Pressure groups and government policy on education, 1800-1839
This study examines the roles of the principal groups and individuals, who, during the years 1800-1839, promoted the education of the poor and pressurised governments with the notion that the state ought to ac ept responsibility for the formation of a nationa1 system. Their m tives were primarily religious, philanthropic or political with a degree of self-interest in the desire to preserve order in society. The religious interests are examined mainly through the work of the British and Foreign Sch ol Society, which served the Dissenter traditi ns, and the Nati nal S ciety which defended the prerogative of the Establi h d Church t superintend the education of the people. The tilitarians and Radicals were imp rtant for the practica1 expression f their philos phical and political ideas led them to make a considerable c ntributi n to the provision schools. They also had the inspiration and organising ability of Jam s Mill and Francis Place. The ideas of Robert Owen are considered because he was a pressure figure for a few years, but his work also sowed the seeds of Co-operation and w rking-cla s movements, which made an impact during the 1830's. As the populati n slowly improved in standard of learning, the development of Mechanics' Institutes, the Society for the Difflision of Useful Knowledge and the foundation of University College are viewed as part of a strategy for the general promotion of adult education1 The dominant personality of Henry Brougham is evident in much of this study. He instituted the Charity Commissions in 1819, was spokesman (iv) for education in Parliament for many years, anj was a link between the different groups because of his involvement in so many. During the 1830's the new science of statistics emerged and the Statistical Societies were important for their presentation of data on education1 The existence of a National Board of Education in Ireland after 1831 placed the province ahead of England and the influences from this experiment, mediated to Parliament by Thomas Wyse and others, all helped to pressurise the governments of the day, whose policy had been to encourage voluntary effort and to avoid the imposition of central administrative control.