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Post-war legislation

The Butler Act

The Education Bill, enacted in 1944, is commonly known as the 'Butler Act'. There was some debate on the provision of school meals, and an amendment proposed by Thelma Cazalet-Kerr on equal pay for male and female teachers brought about its defeat. The bill was only passed when Winston Churchill treated it as a vote of confidence in the government.

After the Labour victory in 1945 the new Minister of Education, Ellen Wilkinson, raised the question of the school leaving age. She estimated the first stage of the 'Raising the School Leaving Age' scheme (ROSLA) would require the creation of over 200,000 new school places. In the worsening economic climate of 1947 the Treasury sought unsuccessfully to delay ROSLA, and the school leaving age was raised to 15. In 1949 the new Minister of Education, George Tomlinson, decided it was unfeasible to raise the age further.

Education Act 1944

The Education Act 1944 was unspecific about the institutional form of secondary education. In spite of internal opposition, the Labour Government supported existing distinctions between grammar, secondary and technical schools. It aimed to make education more accessible by the expansion of schools and teacher training, rather than by fundamentally changing the system.


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