Source G is divided up into two parts. The first part is a section taken from the Primrose Hill Boys School logbook, in Leeds on October 28th, 1876. It suggests that parental attitudes were biased, as the woman in this source complains about the school beating her son, and says that only she has the right to beat her son black and blue. Where as, a woman brought her son into school so that the school would cane him for her. I can tell from this section of source G alone that parents had varied opinions in the late nineteenth century.
The second section of this source consists of two parts taken from Westgate Board School logbook in Otley. One was written on the 9th of January in 1883 and one was written the day after on the 10th January in 1883. These extracts do not emphasis any solid references to different parental attitudes; therefore all I can assume is that the family and the environment in which they were raised were not disciplined in the least. Source H is a Truants School and Farm Report by Jonathan Taylor written in 1884, who was a member of the Sheffield School Board.
It is suggested that the parents would encourage their children to truant; therefore this has caused these children to be committed to a special truants school. I can see from this source that some of the parents did not value education at that time and did not discipline their children and encourage them to attend school everyday. As an overall result of this, I can see that there were many different parental attitudes to school discipline, as shown by sources H and G.
Source H shows that parents would encourage their children to truant; therefore it was not the children’s own doing. The overall outcome was that some parents did not value school discipline in the late nineteenth century, because source G suggests that some parents appreciated school beatings, but others did not allow the school to discipline their child. The fact that corporal punishment had to be used in the first place implies, that there was a lack of discipline on the parent’s behalf.
I agree with the statement “The 1870 Education Act had limited impact on the education of the working classes in Yorkshire”, because there were many problems before the Act was passed, which were not addressed and even after the Mundella’s Act of 1880 and the Free schooling Act of 1891 some of these problems still existed. The major problems that existed before the 1870’s Act were that the standard of education was inadequate, which was caused by the poor quality of teaching due to the Revised Code of 1862 (Payment by results), whereby due to this act children had difficulties learning.
Teacher training colleges were set up by James-Kay-Shuttleworth in Battersea from the 1840’s onwards, but most teachers did not train at these colleges, due to lack of money or qualifications. Physical punishment was used as a means of discipline. Children would be punished using the cane when they lacked knowledge in order for them to be encouraged to work harder, but it was also used to punish children who misbehaved. Attendance was a major dilemma, as it was not compulsory.
There were increasing levels of truancy; therefore fees were charged in order to overcome this. Most children were half-timers; therefore they would be too tired to attend school. This problem was linked to other problems, such as, the fact that there was a shortage of schools in some areas, especially rural areas; therefore these schools were penalized because of low attendance rates. Low attendance was also due to the health and diet of the children, which was poor. Due to these problems, some form of state action was required.
The 1870’s Education Act brought about many changes. These were that school boards were set up to build and maintain schools, which were funded by government rates and grants, it provided elementary education for 5 -10 year olds, it charged fees for attendance, and parents were able to withdraw their children from scripture lessons (Bible Teaching). The provision of this Act brought about many changes to education, but only solved one of the problems that existed prior to this Act.
It solved the shortage of schools whereby board schools were set up which led to more schools being built as shown in source F, which is a photograph of Rawdon Littlemoor School, which was built shortly after the Act. A larger number of children were able to gain education, due to Board Schools like this being built. Attendance was one of the major problems that existed after 1870, because even thought the Act allowed fees to be charged for lack of attendance many children still didn’t attend school.
The reasons for this are illustrated in Sources A and C, where it is indicated that children were extremely prone to diseases, such as, Measles, Scarlet Fever, Dipheria, Whooping Cough and Smallpox. An average working class child’s diet would be appalling as, Elizabeth Makinson states in Source A in 1900, ‘they were given thick slices of lard or dripping for dinner’ which shows that even after 1870 there was no improvement on the children’s health as there was no school clinics or medical examinations.
Children still worked in the factories, which affected their health at school, as it says in source A, ‘some children were too tired and fell asleep at their desks’. Source B shows working class children, they lived in extreme poverty, and this can be seen by their rags and their bare feet. They are more than likely half-timers, which might be the reason for the small total of children in this class. This source will not be of any great assistance, in answering this question, as it doesn’t state where the photograph was taken, so I do not know if it was taken in Yorkshire.
