Before the 1944 Education Act state education in England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland had and have rather different systems) was divided into Elementary Education and Secondary Education. These were separate and parallel, not end on, systems. Elementary Education ran from 5 to 12 (subsequently 14) and delivered basic literacy and socialization into time discipline. Secondary education began at 11 and ran until at least 16 and possibly 18. Although there were technical and commercial elements, the state schools (including an elite group directly funded from central government, rather than through local education authorities - the direct grants) increasingly imitated the academic curriculum of the 'Public' (i.e. elite private) schools which was directed towards University entry. After 1902 Local Education Authorities (LEAs) did provide secondary schools, and between then and 1944 introduced selective examinations by which pupils could obtain free places. However, in most LEAs a substantial proportion of secondary pupils continued to pay fees, although even this group were selected by examination. Tawney was proposing the abolition of all fee paying and the introduction of a variety of forms of secondary system, which led the way to tripartism (see 2 below). More than 80% of children completed their education in the elementary system.
Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1996