Children’s attainment at school has been the subject of an accumulating amount of research, which is well known. In particular the National Survey of Health and Development and the NCDS itself have documented the attainment of representative cohorts of children at regular intervals of time and also studied the children’s relative progress between different ages (Douglas, 1964; Douglas et al., 1968; Davie et al., 1972; Fogelman and Goldstein, 1976). Although the children in both these cohorts were growing up in times when massive resources were being poured into education, and when strenuous attempts were being made to promote a more egalitarian society, the relevance and divisiveness of social factors have constantly been reiterated in the findings from these studies.
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