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TES centenary special

A hundred years that shaped the world of education

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A hundred years that shaped the world of education

Since 1910, The TES has been championing teachers and teaching, and keeping the profession informed and stimulated with news and debate. Editor Gerard Kelly muses on a fascinating century of upheaval and then Michael Shaw charts the paper's story so far TES

Pride and prejudice, a passing enthusiasm for Nazis, but above all a tale of progress

It is customary at birthdays to reminisce. It is usual, too, to dwell on the highlights, skip the bad bits and mutter into one's gin about all the worthwhile stuff that we have lost along the way. As far as education is concerned, that narrative does not apply. We've said goodbye to a lot in 100 years, most of it crap.

The world into which The Times Educational Supplement was born on September 6, 1910 was pretty grim. Schooling had been compulsory for all children for a generation, but only up to the age of 12. They were taught a limited curriculum by rote in classes that, on average, contained 48 pupils. Discipline was strict and maintained with the casual use of the strap and cane. If you were poor and there were jobs to be had, you were likely to be in employment at the age today's youngsters are getting to grips with their first year in "big school". If you were female, regardless of social class, you were taught to aspire to varying levels of drudgery - domestic servitude for the indigent; household management and fine needlework for the comfortable. Only 10 per cent of pupils went on to secondary education, almost all of them from the middle and upper classes.

In its early years, The TES reflected the elite complexion of established education. Its readership and its correspondents were overwhelmingly male and largely drawn from independent and grammar schools. Concerns over the abandonment of ancient Greek as an entrance requirement for Oxbridge mixed comfortably with prize-giving, speech-making and endless votes of thanks to impossibly titled characters who wouldn't have been out of place in a Jeeves and Wooster farce.

The paper's prejudices, however, are not so easy to typecast. From the outset, The TES championed educational reform and showed a regard for social justice often absent elsewhere in the establishment. The belief that children of both genders and all backgrounds and abilities deserved to benefit from a good education for far longer than most governments were willing to accept - or at least fund - was apparent in 1910 and has been a constant refrain of The TES ever since, despite the efforts of the Kaiser, Hitler, Wall Street and the Daily Mail to distract us.

The TES has been ahead of the curve in other ways, too. We were early advocates of special needs education and forthright supporters of ever- neglected vocational training. When it came to technology, we were white- hot way before Harold Wilson. We were writing about "the cinematograph" by 1915 and the gramophone soon after. We were reporting on experiments with the wireless in 1924 - though we patronisingly thought teachers wouldn't know how it worked. The TES was a proselytiser for television and computers in the classroom, too, and for CCTV as early as 1969 - though whether as an educational aid or for crowd control is not clear. And we have always been very good at sex. As early as 1916 we had noted the importance of compulsory sex education for pupils - a subject The TES was to return to frequently over the century, albeit usually in a manner that the Vatican would find overly circumspect today.

We didn't get everything right. The TES had a brief Samp;M moment in the 1930s. Not only did we back the Government's 10 per cent pay cut for teachers, we decided that Nazi education policy - everyone kitted out in fabulously tailored uniforms and entry into secondary school dependent on a pupil's ability to swim the Elbe - was worth considering. Delusion wasn't restricted to Europe: "Progress in Afghanistan", announced one headline in 1936. Fortunately, clarity was restored by 1940 - those well- tailored Nazis appeared to be bombing our schools.

Nomenclature is another matter. It is hard not to squirm at such pieces as "Educating the Gypsy", "Are your children backward?" and "Dancing for cripples", even after making allowances for period, language and context. Though if we can bestow a retrospective and superior indulgence on our forebears' naivety, we should also acknowledge what hasn't changed in 100 years of reporting. Parental incompetence - formerly known as poor mothercraft - is a constant, as are appallingly behaved children. "Are children wickeder?" asked one article in 1933. We should ask our grandparents.

