History of education in England

History of education in England

The History of education in England can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon settlement of England, or even back to the Roman occupation. During the Middle Ages schools were established to teach Latin grammar, while apprenticeship was the main way to enter practical occupations. Two universities were established: the University of Oxford, followed by the University of Cambridge. A reformed system of "free grammar schools" was established in the reign of Edward VI of England.

In the 19th century the Church of England was responsible for most schools until the establishment of free, compulsory education towards the end of that century. University College London was established, followed by King's College London; the two colleges forming the University of London. Durham University was also established in the early 19th century. Towards the end of the century the "redbrick" universities were founded.

The 1944 Education Act established the Tripartite System of grammar schools, secondary modern schools and Secondary Technical Schools. The school leaving age was raised to 16 in 1971.

Middle ages

From medieval times, the Church (or chapel) provided education to all classes of society, in monasteries, at public schools, orphanages, charity schools, grammar schools, church foundations, or by the chaplains to private households.

By the late medieval period in Britain there were many schools teaching Latin grammar.

Apprenticeships have a long tradition in the United Kingdom, dating back to around the 12th century and flourishing by the 14th century. The parents or guardians of a minor would agree with a Guild's Master craftsman the conditions for an apprenticeship which would bind the minor for 5-9 years (e.g. from age 14 to 21). They would pay a premium to the craftsman and the contract would be recorded in an indenture.cite book |last=Aldrich |first=Richard |title=Lessons from History of Education |origyear=1997 in A. Heikkinen and R. Sultana (eds), Vocational Education and Apprenticeships in Europe |url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9lGp9Tad5-QC&dq=apprentice+twelfth+century&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 |accessdate=2008-06-15 |year=2005 |publisher=Routledge |isbn=0415358922 |pages=195-205 |chapter=13 - Apprenticeships in England]

Early modern period

Until as late as the nineteenth century, all university fellows and many schoolmasters were expected or required to be in holy orders. Schoolmistresses typically taught the three Rs (reading, writing and 'rithmetic) in dame schools, charity schools, or informal village schools.

In England the Tudor King Edward VI reorganised these schools or instituted new ones so that there was a national system of "free grammar schools" that were in theory open to all and offered free tuition to those who could not afford to pay fees. The vast majority of poor children did not attend these schools since their labour was economically valuable to their families.

In 1563, the Statute of Artificers and Apprentices was passed to regulate and protect the apprenticeship system, forbidding anyone from practising a trade or craft without first serving a 7-year period as an apprentice to a mastercite web |url=http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/familyhistory/guide/trade/apprentices.htm |title= Research, education & online exhibitions > Family history > In depth guide to family history > People at work > Apprentices |publisher=The National Archives |accessdate=2008-06-16 ] (though in practice Freemen's sons could negotiate shorter terms).cite book |last=Dunlop |first=O. J. |title=English Apprenticeship and Child Labour, a History |origyear=1912 |publisher=Fisher Unwin |location=London |chapter=iv ]

From 1601, 'parish' apprenticeships under the Elizabethan Poor Law came to be used as a way of providing for poor, illegitimate and orphaned children of both sexes alongside the regular system of skilled apprenticeships, which tended to provide for boys from slightly more affluent backgrounds. These parish apprenticeships, which could be created with the assent of two Justices of the Peace, supplied apprentices for occupations of lower status such as farm labouring, brickmaking and menial household service.

18th century

In the early years of the Industrial Revolution entrepreneurs began to resist the restrictions of the apprenticeship system, [cite book |last=Langford |first=Paul |authorlink=Paul Langford |editor=Kenneth O. Morgan |title=The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain |origyear=1984 |accessdate=2008-06-16 |publisher=OUP |location=Oxford |isbn=0198226845 |pages=382 |chapter=7 - The Eighteenth Century ] and a legal ruling established that the Statute of Apprentices did not apply to trades that were not in existence when it was passed in 1563, thus excluding many new 18th century industries.

