Presidential Address, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL, 22 November 2013.
This is the first in a series of lectures that consider the impact of mass education (at secondary and university levels) on postwar Britain. Their emphasis is on the ‘democratic political theory’ of education – what do voters and their elected representatives want from an educational system in conditions of universal suffrage? The first lecture focuses on the instability of the allegedly ‘meritocratic’ system established by the Butler Act in 1944, which brought universal secondary education to Britain for the first time. It assesses how a democracy (in which everyone is politically equal) co-exists with a meritocracy (which is designed to accept and nurture inequality).