Exam worth and difficulty are perennially debated. The grass is always greener: other countries have answers to questions that constantly plague us. Novelty is always suspect: we worry about computer games, they anguished over comics.

Temptation is never far away: "A girl at Oxford loses as much as she gains", warned an article in 1962, and it wasn't talking about weight.

Thankfully, an awful lot has changed in 100 years. An undergraduate's virginity isn't an issue, her prospects are. And we're not talking marriage. If there is one phenomenal, outstanding, amazing development of the past century in this country, it has to be that education has liberated women in a way that was never anticipated by the most liberal of reformers, even by those far-sighted individuals on The TES in 1910. That and near-universal literacy, massively increased university participation, the eradication of malnutrition and child labour, the acceptance of racial equality, the raising of the school leaving age, the recognition of special needs education, the banning of corporal punishment, free school meals, free schools, free thinking, a healthy disrespect of authority, an end to diffidence, a broad curriculum for both sexes, a widespread toleration of difference and a general intolerance of bigotry.

Thanks to generations of - largely underappreciated - teachers, our education system is far better, inclusive and fairer than it was in 1910. Sure, there are plenty of things that need improvement. But the good old days? Well, they weren't that good. Whatever the challenges of the next century, we could really do without repeating the last one

To this day, the question a TES journalist will be asked most often by non-teachers is: "And on what day does the supplement appear in The Times?"

The answer, often received with surprised looks, is that The TES was only published as part of that newspaper for the supplement's first four years, from 1910 to 1914. The TES became increasingly independent from then on, to the point that it now has no official link to The Times at all.

The idea for a regular section on education in The Times was first proposed in 1905 by J E G de Montmorency, a distinguished barrister and writer who later composed leader articles for The TES. The first issue of the monthly educational supplement appeared on September 6, 1910, opening with a witty weather forecast for the UK's school systems. King George V had recently begun his reign, and the paper noted that "some great resettlement of the English school system seems likely to take place".

Over its first decade, The TES established itself as a paper for teachers, though it was primarily aimed at those in private and grammar schools. However, it pressed for education reform from its early years, featuring a contribution from Mr de Montmorency in 1913 calling for "Secondary Education for All".

In 1914, The TES became a stand-alone publication, noting, accurately, on the outbreak of the First World War that "every great war in the modern world has been followed by changes in education". Two years afterwards - while the war still raged - the paper began to be published weekly. The TES later explained that "the decision to change into a weekly periodical was taken in order to lend the support of The Times more effectively to the movement for reform in education which culminated in the Fisher Reform Act of 1918". This made school attendance compulsory up to the age of 14 and gave the state responsibility for secondary education.

The first editor of The TES was George Sydney Freeman (pictured, above), who held the post for nearly all of the years between 1910 and 1938. Although a highly respected journalist, he was often distracted by his other duties on The Times, which included filling in as the daily paper's acting editor in 1919. From the mid-1920s, it also became "increasingly clear that he was, frankly, never at his best after lunch", as a later TES editor noted.

Much of the real editing was then done by Sheila Radice, who rose from the paper's secretary to assistant editor. However, her hopes of becoming one of the first female editors of a major British newspaper were dashed as not one but three of the writers she helped to discover were appointed to the role instead over the following decades. The first of these, Donald McLachlan (pictured, above), was a former teacher at Winchester College and a Berlin correspondent for The Times who later became the first editor of The Sunday Telegraph.

It was the second of Mrs Radice's discoveries - H C Dent - who made the greatest impact, and is still regarded as the most influential editor in the paper's history. Harold Collett Dent had been a progressive schoolteacher, who first came to the attention of The TES when he submitted an article in 1924 about reforms he was making at Brighton and Hove Grammar School. He was keen to make children participants in their education, rather than just recipients, wanting to "free them from sitting like little models".

He brought this passion for progressive teaching to the paper when he was appointed acting editor in 1940, and he pressed to get the public elementary system recognised as at least as important as the selective schools.

