7. County Council Services
DURING recent years the services provided for the care of children deprived of a normal home life have received increased public attention and, as a result, have been re-organized and greatly expanded. Interest in the everyday life of children in the care of public bodies and voluntary organizations grew to such a pitch towards the end of the second world war that many letters and articles appeared in the press and questions were asked in Parliament. This resulted, in 1945, in the appointment of a Committee, known as the” Curtis Committee”, “to enquire into existing methods of providing for children who from loss of parents or from any other cause whatsoever, are deprived of a normal life with their own parents or relatives; and to consider what further measures should be taken to ensure that these children are brought up under conditions best calculated to compensate them for the lack of parental care “.
This Committee found that many children who were well cared for in the physical sense were being brought up unimaginatively and with too little affection or interest in their lives, and it was felt that an effort should be made to lift the standard of care to a new and higher level. Its recommendations were accordingly designed to improve the methods of bringing up children in order that the needs of every individual child could be met, and so that the children should feel that they were valued as individuals.
The Committee recommended that the administration of the service should be centred in one committee which should have no responsibilities other than the care of deprived children and that local authorities should appoint children’s officers to devote their whole time to this service.
The provisions of the Children Act of 1948 were based on these recommendations, and the County Council, with its newly created Children’s Committee and a Children’s Officer, assumed and centralized certain of the duties and responsibilities which had been divided between thirteen different education authorities, eighteen maternity and child welfare authorities and several County Council committees. The education and health of these children still come within the purview of the education committee and health committee respectively, but the problem of making up for the missing elements in their lives—a normal home and the affection of parents —receives continuous study and the comprehensive attention it deserves, by the Children’s Committee of the County Council.
CHILDREN IN CARE
Provided that it is considered necessary in their own interests, children under seventeen years of age are received into the care of the County Council if they have no parent or guardian, if they are abandoned or lost or if their parents are unable for any reason to provide for their proper upbringing. The County Council, however, must restore any child to the care of its parents or guardian or suitable relatives or friends as soon as it is consistent with the child’s interests to do so; otherwise the Council remains responsible for such children so long as their interests make it desirable and until they are eighteen years of age. There are certain cases in which financial assistance is given towards a child’s maintenance, education or training up to the age of twenty-one years.
A child who is in need of care or protection or who is guilty of an offence which would be punishable in an adult by imprisonment may be committed to the care of a “fit person” and the Court may order that the County Council shall act as the “fit person “.
Both the foregoing groups of children are in the care of the County Council in the same way, and in the course, for example, of the three years 1950-52, 8,396 children were in its care, and full parental rights and responsibilities had been assumed for no less than 250 of these.
The responsibility of the County Council towards these children, especially those who are in care for more than short periods, is very great. It has to further the best interests of each child, to afford him or her an opportunity for the development of character and abilities and, in so doing, to make reasonable use of the facilities and services available to children who are in the care of their own parents. The whole idea is that the County Council should try to bring up these children, so far as it can, as a good parent would. With this object in view, each authority for the care of children appoints a children’s officer, to be the person to whom the children can look—a person whose sole concern is the interests of the children.
Working under the Children’s Officer in Middlesex, in this capacity, is a staff of qualified officers. Each boy and girl, no matter whether boarded out, living in a children’s home, young enough to be in a nursery or old enough to be working and living in a hostel or lodgings, is on the list of one of these officers, and so has someone whose aim is to do for that child what parents and friends would have done by way of care, advice, guidance and example. These officers help the children to keep in touch with such relatives and friends as they may have and, whilst ensuring that they are not deprived of a normal home life any longer than is necessary, nevertheless are careful to see that such persons do not exploit the child so as to gain some advantage for themselves.
The Children’s Committee is very conscious of the fact that no substitute, however efficient, can replace family life of the right kind. Separation from family and home can retard, if not endanger, the proper development of a child’s personality, character and abilities and his or her growth into a good citizen.
For this reason, everything possible is done to prevent a child from being received into care if matters within the home can be adjusted.
It would seem, from experience gained with children in “long-term” care, that the causes of loss of normal home life are generally death, illness, separation or divorce, desertion or neglect, illegitimacy or, generally speaking, “broken homes” where, for instance, one parent has deserted, parents are working and living apart or one is in prison or in hospital for a long period.
The County Council tries to provide these children with the best possible substitute for a normal home, knowing that this means not only the essentials of food, shelter, clothing and protection, but also love, understanding and the feeling of “belonging” which is the primary requisite for the development of a child’s sense of security. A normal family life helps children to grow up stable and mature, capable of exercising their judgment as responsible adult members of society and of becoming good parents in the future. Unless the substitute for the normal home provides these things, a child may be so seriously harmed that he or she may become a permanent liability to the community.
The problem is not so great when children are received into care for short periods–whilst, for instance, the mother is in hospital—and this service meets a serious social need, for without it hundreds of mothers would hesitate before accepting the medical attention they needed.
Children are also received into care for long or short periods when some person in their own home is suffering from tuberculosis and should not be in contact with children. Sometimes the medical officers at chest clinics ask the Children’s Department to take children, even new-born babies, into care whilst they are being vaccinated with B.C.G., and in this way the Children’s Service can cooperate in the splendid work which is being done to-day for the prevention of tuberculosis.
The parents of children in the care of the County Council are required to contribute, in accordance with their means, towards the cost of maintaining them.
“Boarded-out ” Children
Boarding-out in suitable foster-homes, with proper safeguards to ensure the welfare of the children, is the form of child care which most nearly approaches home life, and a local authority is required to board out children in its care unless, for the time being, this is impracticable or undesirable. In this way a child’s nature can develop and confidence be established in a way which can hardly be achieved in a larger and more strictly regulated establishment.
Even in the first few years after the passing of the Children Act there were over 1,000 children in the care of the County Council boarded out at one time. As additional suitable foster homes are found, more children can be boarded out. Allowances are paid to foster-parents to cover the actual cost of maintaining the children, but not so as to include any element of remuneration, for the aim is to secure people who are genuinely fond of children and will bring one or more up as members of their own family. It is calculated that if one family in every two hundred in Middlesex were willing to accept a foster-child, the need for foster-parents could be met.
There are three different kinds of foster-homes: the first type is a home which will take a boy or girl who has no parents or relatives; these are called “near-adoption” foster-homes. Most of the children, however, have one or two parents or relatives somewhere who, although they may not have been fulfilling their duty to the child, are not bad in the usual sense of the word; some day many of these children will return to such relatives, but in the meantime the County Council seeks for them a home of the second type—the “aunt-and-uncle relationship” foster-homes—that is, people who will take a child in as a member of their family and yet keep alive, and even strengthen, any family ties the child may have. This is a particularly unselfish and worthwhile service, and frequently helps not only the child but the parent in times of distress and worry. The third type of foster-home is called the “special” foster-home, and is for children who are physically, mentally or sometimes morally handicapped, and also for very young babies. Women with experience as teachers, nurses or social workers or men and women who themselves understand the problem of the child who is below normal from an educational point of view or who is maladjusted, are specially needed as foster-parents for these children.
It is of course most important that foster-parents should be people who are in every way suitable to be entrusted with such a great responsibility. When, therefore, offers are received from prospective foster-parents, an officer from the Children’s Department of the County Council visits the applicants in their home to explain just how the system works and to make certain enquiries. These enquiries, and indeed all matters relating to” boarding-out “, are carefully controlled by rules and regulations issued by the Home Office. When a home has been approved, it is put on the County Council’s informal register, and once a child is placed in a home it is visited at intervals by an officer of the Children’s Department who reports on the child’s progress and is available to give help and advice to foster-parents and to share with them, just as much or as little as is necessary, the responsibility for that child.
