The Impact of World War Two on the ‘Handicapped’ Schoolchildren of England
thesisposted on 07.12.2011, 11:38 by Susan Wheatcroft
The experiences of children during World War Two have attracted considerable attention, both scholarly and popular. Not all children however, have received equal attention. ‘Handicapped’ children are conspicuous by their absence from all types of literature, both on evacuation and on children’s experiences of World War Two. This thesis restores these children to the story of wartime England and assesses their experiences. It examines the plans that were made for their evacuation and how they were carried out, and compares their lives, both individually and institutionally (i.e. in the various types of ‘special’ schools) with those who, for various reasons, were not evacuated. It also compares their experiences, to a lesser degree, with those of their ‘non-handicapped’ counterparts. The thesis argues that for many ‘handicapped’ children it was a positive experience but one which depended on specific aspects, such as the attitudes of the authorities and of the general public, and perhaps more importantly, the attitudes and quality of the teaching and nursing staff, who were responsible for the children on a daily basis. Finally, the thesis assesses the impact of the war, and the children’s wartime experiences, on post-war social policy. Contemporary, rather than present-day, language (i.e. ‘handicapped’ instead of ‘disabled’) is used throughout the thesis. This is purely in order to avoid confusion and in no way reflects the personal views of the author.