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It will be necessary in the course of this essay to view the different theoretical perspectives and their explanations of varying levels of attainment across different sections of society Schooling is the means by which we are formally educated and falls under the wider process of socialisation or how we learn to acquire the ideas and values of the society that we live in Education is the means by which society prepares within the children the essential conditions of its very existence Durkheim E Education Sociology 1968 p 71 The functionalist perspective dominated the sociology of education in the early post-war decades and saw the differentiation of pupils within the education system as necessary to develop the wide range of skills required for different occupations within industrial societies According to this perspective the education system provides the economy and employers with appropriate or suyitable candidates for specific tasks through its selection process ie testing examinations It also proposes that through a standardised curriculum schooling contributes to social cohesion by transmitting the central values of society and common cultural heritage The Education Reform Act 1944 had originally intended to offer compulsary education for all in place of the class- based education system that had existed prior to that However Government research such as the Early Leaving Report Department of Education 1954 highlighted many pupils leaving school with little or no formal qualifications This gave rise to the feeling that there was a great wastage of talent as many late developers were slipping through the sytem The main concern was with the 11 test which determined the type off school pupils would attend better able pupils received grammer school places while others went to either technical or secondary modern schools The process was supposed to select the most able pupils regardless of their social class background but empirical research revealed that a disproportionate number of pupils from
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