Lindsay - Social Progress and Educational Waste (1926)

Social Progress and Educational Waste (text)

Social Progress and Educational Waste
Kenneth Lindsay (1926)
London: George Routledge & Sons Ltd

Background notes

Kenneth Lindsay

After several unsuccessful attempts to enter Parliament as a Labour MP, Kenneth Lindsay (1897-1991) (pictured) joined Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald's breakaway National Labour group. He became MP for Kilmarnock at a by-election in 1933 and held the seat until 1945, when he was elected as independent MP for the Combined English Universities, holding the seat until the university constituencies were abolished in 1950.

He served as Civil Lord of the Admiralty from 1935 to 1937 and Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education from 1937 to 1940.

Historical context

The state provision of secondary education began, in a very limited way, with the 1902 Education Act (the Balfour Act), which empowered local education authorities to 'supply or aid the supply of education other than elementary'.

The 1907 Education (Administrative Provisions) Act introduced a scholarship/free place system and the Free Place Regulations of the same year aimed 'to secure that all secondary schools aided by grants shall be made fully accessible to children of all classes'.

The 1918 Education Act (the Fisher Act) provided for the raising of the school leaving age to fourteen, though this was postponed because of economic difficulties (as were many of the Act's other measures).

In October 1919, the President of the Board of Education, HAL Fisher, appointed Liberal MP E Hilton Young (1879-1960) to chair a departmental committee to examine the issue of scholarships and free places for secondary education. The Report of the Departmental Committee on Scholarships and Free Places, published in November 1920, recommended that the number of free places should be increased and that maintenance allowances should be available for those in need.

The book

In his book, Kenneth Lindsay was critical of the free place system, noting that only 9.5 per cent of the 550,000 children who left elementary schools each year secured places in secondary schools; that of these only a third of were exempt from paying fees; and that only one in a thousand went on to university. Success in winning scholarships, he argued, varied 'with almost monotonous regularity according to the quality of the social and economic environment' (page 8).

The book is in two parts:

The first three chapters attempt an estimate of the general problem, and they should be read together. The remaining chapters deal with specific areas, and together provide the evidence from which the conclusions have emerged (page vi).
The complete text is presented here in a single web page. The tables (of which there are 88) are shown as images.

Sums of money are given in Britain's pre-decimal currency in which there were 20 shillings to the pound. Also mentioned are guineas, which were worth 21 shillings.

The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 17 April 2024.