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Past TimesEd

75 years ago

* November 3, 1928 The present year will be remembered as one of examination controversy, for since Sir Michael Sadler expressed the view at the last annual conference of Educational Associations that there was no "blacker cloud" in our educational outlook than examinations, and that "things seemed likely to get worse, not better", there have been many utterances in the same pessimistic strain. Dr Cyril Norwood succeeded in rousing the schoolmasters by his attack on the "examination system at its worst", that is, the common entrance examination to the public schoolsI He also drew up an indictment of external examinations for the average boy and girl, and he stated his belief that the time would come when the properly inspected and efficient school would issue its own certificate that a pupil had attended for a four or a six years' course, and had reached a satisfactory level of performance.

50 years ago

* October 30, 1953 It is reported that hairdressers and upholsterers at Bolton have protested against certain classes at the local Women's Institute on the grounds that it is unfair to honest tradesmen to use public money to teach housewives to stuff their own pincushions and set each other's hair. This was not the more usual complaint that hobby classes are a waste of the ratepayers'

money. Instead it seems the instruction was considered so effective as to threaten the livelihood of professional practitioners. "These classes," said the spokesman for the upholsterers, "have passed from the education to the productivity stage."

25 years ago

* November 3, 1978 Of the ragbag of measures in the proposed Education Bill, there seems to be none which is likely to make the public pulse race or fill the House of Commons on a wet January evening. The parts most likely to arouse interest are those on what is loosely called parents' choice of school. Till the wording of the bill is finally revealed it will not be clear how the potentially contradictory aims of stengthening LEAs' powers to control the allocation of pupil places while increasing the parents' ability to express preferences between schools, are to be reconciled.

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