Tripartite Education System

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1944 'Butler' Education Act

Before the Second World War, there was no formal structure in education but under the conservative wartime coalition (education minister Rab Butler) there was a common understanding of a change in this and all major parties agreed with this

Allocated free secondary education for all aged 11-15 - All run by local councils

Nevertheless, there was not one standard education for all but children were tested to see what secondary education would be acceptable for them 

88% of children had been educated in all-age elementry schools prior to this with the vast majority leaving at 14

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The law did not specifically set out how schools were to organise and how to choose pupils so schools were able to pick and choose who they wanted

Children did an IQ test at aged 10 or 11 and then from that you would be sent to either a grammar school, secondary modern school or a technical school

These primary school tests became national in 1945 

This was known as the tripartite system and if you were seen to be academically minded you would be sent to the local grammar school and if you were technical you would go to a secondary technical school. Everyone else effectively went to secondary modern schools although it was labelled for people with more "practical intelligence"

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Whilst schools were meant to be "equal but different" there was an overwhelming perception that those who passed the test went to grammar schsools and those who failed went to secondary modern schools

Instead of being a tripartite system, there was more a two-tier process

Those who were seen as being more technical rather than academic were usually at a loss as relatively few technical schools were actually built so people in most areas did not get full advantage of this system 

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End of the tripartite system

This comprehensive system lasted from 1944 to the 1970s as Labour wanted comprehensivisation across the UK 

The tripartite system was offically ended in the 1976 Education Act under Labour 

Whilst the UK and Wales had left the tripartite system behind it survived in Northern Ireland and it was not until 2009 that it was finally abolished

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