Governing Education: A Sociology of Policy since 1945

Governing Education: A Sociology of Policy since 1945

Governing Education: A Sociology of Policy since 1945

Governing Education: A Sociology of Policy since 1945

Excerpt

I sometimes wished that I could just make up my mind about something and say that that would be the end of it, instead of saying, 'Well, this is what I think ought to happen, now please consult people about this'; and then they come back about a year later and say that they are sorry, but everybody is all over the place, which is what normally happens, you see. It is very difficult to describe all this . . . but that doesn't mean to say that things don't happen. I am not suggesting that your views, at the end of the day, have no influence at all, that people just carry on as if they didn't have them. I think, at the end of the day, the system does change, and change significantly, but it can't just be done by administrative or Ministerial fiat, you know. It just doesn't work like that. Bruce Milian, Junior Minister 1966-70, and Secretary of State for Scotland 1976-79

Well, if it doesn't work like that, how does it work? How are things made to happen if everybody is normally all over the place? If administrative or Ministerial fiat are not enough to change the educational system, what is? And what is the significance of change?

In his first term of office Millan was responsible for the implementation of comprehensive reorganisation, introduced by what arguably was the most important Ministerial fiat in education since 1945. In his second term he saw the period of expansion that had started in the late 1950s come finally to an end in government retrenchment and concern for standards and efficiency. Thus, if Ministers made things happen, they also found things happening to them. If they made things change significantly, they were also concerned for the significance of change. And what was true of Ministers was also true in some measure of teachers, parents, pupils, and much of the public at large.

This book is about these questions and the answers to them. We deal both with the substance of education, its schools and teachers, its curriculum and examinations, and also with its governance, with the institutions and procedures through which policies for education were formed, effected or thwarted. Most of our story is about Scotland, but many of the questions we address have a wider reference, some of them British, some universal. All of our story is about education, but much of it engages broader issues of policy as well.

Educational purposes are not self-implementing. Likewise, the machin-

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