Industrial schools in England, 1857-1933 : 'moral hospitals' or 'oppressive institutions'?
Certified industrial schools provided industrial training and residential care for destitute and vagrant children, between 1857 and 1933 in England and between 1854 and 1933 in Scotland. The industrial schools' legislation was modified and extended and brought increasing involvement by the Government and, after 1870, by school boards. The introduction of compulsory education brought a new offence of truancy, which was dealt with by the setting up of special industrial schools called truant schools. The founders of industrial schools came from all the main Christian denominations as well as from amongst members of the Jewish faith. Most schools were primarily intended for children of the same religious persuasion as the founder or founders but there was some overlapping and some schools catered for those of different faiths. In addition to school teachers, the staff included trade teachers who provided training in skills which would help with the children's own personal care, such as shoemaking and tailoring, as well as trade skills like printing and woodwork. Other work such as wood chopping was undertaken to produce a financial return for the school. On admission the children were, almost invariably, in a poor state of health and needed a better diet, medical care and physical exercise. The schools' regimes were not intended to be punitive but to provide a basis for their future lives. Religious instruction played an important part in the children's training and education and the provision of after-care was a primary element of the better schools. This thesis investigates the work of industrial schools and the influence they had on the lives of the children who attended them. It also examines the question of whether the schools were the 'moral hospitals' or the 'oppressive institutions' referred to in its title.