New demands

During the late 1940s and the 1950s, the most significant issue facing the Education Service was the provision of appropriate facilities for an increasing population. For example, in 1952, Cockenzie and Port Seton Town Council owned and managed 601 houses, compared with 296 in 1939. This growth was due partly to replacement of substandard housing, and to a larger extent the post-war ‘baby boom’, but also later to the programme of slum clearance in Scotland’s major cities. By 1957, the Education Committee was debating proposed ‘overspill’ arrangements between Haddington and Dunbar Town Councils and Glasgow Council in relation to school accommodation. Anticipation of educational requirements was further complicated from the early 1950s onward by the increasing likelihood of demographic shifts due to fluctuations in mining or other industrial activity. As many school buildings were in urgent need of maintenance work and lacked space for school assemblies or sports activities, in 1946 the Education Department was obliged to erect temporary facilities such as huts in both primary and secondary schools to accommodate increased pupil numbers.

But these limited facilities were not in keeping with the obligations that were laid out in the Education (Scotland) Act of 1945. Change had long been on the Scottish agenda, with the raising of the leaving age to 15 first being enacted in the Act of 1918, but not implemented until 1947. The 1936 Act had created a unified secondary sector (with different kinds of courses), and the 1945 Education (Scotland) Act consolidated this. Also included were requirements such as nursery provision for ages 3-5, and appropriate provision for the educational needs of (in the terminology of the time) ‘educationally backward and retarded children‘. It also laid down expected standards for in accommodation and playing fields; standards that the county recognised were ‘… well in advance of those at present’ (ELCC (1953) County Development Plan).