Sixth Form |course |

| |College of Further | |

| |Education |GNVQ |

| |Work Training Scheme | |

| | |NVQ |

|18 |Secondary School |A-level exams |

| |Sixth Form |GNVQ |

| |College of Further |NVQ |

| |Education | |

| |Work Training Scheme | |

b) Schools and the post-16 curriculum

The maintenance of such a curriculum has been a major function of the

examination system at 16, which was originally designed as a preparation

for the post-16 courses leading to A-level. It is taken in single subjects,

usually not more than three. These three subjects, studied in depth, in

turn constituted a preparation for the single or double subject honors

degrees at university. In this way the shape of the curriculum for the

majority has been determined by the needs of the minority aspiring to a

university place. Alongside «A» Levels, there have been, more recently,

«AS» (Advanced Supplementary) Level examinations. These are worth half an

«A» Level and they enable very bright students to broaden their educational

experience with a «contrasting» subject (for example, the science

specialist might study a foreign language).

The present «A» and «AS» Level system, however, is thought to be in

need of reform. First, it limits choice of subjects at 16 and 17 years, a

time, when a more general education should be encouraged. Second,

approximately 30% of students either drop out or fail - a mass failure rate

amongst a group of young people from the top 30% of academic achievement

who find that after two years they have no qualification. Third, the

concentration on academic success thus conceived has little room for the

vocationally relevant skills and personal qualities stressed by those

employers who are critics of the education system. Fourth, there are over

600 «A» Level syllabuses from eight independent examination boards often

with overlapping titles and content, making comparability of standards

between Boards difficult.

The private sector


y 1997 8 per cent of the school population attended independent fee-paying

schools, compared with under 6 per cent in 1979, and only 5 per cent in

1976. By the year 2000 the proportion may rise to almost 9 per cent, nearly

back to the level in 1947 of 10 per cent. The recovery of private education

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