chapter  1
The Changing Nature of Education Policy
Pages 12

To understand recent changes in education policy, we need to go back about fifty years – to the end of World War II. For more than thirty years after World War II, education policy in the English-speaking industrialized countries (Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) was marked by powerful common features. Perhaps most importantly, the number of young people increased substantially due to the very large cohort of births after the war – the Baby Boom. Governments invested heavily in expansion of the system, and over thirty or more years the system grew dramatically in every way. Many new schools were built, and standards of accommodation changed so that almost all schools had proper gymnasia and libraries. Secondary education became practically universal (though always with some significant number of students not completing), and vocational forms of secondary education were developed. Provision for music and physical education improved. Tertiary education also expanded dramatically. Whole new types of institutions of higher education were created. In short, what was in 1945 still a relatively modest and selective system became, by 1975, a very large system with participation rates at all levels that were much higher than had ever been seen before.