Schools, policy and social change: Scottish secondary education in the second half of the twentieth century

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Abstract

The analysis uses a unique series of surveys of school students in Scotland, covering the whole of the second half of the twentieth century, to investigate whether educational reforms can reduce inequalities of educational progress and attainment, and the role of school history in mediating these intentions. This period included the policy reforms that ended selection for public-sector schools between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s. Information on school attended enables the analysis to investigate whether and how the histories of schools interact with national policy. The main conclusions are that inequality of attainment and progression fell throughout the half century, but that the change was slow. Although policy may have created the conditions under which this equalisation took place, it probably was not its main cause, and the ways in which policy had its impact was modified by schools’ histories. The paper also illustrates the ways in which a series of surveys can be used to understand social change, and the compromises which have to be made to achieve comparability over a long period of time.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch Papers in Education
Early online date3 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • opportunity
  • social class
  • sex
  • comprehensive school
  • school history

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