Two Contrasting Agencies Of Education Education Essay

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This essay focuses on two secondary schools, one is a state school and the other is a private school. Part A gives a brief description of the agencies, the reasons for selection and the problems associated with the agencies. Part B includes information provided by the agencies and data from league tables. This information is compared and analysed in relation to economic and social factors, Issues such as funding, admissions, the curriculum an the attainment in GCSE results are discussed further to identify the problems associated with them.

Education Secondary Schools State Private Problems

A Comparative Study of Two Contrasting

Agencies of Education

Education is a huge industry with nearly ten million pupils aged between 3 and 18 in over 33,680 schools throughout the United Kingdom. (DfEE). There are over 31,000 state schools and approximately 2,500 private schools. (DfEE, 1998). Choosing the right school for your child is one of the difficult decisions a parent has to make. One fundamental choice is deciding between state or private education. Both sectors differ to each other in a variety of ways. These will be explored and discussed thoroughly. Both the agencies have provided information such as the school prospectus and other relevant policy documents. Further information has been gathered from Ofsted reports, league tables and GCSE results.

The private school is a co-educational day school for boys and girls. The aim of the school is to blend the best of traditional education with the skills and resources of the modern system to ensure that pupil's talents are exercised to the full. Class sizes are considerably smaller than the state school at 16 or less. It has balanced curriculum and reflects the National Curriculum as a minimum. It provides a good range of extra-curricular activities such as sports and the arts. It provides pupils with a broad academic, personal and social education relevant to their need now and in the future. It follows the A.Q.A syllabi for the GCSE courses. The school is not government funded; it is funded by means of charging student fees.

The state school is a comprehensive foundation school. It has a good curriculum and good sports facilities. The school holds Specialist Status and the Performing Arts since 2003. Most students come from the local area where socio-economic circumstances are broadly average. The school is funded by the local government and provides education free of charge to pupils.

A wide range of subjects are offered are both the state school and the private school. Pupil's grades have improved at the state school over the years. The percentage of pupils who attained a grade A-C (including English and Maths) was 54% in 2009; this was above the Local Authority Average and the National Average. However the private school has not done as well over the years. The pupils achieved 62% of grades A-C (including English and Maths) in 2009. Even though this is higher than the results for the state school, the LA average and the national average, the downside is that in 2007 the results were 71% and in 2008 they were 73%. Overall the attainment for the students achieving grades A-C has dropped over ten %. (See appendix A).

Admissions criteria for both schools differ considerably. Being a foundation school, the governing body is the admission authority for the state school. Both girls and boys are admitted without reference to ability or aptitude. All admissions of children with Special educational Needs are covered by sections 324 and 328 of the Education Act 1994. The following criteria are applied to decide which children to admit where applications for admissions exceed the number of places available. Looked after Children are given first priority, followed by pupils with a medical/psychological condition, and lastly pupils with an older sibling attending the school at the time of admission. Any remaining places are decided on the basis of proximity and ease of access to the school and other school in the area.

The admission policy for the private school differs very much from the state school. Parents are invited to visit the school to view and discuss any matter related to the education of their child. This is then followed by the child visiting the school in order to sit relevant tests. Acceptance is not entirely based upon the test results as considerable emphasis is placed on the personal interview and assessed potential of each child. Places are then offered at the discretion of the Headmaster.

A variety of concerns were expressed under the previous conservative administration about the administration of school admissions in various parts of the country, concerns were mainly based on the lack of policy co-ordination and equity issues surrounding admissions policies and procedures.

The analysis of our findings from both the private and state school have revealed that some admissions criteria are objective, clear, fair, and equitable. This mainly refers to the administration criteria of the state school. However the private school tends to use a variety of criteria that appear to be designed to select certain groups of students but to exclude others. There are opportunities for schools to 'select in' and 'select out' pupils on the basis of social background, prior attainment and later examination performances, thus enabling such schools to obtain higher positions in examination 'league tables' than others. Conclusively, the evidence presented on admissions reveals that despite certain attempts made by the government to reform school admissions, there is considerable room for improvement.

Furthermore many people send their children to private schools believing that this will better equip them to gain entry in a top University later upon in life. This is true for top Universities such as Cambridge or Oxford, where the majority of pupils do come from private schools. However, nowadays the government is promoting widening participation in higher education, which means that universities are encouraged to admit students from state schools as well as private schools. Whilst it can be said that coming from a private school background may not be considered a disadvantage, it is no longer a particular advantage either when applying for a place in university.

