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FAIRE SOCIETE: égalités et inégalités – Uk Education

How inclusive is education in the UK ?

Word list: Education and equality

Study documents A, B and C and sum them up. Then search the web about A levels, how to enter university and if tuition fees are charged.

Document A

Document B

Document C


A system which increases inequalities

Doc 1 : An artist remembers his school years

Rapper, intellectual and writer, Akala is one of the most incendiary voices of his generation. In his new book, Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, he debunks the British myth of meritocracy and in its wake the school.

Doc 2: Statistics

Document A

Differences between boys’ and girls’ subject choices at GCSE (UK 2017)

General Certificate of Secondary Education
GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. They are highly valued by schools, colleges and employers. The qualification mainly involves studying the theory of a subject, together with some investigative work, while some subjects also involve practical work.
Studies for GCSE examinations take place over a period of two or three academic years (depending upon the subject, school, and exam board), starting in Year 9 or Year 10 for the majority of students, with examinations being sat at the end of Year 11 (the French equivalent for « seconde ») in England and Wales

Selected A levels subjects by sex (UK 2017)

Let’s translate:

  1. Teachers may have stereotypical ideas that girls would struggle in male dominated subjects such as physics and they may try and put them off, steering them towards other, more traditionally feminine subjects such as English, meaning fewer girls end up doing science subjects.

    Les enseignants peuvent avoir des idées stéréotypées selon lesquelles les filles auraient des difficultés dans les matières dominées par les hommes, comme la physique, et ils peuvent essayer de les décourager en les orientant vers d’autres matières plus traditionnellement féminines, comme l’anglais, ce qui signifie que moins de filles choisissent les matières scientifiques.

  2. Science subjects are often taught using masculine examples – for example, physics text books might use cars to illustrate the laws of motion. This might put girls off doing physics because they have no interest in the masculine examples used to teach these subjects.

    Les matières scientifiques sont souvent enseignées à l’aide d’exemples masculins – par exemple, les manuels de physique peuvent utiliser des voitures pour illustrer les lois du mouvement. Cela peut dissuader les filles de faire de la physique car elles ne sont pas intéressées par les exemples masculins utilisés pour enseigner ces matières. 

Document B

Note: Grammar schools are selective state schools that offer admission to pupils based on their 11 plus exam results. The National Grammar Schools Association (NGSA) highlights that only 164 of all England’s secondary schools are grammar schools, the equivalent of less than 1%.

Analysis of the data:

Overrepresentation of applicants from private (34.4) and grammar schools (32.8)

– The proportion of acceptances for those with no private or grammar school background is much lower (21.1)

– Strong underrepresentation of applicants from the black community.

The University came under criticism as a report found that Cambridge was the most unequal University in the UK : overrepresentation of wealthy white people.

But the situation is improving : The University of Cambridge accepted record numbers of British students from ethnic minority backgrounds in 2021 : almost 30 % UK undergraduates admitted to the institution were from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

In October 2020, Cambridge revealed that the number of black students starting at the university had risen by more than 50% on the previous year. It said the generosity of UK grime artist Stormzy who began providing scholarships for black students at Cambridge in 2018, has helped to break down barriers. The award-winning artist is funding the tuition fees and living costs for two students each year. (ITV news)

Document C

Achievement at school and poverty

Analysis of the graph:

  • Children from disadvantaged households tend to do worse at school. The graph shows that children who are eligible for free school meals (which corresponds to roughly the 15% poorest pupils) in England do significantly worse at every stage of school.
  • Even at the age of five, there are significant differences in achievement at school. Only 57% of children who are eligible for free school meals are assessed as having a good level of development in meeting early learning goals, compared with 74% of children from better off households. These inequalities persist and increase through primary school, into secondary school and beyond.

What could be done to improve the situation ? To build a more equal system

– invest in education to interviene at all stages.

– tackle (= s’attaquer à) economic inequalities

To go further

Here is an article published in GoodHousekeeping magazine about the necessity to change the way black history is taught in British schools.

Right or wrong ?

  1. Read the article above and say if the following statements are right or wrong and correct them when they are wrong.


1) The 2014 history curriculum managed to correct the errors of the past in terms of the teaching of black history in the UK.

2) History is a compulsory subject in Great Britain.

Potentially, half the cohort….

3) Yet things have improved though there is still much too do regarding the teaching of black history.

4) The Covid 19 epidemic prevented pupils from learning history.

5) Teachers decide what history subjects they want to teach in their class.

6) Black parents are aware of the lack of importance of black history at school but they don’t mind.

A lot of history departments….

7) The discovery of black culture is also the responsibility of parents who should provide their children with books about black history.

8) The Black Curriculum is a book shop specialized in black history books.

9) Black History Month is a huge step forward

10) The parliament is involved in the curriculum reform.

It impacts the way…..

11) This reform is crucial to make black young people feel more comfortable and self-reliant (= autonomous) in society.

12) Families have to wait for politicians to work and things will change.

2) Look at the timeline and find :

– the date of the abolition of slavery in the Empire :

– the date of the founding of the first association defending black people’s rights :

– First massive arrival of Jamaican immigrants :

– the rule banning blacks from bus companies is overturned (= cassé / annulé) :

– The UK’s first black archbishop is appointed:

– Main women empowerment achievements : (4 events)

– Issues with the police following acts of discrimination : (5 events)


Exercise 1 : Fill in the blanks

1. The longer you study French, the ………………… you will learn about this beautiful language.

2. The more she practises, the ……………………….. she needs to be helped.

3. The ………………….. the garden is, the higher the price is.

4. The……………………… his school is, the longer it takes him to get there.

5. The more the flood was, the ……………….people survived.

6. The ……………… the price is, the more people buy it.

7. The ………………… your body is, the healthier you are.

8.The ………….. you educate, the ……………. you may find a job. (+)

9. The …………….. you travel, the ……………. experience you have. (-)


1. more 2. less 3. larger 4. farther 5. fewer 6. lower 7. stronger 8. more – more 9. less – less

Exercise 2 : Translate

1. Vraiment, plus Lucy grandit, plus elle ressemble à sa maman.

2. Allume tes phares. Plus tu avances dans le tunnel, plus il fait sombre. On n’y voit rien !

3. Plus elle s’approchait du gros chien, plus elle était effrayée, et finalement, elle hurla.

4. Lucy ! Plus tu te lèveras tard, plus  tu devras être rapide pour te préparer. A toi de choisir !

5. Plus le temps devenait froid, moins il y avait de gens dans le parc.


1. Really, the older Lucy is growing, the more she looks like her mum!’

2. ‘Put your lights on, the farther you drive through the tunnel, the darker it is. We can’t see anything!’

3. The nearer she approached the big dog, the more frightened she was feeling, and she finally screamed!

4. ‘Lucy! The later you’ll get up, the faster you’ll have to be to get ready. It’s up to you…’

5. The colder the weather became, the fewer people there were in the park.