A difficulty in successful boarding-out is, of course, that the child must suit the home, and the home must suit the child. Although the officers engaged on this work are, from their training and experience, skilled in weighing up the kind of home likely to suit a particular child, they need, first, to have an opportunity of weighing up the child, especially in longterm cases. It is for this purpose that children’s reception centres have been designed where children can stay up to four weeks, attend school on the premises and be seen, if necessary, by medical and educational specialists. This should enable a home to be chosen to suit the needs of each child, without further changes.
In a heavily populated area such as Middlesex considerable numbers of children are continually being received into care, and it is difficult to find sufficient suitable foster-homes at once. For such cases there are “intermediate” homes where children, once their needs have been assessed, can stay until a more permanent home is found for them. The County Council has established three of these—one at Denham Court, near Uxbridge, for older boys and girls. This is a lovely old mansion, standing in beautiful grounds in the Green Belt, so that the children can enjoy the amenities of country life.
Another is at Northaw Place, near Potters Bar, a similar type of property, and the third is Chequers Mead at Potters Bar. These also stand in the Green Belt area.
It is hoped that, eventually, prospective foster-parents for children who have a long-term need will realize the importance to the child and to themselves of getting to know each other before the child comes to live with them; for this purpose, the reception centres and the intermediate homes and, for very young children, the residential nurseries would be used to the best advantage.
Legal Adoption of Children in Care
Foster parents who have a child boarded out with them sometimes decide that they would like to adopt the child and, provided that the child has no parents or guardians—or that they are prepared to agree to adoption—and provided that it is felt that the proposal will be in the best interests of the child, the County Council welcomes this method of securing the next best thing for the child to a home with its own parents. About sixty children in the care of the County Council have been adopted in each of the last few years.
Middlesex has much reason to be proud of its children’s homes. They are small homes in ordinary streets, the children attend ordinary schools and take part in the normal life of the community as if they lived with their parents. As long ago as in 1931 the County Council decided to discontinue some of the larger homes which had been set up by the Boards of Guardians and to substitute for them small homes, scattered throughout the County. The County Council’s policy, which did much to remove the “institutional” atmosphere, was in 1946 approved of by the Curtis Committee and recommended for adoption throughout the country.
The policy in Middlesex to-day is, firstly, to spread the children’s homes evenly over the County, so that only a few of the children attend at any one school. (In 1948 five boroughs and eight urban districts had neither children’s homes nor residential nurseries.) Secondly, the County Council avoids having more than ten children at the most in homes taking children for long-term care and tries to have boys and girls of mixed ages in each home as in a normal family, thus enabling brothers and sisters to remain with each other. It is also hoped that the larger homes can be used for children who are in care for short periods, and the ideal would be to have a “short-stay” home in every district, so that children placed in care, for instance, while their mothers were in hospital need not change their schools and could easily be visited by their friends and relations.
During the last few years several sites have been secured on building estates for the erection of small “family-group” homes, since it is realized that in homes such as these children would have little difficulty in living the same sort of life as children with their own parents. They attend places of worship of their own religion in the same way as other children, they can join the Boy Scouts or Girl Guides movements, play in local playgrounds, spend their own pocket money, take their dinner money to school, attend local health clinics, receive medical attention from general practitioners under the National Health Scheme and help a little in the home, and they are encouraged to play their part in the life of their school, the activities of their church and of their neighbourhood.
For summer holidays the older boys go camping with “house-fathers” and welfare officers and older girls sometimes go to Y.W.C.A. or G.F.S. holiday homes, but many go in family groups to a seaside holiday camp. Exchanges are made with other local authorities, so that, for instance, Middlesex children have spent holidays in Bournemouth, Eastbourne, Portsmouth and Shoreham, whilst children from these places and from places as far afield as Durham and Newcastle have spent holidays in Middlesex.
The children in the homes benefit very much from the help given by voluntary organizations and members of the public, who have undertaken a variety of personal services. Church and chapel groups, Toc H, the Rotary movement, the Inner Wheel, the Round Table, Townswomen’s Guilds, Women’s Institutes, Women’s Co-operative Guilds and the Women’s Voluntary Services, together with the personnel of many local factories, all give most valuable help not only at Christmas time but throughout the year by finding “aunts” and “uncles” and by taking a personal interest in individual children.
There are in Middlesex over forty small children’s homes, three intermediate homes and a reception centre, and a number of additional homes are being prepared. The success of the homes depends very much upon the house-mothers and fathers and their assistants, and it is not always easy to find the right people for this work. Training in child care is provided free by the Home Office through the Central Training Council—and a national certificate in the residential care of children, upon completion of training, is the qualification desirable for work of this kind.
It is not possible to board-out at once all the children who are received into care for comparatively short periods and who are under five years of age and, in many cases, very young babies. Whilst there are already a number of residential nurseries maintained by the County Council, and more are planned, the need has not yet been fully met. Children of this age who are likely to be in care for long periods are placed in the nurseries only temporarily until a foster home—sometimes with a view to adoption—or a place in a small children’s home can be found for them. It is hoped that one or more of the County nurseries will become training nurseries, so that more students who are successful in obtaining the Nursery Nurses Examination Board certificate, having been training in residential nursery work, will take up this work.
Hostels for Working Boys and Girls
Under the old Poor Law administration boys and girls were cared for only until they reached the age of sixteen years; to-day they remain in care until they are eighteen and can be helped until they are twenty-one years of age. Middlesex has more than 500 boys and girls in care who are over compulsory school age, and they are placed in employment of practically every type with the help of the Youth Employment Service. These young people get splendid opportunities—boys, for example, are apprenticed or articled in many trades and professions, and girls are given training in a variety of occupations.
It is hoped that in due course the County Council will set up its own hostels for these young people so that the personal interest, help and guidance can be continued more directly than is always possible in hostels maintained by other organizations.
There are also a number of voluntary children’s homes in Middlesex, and all of these must be registered by the Home Office and visited by officers of the Children’s Department of the County Council. In the case of some of the children received into care by the County Council and for whom, for the time being, boarding-out is not practicable or desirable, it is possible to find a place in a voluntary home either in Middlesex or in another county, but where they can still be visited by the County officers.
A number of these voluntary homes take only certain types of children, such as those whose parents are or were actors, merchant seamen, police or railwaymen. Others take only children of certain religious faiths, and there are, for example, many Roman Catholic homes and the Jewish Orphanage.
It has already been stated that Middlesex, with its population of well over two million people, has to cater for a very great number of children in need of care. This task to-day would be far more difficult were it not for the help which is being given by voluntary organizations such as Dr. Barnardo’s Homes, John Groom’s Crippleage, the Fellowship of St. Nicholas, Moral Welfare Council homes, Roman Catholic homes, the Church of England Children’s Society, the Jewish Orphanage and the national children’s homes and orphanages, and others. For the maintenance of every child placed by the County Council in one of these voluntary homes, payment is made at a rate fixed by agreement between the County Council and the authorities of the home.
CHILD LIFE PROTECTION
This service was originally known as “Infant Life Protection”, and the age limit was raised, in 1908, from 5 to 7 years and later to 9 years. The name was changed to Child Life Protection by the Public Health Act of 1936 and the age limit remained at 9 years until, with the passing of the Children Act in 1948, it was raised to “compulsory school age “—at present 15 years.
