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School Wars – Melissa Benn on Britain’s great education divide. Free essay! Download now

Home > A Level > Sociology > School Wars – Melissa Benn on Britain’s great education divide.

School Wars – Melissa Benn on Britain’s great education divide.

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School Wars – Melissa Benn on Britain’s great education divide.


School Wars – Melissa Benn on Britain’s great education divide.
The Guardian – G2 article – Wednesday 17/08/2011.

In this Guardian article Melissa Benn argues that the current coalition government focus on providing support and funding for free schools and academies to the detriment of community schools will increases divisions in education provision and lead to an increasingly unfair society. She argues for a return to the ideals of comprehensive education.

Writing only a week after the riots in a number of UK cities in Summer 2011 which caused some right wing commentators to accuse, as she puts it in her article, “shamed comprehensives” as key factors in our national decline Melissa Benn presents a counter argument that Britain remains a “staggeringly unequal society in terms of educational provision”. The article draws on research she has conducted for her forthcoming book “School Wars: the Battle for Britain’s Education” which was published on 1st September 2011 which involved visits to the counties richest and poorest schools. In her article she contrasts Wellington College, Berkshire, a fee paying exceptionally well resourced school with Lilian Baylis, South London, where 75% of pupils are on free school meals. She seeks to emphasis the difference in resources, funding and support the two schools receive to support her assertion that neighbourhood schools in general are educating our poorest children in the most difficult of circumstances and this is only going to get worse as their revenues decline and there is further disruptive structural reform.

The article throughout is selective in using quotes from a range of people involved with education, politics and childcare to provide support for her argument of a return to the values of comprehensive education and her belief that the unequal distribution of resources to the already privileged is unfair, getting worse and is to the detriment of society as a whole. She further accuses the “new independent schools” i.e. free schools and academies, of manipulating the system to put them in the best light by, for example, not accepting pupils who would struggle to achieve good results. This would she argues, lead to resentment and alienation by those excluded.
She has a passionate belief that schools should work well for all children and quotes a Demos thinktank report, The Forgotten Half, that, she says, reveals how the current system is failing large number of the nation’s children and these “Neets”, Not in Education, Employment and Training, were surely out in our streets during the recent riots. No real factual evidence is included in the article to sustain this claim but is does provide a powerful emotional context for her reasoning.
She goes on to assert that the current coalition government reforms will result in further segregation of ...

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