The 1944 Education Act created a major change to the education system of England and Wales as explained by Chris Game (2013). It introduced secondary education for everyone, increased the age of leaving school to 15, and provided school meals and milk for all children. The Education Act is nationally regarded as one of the original pillars of the welfare state. It is perhaps ironic that the Act was pushed through Parliament by a Conservative Minister, R.A. Butler. A Conservative may have been the principal sponsor of the Education Act, but it was the Labour government of 1945-51 which oversaw its performance. A crash course teacher training certificate was introduced to train the new teachers needed, and an immense new school building programme undertaken. A tripartite system of secondary education was introduced, with grammar schools for students who were deemed to be academically able, secondary modern schools to teach practical subjects, and secondary technical schools to offer mechanical, scientific and engineering skills. An eleven plus ability test which would be taken by all children at age 11 decided which school individual children attended.
Ken Jones (2003) stresses that the impact of the 1944 Education Act upon working class families has been subject to debate. By removing the right of state funded secondary schools to charge fees, and by raising the leaving age, many more working class children received a secondary education, and a much higher percentage went on to further and higher education than they had before 1944.
He goes on to tell us that The 1944 Education Act has been generally regarded as one of the most socially progressive pieces of legislation ever enacted in Britain. However, it has also been argued that it introduced a system of education which was weighed against working class children. Unlike some of their middle class counterparts, many working class children did not have the access to extra private coaching for the eleven plus exam, and those who did not pass the exam and were therefore unable to attend a grammar school often felt they had received a poorer education at the secondary modern schools. Secondary moderns generally offered CSEs, rather than the more prestigious ‘O' Level offered by grammar schools, and did not offer ‘A' Levels. They became widely recognised as a school for failures which prepared its pupils for factory or menial jobs. Secondary technical schools never really got off the ground. Few were built, and only a small percentage of children ever attended one. Furthermore, by allowing fee-paying independent schools to remain, it is arguable that the 1944 Education Act still left in place a system whereby the most well resourced schools were the preserve of the wealthy.
The 1988 Education Reform Act had a large impact to the system of education and introduced many changes. The Government Legislation (2013) tells us that these changes were aimed at creating an education 'market' so that schools were competing against each other for 'customers' (pupils), and