The British Education System: A time for change?
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The United Kingdom recently placed 20th on OECD's global survey of educational systems around the world, the largest survey of its kind in history. We placed tenth in Europe behind the likes of the world renowned Finnish educational system as well as, maybe surprisingly, Estonia and Slovenia - both formerly a part of the communist states of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia respectively. The state of Britain's educational system has arguably been written about to death, and is nothing new, however I decided to explore the debate for myself and offer my two cents. When I look back on my time in school, leaving in 2010, I remember the ever increasing pressure on statistics. I remember what was once a hallway dedicated to the celebration of pupils' class work, being transformed into a presentation on the various percentages of A*-C grades that were achieved by their respective year groups. While this in itself could serve as a celebration of success it also reminded those classes and year groups who were underperforming every time they walked by. I left before the then new Education Secretary Michael Gove came into power, with him a relentless campaign of rapid and unyielding reform that has been widely criticised as focusing solely on statistics and little else. Gove's reforms have also been criticised for putting too much pressure on students, choking flexibility out of teaching and moving to privatise education through academies amongst other things. Arguably the greatest challenge facing education secretaries in the UK is closing the gap between the performance of children from poorer lower class backgrounds and children from wealthier middle class backgrounds. A report from the Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission writes how six out of ten disadvantaged children don't achieve a basic set of qualifications as opposed to one in three more advantaged children.
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