The child-life protection provisions make it an offence for any person other than the parent, the legal guardian or a relative to undertake for reward (whether or not for profit) the care of a child under school-leaving age, without notifying the County Council as welfare authority. The provisions of the Adoption Act of 1950 guard similarly against any person taking part in placing a child in the care or possession of anyone other than a parent, legal guardian or relative of the child. To the child-life provisions there are some exceptions, but none at all to those of the Adoption Act. From time to time notices are posted throughout the County, drawing attention to this obligation.
There are many ways in which protection can be afforded to children. The number of children kept in any premises can be restricted and conditions can be imposed. In certain circumstances a court may be asked for an order for the removal of a child to “a place of safety” until his relatives can take him back or other arrangements can be made. Officers of the Children’s Department of the County Council visit children from time to time and satisfy themselves as to their welfare.
This is a vitally important service and in Middlesex hundreds of foster homes and other premises are inspected and more than a thousand children supervised each year in this way. In addition, several hundred children placed for adoption by “third parties” are protected by this Service. Despite all the publicity which has been given to these provisions, it is probable that there still are quite a few people who have children living with them who are not their own and in respect of whom they receive money from the parents or allowances from the State, not realizing that they are committing an offence against the law if they have not notified the County Council.
ADOPTION OF CHILDREN
Legal adoption was introduced into this country by an Act of 1926, and various bodies soon began arranging for the adoption of children. As the practice became widespread many points arose which required further legislation, and in 1939 an Act was passed, some of the provisions of which only became effective in 1943, which made it obligatory for any body of persons (other than a local authority) which made arrangements for the adoption of a child, to be registered with the local authority. The local authority can, of course, refuse or cancel a registration, and in this way a most desirable control is enforced over the types of organization handling adoption cases. The procedure of adoption societies is governed by regulations and the County Council is empowered to supervise the welfare of children whose adoption has been arranged by a third party.
There are about sixty adoption societies in the country, which have been registered since the 1939 Act came into force, and anyone wishing to adopt a child or to have one adopted should make application through a registered adoption society, because the legal procedure such societies must follow ensures that they can be relied upon to protect the interests of the child and the adopter and, as a general rule, they are in very close touch with the Children’s Department of the County Council.
The Adoption of Children Act, 1949, based as it was on more than twenty years experience of the operation of the first Act in 1926, amended the law in a number of ways. Those which most affected the County Council’s work were the provisions, first, that no adoption order should be made unless at least three months’ notice had been given to the welfare authority, i.e. the County Council; secondly, that the document which the mother had to sign to signify her consent should be signed before a justice of the peace and not until the child was six weeks old and, thirdly, that the identity of adopters could be withheld from the natural relatives of a child.
When the County Council receives notice of intention to adopt a child, an officer of the Children’s Department at once commences to supervise the child, so that when the application for the adoption order is heard the court can be informed of any matters which it might wish to take into consideration and, in an appropriate case, application can be made to the court for the removal of the child from the care of the applicant to a “place of safety”. The County Council’s duty to supervise such children continues until an adoption order has been made or, if no order is made, until the child attains 18 years or ceases to live with the person (other than parents) with whom he was living when he passed the age of compulsory school attendance. This service alone involves the County Council’s officers in several hundreds of visits and interviews each month.
Guardian ad litem
Guardians ad litem are appointed to safeguard the interests of an infant whose case is before the Court. When applications for adoption orders are made the Court must appoint some person or body to act as guardian ad litem, in order to investigate as fully as possible all the circumstances both of the child and the applicant and, in fact, all other matters in connection with the proposed adoption. Applications can be made either to the High Court, the County Court or the Juvenile Court (that is, a special panel of justices from a magistrates’ court who are carefully selected for this work having regard to their age and attributes). The procedure in all three types of court is, as nearly as may be, uniform. The County Council, when so requested by the courts, acts as guardian ad litem through its Children’s Committee and the officers of the Children’s Department. These officers with their duty to do their best for the child and with their conviction that adoption, when successful, is the most satisfactory alternative to a normal home, carry out the necessary investigations thoroughly, sympathetically and confidentially, paying special attention to any factors which might in the future detract from the success of the adoption. Between five hundred and a thousand cases of this kind may be dealt with in Middlesex in any one year.
THE JUVENILE COURTS
Juvenile courts are held at each of the twelve magistrates’ courts in Middlesex and officers of the Children’s Department attend court and try to see, in co-operation with probation officers, education officers and medical officers, that the justices who form the juvenile court panel have before them all the information they may need about the children who appear before them and about the services which the County Council provides to help such children.
Children may appear at court because they are in need of care and protection or because they have been charged with an offence; sometimes a child is brought to court by its parents as being beyond control. There are a number of courses open to the justices in dealing with these children, and these include making a “Fit Person Order” or an “Approved School Order “, both of which concern the County Council very closely.
A Fit Person Order places a child in the care, for instance, of the County Council as a “fit person” until the child becomes 18 years of age or the Order is revoked or varied by the court. This gives to the County Council the rights, powers and liabilities of the parents, and the officer of the Children’s Department who attends the court has to take the boy or girl away to be looked after, from that moment, as a child in care.
An Approved School Order commits a boy or girl to the care of the managers of an approved school and he or she usually goes from the court to a remand home until a vacancy can be found in an approved school suited to their needs. The Home Office acts as the “clearing house” for all these vacancies, and only a small percentage of Middlesex children are sent to Middlesex approved schools.
The Children’s Committee, through its officers, remains interested in these children no matter to what part of the country they are sent, and payments for their maintenance are made out of County funds, at an approved flat rate. Furthermore, the managers of an approved school frequently ask the Children’s Officer and the staff of the Children’s Department to keep in touch with the child’s home and to make recommendations as to whether the child should return home for the holidays and whether or not, when licensed from the approved school, it is desirable for the boy or girl to return home. The Children Act also makes it possible for such boys and girls, when licensed, to be received into care at the request of the managers of the approved school.
Sometimes a court makes supervision orders naming usually the probation officer, but sometimes the children’s officer, to supervise boys or girls in their homes, hostels or lodgings.
In a county such as Middlesex nearly three thousand children may appear before the justices in any one year, and it will be seen that the justices are called upon to make momentous decisions in the lives of such children. The police, probation officers, officers of the Children’s Department and many others are constantly co-operating with the justices in the efforts made to prevent children from appearing unnecessarily before the juvenile courts and in seeing that the children and young persons who do appear are given the kind of treatment most likely to help them.
The County Council maintains two remand homes in which boys and girls under the age of seventeen stay for short periods. Some of them are waiting to appear before the juvenile courts, some have been remanded by the courts to these homes for further reports, for example, on their health and some are sent there to await places in approved schools.
St. Helena’s Home at Ealing is a remand home for thirty girls, and caters especially for older girls up to the age of seventeen. St. Nicholas’ House, Enfield, is a remand home for fifty boys. It is a very attractive mansion with an historical background and stands in a part of the county which, being in the Green Belt, has remained rural. During the time in which boys and girls stay at remand homes an effort is made to ascertain facts about their intelligence and temperament, so that a report from the superintendent of the home, as well as any medical and psychological information requested by the justices, can be laid before the court to help the justices in arriving at their decisions.
Two approved schools are managed for the County Council by its Children’s Committee. St. Christopher’s School at Hayes is a senior school for seventy-six boys between fifteen and seventeen years of age. “Pishiobury “, at Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire, is a junior secondary school for ninety boys. The present house was built about 1700, after an earlier building had been destroyed by fire, and the site has historical associations dating back to Roman times.
