Is the UK education a meritocracy?

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The current UK education system is a moulding of many decades worth of legislation, practical application and government policy. It can be argued that because of these things the current system is now a meritocracy but this can be argued against. The functionalist perspective suggests there are three main objectives of the education system. One function is to provide secondary socialisation in addition to the family’s role of primary socialisation, through a formal and hidden curriculum pupils are taught societies norms and values. A second objective of the education system is to teach skills, which are necessary for success in the workplace in modern society. These skills range from basic requirements such as reading and writing to skills, which are needed to be able to perform specific jobs. The third role is to offer qualifications through assessments and examinations, which enable a student to get a job in line with their individual talents. There are criticisms of the functionalist perspective. This approach could be classed as too deterministic. It makes an assumption that students will automatically embrace the values taught in school. In reality some students will and some won’t. Also the values taught are ethnocentric and pupils from different cultures often reject and rebel against this. A functionalist view could also be criticised by suggesting all pupils are not offered an equal chance to succeed, and therefore education is not meritocratic. There is evidence which highlights working class pupils have a disadvantage and black pupils are labelled and discriminated against. Functionalism is too simplistic in its approach. It suggests the higher a pupil’s level of achievement academically, there will follow a greater reward in the workplace with a better-paid job. But the functionalist perspective is opposed by the Marxist perspective is critical
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