Jacqueline Hill's obituaries mention that she worked at Cadbury's Bournville factory after she was made to leave school at the age of 14, and that it was through her employer that she eventually gained a scholarship to RADA.
I thought I'd follow this up by contacting the company, to see if they held anything relevant in their archive that they wouldn't mind passing on. Cadbury is part of Kraft Foods now. As it's a private company, unlike the archives I've consulted so far, I wasn't sure they'd be able to supply me with anything; but in fact they were extremely helpful. They sent on the employee record card and the small item from the Bournville Works Magazine that I'm posting here.
From the Cadbury's Bournville Works Magazine, September 1949 (picture not archived; title was "Item on Jacqueline Hill in the Cadbury's Bournville Works Magazine, September 1949")
Employee card from Cadbury’s Bournville works (picture not archived; title was "Jacqueline Hill's employee card from Cadbury's Bournville works")
It wasn't until the Education Act of 1944 came into force that free secondary education became available to all pupils in England and Wales. It looks as if Jacqueline just missed out on benefiting from it. Wikipedia says: "One of the ground-breaking results of the Act was to educate and mobilise women [...] It opened secondary school to girls, and the working class, and as a result, a far higher percentage attended higher education after secondary school."
Gillian Plummer's book Failing Working-class Girls says of the years preceding the Act (in which apparently only 20 percent of children typically stayed on to secondary school):
"It was not just selection that excluded working-class children but also poverty. My mother, for instance, got a scholarship to secondary school in the late 1920s [...] She tells me over and over again sixty years after the event, 'We couldn't afford the uniform'. It is her little burning coal of hurt which smoulders and at times flares up ferociously [...] What made it worse was that her brother was able to go to a technical school [...] The attitude of many parents was that 'girls didn't need educating even if a scholarship had been won'. This practice coincided with official views of the role of working-class girls and women echoed in education reports, reinforcing a domestic ideology."
Jacqueline seems to have worked in the Wages Office at Bournville for roughly five years before winning her RADA scholarship. I asked the Cadbury archivist about further reading, just out of interest. I knew a little of the reputation that Cadbury has always had for philanthropy and support of its workers, but I'd struggled to find anything online that might give a clearer picture of the company’s specific activities along these lines, or of what it was like to work for them during the 1940s. She was kind enough to send me this booklet in PDF format, explaining that although it dates from the 1930s, things would have been quite similar after World War II apart from a shift in the gender balance of the workforce and a reduction in the amount of chocolate made.
"Bournville - The Factory in a Garden (1938) (link to booklet missing; couldn't find a mirror
She also recommended these two books (one is fiction, but based on records of what life was like at Cadbury during the Blitz). I haven't looked at either of them at the time of posting, but in case they’re of interest to anyone:
The Cadbury Story, by Carl Chinn
Chocolate Girls, by Annie Murray
This is the whole article, but, sadly, with missing pictures and a booklet.
Wikipedia article on the Education Act (1944)
Amazon link for Failing Working Class Girls, by Gillian Plummer