A history of the Central Council for Health Education, 1927-1968
This dissertation examines the organisational background to the modern British health education movement, largely by reference to the origins and forty years' history of the Central Council for Health Education (1927-1968), the first body attempting to impart leadership and national coherence to a diffuse and eclectic field of educational practice and health promotion which has found secure administrative foundations difficult to establish. The study begins with a review of nineteenth and early twentieth century influences contributing to the character and status of the movement in its pioneering years. The predominantly propagandist roots and voluntary sector affinities with which it emerged from half and century's precursory endeavours profoundly affected health education's opportunities to advance with other aspects of health care and education in the inter-war years. By then, health education had become a diffuse and unco-ordinated field of minor, local authority initiatives and separatist campaigning by specialist, national health charities, remaining largely outside the remit of health and education professions and neglected officially. How the challenge of countering developmental difficulties fell to a minor professional body rather than an officially promoted one, is a question critical to any interpretation of later developments, and the subject of further enquiry. Subsequent investigation focuses on the evolution of the central agency which resulted, the Central Council for Health Education, particularly its thirty years' quest for official recognition and stature, and the strategies and services devised in this cause. It is a story of persistent and widespread enterprise, significant in many of its ideas but constrained in their effective development by enduring failure to attract Government support and to progress beyond the limited subscription income and essentially propagandist aspirations of local public health services. Adjudged ineffective by the 'Cohen Enquiry' of 1960-64, Government intervation proved forty years late in seeking to redress the problems of inadequate central provision, when in 1968 an officially funded Health Education Council replaced its neglected predecessor. The investigation reveals the classical dilemma of a multi-disciplinary field failing to transcend the divisive character of its own interests, in search for developmental coherence, and failing, consequently, to command effective professional and political support.