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The Ruskin Speech and Great Debate in English education, 1976–1979: A study of motivation

Silverwood, J and Wolstencroft, P (2023) The Ruskin Speech and Great Debate in English education, 1976–1979: A study of motivation. British Educational Research Journal. ISSN 0141-1926

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3868 (Published version)


James Callaghan's speech at Ruskin College, Oxford in October 1976 is widely considered a pivotal moment in modern English educational policy. Whilst it is not our intention to challenge this fundamental point, the paper will critically interrogate some long-held assumptions about the motivation that led Callaghan to deliver his speech at Ruskin College. Specifically, the paper will argue that the Ruskin Speech, which spawned a subsequent great debate on education, was motivated by a desire to protect and support comprehensive education, rather than generate more fundamental and radical educational reform away from those principles. Where successive governments have referred back to the ideals espoused by the speech as justification for subsequent educational transformation away from comprehensive ideals, this has only served to imbue the Ruskin Speech and Great Debate with motivations that were not shared at the time by Callaghan and his Labour government.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 13 Education; Education
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: Business & Management (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Wiley
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2023 19:24
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2023 08:00
DOI or ID number: 10.1002/berj.3868
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19165
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