The ‘Oxford English Dictionary,’ defines education as:
The UK’s education system has seen many reforms aiming to improve opportunities for children. Education was once a supreme priviledge, of which only the rich members of society would receive the right to. A significant change in the form of The Forsters Education Act 1870 began to address this, with the introduction of free compulsory schooling. At present, in England and Wales, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) states that:
The UK is a democratic, multicultural and diverse nation, which prides itself on equality. Each local authority is responsible for providing and funding a cross-national education for all children from five to sixteen years old. Based on this information, it would be reasonable to suggest that there is no inequality in education, because the law aims to provide the same opportunities through a universal system. In retrospect the reality seems to be very different. Through evaluating sociological perspectives and theoretical and empirical research, this essay will analyse the inequalities within the education system and how it affects society.
Overall, society places much importance on education, often regarding it as the main source of social mobility. Functionalist, Talcott Parsons (1959) believes the most important part of secondary socialisation is education, as it serves to pass on the norms and values of wider society which apply outside of the home. Functionalists argue that there is no inequality, since education is free and provides a formal curriculum of core subjects, such as: English; Maths; and Science. Parsons claims the education system passes on vital information and evaluates everyone through the same competiti...
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...tionally and these inequalities continue, although it does indicate that there is an element of bringing about equality beyond the meritocratic system. It is hard to envisage a Britain without an education system; however the survival of the meritocratic system by which success is measured is not so certain.
Haralambos, M. & Holborn, M. (1991) Sociology Themes and Perspectives. 3rd Ed. Harper Collins, London.
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