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Monday, 23 February 2015

School for the Poor


How many shillings in a pound? Slates ready? Dictation will begin.  Unrecognisable to kids and teachers in the twenty-first century, however the Ragged Schools were life changing for poor children during the nineteenth century.

Education prior to this time was only for the children of the wealthy.  Poor children worked.  Realising the value of education, well intentioned law makers made education compulsory.  What they didn't do was make it free.  Hence for the very poor this simply meant they would now break the law.  Early philanthropists promoted and funded the idea of free education for these children. The Ragged Schools as they became known had grown to 200 by 1844.

Dr Barnado was one of the early philanthropists to offer free schooling to these children who not only couldn't afford the school fees but also couldn't afford to dress to the standard required by the schools.  His first school opened in 1867, in an old abandoned warehouse in one of the poorest parts of London, Tower Hamlets.   He recruited children promising the not only free education but a hot meal and warm premises.  This later extended to homes for children and continues to this day.

The Ragged School Museum offers a glimpse into schooling of the period.  You can even partake in a mock Victorian lesson.

13 comments:

Stefan Jansson said...

Back in the good old days! We have a similar museum near me, run by an old friend to my grandfather.

Bill Nicholls said...

You may laugh & scoff but I remember sitting in a seck like that when I went to school in the 1950's

Sharon Anck said...

I'm a huge proponent of free education all the way through four years of college. Needless to say, I'm in the minority here in the US. I've had some interesting arguments on the subject over the years.

William Kendall said...

A more enlightened view, frankly. There are those today who'd like to backstep.

Rick Forrestal said...

Great post.
Love those old desks.

Birdman said...

I spent about 8 years in rooms that look like this. Hey, is that my desk?

Lasse Jansson said...

Nice picture of the desks and very interesting facts about the start of the free education!

VP said...

Discovering London id a never-ending job, and you just made it a bit more interesting, if that is possible...

Jack said...

It is interesting to read about the history of education in England. When I started school, we used desks much like the ones in the photo!

PerthDailyPhoto said...

I see there's an open day on the 1st of March, will you go? Love the old desks, quite collectible these days :)

Denton Harryman said...

bravo for those who provided free education which not only helps the children it also helps business to have a better educated workforce.

EG CameraGirl said...

Dr Barnado was an amazing person! Thank goodness there have been a few of them around or where would we be now?

Mandy Southgate said...

Oh, I didn't know about this fascinating history of the Ragged Schools. Now I want to visit more than ever!

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