British education has been considered a world model of education. Many consider this an education system without obvious flaws and strive to become part of it. However, many are still wondering if British education is as successful as it is made out to be. In addition, the issue of whether the British education system discriminates against ethnic minorities has become highly politically charged and divisive, reflecting tensions across much of the kingdom.
The Education System in the UK
The United Kingdom consists of independent regions: England, Wales, and Scotland. Such a division leads to the fact that throughout the kingdom in its different parts, there are different features of culture, life, and even languages. The education system was no exception – in the UK, two fully formed systems can be distinguished (Nie et al., 2017). One, not so famous, is adopted in Scotland, while the other regions adhere to the second option (Rycroft-Smith & Dutaut, 2018). In general, education in the UK is closely monitored by the authorities. Significant funds are allocated to develop and maintain the quality of education, students and teachers from different parts of the world are attracted, and new educational institutions are opened (Ball, 2018). The development of education is one of the primary tasks of the government.
The well-coordinated British education system has been a model for many countries. A feature of British educational institutions is gaining knowledge in the required disciplines and acquiring communication skills, ethics, and morality (Alharbi & Smith, 2019). The government holds that all higher education institutions in the UK are held to strict standards by the government. Hence, students have confidence in the quality of education and receive the best teaching, resources, and support (Conlon et al., 2017). A complete list of ‘recognized bodies’ — universities and colleges that have award degrees — is published yearly (The Register of Regulated Qualifications). It allows students and their parents to observe and follow the changes in the education system offered in the country and compare if necessary (Sahlberg, 2021). It ensures that the chosen institution and qualification will be trusted among citizens and abroad.
British universities have had strong positions in world rankings from the very beginning. In 2021, the World University Rankings recognized Oxford and Cambridge as the top two universities out of other recognizable universities worldwide (World University Rankings, 2020). That confirmed that the education system offered by the UK government is one of the best in the world (Machin & Vignoles, 2018). It applies to other UK universities: the top 50 universities in the world include 7 British universities, and 26 British universities are in the top 200 (Ricciardi & Buratti, 2018). An approach to education that draws on a centuries-old legacy is based on the most recent theory of learning in universities that regularly rank first in international rankings (Lozano et al., 2017). Thanks to innovative teaching methods, UC schools and universities produce successful, versatile graduates in demand by employers around the world.
Prejudice and Racism as the Main Problems in British Education
Despite the current reputation as the best education system in the world, there is a growing debate about systemic racial prejudice in the UK. It is because representatives of various ethnic minorities, such as blacks and Asians, have faced prejudice, oppression, and hatred on an ongoing basis. However, their calls for change have gone unheeded (Schulz, 2021). Only the events in the United States, namely the murder of George Floyd by the police, caused a wave of changes in the system (Black lives matter, 2020). Although this happened not so long ago, talking about this should have been a priority a few decades ago.
One of the initiatives that emerged from the global Black Lives protests Matter against racism is to reform the curriculum. In 2014, then-Education Minister Michael Gove went to great lengths to radically change the system (Watson, 2019). That eventually led to the abandonment of teaching the horrors of the British colonial past to glorify ‘imperial heroes’ instead (Watson, 2019). In addition, despite the backlash from teachers and scholars, the reform meant that black teaching history became optional (Lais, 2017). As a result, black history teaching was often held at the annual meeting during Black History Month (Tembo, 2020). It is shocking today that only 11% of GCSE students take modules that mention the contribution of blacks to the UK (Leach, Voce, & Kirk, 2020). This fact breeds ignorance of historical facts and can only contribute to developing discrimination.
Inequality, both in the modern world and within the educational system, does not end there. The Independent reported that schools unfairly penalize black students for their hairstyles, wearing bandannas, and kissing their teeth due to racial bias and general misunderstanding (Shand-Baptiste, 2020). As the Department of Education showed a few years ago, black children are 3.5 times more likely to be excluded than others (Parveen & McIntyre, 2021). It is a mismatch not because of any hidden tendency to create problems but because educators perceive black children as fundamentally destructive, hopeless, and inferior, no matter what they do.
Approaches to Improve the Quality Of Education
To combat the problem presented in the paper, it is necessary to introduce such changes that would affect the perception of both students and teachers. Teachers primarily care about students and are one of the role models for them. They use some teaching tools, such as books, visual aids, and other suitable materials, and often do not pay attention to personal and social relationships (Tondeur et al., 2017). However, learning is not easy, and there is always room for improvement. In particular, school leaders need to give more guidance to ensure that changes at the school level are based on a research base (Joseph-Salisbury, 2020). Schools must implement processes to effectively identify the causes of teaching and learning problems and identify a range of solutions to them (Brown & Greany, 2017). Processes should be implemented to assess the impact of new teaching and learning programs or initiatives based on participatory methods (La Velle et al., 2020). That has to be controlled by more formalized and rigorous PLC activities in schools.
Concerning pedagogical approaches, collaborative learning is an effective way. It will not only stimulate the learning process among students but also help fight against the identified problem of racism in British schools (Mirza, 2018). Collaborative learning implies that two or more individuals study or try to learn something together (Colchester et al., 2017). Unlike individual learning, people learn collaboratively and benefit from each other’s resources and skills (Guil-an, 2022). More specifically, collaborative learning is based on a model where participants actively interact, share experiences, and take on asymmetric roles (Beech, 2017). That will allow students to understand that despite different backgrounds, the interaction between representatives of different cultures is possible without aggression.
The British education system is recognized as the best in the world. Universities combine traditional lectures with various innovative teaching methods designed to stimulate independent thinking and problem-solving skills. The consistently high quality of UK education has made it a favorite among international students worldwide and has helped it stay at the forefront of global research. Despite this, even the best education system has problems that must be addressed. Bias, racism, and discrimination can be eradicated, and a better British education system will continue to lead the way.
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