Equality of Opportunity in Education

January 25th, 2008  |  Published in Thinking  |  4 Comments

York ‘Thinking and Drinking’, 24 January 2008 By Tomas Ruta

In order to properly have a true meritocracy in the UK, education remains the last obstacle to creating a truly fair society, where people get jobs based only on their merit and not on limited due to any prejudice or discrimination.

The proposal is to bring back an exam similar to the eleven-plus, whereby students will take an exam and it will decide which school they attend. There will be tiers of schools, at local, regional and national levels. The top scoring students in the exam will go onto their top local school. The top at those schools will go onto the best regional schools. And the top of the top students will go onto three or so national boarding schools.

This system will benefit everyone. A culture of competition will emerge in all schools, where presently none exists. This element of competitiveness will encourage high and low achiever alike to do their best. The exams will be repeated each year till the child is 16 so they can be moved according to their ability to the appropriate level of school.

This idea will hopefully reform the education system to create a truly meritocratic society.

Some ideas suggested by people at the T & D meeting following the presentation and discussions:

“Scrap education completely. Replace it with nothing”

“Stream on the basis of learning methods, not ability”

“Schools for ages 14-18, and then people can decide more on their route, i.e., different schools for different careers”

“Make greater use of sets in schools. Provides social stability while a form of academic streaming”


“Local Government to have greater control over options for schools in each area, with an overarching education policy on a local level”

“Educational apartheid?”

“More funding for schools with more pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds”

“Education should be about innovation and flexibility, rather than being elitist. Less testing and more about personal development”

“If you were a bright kid, would you stay down by purposely doing badly to stay with your friends?”

“Maybe the competition would drive the students to work harder?”

“To get better students have more after-school activities that generate interest in school”

“General consensus with the points. Emphasis on damaging confidence and kids not wanting to change schools every year depending on their test results. Also though higher-tiers would attract better teacher thus depriving the lower tiers. People do not develop intellectually at the same time – tests at 10/11 exclude late-developers. Removing elite from a school will damage lesser able pupils who would benefit from their being there”

“Students with lower academic achievement demotivated all the way through, no competition. Movement between schools every year detrimental to social skills of students and reversing element of competition”

“Going to many different schools during your teen years would disrupt your education and friendships”

- Tom Harding, Thinking and Drinking Coordinator


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