Robert Raikes initiated the Sunday School Movement, having inherited a publishing business from his father and become proprietor of the "Gloucester Journal" in 1757. The movement started with a school for boys in the slums. Raikes had been involved with those incarcerated at the county Poor Law (part of the jail at that time) and saw that vice would be better prevented than cured. He saw schooling as the best intervention. The best available time was Sunday as the boys were often working in the factories the other six days. The best available teachers, were lay people. The textbook was the Bible, and the originally intended curriculum started with learning to read and then moved on to the catechism. [ cite web | title=Robert Raikes, 1736-1811, Sunday School Movement | work=Believer's Web | url=http://www.believersweb.org/view.cfm?ID=143 | accessdate=2006-06-27 ] [ cite book | first=John Carroll | last=Power | title=The Rise and Progress of Sunday Schools: A Biography of Robert Raikes and William Fox | publisher=Sheldon & Company | location=New York | year=1863 | url=http://books.google.com/books?vid=0QDR77Ju6GDBs4&id=wjVactIodTsC&pg=PA30&lpg=PR11&dq=%22Robert+Raikes%22 ]

Raikes used the paper to publicize the schools and bore most of the cost in the early years. The movement began in July 1780 in the home of a Mrs. Meredith. Only boys attended, and she heard the lessons of the older boys who coached the younger. Later, girls also attended. Within two years, several schools opened in and around Gloucester. He published an account on November 3, 1783 of Sunday School in his paper, and later word of the work spread through the "Gentleman's Magazine", and in 1784, a letter to the "Arminian Magazine".

The original schedule for the schools, as written by Raikes was "The children were to come after ten in the morning, and stay till twelve; they were then to go home and return at one; and after reading a lesson, they were to be conducted to Church. After Church, they were to be employed in repeating the catechism till after five, and then dismissed, with an injunction to go home without making a noise." [cite book | first=Montrose J. | last=Moses | title=Children's Books and Reading | publisher=Mitchell Kennerley | location=New York | year=1907 | url=http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC01661717&id=HhPfdA-IPegC&pg=PA103&lpg=PA101&dq=%22Robert+Raikes%22 ]

There were disputes about the movement in the early years. The schools were derisively called "Raikes' Ragged School". Criticisms raised included that it would weaken home based religious education, that it might be a desecration of the Sabbath, and that Christians should not be employed on the Sabbath. "Sabbatarian disputes" in the 1790s led many Sunday schools to cease their teaching of writing.

19th century

Prior to the 19th century, there were very few schools. Most of those that existed were run by the church, for the church, stressing religious education. The Church of England resisted early attempts for the state to provide secular education, and church schools still are an integral part of the state school system.

In 1814 compulsory apprenticeship by indenture was abolished.

By 1831, Sunday School in Great Britain was ministering weekly to 1,250,000 children, approximately 25 percent of the population. As these schools preceded the first state funding of schools for the common public, they are sometimes seen as a forerunner to the current English school system.

In August 1833, the UK parliament voted sums of money each year for the construction of schools for poor children, the first time the state had become involved with education in England and Wales, whereas the programme of universal education in Scotland began in 1561.

A meeting in Manchester in 1837, chaired by Mark Philips, led to the creation of the Lancashire Public Schools' Association. The association proposed that non-denominational schools should be funded from local taxes.

In 1837 the Whig former Lord Chancellor Henry Brougham presented a bill for public education. [A. Green, "Education and State Formation: The Rise of Education Systems in England, France and the USA". Macmillan, 1990]

In 1839 government grants for the construction and maintenance of schools were switched to voluntary bodies, and became conditional on a satisfactory inspection.

In 1840 the "Grammar Schools Act" expanded the Grammar School curriculum from classical studies to include science and literature.

Before 1870, education was largely a private affair, with wealthy parents sending their children to fee-paying schools, and others using whatever local teaching was made available.

