Archer's elaborated morphogenetic sequence finished in 1975. Her Social Origins of Educational Systems was published four years later and concluded thus:
[I]n England when the 1944 Act signalled an unprecedented degree of unification and systematization, this did not imply supremacy for the process of political manipulation. On the contrary the post-war period was one of the richest for internal initiation, with the teachers gaining mastery over curricular development…Certainly it is true that…their respective centres [England and France] would like to gain more control, particularly over higher education at the moment…What is much more important to emphasize is that they cannot achieve such control at will: the acquired rights of the profession and of external interest groups are defended and retained. Furthermore, we must resist the temptation to endow the most recent events with a greater significance than their predecessors. It is certainly the case in England at the present time that the centre seems poised to intervene more roughly at both secondary and higher levels, but this is better interpreted as one of the periodic re-orderings conducted by the central authorities than as a dramatic change in the nature of educational control.
(Archer 1979:787-8, emphasis added)
The task of the following three chapters is to explain and delineate how, just over a decade later, England and Wales witnessed not simply a 'periodic re-ordering' but a complete reversal of curricular fortunes, embodied in the imposition of the 1988 Education Act (and subsequent modifications). The 1988 Reform Act constitutes the start of a new morphogenetic sequence that provides the contextual backdrop to my two case-study schools. The 1988 Act endowed the Secretary of State with over three hundred new powers, prescribed what was to be taught and enjoined examinations at the ages of 7, 11, 14 and 16. In fact, notwithstanding its inherent contradictions, the Act was designed to subject the education system to the logic of 'the market'; that is, through open enrolment, local management of schools (LMS) and pupil-based funding formulae. The centrally imposed National Curriculum and its associated testing requirements were thus part of the quasi-marketisation of the