The story of post-war European education has been, therefore, a story of enormous growth — the growth, first of all, of numbers of pupils and students in schools, colleges and universities. This is based partly on the growth of population, but also upon the spread of education to social levels which had previously been satisfied with elementary education. Thus the second part of the story of European education is the pressure for democratisation. It is fair to say that the democratisation has not proceeded nearly as far as people think. The participation rate, in advanced education, of pupils from manual workers’ backgrounds is still comparatively low in most countries, and the evidence suggests that achievement is as closely related to social background as it ever was. This implies that any further steps towards the democratisation of education will require radical social change, including attempts to change the cultural level of families themselves, because it is in the earliest years that a child’s attitudes to the education system and to learning generally are formed. It is for this reason that there has been a growing emphasis upon early pre-school provision as part of the radical intent to democratise education.
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