The Forster Act

The Forster "Elementary Education Act 1870" required partially state funded board schools to be set up to provide primary (elementary) education in areas where existing provision was inadequate. Board schools were managed by elected school boards. The schools remained fee-paying. The previous government grant scheme established in 1833 ended on December 31, 1870.

In the latter part of the 19th Century, compulsory attendance at school ceased to be a matter for local option, with the introduction of the Elementary Education Act 1870 a milestone in the British school education system. [http://www.genuki.org.uk:8080/big/eng/LIN/schools.html Lincolnshire School Resources] Genuki.org.uk] Children had to attend between the ages of 5 and 10 though with some local discretion such as early leaving in agricultural areas. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6135516.stm School leaving age may be raised] news.bbc.co.uk, 10th November 2006]

The introduction of the Elementary Education Act 1870 (applying to England and Wales), commonly known as "Forster's Education Act" having been drawn up by William Edward Forster, created the concept of compulsory education for children under thirteen, although did not insist on compulsory attendance initially, as it only required the provision for education of children up to 10 years of age. [ [http://www.mountstmarys.org/History%20of%20School.htm History of Mount St Mary's] ] In areas where education was considered a problem, elected school boards could be set up. These boards could, at their discretion, create local by-laws, confirmed by Parliament, to require attendance and fine the parents of children who did not attend. There were exemptions for illness, living more than a certain distance (typically one mile) from a school, or certification of having reached the required standard (which varied by board) which were made mandatory across England and Wales by the 1880 Act.

Introduction of compulsory education

The Elementary Education Act 1880 insisted on compulsory attendance from 5-10 years. For poorer families, ensuring their children attended school proved difficult, as it was more tempting to send them working if the opportunity to earn an extra income was available. Attendance Officers often visited the homes of children who failed to attend school, which often proved to be ineffective. Children under the age of 13 who were employed were required to have a certificate to show they had reached the "educational standard". Employers of these children who weren't able to show this were penalised. An act brought into force thirteen years later went under the name of the Elementary Education (School Attendance) Act 1893, which stated a raised minimum leaving age to 11. Later the same year, the act was also extended for blind and deaf children, who previously had no means of an official education. This act was later amended in 1899 to raise the school leaving age up to 12 years of age. [ [http://www.thepotteries.org/dates/education.htm Key dates in British Education (1000-1899)] ThePotteries.org]

The "Free Education Act 1891" provided for the state payment of school fees up to ten shillings per week.

The "Elementary Education (School Attendance) Act 1893" raised the school leaving age to 11 and later to 13. The "Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act" of the same year extended compulsory education to blind and deaf children, and made provision for the creation of special schools.

The "Voluntary Schools Act 1897" provided grants to public elementary schools not funded by school boards (typically Church schools).

In the late Victorian period grammar schools were reorganised and their curriculum was modernised, although Latin was still taught.

First half of the 20th century

From April 1900 higher elementary schools were recognised, providing education from the age of 10 to 15.

Balfour Act

School Boards were abolished in 1902 and replaced with Local Education Authorities, which are still in use to the present day. The 'Balfour' "Education Act 1902 " created local education authorities (LEAs), who took over responsibility for board schools from the school boards. Grammar schools also became funded by the LEA. The act was of particular significance as it allowed for all schools, including denominational schools, to be funded through rates (local taxation).

The "Fisher Act" of 1918

The Fisher "Education Act 1918" made secondary education compulsory up to age 14 and gave responsibility for secondary schools to the state. Under the Act, many higher elementary schools and endowed grammar school sought to become state funded central schools or secondary schools. However, most children attended primary (elementary) school up until age 14, rather than going to a separate school for secondary education.