Working tirelessly through the Blitz, he produced the paper practically single-handedly, travelling off around the country to visit schools and chief education officers after each issue went to press. He was assisted by Joan Peel, who had written to him soon after he started as editor criticising the supplement's lack of zeal. "If you think you can do better, come and join me," he wrote back.

Mr Dent's leader columns often had a campaigning quality. In one he demanded "total reform based on a new conception of the place, status and function of education in a democratic State, not a patching and padding of the present system". This attitude chimed with the radical thinking then going on within the Board of Education. Mr Dent (pictured, below) had regular meetings with its president, Rab Butler, in the years building up to the 1944 Education Act, which The TES covered in great detail.

After the war, the newspaper expanded, and in 1946 Mr Dent collapsed with exhaustion and flu. When he recovered, he travelled abroad, including lengthy trips to Canada and the US, where he was impressed by American high schools, which offered a comprehensive-style education. The new management of The Times, who had swung the paper back to the right, would not have been impressed by such egalitarian ideas. In 1952, Mr Dent was moved off The TES to become an educational correspondent on The Times instead.

His successor, Walter James, an Oxford graduate who had spent nine years at The Guardian, took The TES in a very different direction. An unashamed elitist, Mr James was opposed to comprehensives, and keener to provoke the paper's readership than to campaign on its behalf. He was also against the expansion of universities, so the paper - which then still covered higher education - was highly critical of the Robbins report in 1963 which recommended allowing all colleges of advanced technology to become universities.

Mr James took education less seriously than his predecessor and was keen to expand the paper's arts coverage. Among the series he commissioned was one on the best contemporary English poets, which resulted in The TES printing the first newspaper article about Philip Larkin in 1956. When an American professor asked Larkin for some biographical details two years later, the poet replied: "The best, and indeed the only, source of information about me is an article in The Times Educational Supplement."

Mr James recruited a range of bright young things directly from Oxbridge, many of whom learnt their trade on The TES before moving on.

During this period, the paper became "a sort of poor man's Spectator", a later editor, Patricia Rowan, wrote. In her history of The TES's first 59 years (which this account shamelessly plunders), she added that one of James's recruits recalled that he was "encouraged to write full-page features on jazz clubs and Proust, though on reflection it might have been better to report on leaky school roofs in the North East".

The paper's then owners were the Astors, who had bought The Times and The TES from Lord Northcliffe's (pictured, right) family after his death in 1922. But in 1966, the Times newspapers were bought by the Canadian newspaper tycoon Roy Thomson. A new management team was installed, which decided The TES was too right-of-centre, insufficiently focused on education, and did not give enough space to primary schools, science or technology. Mr James resisted these pressures, and was soon moved sideways to a role on The Times.

One of Mr James's recruits had been Stuart Maclure, who had joined The TES in 1951, then left to edit Education magazine. He was invited back to edit The TES in 1969, and remained in post for the next 20 years.

Mr Maclure took a more serious, scholarly attitude to the state of education in Britain. A quiet, authoritative and slightly remote figure, he could slip Russian or Greek expressions into conversation, but would fail to spot double entendres. Well-connected within the education world, he was an expert on subjects including inspection and school buildings. "Editorial meetings took a long time as he would agonise over his leaders, which were a model of fairness - weighing up the arguments and occasionally coming down on one side," one reporter noted.

Mr Maclure helped to shift the paper away from its elitist past. Where it had once firmly defended grammar schools, it now defended comprehensives, though this change, like many others in the paper's history, was also a reflection of how its readers' views had altered.

Similarly, The TES's attitude to education reform shifted. For most of its first seven decades it had pressed for changes that had been blocked by politicians and business leaders. But from a speech by prime minister James Callaghan (pictured, left) in 1976, criticising schools' "secret garden", to the launch of the national curriculum and league tables in 1988, The TES found itself warning that teachers were at risk of being overloaded by reforms. Mr Maclure noted in 1985 that "the irony of the last 10 years, in which the politicians and industrialists have clamoured for reform and accused the educationists of blocking it, was not lost on anyone who cares to look back".

