In October 1986, Kenneth Baker, then Secretary of State for Education and Science, announced the creation of a pilot network of twenty City Technology Colleges. These new secondary schools were to offer a curriculum strong in technology, science, business studies and practical work and were to be sited in inner-city areas. The intention was to establish a new partnership between government and industry for, while the CTCs were to be government funded, they were also to be non-fee-paying, independent schools run by educational trusts, with private sector business sponsors who were expected to make substantial contributions to costs.
In this chapter I reflect upon three aspects of a research project which was conducted within the first City Technology College at Kingshurst, Solihull and reported in Walford and Miller (1991) and Walford (1991). The three aspects to be considered are the problems of access, the ethics of publication and the process of interviewing children. All have to be seen in the context of the rationale for embarking on the research.
An informed educational observer might be concerned that the CTC initiative seemed to be openly encouraging a process of privatization of education. The Thatcher government had shown its clear support for private education by establishing the Assisted Places Scheme and by its continuing financial and ideological support for private schools (Walford, 1987a, 1990). The CTCs could be interpreted as an indication of possible future intentions. Without any prior consultation with local education authorities, the government planned to introduce new, well-funded and supported independent secondary schools into inner-city areas, where they