The First Female Minister of Education, 1945–1947
In 1945, the Labour Government changed the face of Britain. Ellen Wilkinson had helped shape the programme, co-writing the Labour Party manifesto. Clement Attlee, the Prime Minister, appointed her Minister of Education, the first woman to be appointed to such a post and the only woman in the Cabinet. This chapter examines how she put the 1944 Butler Act into practice, how she brought in free school milk, raised the school-leaving age and helped those who aimed to go to university. She was only in the post for a short time because she died in 1947; Attlee did not appoint another woman to his Cabinet. The chapter concludes with an assessment of her role in politics.