One of the most difficult periods for The TES started at the end of 1978, when a management lock-out against the printers prevented it and The Times from being published for 11 months. Reporters on the paper continued to be paid, and went off to research education features (few of which were ever printed) or to travel and write books. Reporters were worried the following year, when the supplement and The Times were bought by Rupert Murdoch. But although a portrait of the Australian-born magnate would later hang in a TES meeting room, he took a laissez faire approach to the Times supplements, telling MPs he would only ever interfere "if they were to lose money". The TES didn't, so Mr Murdoch never influenced its editorial line.

In 1986, a dispute between newspaper workers and News International, parent company of The TES, led to protracted strikes outside the company's new printing plant in Wapping, east London. With the Times newspapers as well as The Sun and News of the World being transferred to the new plant, Mr Murdoch had bigger concerns than the supplements, so The TES was told to arrange its own printing. The paper did so, and set up in separate offices in Clerkenwell, where it avoided the brunt of the picketing.

After Mr Maclure retired in 1989, he was replaced by his deputy, the livelier Patricia Rowan, who took a more hands-on approach to editing the supplement. She had joined the paper as a sub-editor, but had previously worked as part of The Sunday Times's Insight team, which specialised in investigative reporting. She brought this zeal for investigations to The TES, encouraging reporters to look in-depth at subjects including local authorities and sixth-form provision.

In the past, most of the job advertisements in The TES had been placed by local authorities, so it had been paramount that the paper appealed to chief education officers. Now that budgets were delegated to schools, The TES had to widen its appeal.

Ms Rowan's changes helped to achieve that, and its circulation soared. But she still felt The TES had a serious role as a paper of record and was dismissive of "knitting pattern journalism", such as giving primary teachers tips on using yoghurt pots.

The paper continued to be read by education's great and good, many of whom attended in 1994 a TES party Ms Rowan held at London's exclusive Reform Club, to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1944 Education Act. (The event was especially memorable for how quickly many of the luminaries got drunk, having failed to notice that, instead of champagne, they were being served brandy-laced champagne cocktails.)

When Ms Rowan (pictured, below) retired in 1997, one of the main applicants to become editor was Melanie Phillips, by then a right-wing columnist who had heavily criticised the education establishment. But the job went instead to Caroline St John-Brooks, a former Sunday Times education editor and TES assistant editor who had spent the previous three years carrying out education research for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris.

A committed Labour supporter, she was proud to begin editing The TES on the day Tony Blair entered Downing Street, with his promise to prioritise "education, education, education". But although she remained optimistic about the party's plans for literacy and numeracy, she and the paper quickly grew disillusioned with the government and were critical of its plans to "name and shame" schools and promote market forces.

Dr St John-Brooks was, a colleague said, "as happy to talk about pop music as pedagogy". Although an expert on policy, one of her biggest changes to The TES was to add magazines designed to appeal to women teachers.

To her colleagues' sadness, her editorship was cut short by a recurrence of cancer in 2000. She carried on writing occasional columns for the paper up to her death in 2003.

She was succeeded by her deputy, Bob Doe, who had joined The TES in 1973. Under his watch, the paper continued to get scoops, notably exposing the A-level marking scandal in 2002. It also fattened to record-breaking size. An issue in April 2004, during a secondary teacher shortage, featured six additional job sections, was 788 pages long and weighed around two and a half kilos, making it one of the largest newspapers ever published.

During the 1990s, The TES had found that adding extra supplements was a reliable circulation-booster, so had launched sections on subjects including governors and ICT. But this approach grew less effective after 1998, when the paper's circulation hit a peak and began to decline. The paper's sheer size began making it as challenging to edit as it was to fit through a letter box. Like many print publications, The TES was also affected by competition from the internet.