The year 1918 saw the introduction of the Education Act 1918, commonly also known as the Fisher Act as it was devised by Herbert Fisher. The act enforced compulsory education from 5-14 years, but also included provision for compulsory part-time education for all 14 to 18-year-olds. There were also plans for expansion in tertiary education, by raising the participation age to 18. This was dropped because of the cuts in public spending after World War I. This is the first act which starting planning provisions for young people to remain in education until the age of 18. [http://education.independent.co.uk/news/article2383878.ece Under-18s who leave school to be fined] education.independent.co.uk, 23rd March 2007] The 1918 act was not immediately implemented, instead waiting until an act in 1921 before coming into effect. [ [http://www.dg.dial.pipex.com/history/text03.shtml Education in England - 3] www.dg.dial.pipex.com]

After the passing of the 1929 "Local Government Act", Poor Law schools became state funded elementary schools.

1944 Act

The Butler Education Act of 1944 established the Tripartite System, and defined the modern split between Primary and Secondary education at age 11.

The Tripartite System was established in England and Wales by the Education Act 1944, and in Northern Ireland by the Education (Northern Ireland) Act 1947. This defined the grammar school as the place of education for the academically gifted (with entrance determined by a selection exam; initially this was the "Scholarship" exam, which was later replaced by a "Grading Test" which was then subsequently replaced by the 11+ exam). Children who did not pass the selection test attended technical schools or secondary modern schools. The system became controversial in the post-war years. Critics condemned it as being elitist and defenders claimed that grammar schools allow pupils to obtain a good education through merit rather than through family income. In the mid-1960s the then Labour Government tried to restrict or abolish grammar schools by requiring local authorities to introduce comprehensive schools. Following this, some grammar schools became fully independent and charged fees, while still usually retaining "grammar school" in their title. However, many grammar schools continue to be state run, and now have locally administered selection tests for entrance.

In 1944, Rab Butler introduced the Education Act 1944 which amongst other changes, including the introduction of the Tripartite System, included raising the school leaving age to 15. Although the act should have been brought into effect as from September 1939, it was not implemented because of the effects of World War II, but was eventually enforced from April 1947. The Comprehensive school system has since replaced the Tripartite System brought in by this act across most of England. [ [http://www.catholic-history.org.uk/nwchs/plumb/laws.html Catholic History Laws] Catholic-History.co.uk] This act also recommended compulsory part-time education for all children until the age of 18, but was also dropped similarly to Act 1918 to cut spending after World War II.

Changes in Government approaches towards education meant that it was no longer regarded adequate for a child to leave education aged 14, as that is the age when they were seen to really understand and appreciate the value of education, as well as being the period when adolescence was at its height. It was beginning to be seen as the worst age for a sudden switch from education to employment, with the additional year in schooling to only provide benefits for the children when they leave. Although there were concerns about the effects of having less labour from these children, it was hoped that the outcome of a larger quantity of more qualified, skilled workers would eliminate the deficit problem from the loss of unskilled labour. [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0036-6773(194711)55%3A9%3C523%3ARTSAIB%3E2.0.CO%3B2-6 Raising the School-Leaving Age in Britain] links.jstor.org, November 1947]

This act introduced the concept of the famous 11+ examination, which determined whether a child would be entitled to schooling in a grammar school, secondary modern or technical college, under the Tripartite System. The examination was devised by Rab Butler, but has since been phased out across the majority of the United Kingdom, with just several boroughs in England and Northern Ireland still using it. [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/ED1944.htm 1944 Education Act] spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk] League tables published in March 2007, however, show that existing grammar schools throughout the country are outperforming comprehensive schools. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=PYMF2Y1EU1NQBQFIQMGSFFWAVCBQWIV0?xml=/news/2007/03/01/nschools01.xml Grammars still dominate league tables] Telegraph.co.uk, 2nd March 2007]

The post-war period

Education was made compulsory up to age 15 in 1947.

Due to the perceived failures of the Tripartite system, the Labour government in 1965 requested proposals from all the UK's regions for them to move from the Tripartite system to the Comprehensive System. Note that this was an optional reform for the regions, and some regions still have the Tripartite System.