These two schools are regarded simply as boarding establishments approved by the Secretary of State for the education and training of boys ordered to be sent there by the Courts. They differ, of course, from other schools in that the children, having been removed from the care of their parents, are compelled to reside in the school and take the training provided. The statutory approved school rules specify certain requirements as regards the managing body of the school, the treatment and discipline of the boys and other matters for safeguarding the welfare of these children who have been deprived of their full liberty by order of a court. Subject to the provisions of the statutes and of these rules, everything possible is done to provide not only physical and medical care for these boys who have, for one reason or another, come to grief; but also an education and training which will eventually enable them to take a normal place in society with others of their own age.
Both the approved schools are staffed with specially qualified teachers. At ” Pishiobury “, ordinary school subjects are taught, based as far as possible on a practical approach. At St. Christopher’s the emphasis is on vocational training and the boys, who are really young men, are trained in engineering, woodwork and horticulture. As soon as the managers think that a boy’s education and remedial treatment have fitted him to live a freer life in the community, he is ” licensed and allowed to return home or is placed in lodgings or a hostel, and supervised by an after-care officer who, for boys licensed from the County approved schools, may be either a probation officer, a Home Office welfare officer or an officer of the Children’s Department of the County Council.
Approved school work is one of the most interesting and worthwhile jobs a teacher or social worker can do and, for the approved schools to be really successful, the help and sympathy of church workers and public-spirited men and women generally are needed. The approved schools in Middlesex are fortunate in that they do, without doubt, receive a great deal of such help and sympathy.
CHILDREN NEGLECTED OR ILL-TREATED IN THEIR OWN HOMES
The County Council, in addition to the services which have just been described, has designated its Children’s Officer “to co-ordinate local services, statutory and voluntary, which are concerned with the welfare of children in their own homes “.
Significant cases of child neglect and ill-treatment which come to the notice of any statutory or voluntary organization in the County are reported to the area children’s office in the locality. The needs of the family in question, as a whole, are then considered and, with the co-operation of voluntary agencies—in particular the N.S.P.C.C.—and also of the officers of the appropriate departments of the County Council and the borough and urban district councils, an effort is made to see that local services are applied to meet these needs. It is hoped by these means that the right help can be given in time to prevent the removal from their parents of children who might, if only the position had not so far deteriorated, have remained in their own homes.
ADMINISTRATION OF THE SERVICE
These services for children deprived of a normal home life are administered from the County Council’s head offices and from ten local sub-offices. The area children’s officers and children’s welfare officers keep in direct and close touch with the public, and deal with all applications for children to be received into care, the finding of foster homes and the supervision of boarded-out children. Many of the officers are university graduates, trained and experienced teachers or trained and experienced health visitors who have taken the one-year university course of training in child care, arranged by the Central Training Council; others are men and women who have been engaged all their lives on children’s work or social work, and all these officers work in close co-operation not only with each other and with officers of other departments of the County Council, but also with the voluntary organizations, with one common aim of furthering the interests of deprived children.
THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
Men and women as individuals, as well as through their local authorities and national governments, have been called upon by the United Nations Assembly to strive for the observance of the ” Rights of the Child “, adopted by the United
Nations and declared by the League of Nations in the pledge:
“We, the men and women of all nations, recognizing that mankind owes to the child the best that it has to give, declare and accept it as our duty that beyond and above all consideration of race, nationality or creed:
- the child must be given the means requisite for its normal development both materially and spiritually;
- the child that is hungry must be fed, the child that is sick must be nursed, the child that is backward must be helped, the delinquent child must be reclaimed and the orphan and waif must be sheltered and succoured;
- the child must be brought up in the consciousness that its talents must be developed to the service of its fellow men.”
THE provisions of the various Acts of Parliament concerned with education have been outlined previously.
It may be of interest, however, in dealing here with the development of the education service of to-day in Middlesex to point out some of the main results of those Acts.
It was in 1833 that the first grant of public money to assist education was made by the Government. At that time, as it had been throughout the previous history of our country, education was voluntary, and it was not until 1870 that the first Education Act was passed making the teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic (” the three R’s “, as they are called) compulsory. To give effect to that Act, School Boards were set up with the duty to provide “Board” schools where there were not already enough voluntary schools.
Many education Acts have been passed since that date but the dual system of education has continued, that is of schools provided by public money through a public body, and of schools provided by private resources. Of the schools provided by private resources, the most interesting groups today are, firstly, the “public” schools, which depend entirely on private resources; secondly, the ” foundation ” grammar schools, which, in general, depend partly on public money, often provided by direct grant from the Ministry of Education, and partly on private resources; and, thirdly, the ” church schools, provided by denominational interests such as the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church: the latter are usually very largely dependent for their maintenance on the local education authority. All these types of school are to be found in Middlesex, together with the many schools which are provided by the County Council.
The Middlesex County Council in January 1891 passed its first resolution dealing with technical education, in 1895 purchased the first of its polytechnics and in 1901 started its first secondary school.
The effect of the 1902 Education Act is of particular importance. A well-defined cleavage developed between elementary education and higher education. The school leaving age was 12 and the elementary education system dealt in ” elementary “schools with children from the age of 5 to 15. The concern of higher education was with the technical colleges, the art schools and evening institutes and, in particular, with the” secondary” schools, that is, those now generally known as grammar schools.
The County Council became the authority for higher education throughout the whole of the County, but was the authority for elementary education for only those districts in which the population was below a certain figure. In the other districts (known as ” Part III ” areas from the part of the Act dealing with this matter) the council of the borough or urban district was responsible for elementary education.
Development from 1900 to 1939
The period from the passing of the 1902 Education Act up to the outbreak of war in 1939 brought rapid urbanization, many new schools and tremendous educational advance to the County as a whole.
In January 1901 the County Council had provided its first county secondary school by opening a co-educational school at Tottenham Polytechnic. Other schools followed rapidly and for thirty years the resources of the County Council were stretched to the utmost to provide the educational facilities needed.
Between 1904 and 1938 the number of pupils at elementary schools increased from 32,972 to 83,042, at secondary schools from 1,263 to 25,089, and at technical colleges, art schools and evening class centres from 9,941 to 39,210. The number of elementary schools rose from 158 to 251, of secondary schools from 9 to 51 and of technical colleges and art schools from 6 to 13. These figures, of course, relate only to schools which were either established by the County Council or were maintained or aided by it, and do not include schools maintained by other bodies or persons, for example” Part III ” areas.
In this period the population of Middlesex had grown from 792,000 in 1901 to approximately 1,952,000 in 1938.
In the “Part III ” areas in which the borough or district council was responsible for elementary education there had also been continued growth. Although they became ” built-up” areas long before Middlesex as a whole was “urbanized “, increases in population and a changing attitude to education meant a constantly developing service. With the professional assistance of a Director of Education, each local council built up a service of which it was justly proud.
Among the more noteworthy developments in the elementary schools in the latter part of the period came the “Hadow” Report, which in 1926 advocated the provision of advanced courses for all children over 11 years of age. As a consequence, in all parts of the County there came into being “senior” elementary schools for children of 11-14 years, and in some areas selective central schools for those not quite able to secure scholarships to the secondary schools. These senior elementary schools were the fore-runners of the “modern” schools and helped to pave the way for the 1944 Education Act by providing educationists with a glimpse of the possibilities of an educational philosophy founded on secondary education for all.