Not long after Mr Doe retired on health grounds in 2005, the final strands of cord between The TES and The Times were cut. News International sold The TES along with its spin-off newspaper The Times Higher Education Supplement to Exponent, a private equity group. The new TES editor Judith Judd, a highly regarded former education editor of The Independent, was left with the tricky task of relaunching and restructuring the paper, which was then sold on to another private equity company, Charterhouse, in 2007.

Including the appointment of Ms Judd, and the acting editor who followed her, the paper changed editor four times in three years, as often as in its first four decades.

But while Mr Murdoch had used The TES as a cash cow for his other titles, The TES's new owners and managers invested heavily in the publication itself, turning it to full colour.

In 2008, they appointed a new editor, Gerard Kelly, fresh from his success transforming the Times Higher Education into a high-brow magazine. Mr Kelly told staff his top priority was to restore authority to The TES. His bylined editorials, which quickly wound up authority figures, also brought back some of the supplement's provocative streak.

Under the new leadership, The TES saw its first major circulation increases in more than a decade, bucking the trend of other newspapers. What happens next will be a chapter for a future anniversary

Iz it because I iz a TES writer?

Several of the staff at The TES went on to be better known for other work, often in journalism. Simon Jenkins (right), a TES news editor, later became editor of The Times and the Evening Standard, while Owen Hickey became one of The Times's most respected leader writers.

Some became novelists, including Frances Hill and Timothy Mo, author of Sour Sweet, who has been shortlisted for the Booker prize three times. The pop singer Daniel Bedingfield composed his number one hit Gotta Get Thru This while walking home across Tower Bridge from The TES offices, when he worked on the newspaper's website.

The supplement also attracted many well-known external contributors. During the 1930s and 1940s, frequent, sometimes mischievously funny letters were sent to The TES by the educational pioneer A S Neill, founder of Summerhill School.

In 1979, a young lecturer at Glasgow College of Technology began contributing comment articles to the Scottish edition of The TES. A piece attacking education cuts was one of several by Gordon Brown, who later became prime minister.

The following year, the paper published an article by an even younger contributor, an eight-year-old pupil at Haberdashers' Aske's school in Hertfordshire who won a TES writing competition. The pupil, Sacha Baron Cohen, wrote that "school is a wonderful thing" and that it was important boys learnt to speak English correctly after "watching television and speaking with their parents all weekend". He is now better known for playing Borat, Bruno and Ali G.

None of these contributors, of course, had the lasting impact on The TES of its most appreciated columnist: a former teacher and education professor called Ted Wragg.


1910 - The Times Educational Supplement begins publication on September 6 as a free monthly with The Times.

1911 - Consultative Committee on Examinations in Secondary Schools report recommends that children take public exams at 16. More than 80 per cent of 14 to 18-year-olds receive no education at all.

1912 - Maria Montessori publishes The Montessori Method.

1913 - The National Union of Teachers campaigns for a national salary scale.

1914 - The TES becomes a separate paper, priced 1d. The First World War begins in the summer.

1915 - John and Evelyn Dewey publish Schools of Tomorrow.

1916 - The TES becomes a weekly paper.

The Lewis committee examining plans for post-war education of adolescents recommends leaving age of 14.

1917 - Exam council set up for secondaries: School Certificate examinations begin. Conscription causes teacher shortages.

1918 - Fisher Education Act raises school leaving age from 12 to 14 and ends all fees for elementary education.

1919 - The Burnham Committee introduces national pay scales for elementary teachers.

Bradford uses intelligence tests in secondary selection.

1920 - State scholarships to universities introduced: 200 initially, 360 by 1936.

1921 - Free milk provided for all children in need.

Geddes report on national expenditure leads to 6.5 million cuts in education.

1922 - Crisis hits economy. Teachers forced to accept 5 per cent pay cut and to contribute 5 per cent of salary towards superannuation. Times newspapers, including The TES, are sold to the Astor family.

