Middle schools: a sociological interpretation of their development and practice

Bryan, Kenneth A. (1980). Middle schools: a sociological interpretation of their development and practice. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000de77


Middle schools as separate and distinct institutions are still a relatively recent feature in the maintained school system in England. This new category of schools is not a homogeneous one. The two main types of middle school tater for pupils aged either 8 - 12 or 9 - 13 years, but there are other variants whose pupils are in the age range 9 - 12, 10 - 13 and 10 - 14 years. Administratively middle schools are 'deemed' either primary or secondary.

First, this study sets out to analyse the development of middle schools in England within the context of comprehensive secondary school re-organisation. Then the decision to adopt middle schools of different types in two L.E.A.'s is examined in some detail. The intention is to explore how far decision making at the L.E.A. level about the form of school systems illustrates the considerations which appear to operate at the level of central government. In the second part, aspects of life in two specific middle schools are explored from the points of view of teachers and pupils. Again the intention is to explore how far and in what ways issues relating to middle school planning at the central and local government level make their impact in particular schools. The central theme throughout this study is the degree of congruence between the rhetoric used to legitimate middle schools and the reality experienced within them.

The problem of linking 'macro' and 'micro' levels of analysis is a familiar and persistent one in the sociology of education. In this study a theoretical synthesis to link decisions made about middle schools at central, government, local education authority and school ,level is made by way of an adaptation of exchange theory. It is suggested that this theoretical stance both clarifies and illuminates the data presented in the thesis and provides a framework in which future middle school developments can be located and interpreted.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions