Compensatory Education

Compensatory Education aims to tackle cultural deprivation by providing extra funds and resources – examples include Operation Head Start, Education Action Zones and Sure Start

Compensatory Education aims to tackle cultural deprivation by providing extra funds and resources to schools and communities in deprived areas.

Three examples of Compensatory Education are:

  • Operation Head Start
  • Education Action Zones
  • Sure Start

Operation Head Start

Operation Head Start was a multi-billion-dollar scheme of pre-school education which took place in America in the 1960s.

It was a programme of ‘planned enrichment’ for children from deprived areas and consisted of the following:

  • Improving parenting skills
  • Setting up nursery classes
  • Home visits by educational psychologists.  
  • Using mainstream media to promote the importance of values such as punctuality, numeracy and literacy.

Education Action Zones

Education action Zones set up in in 1997. These programmes directed resources to low-income, inner city areas in an attempt to raise educational attainment.

Sure Start

Sure Start was one of the main policies New Labour introduced to tackle poverty and social exclusion.

The aim of Sure Start was to work with parents to promote the physical, intellectual and social development of babies and young children.

The aim of Sure Start was to create high quality learning environments to improve children’s ability to learn and help parents with supporting their children in this process. The idea was to intervene early and break the cycle of disadvantage

The main specific outcome of Sure Start was the establishment of 3500 Sure Start Centres, initially established in low-income areas. These centres provided ‘integrated’ family, parenting, education, and health care support.  Parents could attend Sure Start centres with their pre-school children for up to 12 hours a week.

Criticisms of Compensatory education

Critics have argued that by placing the blame on the child and his/her background, it diverts attention from the deficiencies of the educational system.

Compensatory education policies are likely to only have limited success in raising achievement because they involve quite a modest redistribution of resources to poor areas. They are unlikely to do much for the inequalities in the wider society which lead to poor achievement

Early intervention may be intrusive – it involves monitoring the poor more than the rich.

Compensatory Education is the solution to cultural deprivation, so any of the criticisms of cultural deprivation theory can also be applied to Compensatory Education.

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