Historically throughout Britain the legal principles and peoples perceptions relating to children and the family have advanced immensely from Victorian times. A state where children were an essential tool in the family, helping to contribute with the income, to circumstances where they are now an important loved member of that unit and for the majority, their health and well being at the forefront. These alterations can be attributed to the changes in acts especially since the Victorian times which have constantly been amended. Schools and the educational system have introduced knowledge and learning which has evolved consistently. People’s acuity of where children are placed in our society has changed. Delving into the history of our Educational, Poor laws and Children’s acts will give us an insight into determining how these changes came about. This essay also includes the rights and needs of children and families, with reference to the responsibilities of the state, incorporating the effects of multi-agency working.
History of the Education Act
‘Education can be defined as that process whereby one generation consciously transmits its skills and values to the next.’ (Royle, 1987, p343). Throughout history education has not been considered appropriate for the masses. From the 1850’s onwards many changes were implemented for the majority of children. In 1861 and 1864 three national educational commissions produced reports. The Clarendon Report focused on private education, Taunton Report on schools for the middle class and the Newcastle Report recommended that the state should provide elementary education for the masses. The state did not take responsibility for education until the 1870 Education Act (The Forster Act). Following the Newcastle Report this Act introduced compulsory universal education for children. Electing School Boards in places where the existing schools were inadequate. Boards were created almost immediately in most major cities. They were charged with bringing basic education and social discipline to the children of the poorer classes, but as yet education was neither compulsory nor free. This did not come into effect until the 1880 Education Act (Mundella Act) which made attendance compulsory for all children between the ages of five and thirteen. In 1891 school fees were abolished, stating that elementary education was to be provided for free. Elementary education defined by Royle was By definition – exclusively for the working class…..to provide the poor with education in the elements of knowledge – that is, reading, writing, arithmetic and Religious knowledge – and nothing more. (Royle, 1987, p356).
The Board of Education was set up in 1899. In 1902, secondary education was established and Local Educational Authorities (LEAs) replaced the School Boards. Between the wars working classes went to elementary schools, middle class to grammar schools and upper class to public schools, known as the Tripartite System. The Education Act of 1944 established a Government Department to replace The Board of Education. Eleven plus exams were implemented and if a child did not take this qualification, they went to a Secondary Modern School. The school leaving age was raised to fifteen which took effect in 1947. In 1963 O-levels were introduced in mainstream education and by the 1970s the eleven plus had been abandoned from main stream schools. A Comprehensive School system had replaced the Tripartite system. The school leaving age was increased to sixteen in 1972. At present a General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) has replaced the O-Level qualification. Our educational system is now governed by The National Curriculum, Standard Attainment Tasks (SATs) and League Tables. There is also an Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), a Government Body that monitor educational standards in schools and colleges, to achieve...