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The 1944 Education Act - Essay Example

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The education system in most countries is viewed as a solution to economic, social, and political problems of the economy at that particular time. Education policies are therefore, formulated in such contexts and the education system in Britain was not an exception. …
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The 1944 Education Act
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The 1944 Education Act

Education was seen as a means of enlightening the people and solving problems associated with industrialization which was taking place in Europe. Before then, individuals were engaged in artisan trades where they possessed particular skills and controlled their working schedules but industrialization brought about the need for educated people to handle various tasks in industries (Bates et al. 2011). Many education Acts were legislated to change the nature of education but the education Act of 1944 formed the basis for the present education system in Britain. The Education Act of 1944 was very crucial as it replaced all previous education legislations and set the framework for post-war education system in England and Wales aimed at promoting equality of opportunity for all pupils. It established the Ministry of Education and made education free and compulsory for pupils up to age 15. The Act also aimed at helping Britain to reconstruct its education system after it was disrupted by World War II. According to Lowe (2012) the war destroyed school buildings through bombing and millions of children were evacuated. Furthermore, there was need for an education system that would solve social and economic problems through state control. The paper will thus discuss the Education Act and its impact on education and the society after the Second World War. To understand the education policy, it is important to look at the education background in Britain before the war. During the pre-war period, education in Britain was dominated by independent and church schools belonging to the Roman Catholic and the Church of England. Britain being a liberal state did not interfere with education but left it in the hands of local boards and authorities which were democratic in nature (McNaughton & Burgess, 2003). The schools provided elementary education from age 5-14. Secondary education was restricted to a minority children hence formal education was usually over by the age of 12 leading to child labour. Since pupils paid school fees in independent schools, education divided people along social class; the wealthy people could afford to enter grammar schools and get employment thereafter while the working-class only managed to get basic skills from elementary education (Gates, 2005). Teachers were recruited for training based on their religious affiliation and the Catholic schools only admitted students from catholic families who were taught catholic faith. Another aspect of early education was the provision of meals and school milk for nutrition purposes. During the war, most children were evacuated from bomb prone areas and resettled in bomb free zones away from their parents. As a result, there was a mixture of races and differences which resulted in racial prejudice. There was a decline in cultural values and morality as parents could not monitor their children’s progress since the schools of choice where religious values were taught were far away (Lowe, 2012). The buildings were in a deplorable state due to bombing hence education was offered at home in selected premises. Due to the prevailing circumstances and the need to impart patriotism in citizens, there was need for an education system that would serve this purpose. Education was seen as a tool of transmitting cultural values and morality and also as a tool of social and economic policy since the society was becoming more complex requiring wide range of knowledge and skills. Bartlett and Burton (2007) argue that education was also to be used as a vehicle for equality of opportunity especially by ensuring implementation of the Beveridge report of 1942 which advocated for formation of a welfare state. To ensure everyone ... Read More
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