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Exams allow the rich to get richer, says academic

School exams actively hinder social mobility, by allowing the moneyed classes to retain their advantage over everyone else, according to a leading education philosopher.

Exams are nothing more than “devices deliberately installed to help keep the better off where they are", according to John White, one of the most senior academics at the UCL Institute of Education.

In his new book, Who Needs Examinations?, Professor White argues that the exam system unfairly privileges wealthier families. The system gives higher priority to the more abstract and theoretical subjects, in which those pupils from educated backgrounds have a natural advantage. It also allows wealthy parents to move to favourable catchment areas, to buy in additional coaching, or to send their children to private schools.

“But if all of these and other such advantages were done away with, would there still be any point in retaining the examination at all?” Professor White writes.

Read the full article in the 12 December edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

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