How Can We Eliminate Disadvantage in Education?

It’s graduation season and across the country students are leaving the realm of education behind, dressed in flowing black robes. For those graduating from a top university, it is likely to be one of the proudest days of their lives.

However, recent research may put a damper on the celebrations as it has been revealed that a child’s background can be a bigger deciding factor than their academic ability in how likely they are to get into top universities. A study suggests that around 2000 of the brightest but poorest children miss out on places at top universities. Even the highest performers may lose out to less-able but better-off pupils. Labour MP Alan Milburn claims we are “wasting young talent on an industrial scale.”

Disadvantage within the education systems across Britain has been widely examined and criticised in recent years. There has been much concern over the gap between deprived and better-off children, which can often become further and further exacerbated as they make their way through the schooling system.

While the problem has been identified, a solution has not.

It has been asserted that the education we receive in the first five years of our life is vitally important in our later academic achievement. A focus on preschool education, therefore, is an excellent way to develop children’s educational skills from the beginning allowing them an advantage in later life, possibly allowing them to attend a top university.

What do you think? How are we best able to eliminate such disadvantage in our schooling system to ensure children get to the universities they deserve?

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Richard Lee (https://www.flickr.com/photos/70109407@N00/)

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Is the Rise of E-Books Detrimental to Children’s Education?

A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers has suggested that the E-Book will outsell print by 2018. According to the research, 50% of the UK population will own an iPad, Kobo, Kindle or similar e-reader device by 2018. It seems the allure of being able to cart around all your favourite books in a small, lightweight object has won over the pleasurable, but impractical, old-fashioned way of lugging around hard-copies in your backpack.

I, personally, still refuse to turn to the dark side and begin reading novels or short stories or even poems off a Kindle. I am too in love with the notion of sitting down with a paper book and turning the pages with my hands. However, I have, finally, accepted that for many people using an electronic device is a far easier way to read and many will see it as the natural progression of the writing and publishing industry.

In any case, it is undoubtedly better for people to be reading off a screen than not reading at all.

The one real area of concern I have, as do others, is the effect of the e-book on early years reading and education. As it becomes more popular it is likely parents may abandon trips to the bookshop or library in order to fill up the bookshelf, and simply read bedtime stories from an iPad.

Now reading to your child from any medium is great for their development. Plus these devices often have interactive settings, making the stories more entertaining and appealing for young kids.

However, the National Literacy Trust have recently come out with statistics that indicate that the printed word is still better than the electronic one in terms of early years literacy education. As early years education has been proven to be increasingly important, parents should be aware of this fact.

So while reading to your child in any ways is an excellent way to spend time together, it might be worth continuing to make the odd trip to the library to pick out a book for bedtime.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of unten44 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/unten44/)