DEMAINE, J., 2006. Education and the politics of selection : radical policies for those set to fail in the twenty-first century? International studies in sociology of education, 16 (3), pp. 191-206
This paper is concerned with the longstanding question of policy for those referred to nearly half a
century ago by the Crowther Report as the ‘bottom half’; those mainly working class children who,
in a sense, are ‘selected for failure’. The issue of selection is a matter of concern in countries around
the world and has been at the centre of renewed political debate in Britain during 2005–2006.
Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair has been keen to advance a policy of ‘freeing-up’ secondary
schools so as to provide ‘diversity’ and ‘more choice for parents and pupils’. Critics regard such a
policy as involving ‘selection by other means’. This paper discusses questions of social class and
inequality that are bound-up with the issue of selection. The paper provides an account of ‘Blairite’
New Labour policy and discusses its closeness to new right education policy. The paper concludes
with a discussion of radical proposals and observations on the prospects for the future.