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Friday, February 11, 2011

Nursery Schools and the Eleven Plus

The 1926 Hadlow Report on the Education of the Adolescent was concerned with the urgent need to make better provision for the education of boys and girls after the age of eleven. A school leaving age of fifteen was recommended. The Spens Report of 1938, which looked at Technical Education and Grammar Schools, suggested a school leaving age of 16.

The Next Step was the 1927 Report trying to raise awareness of the needs of the pre school child. In those days there appeared to be little willingness to feel that the needs of children under the age of five were important.

The Next Step felt that the educational system should look beyond the physical welfare of children. It must be recalled that some areas in England were, in the late 1920s, veritable slums. There were many people, with a social conscience, who felt that the price of civilisation must encompass the education and development of young children.

To achieve changes in the nursery school The Next Step wanted the Education Act of 1921 amended to make it compulsorily for Local Authorities to provide nursery schools. It was also mooted that nursery schools should be removed from the category of special school. A further big change was suggested in that nursery schools must provide some form of outside play areas. Teacher had to be trained and medical inspections carried out.

Naturally there was a cost to the provision of nursery education, Cost has always been a large priority in education. Today there is talk of Free Schools and cut backs to the Building Schools for Education program. The cost of a nursery school for forty five children was: Land £1000, buildings £5500 and furniture £300.

The average cost of school day was 3d per head. Parents were expected to pay 2d towards the cost.

A good number of parents are prepared today to pay for the education of their children towards the eleven plus. The cost of tutors, books and assessments is not cheap. It would also be very interesting today to find out how many children contemplating the eleven plus who did not attend a well regulated and properly constituted nursery school.

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