Leaving age raised to 16

In 1964, preparations began to raise the school leaving age to 16 to be enforced from 1st September 1973 onwards. As well as raising the school leaving age in 1973, the year also saw the introduction of the Education (Work Experience) Act, allowing LEAs to organise work experience for the additional final year school students. [http://www.dg.dial.pipex.com/history/timeline.shtml Education in England - Timeline] dg.dial.pipex.com] In some counties around the country, these changes also led to the introduction of Middle schools in 1968, where students were kept at primary or junior school for an additional year, meaning that the number of students in secondary schools within these areas remained virtually constant through the change. As of 2007, there are now fewer than 400 Middle Schools across England, situated in just 22 Local Education Authorities. [http://www.politics.co.uk/issuebrief/education/schools/school-leaving-age/education-leaving-age-$474737.htm Politics.co.uk: School Leaving Age Brief] ]

This increased the legal leaving age from 15 to 16, leaving a gap year of school leavers who, by law, had to complete an additional year of education from 1973 onwards. [http://www.dfes.gov.uk/schoolattendance/faq/#faq18 School Attendance FAQ] DfES.gov.uk]

Many secondary schools in areas without a Middle School were unable to accommodate the new 5th year students. The solution to the problem was to construct a new building for these schools (often referred to as "ROSLA Buildings" or "ROSLA Blocks") that needed to extent their capacity [http://www.politics.co.uk/issuebrief/education/schools/school-leaving-age/education-leaving-age-$474737.htm Politics.co.uk: School Leaving Age Brief] ] , providing them with the capacity to cope with the new generation of ROSLA students. The "ROSLA Buildings" were delivered to schools in self assembly packs and were not intended to stand long-term, though some have proven to have stood much longer than was initially planned.

In modern times, apprenticeship became less important, especially as employment in heavy industry and artisan trades declined. Traditional apprenticeships reached their lowest point in the 1970s: by that time, training programmes were rare and people who were apprentices learned mainly by example.Fact|date=May 2008

Under Conservative governments from 1979 to 1997

Following the 1979 General Election, the Conservative party regained power under Margaret Thatcher. In the early period it made two main changes:

# New Vocationalism was expanded (Labour had made some small efforts beforehand, but the Conservatives expanded it considerably). This was seen as an effort to reduce the high youth unemployment, which was regarded as one of the causes of the sporadic rioting at the end of the seventies. The Youth Opportunities Programme was the main scheme, offered to 16 to 18 year olds. It had been introduced in 1978 under the government of James Callaghan, was expanded in 1980, and ran until 1983 when it was replaced by the Youth Training Scheme.

# The Assisted Places Scheme was introduced in 1980, whereby gifted children who could not afford to go to fee-paying schools would be given free places in those schools if they could pass the school's entrance exam.

In 1986, National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) were introduced, in an attempt to revitalise vocational training. Still, by 1990, apprenticeship took up only two-thirds of one percent of total employment.Fact|date=May 2008

The Education Reform Act of 1988

The 1988 Education Reform Act made considerable changes to the education system. These changes were aimed at creating a 'market' in education with schools competing with each other for 'customers' (pupils). The theory was that bad schools would lose pupils to the good schools and either have to improve, reduce in capacity or close.

The reforms included the following:

* The National Curriculum was introduced, which made it compulsory for schools to teach certain subjects and syllabuses. Previously the choice of subjects had been up to the school.
* National curriculum assessments were introduced at the Key Stages 1 to 4 (ages 7, 11, 14 and 16 respectively) through what were formerly called SATS (Standard Assessment Tests). At Key Stage 4 (age 16), the assessments were made from the GCSE exam.
* League tables began showing "performance" statistics for each school. These are regularly published in newspapers and on the internet, so parents and the public can see results for schools in each area of the country. [ [http://www.dfes.gov.uk/performancetables/ School achievement and attainment tables on government department website] ]
* Formula funding was introduced, which meant that the more children a school could attract to it, the more money it got.
* Open Enrolment and choice for parents were brought back, so that parents could choose or influence which school their children went to.
* Schools could, if enough of their pupils' parents agreed, opt out of local government control, becoming grant maintained schools and receiving funding direct from central government. The government offered more money than the school would get usually from the local authority as an enticement. This was seen as a political move given that often local authorities were not run by the governing Conservative Party whereas central government was.

