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The project and the books to come . . .

'so excellent a Work' is the first of a projected four books which will chart the development of English popular education from 1700 to the present day.  The second book, Efficient or Cheap?, will be published in the summer or autumn of 2024.


Efficient or Cheap? will cover the events of the Victorian period.  It begins in the 1830's when the Church of England's thirty-year competition with the non-conformists to establish village schools was superseded by a struggle with the government over the control of popular education.  It will examine why successive governments in the 1860's reluctantly increased public spending on education.  It will explain why, between 1870 and 1880, elementary schooling became compulsory for every child, and how this was managed, enforced, and financed.  


This national history is illustrated by the continuing story of the Royal Liberty, where in 1835 the old Charity School was subsumed into a new National School, which was soon joined by other church schools.  Then, in 1872, a Machiavellian non-conformist minister foisted the first secular board school on the reluctant local rate-payers.  We meet those local worthies, notably the Anglican clergymen and the members of the School Board, who continued the struggle to bring education to the children of the Royal Liberty. 


Efficient or Cheap?  ends with the passing of the 1902 Education Act.  This transferred control of the country's elementary schools, including all the old 'voluntary' church schools and the new board schools, to the newly created LEA's, and so brought to a close the pre-history of our modern education system.  It was the beginning of the 20th century, and state education was about to be born.  This will be the subject of the third book, 'Say not the struggle naught availeth'. 

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