Socio-economic change The 1970s was a turning point for the immiseration of education as the optimism of the 1960s slowly turned into an awareness of painful realities. Research and social critiques were making inequalities more visible and this seemed to generate a sense of despair rather than progress. Progress was being made via equal opportunities legislation, race relations legislation and a greater understanding of children with special educational needs but, as some problems were tackled, more seemed to materialize. Even a falling birth rate seemed to bring little relief because, as primary school rolls began to fall from the mid 1970s onwards, headteachers were finding that they still could not create smaller classes. From the mid 1970s onwards some sociologists were identifying the development of moral panics; that is, escalating public fears about the behaviour of certain groups of people, including teachers, young people and black youth in particular (e.g. Hall et aI., 1978; Cohen, 1973). Indeed the 'punk' scene of the mid 1970s could be seen as just another of the increasingly reprobate youth subcultures.