Issues of Social Class in British Education Essay

1477 Words Feb 6th, 2011 6 Pages
Social Class in Modern British Education
For this assignment I have been asked to write about a current issue in Further\Higher Education. I have chosen to discuss some of the issues of social class as they relate to education policy in modern Britain.
Following the right to vote, the right to education is a freedom which people throughout history and around the world have struggled to achieve. “There is a sense in which social class has been at the core of British sociology of education throughout the existence of the field, even when it has not been high on education policy agendas.” (Whitty, 2001, p.287) While issues and effects of social class exist in all countries, the English experience is particularly problematic. (Goldthorpe,
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As Gerwitz points out: It appears as if New Labour's policy gurus may have digested much of the research on what makes middle-class children more successful at school than their working-class counterparts and concluded that the most appropriate policy response to the available evidence is to make all families like middle-class families, or at least the ideal-typical middle-class family of much educational research. (Gewirtz, 2001, p.366)
Gerwitz identifies four key traits of middle-class parents that New Labour felt should be emulated by working-class parents: 1. They are active consumers in the education market place. 2. They monitor and closely police what schools provide, intervening when necessary to rectify shortcomings. 3. They possess and transmit to their children appropriate forms of cultural knowledge. 4. They have lots of social contacts, networks and the self-confidence to enable them to exploit the education system to their children’s advantage. (Gewirtz, 2001, p.367)

Ignoring the obvious fact that by definition not everyone can be successful and achieve excellence, I believe that the government’s approach is likely to exacerbate the problem. The work of Whitty et al. ( (1998) and Gerwitz et

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