1923 - Pay for certificated teachers in England and Wales averaged 310 for men and 254 for women.

The first photographs appear in The TES.

Jean Piaget publishes The Language and Thought of the Child. A S Neill founds Summerhill School.

1924 - "Black list" of worst buildings in urban areas is produced. More than 16,000 classrooms in England and Wales still accommodate two or more classes.

1925 - Educational broadcasting begins on the radio (John Logie Baird does not begin demonstrating television until the following year).

1926 - Hadow Report on the Education of the Adolescent recommends separation of primary and secondary education at 11. "Modern" as well as grammar schools to be established. Direct grant schools begin.

1927 - Bertrand Russell founds Beacon Hill School with his wife Dora. Cyril Burt publishes The Measurement of Mental Capacities.

1928 - The Board of Education reports 21 LEAs are using IQ tests for secondary selection, and notes that this is premature.

1929 - Open-air schools prove popular; 170 classes are held in London parks all-year round - these were thought to combat tuberculosis and other childhood infections.

1930 - Undergraduate population reaches 30,000 as more state university scholarships provided.

1931 - House of Lords defeats bill raising leaving age to 15.

Teacher pay slashed by 10 per cent.

1932 - Grammar schools open to all according to ability, rather than giving a proportion of places to the brightest elementary pupils.

1933 - Hadow Report on nursery and infant education emphasises need for new open air schools.

1934 - Cyril Burt's interpretation of intelligence tests refuted by research at the London School of Economics.

1935 - Marion Richardson publishes Writing and Writing Patterns.

1936 - Education Act calls for raising of leaving age to 15 in September 1939 (postponed by the outbreak of war).

1937 - Handbook of Suggestions for Teachers emphasises the need for child- centred primary education.

1938 - The Spens Report on secondary education recommends: expansion of technical and vocational courses; a leaving age of 16; and tripartite system of grammar, technical and secondary modern schools.

1939 - Evacuation after the outbreak of the Second World War in September means that, by the end of the year, a million children have had no schooling for four months.

1940 - A ship evacuating 90 London children to Canada is sunk by a torpedo. Herwald Ramsbotham, president of the Board of Education, refuses to ban conscientious objectors from teaching. H C Dent, a former headteacher, becomes acting editor of The TES.

1941 - Gas mask practice is held for children every week or fortnight. 425,000 London children now evacuated.

1942 - A call to schools to keep rabbits for food. Plus Labour proposes leaving age of 15, multilateral schools, free lunches, and nurseries for under-fives. Paper shortages force The TES to discontinue publication of School Certificate results.

1943 - The Norwood Report supports tripartite division of secondary education into grammar, technical and modern schools.

1944 - The Butler Education Act creates a Ministry of Education; ends fee- paying in maintained schools; organises public education into primary, secondary and further; and introduces the tripartite system.

1945 - The Minister of Agriculture calls for 100,000 older schoolboys and girls to help in the fields.

1946 - Free school milk is introduced, and free school dinners postponed. 90 per cent of university places reserved for men of HM Forces.

1947 - The leaving age raised to 15 in England and Scotland. Secondary Schools Examination Council recommends General Certificate of Education at O, A and S-level.

1948 - A five-year plan is launched to train 96,000 teachers, 60,000 of them women, to reduce secondary classes to 30 and primary to 40 by 1951.

1949 - The Conservative Teachers' Association asks the government to act on teachers alleged to be spreading communist propaganda.

1950 - A Schools Code (for Scotland) reduces maximum primary class to 45 from 50.

1951 - O and A-levels are introduced.

The TES goes up to 4d, its first price increase since 1923.

1952 - The BBC launches pilot schools television scheme.

1953 - The Labour manifesto, "Challenges to Britain", proposes abolition of selection at 11. Middlesex education committee bans known communists and fascists from headship.

1954 - The 11-plus is said to be wrongly allocating one in three pupils.

