History Files


Modern Britain

Key Dates in English Education

by Jackie Speel, 31 May 2008

Part 2: 1900 to 1972

Part 1: Up to 1899
Part 2: 1900-1972
Part 3: 1975-2004


'Cockerton Judgement' (T B Cockerton, government auditor) - rates could only be spent on elementary education (part of an official intrigue by the vice-president of the Education Department, Sir John Gorst, and associate civil servant, Robert Morant, to undermine the School Board system). City Parochial Charities. Board of Education constituted higher elementary schools. University of London set up the Extension Board for the examination and inspection of secondary schools. Balfour Act: local government system established for primary and secondary schools.

6 April: London Board of Education issued a minute approved by parliament enabling the board to recognise 'higher elementary schools'.


Education Act: School Boards abolished and to be replaced by Local Education Authorities in county education authorities made responsible for running costs of schools provided by the churches led to protest among nonconformist groups and some Welsh councils. London Day Training College established by LCC in association with University of London.


Education (London) Act. London County Council created a local education authority: had previously had powers under the Technical Instructions Acts. Employment of Children Act.


Board of Education 'Regulations for Secondary Schools'. Day trade schools or junior technical schools begun, increasing in number over next few years. Education (Local Authority Default) Act: authorised Board of Education to act when local authorities refused to do so. Higher School Certificates established, initially using the same papers as the intermediate examinations and thereafter a specialist examination.


Ministry of Education 'Handbook of Suggestions' (for elementary teachers). School Certificate Examination established.


Private Members Bill (first such introduced by Labour) gave Local Education Authorities the power to provide school meals - became Education (Provision of Meals) Act. Empire Day first celebrated.


In July, the LCC substituted a longer term record for the Junior Leaving Examination. Only teachers holding teaching certificates eligible for work in LCC's school services. LCC decided no classroom should accommodate more than forty in senior and 48 in infants departments. Education (Administrative Provisions) Act. County Councils, as educational authorities, made partially responsible for School Medical Service. Regulations - all secondary schools receiving state grants should provide free places for a quarter of annual entry - led to scholarship examinations.


National System of School Certificate examinations established by the Board of Education, and the Secondary Schools Examinations Council established. Regulations of Secondary Education.


Board of Education required that the number of children per single teacher class should not exceed sixty (down from eighty), with a changeover period allowed.


Milk scheme for undernourished children introduced. Dispute LCC-Board of Education over reorganisation of schools.


Edmond Holmes, Chief Inspector of Schools, 'What is and what might be'. London (among other authorities) established Central Schools for promising pupils in practical studies. Last pupil-teacher centre in London closed, and last pupil teacher gave last lesson in 1913. LCC established a series of 'central schools' with an industrial or commercial bias.


LCC began Junior Technical schools.

With male teachers enlisting during WWI, it was necessary for the first time to use university-trained women in secondary education.


July Circular 849 - a result of pleas from teachers and their organisations to be delivered from the chaos of examinations - issued following report made by consultative committee Dec 1911: reported that nearly ninety separate examinations professed to test children's proficiency. Concept of group of subjects to be passed in the first examinations rather than single subjects.


Arthur Henderson, minister of education appointed a 'Departmental Commission on Juvenile Education in relation to Employment after the War'. Submitted final report 1917 which then education minister, H A L Fisher, developed into what became the Education Bill.


April 'Departmental Committee on Juvenile Employment' (the Lewis Committee) reported.

Secondary Schools Examinations SSEC founded, replacing a variety of separate qualification examinations.


2 April: NUT conference voted 42,757 - 26,040 against equal pay for women.

Education Act (Fisher Act): school leaving age increased to fourteen and half timers disappeared. Provided for physical education, nursery schools and technical or specialist classes for more advanced pupils who would benefit from them. Elementary schools became free. Also provided for compulsory part time education for young persons 14-18: in practice this latter largely postponed due to financial considerations.


Burnham Committee established - considering teachers' salaries.


Education Act - implemented provisions of Fisher Act.


Geddes Act (otherwise known as the Geddes Axe).


