Lessons to learn

The Butler Education Act, brought in after the Second World War meant many controversial changes to schooling, not least the 11-plus examination. A ‘negative experience’ for many, including Cliff Richard …

Outset Publishing

‘A landmark has been set up in English education’

Times Educational Supplement, 1944

Such was the general reception to the Butler Act of 1944. The paper’s editor went on to comment that ‘there shall be equality of opportunity, and diversity of provision without impairment of the social unity’.

So why did the Butler Act promise such wide-reaching changes to education and how successful were they in reality? Up until this point state education provided for children aged five through to fourteen in one ‘elementary sector’. Butler, however, recommended a division in education between ‘primary’ (five to eleven) and ‘secondary’ (eleven to fifteen). Some local authorities were already offering state funded secondary education, but with this Act the intention was to ensure fairer and widespread access, particularly for girls and, more broadly, children from working class families.

Although the Act was passed during the Second World War, it wasn’t until…

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Published by Isabella Muir

Isabella is passionate about exploring family life from the 1930s through to the 1960s. She has published five Sussex Crime mystery novels set during the 1960s, a standalone novel dealing with the child migrant policy of the 1950s and 60s, several novellas set during the Second World War, and two short story collections. All available in paperback from your local bookshops, or online as ebooks. Her novels are also available as audiobooks, and have been translated into Italian.

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