Browne Report + the White Paper = A Murky Outlook for Educational Equality

A report by GEA’s Policy Officer Miriam David, with Jessica Ringrose and Victoria Showunmi

October- December 2010

This policy report covers official UK Government policy over the last four months. Our brief is primarily to focus on the UK government’s policy developments. However, the four countries that make up the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) are influenced by policy in different ways.  For example, education policy made for England and Wales regarding schools and higher education has no direct influence in Scotland.  However such policies may have indirect consequences especially for the relationships between the four countries and the differential provisions for schools and universities that apply.

We focus in particular in this report on two policy documents: a White Paper for schools entitled The Importance of Teaching published in November and the Browne report entitled Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education published in October. Both are currently being enacted. The White Paper outlines extensive changes in schooling and teacher training while the Browne Report focuses on the restructuring of higher education and changing in its funding, including raising student tuition fees. The key policy measures and proposals will have major implications for gender in education across all levels. The policy measures taken, will extend and increase neo-liberal individualism, and thus are likely to increase inequalities between men and women, on grounds of social class (or socio-economic status (SES), disadvantage or poverty), ethnicity/race, age and disabilities. These inequalities will be threaded through all levels of schooling and higher education, so that the chances of girls and women will be seriously constrained. In schools, girls’ lives will be seriously limited, especially those from disadvantaged or poor families, and from ethnic or racial minorities. In higher education, the implementation of the changes will increase the stratification of universities, and with it, the opportunities for women from working class, poor or first in the family to university, backgrounds to continue with their studies as either undergraduates or postgraduates. This report is based on a descriptive, rather than theoretical analysis, although arguments draw on theories of intersectionality of age, class, gender, sexuality, race and culture as continuing axes of disadvantage, privilege and marginalisation which underpin our approach to these questions.

The full version of Miriam’s report can be found here



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