1955 - The last gas lamps are removed from London schools by the London County Council.

1956 - Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme for boys launched (girls begin in 1958).

1957 - Britain's first school TV programmes are broadcast by Associated Rediffusion in May, with the BBC following in September.

1958 - The first aided comprehensive for Jewish pupils opens in London. Brighton probation officers blame coffee bars for an "unprecedented rise" in juvenile delinquency.

1959 - The Crowther Report on 15-18s recommends leaving age of 16 by 1968, and a target of half of children in full-time education to 18 by 1980 (by 198081, 29 per cent were).

1960 - The Beloe Report proposes Certificate of Secondary Education.

Berkshire primary survey reveals 46 schools still with earth closets; 35 without mains water; six lit by gas; eight lit by oil; 22 with open fires.

1961 - A campaign to persuade 50,000 married women back into teaching is launched. The TES publishes a complete Billy Bunter story. In Latin.

1962 - Leeds experiments with primary French.

A S Neill's Summerhill published.

1963 - London and Manchester end 11-plus.

1964 - The Ministry of Education becomes the Department of Education and Science (DES).

TES Scotland launches.

1965 - Circular 1065 requires LEAs to propose schemes for comprehensive reorganisation on lines laid down by the DES. The General Teaching Council for Scotland is established.

1966 - The Schools Council calls for 16-plus exam to replace CSE and GCE. A disaster in British education: landslide engulfs Aberfan schools, killing 144. The TES and sister papers are taken over by Lord Thomson.

1967 - The Plowden Report advocates expansion of nursery schooling and introduction of educational priority areas.


The Newsom Report on public schools calls for integration with state schools and an assisted places system.


The first of the "Black Papers" published, which criticises what the authors believed was excessive progressivism in education.


Margaret Thatcher is appointed education secretary.

The Conservative government replaces Circular 1065 with Circular 1070, leaving LEAs to decide future of secondary education in their areas.


The Times Higher Education Supplement launches, a spin-off of The TES.

Controversy over the sex education film Growing Up and The Little Red School Book. Mrs Thatcher abolishes milk for the over-sevens.


The school-leaving age is raised to 16. Pupil governors are appointed in Hounslow, Brighton and Wolverhampton. UK schools have 570 video recorders.


The NUT strikes for a better London allowance.

Roy Hattersley reveals Labour plans to abolish public schools.


Coronation Street's Ken Barlow quits teaching for a better-paid job as a warehouse administrator. The Houghton Report increases teachers' pay by 30 per cent.


A black paper proposes exams at seven, 11 and 14.

William Tyndale School in north London taken over by inspectors. Chancellor Denis Healey cuts 76 million from the education budget.

The TES sponsors the first Schools Prom.


Prime minister James Callaghan's Ruskin College speech launches the "Great Debate" on education.


HMI criticises teaching of maths, science and languages and calls for political education for all 11 to 16-year-olds. A TES poll finds most teachers in favour of caning, tests at eight, 11 and 15, and grammar schools.


The Warnock Report on special education gives rise to the 1981 Education Act requiring local authorities to assess pupils and identify the provision they require.

The TES and other Times newspapers suspend publication during strike action.


Strikes during the "winter of discontent" cause some school closures and 280 million is cut from education.

The TES resumes publication in November.


Assisted places at independent schools are introduced.

Anti-corporal punishment group STOPP criticises The Beano for its preoccupation with caning. Rupert Murdoch buys Times newspapers, including The TES.


The Government launches a programme to put a computer in every school. The Rampton Report blames teachers for ethnic underachievement and calls for more black teachers.


Sir Keith Joseph, education secretary under Margaret Thatcher, demands that "ineffective" teachers are sacked.


The Schools Council is replaced by the Secondary Examinations Council and School Curriculum Development Committee.


A race row breaks over the views of Bradford headmaster Ray Honeyford, who outlined concerns about multiculturalism in The TES and the Salisbury Review. He is sacked and reinstated.