Development since 1939
The war years brought educational building to a standstill and even brought destruction to some existing buildings, but educational thought continued alive and progressive. One instance of this in Middlesex was the anticipation of the Fleming Report of 1944. This report advocated a linking of the “public” schools with the maintained schools. In 1942, the County Council was already discussing with Mill Hill School the possibility of such a link and to-day has schemes with a number of public schools for the admission of pupils sponsored by the County Council. The years 1939-45 are particularly significant, educationally, for the 1944 Education Act, which stands as a lasting monument to a nation’s educational ideals. Supplemented by subsequent Acts it may be epitomized in its own words:-” The schools available for an area shall not be deemed to be sufficient unless they are sufficient in number, character and equipment to afford to all pupils opportunities for education offering such variety of instruction or training as may be advisable in view of their different ages, abilities and aptitudes.”
The Board of Education with its President was replaced in 1944 by a Ministry of Education, with a Minister of the Government at its head.
Administratively the 1944 Education Act brought great changes. In the first place the autonomy of the Part III areas was swept away and the County Council became the local education authority for all forms of education for the whole of the administrative County and vested its powers with certain reservations in the hands of its Education Committee. The Secretary of the Education Committee became as well the Chief Education Officer for the whole of the County and the existing Directors of Education were taken into the service of the County Council. Schemes of administration were formed for the twenty-two constituent areas of the County and sixteen of the larger Councils, because of their size and traditions, became “excepted districts “, that is, areas to the councils of which considerable educational powers and duties were delegated. Certain duties were also delegated to the remaining six areas. The welding together of these local and central interests is of the utmost significance to the welfare of the educational service.
The Act of 1944 gave further expression to the need for fostering local interest in education by requiring that every school and college should have a governing or managing body.
Functionally the Act continued the dual system of schools—those maintained entirely by the authority and those wholly or mainly provided from voluntary sources: the continuance of denominational freedom for the latter was ensured.
Of outstanding importance was the recognition of three stages of education—the primary stage up to about 11 years of age, the secondary stage from 11 to 18 years and the ” further education ” stage, from the age of leaving the secondary school onwards. The education service is now more concerned than previously with the educational welfare of the child in the widest sense throughout its school life and beyond into adult life. The school leaving age was raised in 1947 to 15: the school meals service and other social services, such as a comprehensive school medical and dental service, are recognized as integral parts of education, and a great degree of freedom is given to the local education authority to develop schemes of further education, including a youth service and community centres.
A new era has opened in education. New philosophies which may or may not withstand the test of time are rampant. Compared with the limits imposed by the 1870 Act there is a very great freedom in the primary schools, while perhaps the most interesting developments of all, at this particular juncture, are taking place in the secondary modern schools through their efforts to provide a really worthwhile secondary stage of education without following the traditional lines of academic work.
The Act has placed a great executive burden on the country and on Middlesex perhaps more than most other counties. Even before war began in 1939, school building hardly kept pace with increasing population. During the war many schools were destroyed or damaged. Since then the increase of population has continued and—particularly in 1946 and 1947—the birth rate increased considerably. Standards for school buildings have risen, building materials and the necessary labour force proved more difficult to obtain. Nevertheless by 1953 nearly 50,000 new school places were provided and over 100 new schools opened.
Simultaneously with the building of schools many major projects for technical colleges and for training colleges have been carried out.
The following is an account of the services provided by the County Council as Education Authority.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
The aim of the education service is to make available to every child at each of the varying stages throughout its school life that type of education best suited to its age, abilities and aptitudes. The content of education and the method of approach must vary and develop as the child itself develops. As far as is possible, therefore, the education provided should be sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of each individual child. Although primary and secondary schools are discussed separately here it must be remembered that there are many fundamental principles common to both. The child who leaves a primary school at the end of one term and a few weeks later goes to a secondary school does not change very much in the short period of transition. It must not be precipitated from one world into another which is completely different in outlook and method. The changes in school life must come gradually as the child changes and matures.
Nursery provision, although necessarily limited owing to the rigid economy which makes it difficult to provide sufficient places for children of statutory school age, was greatly developed during the years following the second world war. Several new nursery schools were opened, though in most cases the buildings were not new. As late as 1953 authorities were still precluded from erecting new nursery accommodation, but plans for many of the new primary schools in Middlesex include ultimate extensions to provide them with a nursery wing.
Children enter an infant school at the age of five, straight from home, some having previously attended a nursery school. The world of ordered knowledge and learning is alien to them and to their nature. So far they have only learned their small lessons from experience—by watching those around them—by exploring in their own small way—and by asking questions. It is unreasonable, therefore, to confront them suddenly with a totally different way of acquiring knowledge, and to impose upon them a disciplined and formal routine. The young child is naturally curious and his imagination knows no bounds, but within himself he lacks discipline and discrimination. The aim of education at this stage, therefore, is to develop natural endowment; the task of the teacher is to guide and to aid the development of the child, both individually and socially as a member of a community, rather than to impart knowledge.
In the junior school there is a gradual development from the teaching method of the infant school towards the necessarily more formal approach of the secondary school.
Ideally, owing to the difference in teaching methods, infant and junior pupils should also be independent of one another, either in a completely separate school or in a different wing or block of the same building. There should be either a head teacher in charge of each or, where one head teacher is in charge of both, there should be a suitably qualified teacher with special responsibility for the infant children. The Middlesex development plan for primary and secondary education makes provision to ensure that these requirements are met in the future, but progress at present, with so many difficulties in the way, will naturally be slow. A number of buildings are very old and cannot readily be adapted to suit modern needs and methods. The accommodation problem is acute, owing to the increase in the birth rate and the complete cessation of school building during the second world war.
Much has, however, been accomplished. By 1953 no fewer than eighty-four primary schools were built in Middlesex, twenty-four were in course of erection and four being planned.
Great care is taken to ensure that these new buildings are not only architecturally pleasing but designed to suit the practical needs of the newer methods of primary education. There is consultation with teachers and with architects at all stages of planning and also regarding the provision of furniture and equipment.
The Cavendish Primary School, Chiswick attractively built the architect can meet the demands of the education service. The classrooms, which are large and airy and of varying shapes, are far better suited to a less formal method of teaching than the small, rectangular rooms of old in which children sat in straight unbroken rows for every lesson. Play space is available close to the school and in many cases the very young children can pass straight from the classroom into their own little play area, sheltered from the more boisterous activities of the older children. The rather dingy unrelieved browns and greens of the older types of building have been replaced by bright and varied colours, almost startling at times to the adult eye.
In the sphere of secondary education the years since 1944 mark a revolutionary epoch. The rapid growth of numbers for whom secondary education was required has already been mentioned; by 1953 the annual admissions to secondary schools had increased to 30,000 and more than 120,000 pupils in Middlesex were receiving secondary education. This startling expansion is due to a combination of reasons. The steady growth of population in the area and the development and expansion of Middlesex as a local education authority have played their part, but, above all, the transformation is due to a fundamental change in the conception of secondary education. Until 1944 a secondary school was regarded as a privileged institution, to which only a small minority of the child population could aspire. Such schools were, as a rule, housed in premises much superior to those of the elementary school and besides enjoying other privileges were staffed by men and women of higher educational qualifications. Since 1944, however, secondary education has come to be regarded as a phase in education through which all children will pass at the appropriate age. There will, of course, be different types of secondary education, since there are so many differences amongst children. Broadly speaking, and with due allowance for differences in age and curriculum, the same standards of provision now apply to the premises, staffing and general administration of all types of secondary schools.