However, it is not completely unreliable as it may give some idea of what the attendance of this Board School was like and reasons for the outcome in poorer areas in general. Another reason for low attendance was due to parents appalling influence on the children whereby in Source C it is said ‘the older children, especially the girls, were kept away to look after the babies or help with the housework or baking’ and the same in Source D where it states ‘boys are less useful to their mothers than girls and less frequently kept at home.
‘ Due to these reasons Truants Schools were set up by school boards to try and improve this problem as shown in Source H, which was a Truant’s school set up by a Sheffield School Board. It states that the children ‘Who are committed by the magistrates to the Truants school, have been much more sinned against than sinning’, which seems to imply that it is more of the parents doing, than the children who are assigned to this school.
Discipline was another problem that needed to be addressed even after the 1870’s Act, because there was no standardisation across the whole of Yorkshire. There was an expression which many people believed was true, ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’, which suggests that the failure to discipline the child when it is needed, spoils the child for his/her future life. Discipline was slightly effective as Source H indicates, but also implies that there were drawbacks.
Parents had varied attitudes concerning the use of the cane on their child, whereby, in some cases the parents would complain if their children were struck at school, as they thought that it was not the teacher’s right to do it. However, other parents would actually bring their child into school so that the teacher could punish them. This insinuates that in some ways caning was effective, as it did teach some children good behaviour, but there were some children who would not learn from their mistakes, which made this less effective.
‘You can knock one devil out and ten devils in’. Source G describes, ‘Two boys Shaw and Johnson were punished for insubordination and insolent conduct’ and ‘they rebelled and struck me with slates for which they received another caning’ This reference shows that children would receive another caning if they retaliated; therefore despite the fact that the children probably would have learnt from their faults, discipline continued to be a major problem, even after the 1870’s Education Act.
Teaching methods were still mediocre in some schools in Yorkshire after the 1870’s Act. This was because, even though Teacher Training Colleges were set up from the 1940’s onwards teachers like Elizabeth Makinson could not afford or did not have reasonable qualifications to do the training as she reveals in Source A, where she says, ‘I listened to the advice of the headmistress and watched the other teachers. Once a month I prepared notes for a criticism lesson to be given before the head…
‘ This extract implies that teacher training was good to some extent as it was properly controlled and regulated by the headmistress, but it had a weakness, whereby Elizabeth would gain unsatisfactory training to carry out the job properly as she would sit and learn techniques from the other teachers. If every teacher in Drummond Road Board School qualified in this manner it clearly suggests that the standard of education would have been inadequate.
The lessons in schools did not vary much after the Act as the three R’s were still in function, but some Board Schools put forward other subjects, such as, Transcription and Dictation, which is clearly shown in the timetable in Source E. The Revised Code of 1862 (Payment by Results) continued to be in use after the Act in some Board Schools, as Source C says that the Leeds Board School still required most children under the age of seven to take examinations in the Three R’s in 1892, twelve years after the 1870’s Act was passed.
In conclusion my overall view is that the 1870’s Education Act did have limited impact on the working classes in Yorkshire, because prior to the 1870 there were many weaknesses in Education, which were the students poor health and diet, which in turn led to an increased lack of attendance, the quality of teaching and learning was at a fairly low standard in some deprived areas, there was a major shortage of schools, especially in rural areas, discipline was fairly ineffective in some cases and some parents disapproved.
The 1870’s Act only addressed one of these problems, which was the shortage of schools; therefore the other negative aspects still existed. It was not until the Mundella’s Act was passed in 1880 that attendance became less of a problem as it became compulsory (children had to attend school by law).
Also in 1891 the Free Schooling Act was passed which allowed parents to demand free education, which will have helped, as the parents would not have been more reluctant to send their children to school. Even though the 1870’s Education Act, the Mundella’s Act and the Free Schooling Act solved most of the major issues Education within the space of twenty years, there is room for improvement in the Educational System even to the present day.