Apprenticeship reform

In 1994, the government introduced Modern Apprenticeships (since renamed 'Apprenticeships'), based on frameworks devised by Sector Skills Councils. These frameworks contain a number of separately certified elements:
*a knowledge-based element, typically certified through a qualification known as a ‘Technical Certificate’;
*a competence-based element, typically certified through an NVQ; and
*Key Skills (literacy and numeracy).World Class Apprenticeships. The Government’s strategy for the future of Apprenticeships in England. DIUS/DCSF, 2008]

Education Act 1996

Between 1976 and 1997, the minimum school leaving arrangements were:
* A child whose sixteenth birthday falls in the period 1st September to 31st January inclusive, may leave compulsory schooling at the end of the Spring term (the following Easter).
* A child whose sixteenth birthday falls in the period 1st February to 31st August, may leave on the Friday before the last Monday in May.

Under section 8(4) of the Education Act 1996, a new single school leaving date was set for 1998 and all subsequent years thereafter. This was set as the last Friday in June in the school year which the child reaches the age of 16. [ [http://newydd.cymru.gov.uk/legacy_en/keypubstatisticsforwales/content/publication/schools-teach/2006/siwgs2005/siwgs2005-app/siwgs2005-app3.pdf Appendix III - Public Schooling Statistics for Wales] ]

From 1997

During the 1997 General Election, the Labour party mantra was "Education, Education, Education", a reference to their conference slogan. Winning the election returned them to power, but New Labour's political ideology meant that many of the changes introduced by the Conservatives during their time in power remained intact.

They began changing the structure of the school and higher education systems. The following changes took place:

* The previous Labour focus on the Comprehensive system was shifted to a focus on tailoring education to each child's ability. Critics see this as reminiscent of the original intentions of the Tripartite system.
* Grant-maintained status was abolished, with GM schools being given the choice of rejoining the local authority as a maintained community school, or becoming a Foundation school.

The Government run 11 plus selection exam has now been abolished in the UK, and no longer do all children sit for it as used to be the case. However, voluntary selection tests are still conducted in certain areas of the UK, where some of the original grammar schools have been retained. These areas include: Northern Ireland and some English counties and districts including Devon, Dorset, Kent, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Birmingham, Trafford, Wiltshire, North Yorkshire, Calderdale, Kirklees, Wirral, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire and some London boroughs such as Bexley, Kingston-upon-Thames and Redbridge. There have been various so far unsuccessful attempts by campaigners to accomplish the abolition of all remaining grammar schools. The remaining grammar schools are now thus still selective, typically taking the top 10-25% of those from the local catchment area. Some of the still-existing grammar schools in the United Kingdom can trace their history back to earlier than the 16th century.

