Britain: British Society 1951-1979 - Educational Changes

British society at different times in the past is one topic studied in GCSE History, and one of the periods covered is from 1951 to 1979. One area that is looked at is the changes that the British education system underwent between those dates.

In 1951 the provisions of the 1944 Education Act were still being implemented. The new Tory government faced the reality of comprehensive schools in most parts of the country, and a greatly expanded university sector. More changes over the 50s, 60s and 70s meant that, by the time of the Conservative government in 1979, much had altered.

Discover more about the changes that took place in the British education system between 1951 and 1979 in this interactive quiz.

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  1. In 1970 a Conservative government was returned for four years. The Education Secretary enthusiastically signed a large number of comprehensive schemes presented to them (out of 3612 proposals only 326 were turned down). Who was this?
    An incoming education secretary was likely to rely heavily on civil servants' advice
  2. In 1960 the Robbins investigation into higher education was set up. Robbins reported in 1963, and urged the setting up of a number of new universities. Which of the following fell into this category?
    Robbins was convinced that the country required a great increase in higher education
  3. In 1963 the Newsom Report came out, advocating sweeping changes in state secondary education. What was its title?
    By the 1960's the legislation of 1944 (the Butler Act) looked to many out of date. In particular Newsom raised questions about the grammar school/secondary modern school divide. The Labour Party's victory in 1964 gave the chance to put some of these recommendations into effect
  4. A Labour prime minister in this period promised that re-organisation would introduce "a grammar school education for all". Who was this?
    Selection, dating from 1944, meant that those who failed the 11 plus exam would not attend a grammar school
  5. Labour won - narrowly - at the 1964 general election. Education Secretary Tony Crosland issued a circular called 10/65 which was sent to all Local Education Authorities. What did this famous document say?
    Crosland was obsessed with getting rid of selection at 11. However, local authorities varied greatly. Some were Conservative-controlled and intended to resist Crosland to the bitter end
  6. In 1967 the Plowden Report was published, recommending a more child-centred approach in teaching. With which category of state schools was Plowden concerned?
    Plowden continued the trend of questioning the certainties in education that had prevailed in the 1940s and 1950s
  7. The 1964-1970 Wilson's government set up the Public Schools Commission to examine the role of the independent sector. In 1970 they published the Donnison Report. Which schools had Donnison been asked to investigate?
    The independent sector of education turned out to be just as varied as the state sector, so the Public Schools Commission decided to approach its task step by step
  8. What local government body was directly responsible for state education in London during this period?
    This was an umbrella body. Individual boroughs had a considerable input too
  9. In 1978 the BBC launched a new TV drama series set in an inner city comprehensive school. What was it called?
    The series was popular and it fearlessly dealt with issues of class, race and religion
  10. Harold Wilson was immensely proud of his achievement in setting up a new institution of higher education in 1969. What was this establishment called?
    The OU clearly addressed a need for part-time higher education to mature students

Author: Edward Towne

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