Worth saving

Disabled children during the Second World War

Author: Sue Wheatcroft

This book aims to bring attention to the group of disabled children and highlights their experiences during the Second World War, thereby correcting the current imbalance in the historical record. In doing this, the book discusses the policies and procedures that shaped the children's wartime experiences, and the personnel and institutions that were responsible for their welfare. It examines how the children coped on a day-to-day basis. The book first examines the five official categories of disability as defined in the 1921 Education Act. It examines the arrangements made for the evacuation of disabled children, beginning with the 'Munich Crisis' of September 1938 and including the 'main' evacuation one year later. The book then examines the experiences of those disabled children who spent their war years in a residential special school. Case studies of two residential special schools allow a comparison to be made between those established and maintained by the evacuation authorities and those run privately. The attitudes of government officials towards disabled people, including children, were ambiguous throughout the war years. The book discusses special day schools, hospital schools and training colleges, and it appears that it was with regard to the latter that negative perceptions were most evident. The postwar expansion of special schools and the position of teachers within special education are also discussed, as is the changing role of the voluntary sector in caring for disabled children.

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