1. The Medical Branch of the Board of Education
From the end of the nineteenth century there was a gradual development of services dealing with the health and physical condition of children. The Medical Branch of the Board of Education (later the Special Services Branch) was set up in 1907. Its responsibilities included special educational treatment for handicapped children, the school medical service, the provision of school meals and (later) milk, the organisation and inspection of physical training, maternity and infant welfare (transferred to the Ministry of Health in 1919) and nursery education. General files on all aspects of the work of the branch are in ED 50 and later ED 269.
2. Special educational treatment
The statutory foundation of special educational provision for handicapped children was laid in the last decade of the 19th century and remained broadly unchanged until the Education Act 1944. The Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act 1893 obliged every school authority to provide education for blind and deaf children between the ages of seven and 16 resident in the area in some school certified for the purpose by the Education Department. The Elementary Education (Defective and Epileptic Children) Act 1899 empowered local authorities to provide for the training of physically and mentally defective and epileptic children. These powers were made mandatory for mentally defective and epileptic children by further legislation in 1914 and for the physically handicapped by the Education Act 1918. Compulsory education for children suffering from these defects was extended to 16 under the Education Act 1921. Special educational provisions were re-enacted in sections 33 and 34 of the Education Act 1944 and modified in subsequent Acts of 1948 and 1953. New procedures were laid down in the Handicapped Pupils and School Health Service Regulations 1945 and later regulations.
Files on the formation of policy following legislation are in ED 50. ED 133 contains files dealing with the provision of special schools and related problems in particular education authorities. Files on individual special schools are in ED 32. Regulations for such schools and lists of certified schools for blind, deaf, handicapped and epileptic children were initially issued as Command Papers which can be accessed on Parliamentary Papers online. ED 62 contains files relating to training establishments providing further education for handicapped persons, continuing instruction received in special schools.
3. Special educational needs
The Committee of Inquiry into the Education of Handicapped Children and Young People (Warnock) met for over three years and reported in 1978 (HC 1977-8 x Cmnd 7212). A far reaching consultative exercise was undertaken culminating in a white paper (Special Needs in Education HC 1980 Cmnd 7996).
The terms of reference of the Warnock Committee are in ED 269 and its minutes and papers in ED 285. The main provisions of the resulting Education Act 1981 were: the replacement of the category of handicapped pupil by special educational needs; the introduction of a statement for each such pupil; and an emphasis on integrated provision. Papers on the establishment of the Warnock Committee 1970-1974 are in ED 269/63-66.
The Council for National Academic Awards (1964-1993) set up its own Special Education Panel in 1981, which became the Special Education Needs Panel three years later. Minutes of its meetings are in DB 3/2333-2346 and DB 3/3149-3151. The University of London, Institute of Education reported to the DES on special educational needs provision in 1987 (BL 6/190) and HMI carried out surveys between 1987 and 1990 (reports are in ED 235).
Eight regional special educational needs tribunals were set up under the Education Act 1993 for parents to appeal against LEA decisions on special educational provision. Their annual reports are in KH 1; the first case was heard in 1995, once the system was set up. The tribunals cover all types of disability in both England and Wales.
4. School health service
The findings of the interdepartmental committee on physical deterioration (H C 1904 xxii) were influential in the framing of the Education (Administrative Provisions) Act 1907 and the Local Education Authorities (Medical Treatment) Act 1909, which led to the establishment of the school medical service. General policy files on the service are in ED 50 and ED 269, with local education authority (LEA) files in ED 137.
5. School meals service
The Education (Provision of Meals) Act 1906 led to the development of the school meals service, which became fully established during the Second World War. Subsidised milk was introduced by the Milk in Schools Act 1934; it was freely provided from 1946. ED 50 and ED 269 contain general policy files, with LEA files in ED 123.
6. Physical training
Military drill appeared in the Code of 1871 and physical instruction along Scandinavian lines was introduced into elementary schools towards the end of the 19th century. The first training college for female physical education instructors was opened at Dartford in 1885.
Under both the 1918 and 1921 Acts, local authorities were permitted to promote both social and physical training, supplementing that provided for children attending public elementary schools and for those over 18 attending educational institutions. Facilities provided included evening swimming instruction, visits to theatres and music festivals, school camps and school journeys. Local education authority files on provision of these facilities are in ED 101, with papers relating to the appropriate section of the Education Acts in the Elementary Education, General Files, ED 11.
The Physical Training and Recreation Act 1937 extended this provision to young persons and adults not in full-time attendance at schools or educational institutions. The extension was suspended for the duration of the war and the 1944 Act again limited the use of the facilities to those attending educational institutions. Papers on the provision by LEAs of community centres, playing fields, swimming baths, recreation centres and courses during the short-lived period of extension, 1937-40, are in ED 56.
Responsibility for post-school social and recreational training passed to the Further Education Branch of the Ministry of Education on its creation in 1945, with records on youth welfare in ED 124 and ED 126 and adult welfare in ED 169.
7. Nursery education
Nursery schools were first established by voluntary effort at the beginning of the 20th century. The Education Acts 1918 and 1921 permitted local education authorities to supply or aid the supply of nursery schools and classes for children between two and five years of age; conditional grant-aid was made available from 1919. Files on individual nursery schools and their recognition for grant purposes are in ED 69. The development of nursery provision by LEAs was hampered by financial crises. Expansion was urged by a joint Ministry of Health and Board of Education circular of 1929, encouraged by the report of the Consultative Committee on Infant and Nursery Education in 1933, under the chairmanship of Sir W H Hadow (committee papers ED 10/149-150) and further emphasised by a LEA survey of 1936 on the need for nursery provision for the under-fives. LEA files on nursery education are in ED 66 and departmental policy files in ED 102.
The Second World War led to the establishment of nursery centres in reception areas, day nurseries for the children of women war workers (some files in ED 66) and the provision of evening play centres for children of school age (ED 65). Section 8(2) of the 1944 Act sought to extend the provision of nursery schools and classes, where appropriate, and LEAs were asked to include such provision in their development plans (ED 152).
Information on research into nursery education between 1968 and 1984 can be found in ED 181/269-270, 335; ED 207/106-111, ED 122, ED 124, ED 147; and ED 282/37-61. The School Census (Form 7) Datasets 1974-2006 also contain statistical details of nursery schools, available via NDAD (http://ndad.ulcc.ac.uk) as CRDA 13/ED 267. It might be possible to identify entries for individual schools by using the Register of Educational Establishments (CRDA 47/NV 2).
8. Further reading
For further information see Ann Morton, Education and the State from 1833, (PRO 1997)