The development of secondary education in county Durham, 1944-1974, with special reference to Ferryhill and Chilton
This thesis grew out of a single question: why should a staunch Labour Party stronghold like County Durham open a grammar school in 1964 when the national Party was so firmly committed to comprehensivization? The answer was less easy to find than the question was to pose. The Labour Party was less committed to comprehensivization than is commonly believed. The commitment was to equality of opportunity. For many the ideal was, as Gaitskell said, "a grammar school education for all." In County Durham, the grammar school was the way out of the pit and the pride invested in "the grammar" ran very deep, then so too did a pride in the local modern schools, many of which, as in the case of Ferryhill and Chilton, replaced the all-age schools that grew out of the 1902 Education Act. The way round the moral dilemma of providing selective grammar schools was a unique and relatively cheap compromise, which sought to link grammar and modem schools together under one umbrella: the multilateral unit. The key element of the scheme, which emerged out of the 1944 Education Act, was the ease of transfer of pupils within the multilateral unit, so that every child could have an education suitable to his age, aptitude and ability. By a very close analysis of the local government records, this thesis investigates the ways in which County Durham coped with the requirements of the 1944 Act and in so doing set up the multilateral units. The grammar school at Ferryhill was planned in 1946: the fact that it took nearly twenty-year to open is a direct result of the relatively low priority given to education in the County after the Second World War and the distressed state of the North-East economy. Alas, for many in Ferryhill and Chilton, communities about which very little of value has been written, the experiment in multilateral units lasted only ten-year, when the national movement for comprehensivization proved too strong to resist. When more records are opened to public scrutiny, a more detailed analysis can be made of the complex relationships between the Labour Party and its members in County Durham and the three-way relationship between the Local Education Authority, the divisional executives and central government.