United Kingdom had been the world leader in education. It has set standards for the others to follow with some of the path breaking policies and its efficient implementation at all levels of the education like primary, secondary and beyond. Even today, many countries incorporate the improvements made by the education system of UK, into their system of education…
In fact, British started the first educational institutions of most of the countries with the network of their missionaries, which has helped in the spread of English as a world language. However, the scope of this essay is restricted to the "social, economic and political factors that have influenced the changes to Primary and Secondary Education in Wales and England since 1944".
1944 was a landmark year in the history of the education system in Wales and England. The education act of 1944(also known as Butler Act, named after Rab Butler who formulated the act) completely changed the existing scenario of the Primary and the Secondary education system. It placed the education system under Ministry of Education, which hitherto was nonexistent and increased the role of the minister to include promotion of education in England and Wales. The act made Education free but compulsory. It raised the school leaving age to 15; suggested free milk, transport, and regular medical check ups for all the students. The entire Voluntary Schools most of which were owned by the churches were converted to, either aided, or 'controlled'. To advice the minister on the matters connected with education two Central Advisory Councils for Education, one for England and one for Wales were established. Although it maintained that Religious Education was a statutory requirement, it gave the parents a free hand to decide their children's participation in it. It made the appointment of a Chief Education Officer a mandatory requirement for every LEA and divided the responsibility of management of education between the central government, the LEAs and Institution governing bodies. The government did not get involved in the process of making the curriculum which was left to the institution governing bodies mainly head teacher.
The 1994 education act was based on the reports of Hadow (1926), Spens (1938), and Norwood (1943) all of which were suggestive of grouping of children based on their intelligence through exams (Roy Lowe (ed), 2000). Hence, it introduced the 'Tripartite System' of having Grammar Schools, Secondary Modern Schools, and the Secondary Technical Schools. Grammar school was for the most intelligent of the student lot, the Secondary Modern Schools for the ordinary majority and Secondary Technical Schools were for those with technical aptitude. The Labour party, which came into power with a huge majority after the Second World War, implemented most of the provisions of the 1944 Education Act. Several sections of the act were deleted one by one in the later years through legislation and it was completely repealed by 1996 Education Act.
Even though Britain was occupied with mammoth restoration efforts after the Second World War, the government in power under the leadership of Clement Attlee was obsessed with the creation of so called 'welfare State'. Ellen Wilkinson the first Minister of Education post-war aggressively pursued her ambition of implementation of provisions of 1944 education act without much success. Some of the reports which were made after the 1944 education act recommended further changes in the education system. Percy report (1945) recommended inclusion of technical education in universities and Barlow Report (1946) recommended increase in number of seats for science students in universities. The first Clarke report (1947) School and life ...
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