The Long Road to the 1944 Education Act – Part 1

Great Education Secretaries

Am now getting near the end of Rab Butler’s autobiography. The later chapters mostly cover his time as Chancellor and working in the Home and Foreign office. The chapter on his role as Education Minister retold his involvement in the 1944 Education Act and I thought it was worth recounting that process because of the insight it gives into the passing of education bills.


The 1944 Education Act is considered one of the most significant education reforms of the 20th century. But it was not supposed to be this way. Eight years earlier the 1936 Education Act laid down the same law now associated with the ’44 act: that every child should remain in school until aged 15. With a three year lead-in period the policy was due to start on 1st September 1939. On that day, Germany invaded Poland.

The perils of war rained hard on the…

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