Schools are disrupted by a teachers' pay dispute.


The GCSE is introduced for teaching, replacing O-levels and CSEs.

Education Act (2) sets down rules on sex education, admissions and political indoctrination. It also abolishes corporal punishment and requires governors to publish annual reports and schools to hold parents' meetings.


The Teacher Pay and Conditions Act marks the end of the Burnham committee, which negotiated teachers' pay.


The Education Reform Act ushers in the national curriculum; national testing at seven, 11 and 14; Ofsted; local management of school budgets; grant maintained schools and city technology colleges.


The first teacher supply agency, Time Plan, is launched. Education secretary Kenneth Baker sets out plans for articled teachers who would train on the job after university rather than taking a PGCE.


The Inner London Education Authority is replaced by 13 new education authorities.


The New Schools Bill proposes privatisation of the local school inspection service.


General National Vocational qualifications are introduced.


The NASUWT teaching union achieves a landmark victory when the Appeal Court rules its boycott of national curriculum tests is a legitimate trade dispute. Education secretary John Patten announces that tests will be slimmed down.


Tony Blair is elected leader of the Labour Party and faces controversy over his and his wife Cherie's decision to send their son Euan to the London Oratory School, a high-performing faith school a long way from Downing Street.


A mini-riot breaks out at the NUT conference, with shadow education secretary David Blunkett forced to retreat into a cupboard.


The Dunblane massacre: Thomas Hamilton shoots dead 16 pupils and their teacher at a Scottish primary school before turning the gun on himself. The BBC broadcasts controversial Panorama programme on the Ridings School in Halifax.


The New Labour government scraps assisted places. Education minister Stephen Byers "names and shames" 18 failing schools.


Introduction of Literacy Hour and the National Year of Reading. The first serving heads are knighted.


Former IRA leader Martin McGuinness appointed education minister for Ulster. First state-funded Sikh school opens in Hayes, north-west London.


The death of Victoria Climbie leads to an inquiry and changes to the running of schools and local authorities. The General Teaching Councils in England and Wales begin registering teachers.


New AS levels are introduced as a result of Curriculum 2000. Alastair Campbell, the prime minister's press secretary, announces that the days of "the bog standard comprehensive" are over.


A row over grading of the A2 and AS levels leads to changes in results for 10,000 students. The first academies open their doors.


A teacher workload agreement is signed by employers, the government and teacher unions (except for NUT). Teach First teachers start to work in schools.


The Children Act - the legislative part of Every Child Matters - is designed to get education and social services working more closely together. In Wales, pupils take key stage 2 and 3 tests for the last time after the Assembly votes to scrap them - and TES Cymru is launched.


The Tomlinson proposals for overarching diplomas are rejected by Ruth Kelly, then education secretary, who proposes a separate work-based diploma instead. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver campaigns for better school dinners.

The TES is sold by Rupert Murdoch's News International to Exponent, a private equity group.


Des Smith, a former headteacher and member of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, is caught promising an undercover reporter that businessmen could gain a peerage by sponsoring an academy. A row over whether Muslim teachers should wear the veil is sparked by the sacking of a part-time teaching assistant, Aishah Azmi.


The Department for Education and Skills is split, with schools moved into the Department for Children, Schools and Families. The TES is sold to Charterhouse, another private equity company.


The TES reveals major problems with the marking of key stage 2 and 3 tests. Ed Balls, then schools secretary, later announces he is scrapping KS3 tests.


The Charity Commission issues first reports on independent schools, examining how well they meet tests for public benefit. City workers who have lost their jobs as result of the global financial downturn are targeted to become teachers.

2010 - The new Coalition government announces it is scrapping a range of educational schemes and quangos to save money, including the GTC for England, QCDA, Becta, and Building Schools for the Future.

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  • Original headline: In the thick of it - Pride and prejudice, a passing enthusiasm for Nazis, but above all a tale of progress

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