This chapter has two chief purposes: to examine how educational policy has been made in the decades following the end of the Second World War, and more particularly since the early 1970s; and to broaden the discussion of educational policy-making and implementation to embrace the situation in Scotland in addition to that in England and Wales. Many studies of education and the social order since the passing of the 1944 Education Act have tended to concentrate on policies affecting England and Wales, even if the word ‘Britain’ sometimes appears in the title; and there has been relatively little published work that studies systematically the education system in Britain as a whole. As David Raffe has argued (Raffe, 2000: 10), this is actually an opportune moment to examine the major similarities and differences among the major British systems, since even the concept of a more-or-less single integrated system operating in England and Wales is now ripe for reappraisal. Recent developments promoting the extension of devolved power in the UK, with the establishment in 1999 of a Scottish Parliament along with Assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland, all with responsibility for education and training (though without legislative powers in the case of Wales) could well have the logical consequence of a marked reduction in the power wielded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) in London.
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