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British secondary education has changed in major ways since 1945. This book examines some consequences and implications of both change and stability, drawing on a unique series of national surveys of school leavers in Scotland. The authors provide an empirical and theoretical account of central problems of contemporary schooling. Their analysis covers: certification, curriculum and selection; the effects of educational expansion; trends in educational inequality; the impact of comprehensive reorganisation; truancy and alienation from schooling; the explanation of differences in performance between schools and the implications for the public accountability of schools. From these analyses the authors develop a critique of the ‘theory’ of the education system that underpinned expansion. They examine this theory’s logical and empirical status as ‘myth’ and elaborate how the political system and social science might jointly overcome some of the methodological difficulties that beset social and educational research.

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