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Black Papers


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The name commonly used to refer to a series of publications on education which began to appear in 1969 and continued through the early 1970s, whose authors and contributors were politicians, academics, and writers from the political right wing. Their common theme was the claim that educational standards had declined as a result of modern teaching methods, the philosophy of liberal education, and the introduction of comprehensive schools. The approach to teaching under criticism in the Black Papers is sometimes referred to as the Plowden philosophy, against which these Papers levelled three specific accusations. These were that it had led to declining standards of literacy and numeracy, declining standards of behaviour, and the danger of pupils being unduly influenced by ‘left‐wing’ teachers. The Papers argued, among other things, for the retention of, or return to, selection for secondary education.

Further Reading:

C. B. Cox and A. E. Dyson (eds) The Black Papers on Education (Davis‐Poynter, 1971) presents a selection of these papers.

Subjects: Education.


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