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An examination of the role of church and state in the development of elementary education in North Staffordshire between 1870 and 1903

Dewey, James Arthur

An examination of the role of church and state in the development of elementary education in North Staffordshire between 1870 and 1903 Thumbnail


James Arthur Dewey


The period from 1870 to 1903 is now becoming widely regarded as the ‘heroic’ era in the development of English education. Against a background of harsh social conditions, parental indifference (and in some cases, hostility) and an absence of an educational tradition, the philanthropists, administrators, teachers and other interested parties struggled to establish an educational system which has formed (for some, perhaps, too solidly) the basis for the developments of the present century. An examination in detail of the role of Church and State in North Staffordshire in this development has been undertaken to establish the extent to which the broad generalisations that have been made about the national situation are relevant in the regional context.
Chapter I is devoted to an outline of the socio-economic conditions prevailing in North Staffordshire in the second half of the nineteenth century. Important contrasts between urban and rural environments have been noted. The politico-religious background of the area is described in Chapters 11 and Ill. In Chapter IV is established the extent of the voluntary effort in the provision of elementary education in North Staffordshire before 1870 and the contribution of various sections of society is considered in some detail.
The main part of the work is concerned, with the co-operation and conflict that existed between Church and state in the important formative years in North Staffordshire. Consideration is paid especially to school provision and administration. Curricular questions are discussed in Chapter VIII and matters of staffing, salaries and the preparation of student teachers are dealt with in Chapter IX. The important question of school attendance, a field in which significant successes were achieved, has merited separate attention in Chapter X.
The final years are explored in the concluding chapter. Attitudes towards the 1902 Education Act are examined, as are views on the working of the 1870 Act. The decline of the Voluntary system is seen in the light of the growing importance and widening enterprise of the school boards, the successes of which are illustrated in the important works achieved in the Potteries. Of the voluntary bodies, only the Roman Catholics maintained their position in terms of school provision. A final reference is made to some of the men and women by whose efforts the great foundations were laid.


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