Leeds nostalgia: call for ‘national’ curriculum in 1943

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The Second World War was a catalyst for many aspects of social change but perhaps one which is often overlooked is the introduction of a co-ordinated national system of education.

Back in 1943, it was noted, by R Gould, then president of the National Union of Teachers, that the country “was not making the most of its children.” This, apparently, had been shown to be true because of the war.

The report appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post on Wednesday April 28, 1943.

Addressing the annual NUT conference, he said: “So long as differences between parent and parent, school and school and area and area determine the type of education afforded a child, we can never regard ours as a national system of education.”

He went on: “We want no loopholes in the next education bill. It must be comprehensive, sweeping in its scope, foolproof and capable of no evasion.

“We want to see smaller classes and an end to the factory system in education.”

He said the war had revealed that brains and leadership were not the sole preserve of one social class, adding that a system which denied education to individuals was not only a hindrance to them but to the wider community too.

The speech, delivered in London, was welcomed by Reginald H Potts, who said the war had awakened more people to the importance of education.

He added: “It is the general public who have to find the money to meet the education bill and in their hands lies the power to put education on the level it should be.”

If you have a date in history you would like us to investigate, let us know by emailing neil.hudson@ypn.co.uk, make sure to include your contact telephone number.