* Labour expanded a policy started by the Conservatives of creating specialist schools. This new type of secondary school teaches the National Curriculum subjects plus a few specialist branches of knowledge (e.g. business studies) not found in most other schools. These schools are allowed to select 10% of their pupils.
** Numbers: In 1997 there were 196 of these schools. In August 2002 there were 1000. By 2006 the plan is to have 2000, and the goal is to make all secondary schools specialist eventually.
* The Beacon Schools programme was established in England in 1998. Its aim was to identify high performing schools, in order to help them form partnerships with each other and to provide examples of effective practice for other schools. The programme was replaced in August 2005 with more broadly based programmes; the Leading Edge Partnership programme (for secondary schools) and Primary Strategy Learning Networks (PSLNs) (at the primary level). [http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/beaconschools/ Department for Education and Skills Website, Beacon Schools page.] Accessed 2007-04-14.]
* A new grade of Advanced Skills Teachers was created, with the intention that highly skilled teachers would be paid more if they accepted new posts with outreach duties beyond their own schools.
* City Academies were introduced. These are new schools, built on the site of, or taking over from existing failing schools. A city academy is an independent school within the state system. It is outside the control of the local education authority and set up with substantial funding from interested third parties, which might be businesses, charities or private individuals.
* Education Action Zones were introduced, which are deprived areas run by an action forum of people within that area with the intention of making that area's schools better.
* Vocational qualifications were renamed/restructured as follows:
** GNVQs became Vocational GCSEs and AVCEs.
** NVQs scope expanded so that a degree-equivalent NVQ was possible.
* The New Deal was introduced, which made advisors available to long-term unemployed (in the UK this is defined as being unemployed for more than 6 months) to give help and money to those who want to go back into Education.
* Introduced Literacy and Numeracy Hours into schools, and set targets for literacy and numeracy.
* Set Truancy targets.
* Set a maximum class size of 30 for 5-7 year olds.
* Introduced the EMA, (Education Maintenance Allowance), which is paid to those between 16 and 18 as an enticement to remain in full-time education and get A-Levels/AVCEs.
* A Performance Threshold was introduced in 2000 to allow experienced teachers access to higher rates of pay on meeting a set of performance standards, including a standard of pupil attainment. The performance-related pay changes have been bitterly opposed by teaching unions, most notably the National Union of Teachers which challenged the Threshold scheme by legal action.
* Introduced Curriculum 2000, which reformed the Further Education system into the current structure of AS levels, A2 levels and Key Skills.
* Abolished the Assisted Places Scheme.
* A report was commissioned, led by the former chief-inspector of schools, Mike Tomlinson, into reform of the curriculum and qualifications structure for 14–19 year-olds. The report was published on October 18, 2004 and recommended the introduction of a diploma that would bring together both vocational and academic qualifications and ensure that all pupils had a basic set of core skills. It is proposed that the current qualifications would evolve into this diploma over the next decade, whether the government will follow the recommendations is yet to be seen — the Conservative Party have already introduced alternative proposals to return to norm-referencing in A-levels rather than the current system of criterion-referencing.

* In 2003 a green paper entitled "Every Child Matters" was published. It built on existing plans to strengthen children's services and focused on four key areas:
** Increasing the focus on supporting families and careers as the most critical influence on children's lives
** Ensuring necessary intervention takes place before children reach crisis point and protecting children from falling through the net
** Addressing the underlying problems identified in the report into the death of Victoria Climbié - weak accountability and poor integration
** Ensuring that the people working with children are valued, rewarded and trained

: The green paper prompted a wide debate about services for children, young people and families. There followed a wide consultation with those working in children's services, and with parents, children and young people. The Government published "Every Child Matters: the Next Steps" in November 2004, and passed the Children Act 2004, providing the legislative spine for developing more effective and accessible services focused around the needs of children, young people and families.

* In January 2007 Education Secretary Alan Johnson announced plans to extend the school leaving age in England to eighteen by 2013. This would raise the leaving age for the first time since the last raise in 1972, when compulsory education was extended until sixteen. This change will include training such as apprenticeships and work based training rather than exclusively offering continued academic learning. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6254833.stm School leaving age set to be eighteen] BBC News, retrieved 12 January 2007]

21st century

Reports were published in November 2006 to suggest that England's Education Secretary Alan Johnson was exploring ways to raise the school leaving age in England and Wales to 18, pointing to the decline in unskilled jobs and the need for young people to be equipped for modern day employment.

Such proposals are expected to become effective from 2013 onwards.

ee also

*Third oldest university in England debate


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