SCHOOLING, SELECTION AND SOCIAL MOBILITY OVER THE LAST 50 YEARS: AN EXPLORATION THROUGH STORIES OF LIFELONG LEARNING JOURNEYS
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This paper explores the impact of selection by ability in schooling systems on individual lives. It draws on narratives collected with a group of 18 people (accessed through a local U3A group) who were at school in Britain in a period from the 1940s through to the 1960s. This period saw significant changes in society and to schooling following the 1944 Education Act and the so-called tripartite school system which ensued. Drawing on the concept of the ‘sociological imagination’, the ‘personal troubles’ of individuals are drawn together with the ‘public issue’ of a national schooling system that segregated children by ability. Analysis of the narratives reveals the selection tests based on ability (the 11+) to be a key fulcrum in all their lives. The paper contributes to ongoing debates about selection, equity and social justice in contemporary schooling systems.
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