The only schools known as secondary schools before the Act of 1944 are now known as grammar schools. As it is from these schools that the majority of entrants to the professions and public services should be drawn, it has in Middlesex been regarded as of great importance that grammar school places should be provided for a substantial proportion of the child population and in fact this proportion, which approximates to 25 per cent., is well above the average for the country as a whole. Moreover, grammar school provision in Middlesex is notable for its range and diversity. There are, for instance, approximately equal numbers of places in mixed and single-sex schools. In addition to the forty-three County grammar schools there are a number of Roman Catholic grammar schools and of foundation grammar schools maintained by the County Council. In order to extend the range of grammar school facilities Middlesex also has arrangements by which County pupils are admitted each year to a number of “direct grant” and “independent” schools, many of them ancient and famous foundations. The Middlesex County Council has made agreements with a number of schools, including Mill Hill, Harrow, Christ’s Hospital, Westonbirt and Wycombe Abbey, under which Middlesex boys and girls have the opportunity of taking academic courses at boarding schools should their special circumstances appear to require it.
Middlesex should, therefore, be proud of its grammar school provision. The picture, however, is not complete and new grammar schools, both county and voluntary, have already been planned and should soon be in course of construction in several parts of the County.
Another type of secondary education envisaged since the Act of 1944 has been the broad general education provided by the secondary modern school. It is generally assumed that these schools should cater for the majority of the school population when they leave school. Whilst experience in evolving the educational values of this type of school is still very limited, rapid progress has been made in Middlesex with the task of providing the necessary framework.
During the period 1946-53, twenty new secondary modern schools were erected and 13,160 new places provided in secondary modern schools.
Twenty-one new secondary modern school projects are in course of construction or planning and 11,055 new places will become available in the near future.
In many of these schools teachers are experimenting with the possibilities of a general education founded largely on practical work in such subjects as woodwork, metalwork, building, engineering, housecraft, dressmaking, typewriting and shorthand.
The County Council also uses two camp schools (which have for some years been leased from the National Camps Corporation) as short-term boarding schools. Both camps are situated in ideal rural surroundings in Hampshire, and here both boys and girls of eleven to fifteen years of age from secondary modern schools spend at least a term, and in many cases two or more terms, under the healthiest possible conditions and with full opportunities to explore the natural and historical environment of the schools, while at the same time continuing their normal education. In the same way arrangements are made at a holiday camp in New Romney, where parties of children visit for a fortnight at a time during the summer term and benefit by the great historical associations of the neighbourhood. Some 3,000 children go to these camp schools each year.
The 1944 Education Act was in part the expression by statute of an educational philosophy which had been developing over the past twenty years. The struggle for recognition of diversity at the secondary stage had shown itself in two further forms of post-primary school—namely, the “central” school and the “technical” school. The latter type of education was deliberately planned as an introduction to the practical requirements of industry, commerce or science. Already by 1944 there were twenty-two technical schools in Middlesex with provision for approximately 3,900 pupils, carrying out valuable pre-vocational work in engineering, building, printing, commerce and many other subjects.
Although technical education does not imply, the acquisition of technical skills, yet a “technical” or practical approach is of great educational value to almost all children. Consequently the considered opinion of the County Council is that “technical” education is needed for such a large proportion of children that it must be included within the framework of both the modern and the grammar schools, in the former largely through the use of tools and in the latter by the applications of science. The future of the technical schools and the pre-1944 central schools is by no means clear. Central schools appear to have no place as such in the general conception of secondary education while, to meet the terms of the 1944 Education Act, technical schools should recruit their children at the age of 11. Time alone can show whether either type of school can appropriately be fitted into the organization of secondary education.
Parents in Middlesex as elsewhere are greatly concerned by the problem of the allocation of their children to the most appropriate form of secondary education. They can be assured that the most careful attention is given and will continue to be given by the County Council to this problem, to ensure that the possibilities of every child receive a full chance of development.
Both the ancient foundation and the school completed to-day and equipped with the most modern devices have much to offer to a nation whose greatness is largely based on its cultural achievements in the past and whose future would appear to depend on an allied improvement of its scientific and industrial techniques.
Since the passing of the 1944 Education Act the problem of the education of handicapped pupils has been brought into sharp focus. The categories of children affected are blind, partially sighted, deaf, partially deaf; delicate, educationally sub-normal, epileptic, maladjusted, physically handicapped and also those with speech defects. The Act laid particular stress on the duty of authorities to make appropriate arrangements for those children. The Middlesex Development Plan for primary and secondary education recognized the importance of this aspect of education and provision has been made in it for the establishment of a full range of special schools, both day and residential. Whilst it is important to deal with as many children as possible in the normal schools, there remain a number for whom this special provision must be made.
Before 1945 there were ten day special schools and one residential special school in the County. These schools have been maintained and in some cases enlarged, and more day schools are envisaged. Building priorities imposed by the Ministry of Education make it difficult to foresee in the near future any large-scale construction of new special schools; consequently, the necessary places have to be found by the adaptation of existing buildings for day schools, the purchase and adaptation of suitable properties for residential schools and the arrangement for individual pupils to attend special schools provided by other local education authorities or by voluntary bodies.
It is in the realm of residential special schools that the greatest progress has been made. Nine such schools were opened in the first few years after the second world war. These schools are situated in Middlesex, Hampshire, Surrey, Kent and Buckinghamshire. The premises range from large mansions and estates suitable for up to 200 children to smaller properties suitable for units of under fifty physically handicapped, maladjusted or deaf children. Twenty special schools are now maintained by the County—ten day and ten residential. Nine of these cater for educationally sub-normal children, five for delicate, three for physically handicapped, two for the deaf and partially deaf and one for maladjusted children. In the case of the schools for educationally subnormal children, the day schools cover the whole age range of 5-16, whilst the residential schools have been divided into schools for boys and girls separately—one each for juniors and seniors. Most of the other schools are “all-age” schools for boys and girls. There are nearly 2,000 children in these twenty schools.
Owing to the number of children requiring special educational treatment, nearly 1,000 children are also placed by the County Council in independent boarding-schools and schools recognized by the Ministry of Education as suitable for such children. In particular, this applies to the educationally sub-normal, the physically handicapped and the maladjusted. Besides these provisions, the County Council maintains hospital schools, provides part-time hospital educational facilities in Middlesex hospitals and, in a number of cases, home tuition is provided where children are either on a waiting list for entry to a special school or where this is the only form of education possible. There are some thousands of children accommodated in normal schools in classes for the backward and retarded and a few in “special opportunity classes, that is, classes for educationally sub-normal children awaiting admission to special schools. In all, 3 per cent of the total school population is receiving special educational treatment of one kind or another. Whilst this provision is considerable, there are still many children who ought to be in special schools. To meet these needs, the County Council will shortly be providing additional day schools for educationally sub-normal, physically handicapped and deaf children, and a residential school for senior maladjusted children.
Changes in the school population will make it possible to develop considerable day special school provision in buildings at present fully occupied with the needs of normal pupils.
Although the special schools cater for children from 5 to 16 years of age emphasis is laid on the necessity of children attending the schools as young as possible, so that the maximum time is available in which to meet the children’s needs and, where possible, nursery class units are attached to special schools.
THE CHILD GUIDANCE SERVICE
Another important factor in the development of work among children has been the growth of the child guidance service. It was not until 1932 that the first child guidance service was provided by an education authority; since that time progress has been rapid. The County Council itself is now responsible for the maintenance of a number of child guidance centres and the service will be extended so that the needs of each area of the County can be met. The staffs of the centres, which normally include an educational psychologist, a psychiatrist, a psychotherapist, and psychiatric social workers, are responsible for a wide range of duties. Much of the work is concerned with problems of maladjustment and child delinquency, but they also deal with the educationally sub-normal child and its treatment in the special school or normal day school. Advice is also available to teachers and parents in connection with the educational and vocational guidance of the normal school child. As in the case of the special schools, the main work of the child guidance centres is to foster to their full fruition all the potentialities of the thud patients for a happy and constructive life.