Charles Trevelyan - Commons spokesman on education - number of grammar school free places was to be doubled. schools broadcasts by BBC began. LCC embarked upon program of concentrating in special departments children over eleven, which became a national policy in 1926, with the Hadow report's adoption.


Consultative committee of the Board of Education on the education of the adolescent set up, with Sir Henry Hadow chairman.


23 March: Notice to terminate Burnham Award agreement on teachers' salaries announced by Local Authorities Board.

R H Tawney Equality. The Primary School (Second Hadow Report).


22 November: Board of Education decided to confirm new regulations in Circular 1421 for raising fees in secondary schools and imposing means tests on parents.

Third Hadow Report Infant and Nursery Schools.


22 May: Board of Education called for review of staffing of secondary and elementary schools with view to reduction of teachers.

Children and Young Persons Act - restrictions on employment of juveniles (prohibited for children under thirteen etc).


Milk Marketing Board scheme for the provision of milk for school children.


30 January: Text issued of government's Education Bill raising school leaving age to fifteen from 1 September 1939 with certain exceptions.

Board of Education Circular - more free places in secondary schools and state scholarships, and increased grant for elementary schools.


Spens Report Secondary Education with Special Reference to Grammar Schools and Technical High Schools.


Survey of the London Scheme of Further Education - dealt with technical colleges, colleges of commerce, day colleges and junior commercial and technical colleges, together with provision for young people who could be released from employment if compulsory part time education was introduced.


Minister of Education's Green Book on post war school education published.


Fleming Committee - considering ways of linking public schools to the state system: report issued in 1944.


9 February: LCC agreed to recommendation of Education Committee refusing to collaborate with independent public schools which they regarded as educationally undesirable as at present moment.

16 July: Government's post-war policy on education announced: more nursery schools up to five, compulsory school attendance 5-15 and subsequently to sixteen: primary schools up to eleven and free secondary education, part time schooling to eighteen, with Young People's Colleges to be founded.

17 July: Government's White Paper on education: aims 1) securing to children a better childhood and a better start in life. 2) Insuring a fuller measure of education & providing opportunities for all young people to develop their individual talents on the basis of equality of opportunity & diversity of facilities. The plans intended to be brought into operation by stages as part of post-war compulsory education for young people up to sixteen.

2 November: City Corporation approved Government's White Paper on Education.

8 November: Government announced decision not to set up a Royal Commission on the Universities.

Butler White Paper 'Educational Reconstruction' Curriculum and Examinations in Secondary Schools - Norwood Report Curriculum and Education in Secondary Education.

Norwood Report Curriculum and Education in Secondary Schools.


19 July: LCC Education Committee adopted scheme to replace secondary and senior schools by large schools with up to two thousand pupils.

Education Act: Board of Education replaced by a minister. Fees for secondary education schools maintained by public education abolished, and former distinction between elementary and higher education replaced by a three stage system - primary, secondary and further education: establishment of grammar schools, secondary modern and technical schools 11-Plus examination introduced. Exempted London from the requirement to prepare a scheme of divisional arrangement.

10 August: R A B Butler announced raising of school age to fifteen would be postponed for a year, and implemented 1947. On McNair Report on Teacher Training. The Public Schools and the General Educational System (Fleming Report), Teachers and Youth Leaders (McNair Report).


Education Act covering Scotland. 'The National Schools'.


Education Act.


17 February: Development plan for primary and secondary education prepared by LCC published.

29 September: Minister of Education issued a report proposing changes to examination system in secondary schools - report based on school record and tests being given to every child on leaving with one external examination for those over sixteen instead of existing advanced examinations.

LCC raised status of commercial institutes to that of technical colleges and schools of art: renamed colleges of commerce.

School leaving age raised to fifteen. Ministry of Education pamphlet, The New Secondary Education.


14 June: LCC Education Committee lifted ban on sex teaching in public elementary schools.

25 April: Announced that in 1951 school and higher school certificate examinations would be discontinued and replaced by examination for general certificate of education.


GCE introduced at Ordinary and Advanced levels: unlike School Certificate, where all subjects in a group had to be passed, a single subject exam.


Ministry of Education said that from 1953 children could take the GCE before sixteen if teachers thought they were ready.

