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New Left Review I/23, January-February 1964


John Crutchley

Robbins and Newsom

The inclusive nature of the British class structure ensures that all new status situations with potential elite positions are quickly absorbed into the system. In the past, this has usually meant a modification of the educational channels of access to the ruling class, which has been justified by egalitarian principles. However, educational equality achieved in this way has been formal rather than substantial; it has followed and reinforced changes in the class structure rather than led the way to social liberalization. Today, the class structure again needs modification but the conflict between the elitist and egalitarian principles is posed more starkly than it was with past reforms. The international competitive needs of the British ruling class demand more technical and scientific manpower, while the majority of ordinary people want an amelioration of their inadequate health, housing and educational facilities. This antinomy is revealed in the clearest form in the Robbins and Newsom reports on education. Robbins stresses technocratic imperatives, with no discussion at all of social welfare, while Newsom is concerned with social welfare, albeit only in a moralizing religious fashion. But latent in the Newsom report is a programme for revolutionizing society, while the proposals of the Robbins report will directly strengthen the British class system.

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John Crutchley, ‘Robbins and Newsom’, NLR I/23: £3
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