The medical services, including the school dental service, have grown and been extended since the second world war and are dealt with under the chapter on Health.
School Meals and Milk
Of particular interest to the Education Committee is the development of the school meals service and the growth of the “milk in schools” scheme whereby one third of a pint of free milk is available each day to every school child. Over 90 per cent of the children take advantage of this scheme and over 50 per cent take school dinners.
In cases when the arrangement would be of assistance to parents of children placed in residential special schools, the County Council may purchase necessary clothing, the cost of which may be collected by instalments. Necessitous children are provided with free clothing.
The Education Act, 1944, places upon the parent of every child of compulsory school age the duty to cause the child to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude, and if he fails in that duty the County Council must take action against him. The County Council earnestly hopes that pupils in secondary schools will remain at school after the age of 15 and, in the case of grammar schools, up to the age of 18, in order to complete the full courses available.
Power to ensure cleanliness
The County Council as local education authority has wide powers to ensure cleanliness of the person and clothing of pupils in schools. A number of health assistants and nursing assistants help qualified nurses with this work. Fundamentally, however, true education of both parents and children is the final solution to the problem of cleanliness in school.
Restriction on Employment
The Education Committee is responsible for the powers and duties of the County Council under Parts I and II of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, including the prevention of cruelty to children and of their exposure to moral and physical danger and the regulation of employment of children and young persons. Byelaws exist restricting the employment of children of school age, otherwise than in entertainment, to those children who have attained the age of 13.
YOUTH EMPLOYMENT SERVICE
Until the Industrial Revolution a highly organized and effective system of apprenticeship was the principal means by which the employment of young people was regulated in England. Under this system, masters were generally responsible for the education of apprentices in the art and mystery of their craft and for their social training.
With the decay of the old forms of apprenticeship in the nineteenth century these needs had to be met in other ways. Legislation on apprenticeship was replaced by statutes which safeguarded only the physical well-being of young employees, but later education and other Acts showed increasing concern for wider aspects of their welfare.
The establishment of a youth (formerly juvenile) employment service was one of the more recent measures introduced to ensure that young people should receive guidance and help during the important stage of life when they pass from the school community into the new world of the factory, office or workshop.
Power to operate a juvenile employment service was originally given to local education authorities by the Education (Choice of Employment) Act, 1910, and Middlesex was one of the first County authorities to exercise this power. Until 1945, the Council was directly responsible for the service in part of the County only, most of the borough and urban district councils operating their own services under delegated powers. Delegation ceased when the Education Act, 1944, came into force and the Employment and Training Act, 1948, under which the present County youth employment scheme was approved, made no such provision.
The aim of the service is to guide young people into occupations for which they are physically,. mentally and by temperament and interest fitted and into posts which will provide good training and opportunities. Help, available for all school leavers and for others up to the age of 18, includes the provision of information about careers by the issue of descriptive pamphlets, by co-operation with head teachers of schools in arranging visits to places where young people are employed, by talks to older pupils and to parents and, occasionally, by the exhibition of films or film strips. Individual interviews are given at schools and bureaux and, after entry into employment, any boy or girl can call during an evening session for further advice. Special efforts are made to secure for boys and girls suffering from physical or mental handicaps training for work within their capacity.
The Council’s youth employment staff assists young people who have chosen their careers to find suitable employment. The majority of boys and girls continue to live at home and, as the most suitable opening may occur in any part of the Greater London area, the placing officer is constantly in touch with youth employment officers in other areas to which daily travelling is possible. Where the work wanted is unlikely to be available near home and the parents consent to their son or daughter going away, a reliable Post can usually be obtained through the national clearing-house arrangements.
Technological Development and Provision
Until the first world war Middlesex was mainly a residential and agricultural county. There were few manufacturing centres of any importance and a large proportion of the working population found employment in London.
The needs of young people over school age and of adults in art, technical, commercial and women’s subjects were met largely by evening classes provided in the polytechnics at Chiswick, Tottenham and Willesden, the technical institutes at Edmonton, Harrow and Ponders End, the schools of art at Hornsey and Teddington and supplementary centres in a dozen or so secondary schools. The polytechnics and technical institutes, which owed their origin to the adoption by the County Council of the provisions of the Technical Instruction Act of 1889, were establishments of modest size, many accommodating full-time day trade schools. Students working in London and in particular those requiring advanced courses mainly attended London institutions.
The establishment of war industries in many parts of the County between 1915 and 1918 was the prelude to intensive industrial development between the two world wars when many firms migrated into Middlesex from London and the provinces. A variety of new light industries was established on sites along the new arterial roads which were constructed during this period.
This industrialization of the County and influx of population led the County Council to embark upon a large-scale programme to improve and to extend the facilities for technical and commercial education. By 1939 new technical colleges had been opened at Acton, Ealing, Enfield, Hendon, Southall, Twickenham and Willesden and the existing polytechnics at Chiswick, Kilburn and Tottenham had been rebuilt and enlarged.
The aim was to make the new colleges serve regional rather than local needs by selecting sites which were well served by public transport. Because of this policy each college has been able to specialize in one or more branches of advanced work and the provision made now forms part of the system of higher education for technology and commerce which has been developed considerably in recent years in London and the home counties. Preliminary and less advanced courses in technical and commercial subjects were provided mainly in a number of evening institutes affiliated to the technical colleges. These institutes also provided non-vocational courses for young people and adults and continue to do so.
The post-war position in further education was influenced by the provisions of the Education Act of 1944 and also by the increasing realization, nationally, of the fundamental importance of technological and commercial education. The Act re-defined and extended the responsibilities of local education authorities in the field of further education, to include not only all full-time and part-time vocational courses for persons over compulsory school age but also leisure-time, recreative and cultural activities for young people and adults. These changes meant that during the difficult post-war years the County Council was called upon both to expand the provision made for vocational education, particularly in its more advanced aspects, and to introduce additional services relating to the more informal aspects of further education.
The pressure upon technical college accommodation became particularly acute after the 1939 war. Full-time students enrolling for technological courses increased nine times between 1938 and 1951 and the number of students released by their employers for part-time study multiplied eighteen times during the same period. Moreover, numerous advanced courses, many of university degree standard, were introduced and called for special accommodation and equipment.
As new buildings and equipment become available, so will the provision of research facilities be increased. Contact with industry is maintained and firms cooperate with the colleges in running “sandwich courses “, that is, courses involving full-time attendance at a course of academic instruction at a college, alternating with a similar period spent in a works. Extensions to the Acton, Chiswick, Ealing, Enfield, Southall and Willesden technical colleges have already afforded some relief, or will in the near future, whilst further extensions are planned at other centres and new colleges will be erected at Harrow, Southgate and elsewhere when conditions permit.
The Council also maintains a residential centre at Battle of Britain House, Northwood. Here, courses are available for teachers, youth leaders, senior members of youth clubs and other workers in the educational service. Special services are available for women’s groups and for domestic horticulturalists and other producers of home-grown foods under a scheme which is operated by the County Council in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Students resident in Middlesex and taking full-time advanced courses in technical colleges, or at universities or colleges which provide specialized facilities, are eligible to receive grants from the County Council under its scheme of awards. To-day some 76,000 students take advantage of the various full- and part-time courses available.
