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Explain the emergence of compulsory mass education in England during the second half of the 19th Century.

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Introduction

Matt Eagles Explain the emergence of compulsory mass education in England during the second half of the 19th Century. At the height of its days of Empire, Britain was the core of manufacturing and productivity and classed as the worlds largest and most powerful force. A Royal Commission stated in 1882 "The Englishman has yet to learn that an extended and systematic education is now a necessary preliminary to the fullest development of industry." During the last 150 years Britain has slipped from its station as "the worlds workshop" a place where 54% of the worlds exports were produced in 1860 to less than 4% in 1994. Other European nations had already established concrete education systems, even the "troublesome" France. These nations were also enjoying a period of relative economic prosperity. The ranging blame for this cast a spotlight onto the education of Britain and its links with production. During the period 1780 to 1870 British education was presided over by the "voluntary" system, where being the schools in operation were maintained by affluent individuals, charities or more commonly the church. This laissez faire treatment of education was commonplace for the teaching of the working classes of England. Grants and donations were paid to "honourable" men who were willing to build schools and maintain them. ...read more.

Middle

Initially the working classes were not interested in taking education. Child labour increased post 1850 and was at the heart of Victorian families survival. Most families were not willing to take their children out of work losing income and then have to pay to send them to school. Samuel Whitbread in 1807 suggested the links between poverty and crime with education, despite being a very liberal view these sentiments are still echoed in modern Britain and enforced in 1901 by the Criminal Registrars comment that "Since the 1840's we have witnessed a great change in manners: the substitution of words without blows for blows with or without words; an approximation in the manners of different classes; a decline in lawlessness" Crime and pauperism however increased post 1850 as did wide spread social unrest and mob rule as previously mentioned the thought of workers rioting when they could be bolstering the flailing British economy send shocks amongst the policy makers and bookkeepers of the country. Amongst the riots and rebellion three were positive movements that in turn contributed to the spread of education for the working class. The increased collectivist idea amongst the working class symbolised with the Factory Acts of 1833 and 1844 had domino effects on the restrictions surrounding child labour this allowance or freeing up of children's time contributed to wide spread education all be it by default. ...read more.

Conclusion

They could also if deemed fit expel a child form their local school whilst still under law force them to attend one at a further distance from their home. The abolition of the school fees came in 1918 Fisher Act, although increased government intervention with fee grants in 1891 made compulsory education virtually free therefore leaving working classes with no excuses but to attend. The act was further built upon in1894 when the leaving age was increased to 11 then 12 in 1899 then 14 in 1900 before the Education Act of 1902. Education as with now reflects the social standing of the individual; furthermore it is geared at specific classes. The elite don't share the same opportunities as the rest of the population. In Marxist terms we are governed and have our opportunities determined by those who control our social environment. It may be argued that widespread education didn't emerge for so long in Britain as the working class actually didn't want to be educated, that it served little or no purpose to their social standing as it would have no relevance on how much food they could provide for their family. Similarly that the upper classes had no interest in educating their lesser beings only to have them become insightful and open to seditious and revolutionary material and beliefs; a sense that social control could be achieved by allowing education but also by withholding it. ...read more.

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