Tripartite System of education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

The Tripartite System was the arrangement of state-funded secondary education between 1945 and the 1970s in England and Wales, and from 1947 to 2009 in Northern Ireland. It was an administrative implementation of the Education Act 1944[1] and the Education Act (Northern Ireland) 1947.

State-funded secondary education was to be arranged into a structure containing three types of school, namely: grammar school, secondary technical school (sometimes described as "technical grammar", or "technical high" schools) and secondary modern school. Not all education authorities implemented the tripartite system; many maintained only two types of secondary school, the grammar and the secondary modern.

Pupils were allocated to their respective types of school according to their performance in the 11-plus or the 13-plus examination. It was the prevalent system under the Conservative governments of the 1951 to 1964 period, but was actively discouraged by the Labour government after 1965. It was formally abolished in England and Wales in 1976,[citation needed] giving way to the comprehensive system. However, elements of similar systems persist in several English counties such as Kent and Lincolnshire, which maintain the grammar school system alongside comprehensive schools. The system's merits and demerits, in particular the need and selection for grammar schools, were contentious issues at the time and remain so.


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