Social Policy Exam Questions

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Explain what is meant by the term ‘vocational’ education (2 marks) Vocational education refers to education connected to a career. It involves training and transmitting knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to pursue particular careers. This includes schemes and courses such as Youth Training Scheme, apprenticeships and NVQ and GNVQ courses. 2. Suggest three ways in which parentocracy operates in relation to ‘parental choice’ (6 marks) Parentocracy relates to the marketization of the education system after the 1988 Education Reform Act which is based on an ideology of parental choice.

Ball, Bowe and Gerwitz examined parent choice and identified three types of parents when it comes to exercising choice. The first type are the privileged/ skilled choosers who are more likely to come from middle class backgrounds as they are equipped with culture capital. They are highly motivated and skilled/knowledgeable about the education system and use this to fight for the best school for their children.

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Often this can involve moving house into a catchment area or paying for private education/ tutors. Next there are the semi-skilled chooses who are highly motivated to give their child the best ducation but lack the ability/cultural capital/contacts/finances to engage with the market. These parents are less likely to appeal if their child’s application is reject and will be unable to move house into a catchment area due to a lack of disposable income and limited knowledge of the system.

Finally, Ball, Bowes and Gerwitz identified the disconnected choosers, like the semi-skilled choosers these are most likely to be working class as well as the ‘underclasses. Their parent choice involves a limited value of education ” they re more likely to be concerned with their child’s happiness than their academic performance and thus will be more likely to choose the school based upon location and availability. . Outline some of the ways in which social policies may reduce the educational under-achievement of working- class pupils (12 marks) The 1 944 Education Act that introduced the tripartite system can be criticised by Marxists as reproducing class inequality through channelling two social classes (the bourgeoisie and proletariat) into two very different types of schools and offering them unequal opportunities.

The orking classes where offered an education that provided them with the limited literacy and numeracy skills needed to be a docile member of the workforce while the middle and upper classes where encouraged to attend university and taught the skills needed for professions. The introduction of the 1988 Education Reform Act by the government of the day (Conservatives under Margret Thatcher) can be seen as a policy that reduced the under- achievement of the working class.

The Act introduced the National Curriculum which gave working class students the opportunity to learn a greater range of kills than that needed for working class jobs (factories/manual labour). The act also brought in marketization of the education system (through neoliberalism). This raised the standards of education that pupils at comprehensive schools in working class areas received as they now had to compete on league tables with middle/upper class schools and were under the scrutiny of Ofsted inspections.

Ultimately, the Education Reform Act reduced working-class under-achievement through raising the expectations from the parents (parentocracy) for the school to provide a good standard of ducation and for the pupils to perform well academically. Sociologist (such as functionalists) often blame working class under achievement on material and cultural deprivation. In order to reduce inequality with the goal of making Britain a more competitive global economy with a highly skilled and highly waged workforce, New Labour introduced a number of policies since 1997.

To combat material deprivation (lack of basic necessities) they designated some working-class areas as Education Action Zones and provided schools in these areas with additional resources. This was designed to counter-act the lack of educational aids available to working-class students that are partly responsible for the upper classes achievements. In addition, they introduced EMA.

One of the factors relating to working-class underachievement is the view that leaving school at 16 and getting a low-skilled job is more important and practical than going onto further education as it provides their family with a needed additional income. EMA allowed working-class students to put greater emphasis on academic performance rather than worrying about financial needs. To conclude, Labour, like the Conservatives (New Right) have placed emphasis on marketization in raising working -class achievement.

Through the privatisation of some schools into academies many working class pupils in former comprehensive schools with poor results have seen improvements in achievement – however this is not always the case. Many of the most successful policies that have raised working-class underachievement have been focused upon tackling the issues of deprivation through initiatives and additional funding to increase meritocracy. 4.

LJsing material from Item A nd elsewhere, assess the claim that the main aim of education policies in the last 25 years has been to create an education market (20 marks) With the beginning of neoliberalism in the 1970s/1980s came the decrease in emphasis on state intervention and the welfare state. In 1988 the Thatcher government (conservatives) introduced the 1 988 Education Reform Act which began the process of marketization of the education system. This is favoured by the New Right who believe that state intervention/control over schools in the UK is the reason for poor standards, inefficiency and lack of choice.

An education market’ was created through reducing direct state control and increasing both competition between schools and parental choice of schools (for the first time parents could choose to apply to whichever schools they preferred) As a result of the policy, schools that provide consumers (parents) with what they want thrive ” this is because Of the policy that introduced formula funding; more students means more funding allowing for better teachers.

Further policies by the Tories that have promoted the creation of an education market include the publication of league tables and Ofsted reports nd open enrolments. This allows parents to exercise informed choice and schools to pick the students they see as most ‘able’. This can be seen as aiding competition and raising standards as school will try hard to achieve the best exam results as this will mean a higher place on league tables and better Ofsted reports, putting them in great demand and thus allowing them to be more selective with the pupils they allow to enrol.

Poorer performing schools do not have this luxury and have to use advertising to try and get as many students as possible to ensure they receive sufficient funding. Marxist sociologists argue that marketization has lead the a raise in the reproduction of inequality as middle class parents can use their culture capital to select the best schools and fight for a place. They argue that the myth of parentocray in this way, legitimises and conceals inequality.

New Labours education policies can therefore be viewed as not an attempt to create an education market but instead a way of reducing inequality of achievement. New Labour introduced Education Action Zones which provided schools in deprived (mainly working lass) areas with more resources to reduce material deprivation and schemes such as National Literacy Strategy to reduce cultural deprivation. Additionally labour introduced EMA to allow working class students the opportunity to stay on longer at school.

On the other hand, labour, like the conservatives, brought in policies that increased competition such as moving schools into a ‘post-comprehensive’ era through the introduction of specialist statuses. In 2006 specialist schools had an attainment rate of 59% for A-C GCSE compared to no specialist schools rate of 47. %. Additionally, in keeping with neoliberal policies and moving away from old labour (in relation to clause 4) New Labour promoted the movement of schools into academies.

To conclude, in the past 25 years the Conservative government starting with the 1988 ERA have focused education policies on the creation of an ‘education market’. This can be seen through the publication of league tables, open enrolment and formula funding. This is favoured by the New Right who believe that such policies raise standards and efficiency through parentocracy. New Right and unctionalists believe that a meritocratic education system is ideal and possible.

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