Comp!

Evan Davis meets the pupils, parents and politicians at the heart of one of the most bitterly contested changes in education since the Second World War: the rise of the comprehensive school.

Episodes

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01Pioneers20050901

Evan Davis meets the pupils, parents and politicians at the heart of one of the most bitterly contested changes in education since the Second World War: the rise of the comprehensive school.

In 1945 the eleven-plus exam symbolised the brave new world of opportunity where a grammar school place was available to anyone, whatever their background.

But right from its earliest days the exam had its critics.

They envisaged a different kind of education, where all pupils - whatever their ability - went to the same school.

Evan rediscovers the new ideas pioneers, and hears from some of the very first pupils to go to a 'comp'.

02No More Sheep And Goats20050908

At the beginning of the 1960s, state schools designed for children of any ability were still small in number and experimental.

By the end of the decade, comprehensives were national policy and had brought protesting parents into the streets of towns across the country.

Evan looks back to a crucial period in secondary education, the ramifications of which are still felt today.

03The Blackest Day?20050915

In the 1970s the battle over comprehensives entered the classroom, with arguments about mixed ability teaching.

Was this the natural conclusion of the comp revolution, or the final descent into trendy madness? And Evan revisits his own school, to relive the excitement and turmoil of going comp in 1976.

04Forty Years On20050922

In 1965, the British government began championing comprehensive education.

But 40 years on, the comps have taken a lot of flak.

So has the basic idea of teaching children together in large schools, without selecting by ability, thrived, survived or died? To find out, Evan Davis visits one of the schools created to replace the traditional comprehensive - the first City Technology College in the country, set up in the 1980s.

Was it actually a comp by any other name?