The high cost of private education means that private schools will have less of a socially diverse student body than that of state schools. Furthermore, smaller class sizes means that privately educated pupils may meet fewer children in general throughout their time in school. According to Bernstein children from 'the middle class' social background find it easier to accommodate to the school system than 'the working class' one, this is because the language and social norm of the school serve better their comprehension. However Wood 1995 does not agree with Bernstein in this respect and says, "…it is a mistake to think of schooling simply a preserve of on one social group, for example it is not seen as a 'middle class' institution. There have been accusations about the lack of connection between the school environment and the real life experience some parents are keen to avoid this as this can lead to insular experience. However, there have been an increased number of bursary schemes, introduced in private schools. This tends to close the difference between social diversity levels in state schools and private schools, but overall there is still a significant difference.

Economic and social change means that the need for education and high-level skills is greater than before. Economic change in other parts of the world can quickly affect this country. Nowadays the modern world makes greater demands on a person's capacity to communicate, present themselves, work in a team and understand diversity.

The Education Act of 1996, section 35, required that all state schools are required to provide a balanced and broad-based curriculum that firstly promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and in society and secondly prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life.

The 'smart kids' curriculum for the state school ensures that there is a link between transition and learning. The beliefs of the state school are that effective learning cannot take place without addressing the social and emotional aspects of school life. A comprehensive approach is offered which promotes positive behaviour, regular attendance, staff effectiveness and the emotional health and well-being of all who learn and work at the school. A climate for learning is created which promotes independent skills for learning. These skills are required for successful lives after secondary school, which include, building social support groups, self-reliance, flexibility, working as parts of teams, resilience and the ability to adjust to new people and situations.

On the other hand the private school states that their curriculum is balanced and reflects, as a minimum standard, the National curriculum and is taught by fully qualified and experienced staff. It is designed to provide all pupils with a broad academic, personal and social education relevant to their needs both now in the future.

Children are expected to leave secondary education with a large number of skills in order to achieve success later on life. They will need to be knowledgeable, to be able to think logically and creatively and to continue to learn throughout their living as so that they are prepared for the fast-changing society. It is there to develop equality of opportunity and to enable the nation to prepare for the emergence of the new economy and its increased demands for skills and human capital.

Furthermore, there is justified belief that society does not value teachers sufficiently. If, for example, economic success is to continue then the education service will be competing ever more fiercely with growing demands, for talented graduates. Teachers are to better paid, provided with more classroom support and more should be invested in their training and professional development, so that good quality teachers are recruited and retained.

It can be said that it is difficult to judge the suitability of a school for a child just from its prospectus. However, on the other hand, to visit every school that seems perfect on paper would be very time-consuming. Furthermore the Internet is a useful but limited source of information for independent schools. It is in the school websites own interest to show you only the best and league tables only tend to give information on some aspects of the school instead of painting a rounded picture of school life.

As mentioned before, a major disadvantage of private schooling is that some students and parents have reported is the lack of social of social mix. For example, the majority of students at private schools come from wealthy families, so it is likely that the attending pupils will only meet students from wealthy background. Social inequality is perpetuated by such schools, as a better education tends to lead to a better-paid job. Teachers are more attracted to private schools, reasons being, children come from more affluent backgrounds, greater resources and smaller class sizes. This puts state schools in a situation where they are potentially deprived of able pupils and able teachers, thus compounding the inequalities. However, the introduction of bursaries and scholarships has led to a better school mix. An advantage of private schooling is that private schools do not have to conform to specific educational regulations; this enables extra flexibility and personally tailored educational plans for the children.

Conclusively it can be seen that sending your child to a private sector will have its benefits in terms of studying a broader curriculum, more quality time with the tutors, i.e. with class sizes being small and achieving better grades. The state school has its benefits in terms of children engaging with a wider network of people, following the national curriculum as well as studying optional models and are more prepared for life after secondary school.

However both schools need to consider some further developments in order to ensure success for pupils whilst at the school and later on in life. The private school needs to encourage more students from diverse backgrounds, maybe bursaries or scholarships can be offered to those who can benefit from a private education. Also bearing in mind that parents pay for their Childs education, they want to see an increase in the GCSE level performances rather than a decrease. The curriculum should try to follow the National curriculum that the majority of pupils are studying. The state school needs to employ more specialist staff to teach various subjects so that pupils are able to achieve the maximum grade that they can. Class sizes should be kept a reasonable size and more optional subjects should be offered.

Overall if secondary schools are to remain relevant institutions in a changing world, then changes need to be made in the schools and the systems in which they are embedded. Educators should be responsible for knowing and thinking about how the world is changing.

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