Wood, Kevin Randle
The morphology of change: an exploartion of perceptions about changing the age of transfer of pupils from primary to secondary school.
University of Southampton, School of Education,
The vast majority of studies of educational change are contextualised within
the school. This is a new qualitative multi-level study of the interaction of the
school with its LEA and government and the current changes to the structure
of the education system. A number of LEAs have changed, or have plans to
change, the age of transfer at which pupils move fromprimary to secondary
school. The eGect is to dismantle three-tier systems, i.e. Grst, middle and
secondary schools; and to replace them with a two-tier system of primary and
secondary schools. This represents the abolition of middle schools in those
Principal access for the research was at Chief Education Officer level, with
headteachers, governors and parents also targeted. Some pupil interviews were
possible. Research data was collected in these interviews and through
documentary evidence gathered &omboth study areas, and &om any LEA
which had formally considered change. The quality of the data was ensured by
encouraging participants to comment upon and check the accuracy of their
contributions. Analysis was achieved by the constant comparative method.
In 1970, Birley wondered how far age of transfer was a national issue, and
how far a matter for local discretion. The evidence of this research would
suggest that it has the appearance of a local discretionary matter, but, in reality,
enormous pressure is applied through government direct action or its agencies.
This study concludes that the relationship between LEA and the government is
ambiguous; that LEA planning can be thwarted by cross-cutting aspects of
legislation - what may be called "bureaucratic bolt-holes'; that changing the age
of transfer &om 12 or 13 back to 11 is demonstrably unnecessary on purely
educational grounds; and that the tensions between choice and economy
contributed to the decline of the middle school.
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