comprehensive education

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.

comprehensive education

a form of secondary education in the UK in which pupils are generally taught in mixed ability groups or classes and for which there is no selective entry requirement.

Moves to develop a comprehensive system in England and Wales began during the 1960s after educational research demonstrated that secondary-modern school pupils designated as ‘non-academic’ were often highly successful in public examinations such as the General Certificate of Education (Floud, Halsey and Martin, 1956; Crowther, 1959; Jackson and Marsden, 1962). In addition, the 1960s were characterized by a growing concern with issues of inequality Theorists began to argue (Halsey, Floud and Anderson, 1961; Swift, 1967) that the continued separation of social classes in education engendered by the tripartite secondary system (see EDUCATION ACTS) produced continual inequalities in education provision.

The Labour government of 1964-70 saw the introduction of comprehensive schools as a means of reducing such social divisiveness and ending separatism in education, thus creating greater equality of opportunity. It also saw it as a response to overwhelming technological and popular demands, and the elimination of a waste of talent (Marsden, 1971).

The implementation of comprehensive education has been uneven and incomplete. It has been estimated that only about 20% of secondary pupils attend ‘true’ comprehensives. In some local education authorities selective grammar schools exist side by side with comprehensives or are being reintroduced. Many middle-class children continue to be educated in the private sector. Thus middle-class pupils with ability are ‘creamed off’. In some comprehensives children are 'S treamed’ (see STREAMING). In most they are organized in sets or bands for particular subjects, although some schools teach pupils in mixed-ability groups during years 1-3.

Whilst supporters of comprehensive education argue that it provides the only means of reducing inequality of educational opportunity (see Hargreaves, 1982), there exist major difficulties in realizing this aim (e.g. in inner city schools) and this is one reason why there is relatively little resistance to a retreat from comprehensive education.

References in periodicals archive ?
Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: 'Even through the distorted medium of league tables, the message that comprehensive education works comes through loud and clear.
Provide comprehensive education to staff, students and parents regarding responsible Internet-use skills, as appropriate to their age and understanding.
That is why Blunkett has been a passionate supporter of comprehensive education.
Blacks began to assume an outsized role in depictions of the poor, and particularly in stories about problems and abuse in programs such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children or the ill-fated Comprehensive Education and Training Act.
March 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Policy Management Systems Corporation (NYSE: PMS) (PMSC) announced today the start of a new training initiative in conjunction with Midlands Technical College (MTC) and Special Schools, a division of the South Carolina State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education.
The candidates are also asked to include support for comprehensive education programs into their campaign platforms.
Richard Bulloch claims that comprehensive education has been a failure.
It was named Alderman Callow School after Alderman William Callow - a chairman of Coventry City Council's education committee and a supporter of comprehensive education.
As a lifelong member of the Labour Party I campaigned vigorously with many others for comprehensive education.
Roy Kramer, assistant head teacher at the school, said: "He was an advocate of comprehensive education and remained at Pool Hayes until his retirement in 1984.
Comprehensive education was introduced into Cardiff in the late 1960s on the casting vote of the education chairman - hardly clear.
It's part of HPD's comprehensive education and training initiative.

Full browser ?