educational priority area

educational priority area

a geographical location, usually in an inner-city area, designated for the receipt of special educational resources, based on the principle of POSITIVE DISCRIMINATION, in order to compensate for poor environmental conditions. Such areas were established after the publication of the Plowden Report in 1967. The report was based on extensive sociological research and argued for the importance of good primary education, especially for socially-depri ved children. It argued that the major factor in a child's educational performance is the attitude of its parents to education. In locations of social, cultural and environmental deprivation, parental attitudes would be indifferent and children could be identified as suffering from educational handicaps. In such areas additional resources should be committed to improve the quality of educational experience and so compensate for the other disadvantages (see COMPENSATORY EDUCATION). The government accepted the report's advocacy of positive discrimination and made resources available, including rebuilding programmes, support for curriculum initiatives and special payments to teachers in EPA schools. Strategies were to be developed for forming close links with local communities through the development of community schools which would play a leading part in community regeneration.

The explicit acceptance of the principle of positive discrimination in favour of deprived groups represents a significant initiative in social policy and a recognition of the importance of social engineering in bringing about social change, although critics would argue that Educational Priority Areas have made little real difference to the alleviation of poverty and disadvantage.

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