An education for the people
One of the 1944 Education Act's groundbreaking innovations was that it addressed itself to "the people of England and Wales", not just their children and young people. For all of them it prescribed a statutory right to "Other Further Education", a wide and elastic range of post-school activities such as Adult Education, Youth Work, Community Work, and Voluntary Organisations. In pursuit of this a new arm of HM Inspectorate was created, not just to evaluate and advise as HMI had always done. OFE Inspectors were to foster and help develop such new activities. The public responded to the challenge and demanded the fulfilment of the promises. Shortly afterwards successive Governments of every persuasion, and Ministry officials, decided that this was not to happen. This book tells the story of how the whole of Other Further Education grew and developed in spite of Governments and administrations, as a result of the interaction between a movement of field workers and the HM Inspectors drawn from among them. It describes how these carried out their task of fostering development according to the Act when Governments and administrations wanted to cut back. It sets the enormous growth and progress in the whole of the post-school field in its historical and political context. It shows how it became possible to encourage grass-roots growth to the degree that it lifted restrictive policies gently off their feet, to make England and Wales world leaders in this field for half a generation. And it ends with the seemingly inevitable defeat of the forces of progress and development in post-school education, and the erosion and transmog-rification of that Inspectorate which had done so much to foster them. This is the first history of Other Further Education as a whole, and of that small arm of specialist HMI who were assigned to it. It draws directly upon archives, on personal collections which escaped the shredders, and on the personal memories of leading protagonists in all the events it describes. It is, as one reader said, "a whole history which nobody knew existed"; it cannot be accused of being shy of telling the truth, and implicit throughout are telling lessons for the future of both lifelong learning and inspection.
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