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'The school that I'd like': children and teenagers write about education in England and Wales, 1945-79

Monday 9 November 2020 (17:00-18:30)
The school that I would like
Battersea Secondary School in London in 1967. Credit: Ullstein Bird/Getty, via the Guardian []

Historians of education in England and Wales have rarely considered how children and adolescents experienced their schooling.

This reflects the priorities of post-war educationalists, who established a more 'child-centred' vision for primary, secondary modern and comprehensive schools, but relied on expert assessments of what students wanted and needed rather than asking students themselves.

This paper will argue that looking at education from the student's point of view reveals a different set of concerns about post-war schools than those expressed by teachers, school inspectors, educational psychologists or other welfare professionals, and challenges the idea that schooling was unproblematically 'good' for young people in this period. Writing students’ voices back into histories of education compels us to write different histories. 


Laura Tisdall is a Leverhulme Early Career/NUAcT Fellow in History at Newcastle University. Her book A Progressive Education? How Childhood Changed In Mid-Twentieth-Century English and Welsh Schools was published by Manchester University Press in 2019.

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