Hence, it is easy to understand that there is a strong correlation between policies of the political parties in power, and the impetus given to the field of education, especially in the present day context of multiculturalism.
This essay shall briefly analyze the dimensions of inequality, the causal factors and the policy implications in the field of education, in the United Kingdom since the close of the twentieth century. It shall consider three major inequalities namely, a) economic gap/social class b) gender/sex c) race/ethnic minority, and study how policies have impacted these inequalities as regards education in general. It shall also discuss education with particular relevance to early years, and conclude that while the policies have positively impacted reduction of gender inequalities, more efforts are required to eradicate ethnic inequalities.
Peter Taylor-Gooby in his work "Attitudes to Social Justice" published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (2005) cites David Miller to identify four principles of social justice namely, a) Equal Citizenship, b) The Social Minimum, c) Equality of Opportunity, and d) Fair Distribution (p. 2). Of these four, the third has particular relevance to education, and the inequalities within it. ...
unity of opportunity is said to exist only when the chances of an individual getting education and jobs, depend solely on their own motivation and aptitudes rather than on other factors such as gender, class or ethnicity.
When the differences in Social Class, Gender and Race/Ethnic origins prevent or deny educational or job opportunities, then these are considered to be impediments to achieving social justice, they are inequalities that obstruct fair distribution of opportunities and rewards. While Education is considered to be a tool that aids equality in society, "as the principle means of creating a more equal society", it is also said to contribute to "the reproduction of social inequalities" (Moore 7) and has important implications in ensuring 'social mobility' (DfES 7).
Given that educations is a potential tool for implementing social justice, it is essential to study and record the inequalities that affect the process of education. Foremost among the factors affecting education is the difference in income levels; poverty affects educational possibilities.
Poverty/Class as an Inequality: It is important to distinguish between "inequality and poverty" even though they are closely linked (Hills & Stewart 232). Poverty is measured by taking into account the incomes of the poorest households and comparing them against the median income; generally poverty line is defined at 60% of current median income, after adjustments. The differences in incomes lead to two types of inequalities - Vertical and Horizontal. The former indicates the difference between the topmost and bottommost income earners, while the latter indicates communities or nations with similar incomes (biz/ed 1). The New Labour government has changed its policies since the 1970s, and now no longer