So far reference has been made almost exclusively to the 1988 Education Reform Act and its general negation of child-centred philosophy. Whilst in the next chapter it will be made clear that the legislative impetus towards quasi-marketisation of the education system began in 1980, the Act itself may reasonably be taken as the structural elaboration of a new morphogenetic conditioning cycle. We saw in the previous chapter that child-centred practice did not reach the mythical heights often depicted during the 1960s and 1970s. The structured potentiality for a pervasive change in teaching practices remained unexploited. The purpose of this chapter is briefly to sketch out the concatenation of factors that facilitated the swift destruction of this potentiality during the 1980s. Structurally, the education system did not undergo any notable morphogenesis. The Labour Government's circular on comprehensive reorganisation, 10/65, was simply a request to local authorities - there was no statutory obligation until 1976. Here the teachers' unions, the Local Authorities, the Labour Party and the then Department for Education and Science (DES) did not individually (or collectively) provide a coherent strategy. Indeed, the tendency to portray the 1965 circular, like the Plowden Report, as a decisive turning point masks the extent of continuity. As Ball puts it, 'In contrast to the comprehensive movement the Conservatives have successfully managed to integrate and maintain and manage a high degree of contradiction and incoherence within their critical educational discourse' (1990:31).
Ball's comment upon the Conservatives' successful ability to play down CS divisions in order to maintain a united (S-C) front is paralleled by the international progressive movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries discussed in Chapter 3. The salient point here is that the Conservatives, like the progressives, recognised their objective common ground. This is in stark contrast to the teachers. Minority dissension fuelled internecine conflict, particularly over the role of education in maintaining the capitalist status quo, which should have been quickly nipped in the bud. The lack of concerted corporate activity was typified by the Tyndale affair. The chance provided by Tyndale to spell out, defend and maintain the nature of progressive theory and practice was lost: the NUT's (National Union of Teachers) stance was reactionary and there were divi-