The Government and Misgovernment of London

By William A. Robson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII EDUCATION

It is often said that education is the local government service about which the local elector cares most deeply; and that the flame of civic patriotism burns more brightly round the schools than round any other kind of municipal institution. It is, therefore, of particular interest to observe the situation in London in regard to education.

Within the administrative county the London County Council is responsible for all forms of public education: elementary, higher and technical. In Outer London there are 32 local education authorities, of which 23 are responsible for elementary education only, while 8 possess powers in respect of higher education. All the 33 local education authorities in Greater London may and do act independently. There are 33 education rates levied in the metropolis. The financial burden varies greatly as between one part of London and another. The average education rate within the administrative county is 2s. 8d. ( 1936-7).1 In the outlying areas the figure depends chiefly on the rateable value per head of the district. In West Ham the education rate is 5s. 8d., in Tottenham 3s. 10d., in Walthamstow 4s. 2d., in Ealing 2s. 6d., in Richmond 1s. 9d.2

A certain number of difficulties occur in the provision of elementary education. They are of less importance than those arising in connection with higher and technical education, but they are by no means negligible. Owing to the spread of London and the migration of residents to the outlying areas, the school population in the inner districts is diminishing rapidly. For example, the total roll in elementary schools within the administrative county fell from 650,000 in 1926-7 to 450,000 in 1937-8. The average attendance in the coming year ( 1939-40) is expected to fall by nearly 30,000. In consequence, hundreds of teachers are becoming redundant every year, no new ones are being engaged, and the age of

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1
London Statistics, vol. 40, p. 421.

-279-

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