Youth and Community Service
The Education Act of 1944 also showed recognition of the fact that the educational interests of many young people and adults lie outside the more formal courses of the technical college and evening institute. Voluntary bodies, as elsewhere, have provided facilities in Middlesex for social and physical training and recreative activities over a long period and in recent years the County Council has joined with them in a close and active partnership in order to stimulate and develop informal education with a social purpose.
Through its youth and community service the County Council seeks to co-operate with voluntary bodies to ensure that the great variety of social, educational and recreational needs of young people and adults in relation to their leisure time are met as fully as possible. The organization and methods of the service are designed to uphold the principle of voluntary effort and recognize the value of the informal approach in further education. Twenty-two local youth committees have been established in the County to assist and co-ordinate the work carried out by voluntary associations and to supplement this provision by forming new clubs where the need exists.
More than 3,000 youth organizations are affiliated to the various youth committees and are helped in the following ways:—school premises are available at reduced charges; part-time leaders and instructors in a wide range of leisure-time occupations may be provided; equipment for recreational and physical training is available on loan or its purchase may be grant-aided; youth weeks, drama and music festivals, craft exhibitions, sports competitions, games leagues are organized and advice and help on club management, club finances, centre programmes, canteen arrangements, premises and equipment can be obtained.
Some premises have been adapted specifically for youth work. These include Heatham House at Twickenham, and Lynch House at Tottenham, where common rooms, craft rooms, lecture and committee rooms and canteens have been provided for use by all the youth organizations in the district. Playing-fields are available to youth groups as are also certain camp sites.
The community centre movement is a comparatively new development. Its growth since the war has been vigorous and already there are over fifty recognized community associations in Middlesex, twenty-three being housed in community centres.
In these centres opportunities are available for many kinds of social, educational and recreational leisure-time occupations arranged by the members themselves. Voluntary bodies of all kinds may affiliate to the local community association and may thereby make their contribution to the management of the centre under a democratic form of constitution. Several full-time wardens and other specialist officers have been appointed. Community centres offer many facilities for informal education and opportunities also for social service in the neighbourhood. All community associations function through local initiative and voluntary effort and it is this feature which makes them so valuable.
TEACHERS’ TRAINING COLLEGES
One of the greatest needs of the educational service is to maintain an adequate supply of teachers. This has been more specially true since the second world war, when the rising birth rate, bringing increasing numbers into schools, coupled with the desire to reduce the size of classes, resulted in increasing numbers of teachers being required. The County acquired Maria Grey Training College in 1939 and after the war took over Trent Park Training College, a former emergency training college, and these two colleges between them accommodate 400 students.
Maria Grey Training College
The Maria Grey Training College is one of the oldest in the country. It was established in 1878 (as a result of the enthusiasm of Mrs. William Grey for the higher education of women) and it was from her that the college took its name. It provides a three-year course of Froebel training for women entrants to the teaching profession and it also offers a one-year post-graduate course of training for either the University of London post-graduate certificate in education or the National Froebel Foundation teacher’s certificate.
When the County Council took over the college in 1939 it was housed at Brondesbury, but the building suffered war damage, and the provision of new premises became an urgent necessity. In 1945 the site of the Royal Naval College for Girls was purchased on which to build a new college on the banks of the Thames at Isleworth. Lecture- and practical- work rooms and a new block of accommodation for resident students were built first, making it possible to transfer the first and second year students of the three-year Froebel Course to this site. The final building on the site, when completed, will house the students for the full three-year course and part of the Brondesbury premises will then be used to house the post-graduate course. The College has a long-established tradition of teacher training and ranks as one of the foremost Froebel training colleges in this Country.
Trent Park Training College
This College was first established as an emergency training college after the 1939-45 war and was conducted by the County Council on behalf of the Ministry of Education. In 1950 it was taken over by the County Council as a two-year training college for men and women teachers specializing in art, music and drama. In addition the College also provides a one-year course for intending teachers who have certain qualifications in music or art.
One of the features of the work of Trent Park College is that its course of training enables craftsmen of proven ability to acquire the teaching skill necessary to pass on their art to boys and girls in our schools. Students undertaking the normal two-year course specialize in either design, music, drama or art. Ludgrove Hall, close to the entrance of Trent Park, has been acquired as a hostel for men students. The future development of the College will take place in the grounds of the mansion.
The mansion belonged to the late Sir Philip Sassoon and is surrounded by parkland of great beauty. It contains the “blue room” made famous by the painting of Sir Winston Churchill, and the grounds are well known for the display of daffodils in the spring.
County library systems are the product of the Public Libraries Act of 1919 and the County Council is responsible for the library service in the districts of Feltham, Friern Barnet, Harrow, Hayes and Harlington, Ruislip—Northwood, Potters Bar, Southgate, Staines, Sunbury-on-Thames, Uxbridge, Wembley and Yiewsley and West Drayton. The population of the area now exceeds 780,000 and indicates the rapid growth since the service was inaugurated in 1922 for some 250,000 inhabitants. Coupled with the wider use of books both as tools and as sources of inspiration and recreation, this increase in population has been a constant challenge, particularly in the difficult post-war years.
In its early days the County Council had no alternative but to provide a large number of small library centres in schools; now only 25 of these remain as the others have been replaced by 30 full-time public libraries. These range from such prewar buildings as Friern Barnet, Hayes, Kenton, Ruislip, Southgate and Uxbridge to the restricted but equally well-used improvisations at Barham Park, Gayton Road, Harrow, Hatch End, Northwood, Pinner, Rayners Lane and Staines where shops, prefabricated huts and old buildings were adapted for library purposes. Books are also supplied to old people’s homes, hospitals, approved schools and similar institutions.
In supplying books and information, the primary function of the service, the resources of all branches and headquarters are pooled and during the year tens of thousands of books move between the libraries to meet readers’ requests. Should a book that is wanted not be in stock or be, for instance, out of print, it is usually available through the South-Eastern Regional Library System from another public library. The stock, which ranges in subject matter from “atom bomb” to “witchcraft” and, in its variety of presentation, from an encyclopaedia to a thesis, reflects the ever-widening frontiers of knowledge and study. Despite the influence of cinema, radio and television, the printed word is the greatest source of information and its use by student and technician causes more and more exacting calls to be made upon the stock and staff of all libraries. The number of books issued by the Middlesex libraries before the 1939 war, has multiplied four times over since that date. The provision of sets of plays, of books for adult classes, of gramophone records for schools and of scores for choral and orchestral societies are among the group services provided.
Work with children is approached from two angles: one is through the school, which receives books as an extension of its own library, now a recognized centre of school activities, and the other is through the branch library. All branches set aside a separate room or corner for children and in it are held story-hours for the younger children and talks for the older children upon the use of books and libraries. Work with children suffered greatly in post-war years through a lack of classics and of suitable new books in an approved format, but the problem has now eased and, in a world where the strip cartoon seeks to substitute seeing for reading, children’s libraries have a growing responsibility.
In order to encourage full use of the stock, branch librarians have from among their borrowers been able to organize library circles, discussion groups, play-reading groups and recorded-music recitals. The libraries have also provided accommodation for study groups under the auspices of local cultural societies. The local museum at Uxbridge is a treasured possession of the residents and the art exhibitions held there are extremely well patronized and have achieved results that suggest the need for providing an exhibition and lecture room in the larger branch library buildings. In this way the library becomes a cultural centre of the district.
Plans have been prepared for branch libraries in districts not adequately served and suitable temporary accommodation will be used when opportunity permits. These plans include a county library headquarters at Harrow, which will also house a large public library and the County’s central reference library, which will co-ordinate the work of central reference collections in the branches and develop into a major reference service with photostat and microreader facilities.