A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

54. 55.

The Gap Between School-Leaving Age and Beginning Training

Secondary schoolgirls were asked a few questions about the gap between school-leaving age and the age at which girls were allowed to begin their training as nurses.

It should he emphasised that the questions were asked of a sample of secondary schoolgirls who had already reached the age of 16. The gap is therefore likely to be less serious for these girls than for elementary schoolgirls who leave school at 14, or other secondary schoolgirls who very often leave school before or at the age of 16.

Those who were thinking of taking up nursing and those who were doubtful as to whether or not they would take it up, were asked: “Has the fact that hospital training cannot be begun before you are 17½ to 18 years old presented any difficulty to you?” (Question 6a.)

The number asked this question (49) was small and percentage results cannot be given. However, it may be said that 16, or roughly a third of those asked said that the gap did present some difficulty to them.

Those who had said they were not going to take up nursing, although at one time they had wished to, were asked: “Has the fact that hospital training cannot be begun before you are 17½ to 18 years old influenced you against taking up nursing?” (Question 6b.)

Of the 76 girls asked this question, 11 said they had changed their minds on account of the gap.

Thus, of the 125 girls who had at some time wished to take up nursing, altogether 27, or 21% were finding the gap caused them difficulty, although less than half of these were actually being prevented from taking up nursing by it.

The 21%of those who had wanted to nurse represents 8% of the whole sample of schoolgirls.

All schoolgirls were asked: “Do you know that a useful one or two year pre-nursing course can be taken at some secondary schools now?” (Question 7).

Yes 47
No 52
Sample: 354

Investigators told those who had not heard about the course that there was such a course, and all schoolgirls were then asked: “What do you think of that arrangement?” Replies were as follows:-

Good, very good, good idea. 45
Provides good groundwork, helps later. 15
Give you an idea of the work and a chance to find out if you are suited to it. 14 84%
Fills up time between leaving school and nursing. 7
Knowledge is useful even for those who do not take up nursing. 3 8%
No practical work. More is needed. 5
Not a good idea. No advantage. 1
Girls should be paid when taking course. 2
No opinion. 7
Sample: 354.

Altogether, 84% think the course is a good idea. However, it should be noted that 45% did not say why they thought so and “good idea” is an easy answer to make to such a question and need not reflect a much considered opinion.

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