On employees under eighteen required to attend some for of educational instruction on one day a week.


8 July: Establishment of the Associated Examining Body for General Certificate of Education announced.

Ministry of Education Report on Early Leaving.


4 March: The Burnham Committee and similar bodies recommended that scheme of equal pay for women similar to that adopted by civil service should be applied to teachers.


14 June: Labour Party's educational policy document contained a proposal to absorb local authority grammar schools into the comprehensive schools.

29 October: Middlesex County Council decided to end 11-Plus examination - other local authorities followed intermittently thereafter.

LCC launched, in conjunction with the BBC, an experiment in the use of TV as a teaching aid.


Crowther Report on pupils 16-18, Secondary pupils of average and below average intelligence.

Elizabeth Fraser - study Home Environment and the School Crowther Report on pupils 16-18, Secondary pupils of average and below average intelligence.


Beloe Committee grades 1-5 and U for CSE, with one being equivalent to an O level and four average candidates (to some extent covered different curricula to the O levels).

On Associate Examination Board - examinations aimed at candidates in comprehensive schools, and offering new subjects.

Secondary School Examinations other than the GCE (Beloe Report). System of numerical grades for A levels introduced by some boards, and in 1970 replaced by A-F and U.

From the mid-1960s multiple choice began to be used in 16+ examinations.


2 March: Ministry of Education announced that from 1964 school leaving dates would be reduced to two a year - Easter and July - for those leaving at the minimum age of fifteen.

Secondary Schools Examination Committee report 'The Certificate of Secondary Education' that a new school-leaving examination should be introduced, being subject based.

White Paper 'A Plan for Polytechnics and Other Colleges'.


Brian Jackson and Dennis Marsden Education and the Working Class. Nuffield Science Project. Sir David Eccles, minister of education set up a Curriculum Study Group, which led to setting up of a Working Party, under Sir John Lockwood, chairman of the SSEC which reported to the minister in March 1964 and recommended the establishment of a Schools Council for the Curriculum and Education. Government accepted terms of the Beloe Committee which led to the creation of the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) alongside the General Certificate of Education - replaced a number of local examinations.

The Secondary Schools Examination Committee announced that the CSE would probably start by 1965.


Half Our Future (Newson Report), Higher Education (Robbins Report).

The Third Report of Secondary School Examinations Council: new and uniform system of grading and presentation of results of GCE examinations at A levels would be uses by all examining boards - five grades of pass on main or 'basic' papers and two 'supplementary' grades ('distinction' and 'merit') for 'S' papers: the existing 'Scholarship' papers to be abolished.


Minister for Education became Secretary of State for Education and Science. Education Act... Industrial Training Act.

Schools Council for the Curriculum and Examinations established 1 October, Sir John Maud first Chairman, replacing Secondary School Board: by 1971 proposing a 16+ exam to be taken by all school children. After various reorganisations the council was re-established as a charity 1969.


First CSE examinations: nine examination boards.

January: Circular 10/65 from the Department of Education stated that the government's declared objective was to end selection at 11-Plus and to eliminate separatism in secondary education. Local authorities asked to submit short and long term plans for reorganisation maintained schools in their areas on comprehensive lines and ways of doing this, based largely on what six authorities had already done.

June: 'Inquiry into Primary Education' by Central Advisory Council (England) reconstituted under chairmanship of Lady Plowden announced.

The Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) was set up to cover the area of the former LCC, and in Outer London school education was the responsibility of the London boroughs.


6 October: ILEA decided to retain at least forty grammar schools in London in 1971.

Children and their Primary Schools (Plowden Report).


February: Select Committee of House of Commons appointed to consider affairs of Department of Education and Science and Scottish Education Institute.

Public School Commission first report; second report 1970.


Council for the Curriculum and Education became an independent body financed in equal parts by the Department for Education and Science and the LEAs.

The Organisation of Secondary Education Circular 10/70.


Education (Milk) Act.


Teacher Education and Training (James Report), Education: A Framework for Expansion (government white paper). School leaving age raised to sixteen.



Text copyright © Jackie Speel. An original feature for the History Files.