Concept

Education Act 1944

Summary
The Education Act 1944 (7 and 8 Geo 6 c. 31) made major changes in the provision and governance of secondary schools in England and Wales. It is also known as the "Butler Act" after the President of the Board of Education, R. A. Butler. Historians consider it a "triumph for progressive reform," and it became a core element of the post-war consensus supported by all major parties. The Act was repealed in steps with the last parts repealed in 1996. The basis of the 1944 Education Act was a memorandum entitled Education After the War (commonly referred to as the "green book") which was compiled by Board of Education officials and distributed to selected recipients in June 1941. The President of the Board of Education at that time was Butler's predecessor, Herwald Ramsbotham; Butler succeeded him on 20 July 1941. The Green Book formed the basis of the 1943 White Paper, Educational Reconstruction which was itself used to formulate the 1944 Act. The purpose of the Act was to address the country's educational needs amid demands for social reform that had been an issue before the Second World War began. The Act incorporated proposals developed by leading specialists in the 1920s and 1930s such as R. H. Tawney and William Henry Hadow. The text of the Act was drafted by Board of Education officials including Griffiths G. Williams, William Cleary, H. B. Wallis, S. H. Wood, Robert S. Wood, and Maurice Holmes. There was a desire to keep the churches involved in education but they could not afford to modernise without government help. By negotiation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple (1881-1944), and other religious leaders, a majority of the Anglican church schools became voluntary controlled and were effectively absorbed into the state system in return for funding. The Act also encouraged non-sectarian religious teaching in secular schools. A third of the Anglican church schools became voluntary aided which entitled them to enhanced state subsidies whilst retaining autonomy over admissions, curriculum and teacher appointments; Roman Catholic schools also chose this option.
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