chapter  2
30 Pages

Secondary education for all, 1918-44

WithMichael Parkinson

The secondary schools, which provided an academic, grammar-school-type education, were attended mainly by middle-class children whose parents could afford to pay the compulsory fees. The elementary schools, which were free, were attended primarily by children from the working classes, and they provided a semi-vocational education. The secondary schools were superior to elementary schools in terms of their physical condition, e.g. size and equipment, the qualifications of the teaching staff, the salaries paid to the teaching staff, the nature of the education they offered, the leaving age for their pupils, and the kind of formal qualifications they offered and hence the occupational strata into which they sent their pupils. The Education Acts of 1870 and 1902 had admitted governmental responsibility, however limited, for the provision of elementary and secondary education respectively, and a series of minor pieces of legislation up to 1918 had improved the conditions, lessened the working hours and extended the school years of British children.