The Making of the 1944 Education Actby Michael Barber
The 1944 Education Act was a crucial piece of British legislation - one of the most important of this century. It was passed against a background of war and growing popular demand for social reform. It provideda framework for the education service which remained largely intct for almost fifty years. Since 1988, however, with the introduction of a National Curriculum and competition between schools, the workings of the Act have been largely dismantled.
In The Making of the 1944 Education Act, Michael Barber presents a lively evaluation of the Act - its background, passage and effect fifty years after it was introduced. He looks briefly at the frustrated attempts at reform between the wars and how the upheaval of World War II created the right conditions for successful legislation. The book then follows the passage of reform and quotes liberally from contemporary sources such as the Times Educational Supplement and Hansard to illustrate its narrative. It is a fascinating history of educational policy and of British culture and politics towards the end of the war.
Michael Barber sees the 1944 Act as a triumph of clear purpose and acknowledges the wisdom and political acumen of R.A. Butler, then President of the Board of Education.
The Making of the 1944 Education Act offers an excellent history and evalutaion of an important piece of legislation and its legacy. It will be of great interest to teachers, student teachers, policy-makers and political historians.
Michael Barber is Professor of Education at Keele University.
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