It is only during the past twenty or thirty years that education has become accepted as a crucial aspect of social policy. The welfare services associated with education, school meals, the school medical service and provision for handicapped children, have always had their place, albeit a small one, in studies of social administration and the welfare state. But analysis of the total education system, of how many children of what kind have what sort of education and for how long, is a relatively new interest. The change is indicative of a different definition of the subject. Social administration can be concerned mainly with public services for the relief of destitution and for the care of the more obvious physical and mental disabilities, but it is also concerned with inequality and with those institutions, public and private, which significantly influence men’s standards and styles of life. Once this is recognised the importance of education is obvious. The effect of different kinds of school on different kinds of children, the relative part played by schools, families and the wider social background in education, and the very different advantages enjoyed by children from different classes or different geographical areas, then become matters of great significance. For it can be shown that education is systematically related to social structure. It is both determined by and itself a determinant of a man’s social, economic and political position.
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- 17.The government later accepted the case for a great expansion of nursery-school places to provide for 90 per cent of four-year-olds and 50 per cent of three-year-olds over a ten-year period. In the first few years priority was to be given to authorities with ‘substantial areas of social deprivation’. D.E.S., Education: A Framework for Expansion, Cmnd. 5174 (H.M.S.O., 1972).Google Scholar
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