The evolution of special education 1893-1939
An account of social attitudes towards blind and deaf children in the 19th Century shows how the social conscience was slowly awakened to the necessity for action on behalf of these youngsters. However, nothing was done until all normal children were compulsorily educated after which legislation on behalf of various handicapped pupils was gradually enacted. Many philanthropic bodies agitated on behalf of the groups in which they were interested and their influence on the eventual Parliamentary Acts is examined. The actions and motives of the Civil Service bureaucracy in its original endeavours to secure sane uniformity in the provision of special schools is also examined. Then after the 19l4-l8 War the economic measures of the Depression Years seriously hindered the expansion of Special Education. Again, the actions of the bureaucracy are examined as they strove to secure the most efficient use of available monies and yet, at the same time, by the rigidity of their approach they hampered the achievement of their own goals. Some Civil Servants, by the strength of their own personalities or their obvious administrative talents, managed to put administrative convenience second to humane considerations, and the actions of such men are further analysed. Again, some individuals exerted enormous influence on the Board of Education and utilised this power to forward the claims of children with handicaps in which they were interested. Special Education in the iii first half of the 20th Century possessed a tremendous attraction for social workers especially when, as Was usually the case, they were women. Mrs. Humphrey Ward, the Novelist, 13 a good example of the first type, whilst Evelyn Fox represents the social workers. The work of these people is examined in detail. Finally, after a consideration of all these factors, an attempt is made to analyse some of the main influences on British Special Education as it is today.