Did the reforms address problems of "ignorance"?

In 1944, the war time Coalition government passed the Education Act. The Act was actually proposed by the Conservatives, but it was the Labour government that implemented its measures after the 1945 General Election.

Education Act, 1944

Details and successes

  • all local authorities had to provide primary education, secondary education, and further education
  • secondary education was compulsory until the age of 15
  • meals, milk, and medical services were provided at every school
  • the '11+' examination for 11-year-old pupils placed children in certain types of school according to their ability
  • those who passed went to senior secondary schools and were expected to 'stay on' after age 15 and possibly go to university and get jobs in management
  • children who failed the exam were not expected to stay at school after age 15 and were expected to fill unskilled types of employment
  • the act was implemented by 1947


  • many were concerned that academic education would be harmed by combining it with less academic subjects and children
  • the 11+ exam was seen to be socially divisive and highly contentious
  • critics said that little had been done to enhance the opportunities for working class children
  • after 1947, most working class children left school at 15 with few paper qualifications
  • compared to the equality of opportunity and provision being enacted in the fields of social security and health, the Labour government did little for the educational welfare of the working class
  • the building of new schools concentrated on the primary sector to cope with the baby boom
  • the secondary sector was largely neglected