Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of stories in the press regarding inequality in education, from the lack of provisions for those with hearing or visual impairments, to the problem of a gender imbalance in university lecturer roles. This, not only in the areas mentioned, but also in the grade gap between poorer families and those who are more affluent, is something that needs to be changed, whether through government action or by educational institutions taking the initiative.
Looking at the issue of equality from my own age group’s perspective, and those with learning and physical disabilities- as well as those who are blind and deaf- are losing out due to schools and colleges failing to employ the necessary educational methods. In one recent story featured by BBC News, it was stated that the reading ability of many deaf young people lagged far behind what it should be because their schools had stuck to one way of communicating with the student. As much as I do not believe in forcing a student to learn a specific method of learning, I believe that they should be given the opportunity and be encouraged to try new things, particular in cases where the student needs to improve essential skills.
Moving up the educational chain, and there is also a severe problem with universities if less than a quarter of lecturers are women. I understand that equality and diversity may be a constricting set of rules to follow at times, however, if we are to give everyone a chance to progress in their careers, especially in the case of university lecturers, these values must be upheld. 22% is a disgrace and frankly there should be a fairer balance within an education system that we as a nation take pride in.
Thirdly, there is an increasingly large gap between the standard of education given to those who have families on low incomes and those who have money to spend. Everyone should be entitled to the same standard of education, no matter where they live or what their financial situation. If this were the case, it would have a positive effect in bringing many out of poverty, giving them the skills to go out to work and earn for their families in the future.
The issue of educational inequality will always remain because, lets face it, not every student in the UK will get the same standard of education at any point in history. As much as this may be something that isn’t fully achievable however, it is something that schools and the Department for Education should be working towards. For a change, I am not criticising Michael Gove, but, there are improvements to be made. I will be waiting to see if any action is taken. Hear that Mr Gove, I’m watching you!
Backbench Minister for Education