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ERIC Number: ED424332
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 27
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
"Raising Standards"& Deepening Inequality: Selection, League Tables, and Reform in Multiethnic Secondary Schools.
Gillborn, David; Youdell, Deborah
Although education in England is dominated by the rhetoric of "standards," this paper attempts to show that the overall shape and drive of English education reform has remained largely consistent. The annually published School Performance Tables continue to be assigned a special place in the reforms, as a means to and as an index of raising standards. Behind the New Labour talk of social justice and inclusivity lies a reality of increasing inequality and social exclusion. The reforms instituted under the previous Conservative government are retained and actually given a sharper edge. This paper explores how current reforms are translating into new and increasingly divisive practices at the school level. In particular, it draws on ethnographic data at a single comprehensive school in London. An "A-to-C economy," driven by the relative market value of high grade examination passes, has come to shape priorities in the schools. Strategies have been adopted to raise the percentage of students attaining five higher grade passes in external examinations, so that for certain students a "D-to-C conversion" is sought through mobilization of a particular understanding of ability and the identification of underachievers. A sort of educational triage is acting systematically to neglect some students while directing additional resources to those deemed most likely to benefit. The case study of one particular secondary school shows a school operating in a responsive mode, trying to piece together a range of practices in an attempt to succeed within the Government's definition of standards. Many young people have been predicted to be underachievers, and they are fulfilling these predictions. The developments at the school level are threatening deeper and more extensive inequalities of opportunity and outcome between groups of students in relation to "ability," social class, gender, and ethnic origin. The school illustrates an approach in which students likely to achieve the five passing grades receive much attention, and those considered unlikely to "survive" the educational requirements are essentially abandoned. (Contains 2 figures and 48 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)