Whatever Happened to the Meritocracy

What was it really like to grow up in the ’50s and ’60s in the UK – when a promise of rebuilding of society seemed to open amazing new opportunities?

This was a time when the welfare state was new and massive changes to education meant that children were separated into grammar schools, technical schools and secondary moderns at the age of eleven, not always with predictable results.

Margaret Peacock began to write her own autobiography as the Covid Lockdown began – and then realised that gaining a spectrum of experiences of growing up then would be fascinating, challenging and most of all living history.

The book she has created is a collection of short autobiographies written by four people who grew up in the ’50s and ’60s, illustrating not only the impact of a new system of education on children but also the impact on their families. It is reflective, insightful and historical in its descriptions of the post-war world. There are contributions from Barry Simner, Diana Bruce, Paul Davies and Margaret Peacock.

Almost seventy years ago, there was a strong current of belief in the importance and necessity for the UK to become a meritocracy. So what was the experience of living through that apparent experiment?

“Whatever Happened to the Meritocracy?” provides four highly individual, amusing and challenging answers to that question, written by four people who moved away from their origins and had to come to terms with the realities and illusions of the meritocracy they were promised.