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Flintshire Historical Society publications


Vol. 27 1975-76

Early educational problems of the second world war in the Rhyl area

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The Second World War involved disruptions in domestic social life on a very
large scale, and in the long run led to a considerable transformation in British
social attitudes and provision. It is generally recognised that in education the short-
term effect was a disastrous one, although the problems the war posed did vary
greatly in number and degree from one part of the country to another. In general
it meant the postponement of reforms the raising of the school-leaving age for
instance and the destruction of one fifth of the country's schools in air raids.
With the interruption of normal schooling went interruption in school health and
feeding facilities and other social provision. Although people's ideals were not
crushed (indeed, the war often tended to have the opposite effect), it was to be
difficult to put many of them into practice for a number of years. G. A. N. Lowndes
has said of this situation: although in the realm of ideas the effect of the war
had been to advance by fifteen years the popular demand for a public system of
education genuinely capable of serving a classless democracy, in the realm of hard
facts it had retarded by at least twenty years the possibility of the substantial
realization of any such ideal."
Even before the outbreak of hostilities, a large proportion of children were
evacuated from urban areas to those considered to be safer from enemy air attacks.
Ninety-three areas were selected on account of their population density and vulnera-
bility to be evacuation areas. A further list was prepared of those areas which
would not be evacuated, but would not receive evacuees (the neutral areas). The
remaining 56,000 square miles of England and Wales, with the exception of a few
square miles near special targets and aerodromes, were classified as reception areas
and the Rhyl area fell in this category. In these places a thorough billeting
survey was launched on 5 January 1939, carried out through the agency of the
local housing authorities. 100,000 appointed representatives visited 4 million homes
occupied by 18 million people, and offers were received to care for 21 million
unaccompanied children. Despite what was, on the surface, a well-organised
beginning, there were some pretty chaotic results, and the Government Evacuation
Scheme was to undergo much ebbing and flowing as the war proceeded.
XG. A. N. Lowndes, The British Educational System (1955), p. 26.
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