Participation in science in secondary and higher education in Scotland in the second half of the twentieth century

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Scientific and mathematical education has expanded in most education systems in the twentieth century, especially in the second half when there emerged the perception among policy-makers that science and technology were essential to a flourishing economy and to individual opportunity. Scotland provides a useful case study of the expansion, for two reasons. One is that it has included natural science in its emerging secondary-school curriculum at an early period by international standards, well before the middle of the century. That inclusion was carried over into the new curricula at the mid-secondary level, which aimed to cater for all students when the public sector of secondary schooling became non-selective after the 1960s. So Scotland is a test case of whether a gradually democratising system of secondary schooling could widen access to science and mathematics, and of whether and how changes at the school level contributed to the expansion of school-leaver entry to science in higher education. The other reason why the Scottish case is potentially revealing is a unique series of surveys of school students that cover the whole of the second half of the century.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch Papers in Education
Early online date24 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 May 2021


  • science
  • secondary
  • schooling
  • higher education
  • social class
  • sex
  • comprehensive schooling
  • Scotland


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