For around a decade, immigration has been among the most salient issues for British voters, and particularly in the years since the decision to leave the European Union, British news coverage has been overwhelmingly preoccupied with Brexit and all of its corollaries. Though social institutions such as the NHS have come to the fore during this period, the issue of the quality of British education has largely been neglected, despite the fact that over half of all voters consistently view education as one of the most significant factors when choosing a party to vote for. When education has featured in contemporary political discussion, it has largely been invoked in relation to immigration, and as such, has been utilised as an ideological cudgel in televised polemics. For these reasons, though many Brits are keenly aware of the existence of education inequality within the UK, few are aware of the extent of the problem, and many continue to view Britain as a meritocratic society.
A year ago, I completed a field trip assignment for the module History and Memory. I visited three First World War memorials and wrote an essay on commemoration, national narratives, and the politics of remembrance. In my essay, I included a reference to Wilfred Owen, the poet and soldier who highlighted the horrors of war as he experienced them in the trenches. What I forgot last year, but remembered recently when passing a uniformed poppy-seller, was that I was introduced to Owen’s poetry by my English teacher at school. Despite not coming up in our GCSE English paper, his work has certainly informed my perception of war, commemoration, and education in ways I find worth discussing in light of this Remembrance Day.
In the face of rising poverty levels and with this, rising educational inequality, the education system in the UK is in clear need of reform. King’s Think Tank hosted a panel discussion on ‘The Inequality of Education in the UK’ on the 23rd November 2015 – an opportune event in light of the upcoming Spending Review, as education is the third largest area of public expenditure. Over one hundred think tank members joined panelists David Hoare – Chair of Ofsted, Amy Finch – Researcher on Education Policy at Reform, James Dobson – Researcher at Bright Blue, as well as Johnny Luk – CEO of NACUE (National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs). Head of the Education Policy Centre Francesca Tripaldi, introduced the debate providing an overview of post-war education policy to date, scrutinizing current reforms proposed by Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan MP. Continue reading “Educational inequality – addressing the root causes”
There is waste happening all around us – waste of food, waste of money, waste of resources. There is however a deeply saddening waste which is happening under all of our noses. It’s the waste of human talent – hundreds of thousands of young people in our country who do not fulfil their full potential. I’m talking about the so-called “less able” who are not given high expectations, the “more able” who are not challenged further and the cosy middle who are mollycoddled and not stretched beyond their comfort zone. Continue reading “Should We Give Grammar Schools Another Try?”
It almost goes without saying that education is the key to success. But it does still need to be said, because huge achievement gaps in primary and secondary education stubbornly persist in both the United States and the UK. Children from different socioeconomic, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds are simply not awarded the same educational opportunities, a discrepancy that has profound consequences for their chances later in life. This gap is often quantifiable. For example, why is it that in 2008 test scores for black seventeen-year-olds in the US, as opposed to their white seventeen-year-old peers, reflected a difference in learning approximately equivalent to three fewer years of school? Why are there two black Caribbean students for every three white British students in the highest testing tier at age fourteen, even when these students’ test scores at age eleven were equivalent? Clearly, something crucial is missing in the approaches that both countries currently take to educating diverse groups of students. The question that follows is whether current policy is capable of addressing these trends, and, if not, what the most effective and efficient policies might be. Continue reading “How do we fill in the Gaps in Education Policy? A Look at the US and the UK.”
On Tuesday 27 January, King’s Think Tank hosted a panel event focusing on education and social mobility. It featured four diverse speakers with experiences in, among other things, policy, economics, education, and funding. Baroness Margaret Sharp of Guildford, Dr. Tim Leunig, Adam Wright, and Professor Mick Fuller spoke about obstacles to entering higher education and potential policy solutions to overcome them. Continue reading “Postgraduate Fees: How Could we Design a Viable Funding System to Maximise Social Mobility?”