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Dispelling the myths: An investigation into the claims that Prime Minister James Callaghan’s Ruskin College speech was an epoch marking development in secondary education in general and for pre-vocational education in particular

Jervis, Kevin John (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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The origins and developments of pre-vocational education are traditionally traced back to Prime Minister James Callaghan’s speech on 18th October 1976 at Ruskin College, near Oxford. An assertion of this study is that this is a fallacy, with evidence of the existence of pre-vocational education dating back many years before this date. Further it is contended that Callaghan’s speech was not the catalyst for change in aspects of secondary education that many have suggested. The speech was neither a deliberate attempt by Callaghan to challenge the accepted modus operandi of the educational establishment nor an effort to raise standards. On the contrary, this study will argue that Callaghan’s intervention in education was a conscious attempt to distract the attention of commentators away from the worsening social and economic conditions within the U.K, which Callaghan had inherited from Harold Wilson. The above will be argued primarily through placing the emphasis on an aspect of secondary education which has attracted very few words of analysis or explanation namely, pre-vocational education. A definition of pre-vocational education will be constructed in order to help raise the status of pre-vocational education by means of establishing a greater understanding and awareness. The emphasis on PVE will also allow for a direct comparison to be made between the content of Callaghan’s words of 18th October 1976 with the content of the Tomlinson Report published on 18th October 2004 helping to establish that Callaghan was neither a catalyst for change or making particularly original claims.

The study will use the resources of the City of Birmingham as well as the local and national press to help substantiate many of the assertions, thus mimicking a practice used by the authoritative education historian Professor Roy Lowe (1988).

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Grovenor, Ian
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:School of Education
Subjects:LB Theory and practice of education
LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:2801
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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