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Butler Act


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The name by which the Education Act 1944 is popularly known. The reforms enacted in this legislation were largely attributed to R. A. Butler (1902–82), who was at that time President of the Board of Education, and with whose name the Act was associated. This legislation is an important milestone in education policy and reform. It established the three progressive stages or sectors of education with which we are now familiar: primary, secondary, and further education. It was also responsible for the introduction of the Eleven Plus, and the system of selecting pupils at the end of the primary stage of their schooling in order that they should receive the education or training which was judged best suited to their ability and their aptitude. The three routes of schooling provided—the grammar schools, the (secondary) modern schools, and the technical schools—were described as having ‘parity of esteem’, an early use of this phrase, which has since become a familiar part of policy rhetoric. The Act also replaced the Board of Education with a more powerful Ministry of Education, whose Minister was empowered to enforce the statutory duties of local education authorities. This Act was not superseded until the passing of the Education Act 1988.

Subjects: Education.


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