The churches and Aberdeen School Board 1872-1900
The involvement of the Churches in public education was radically altered by the Education (Scotland) Act 1872. This Act placed education firmly in the hands of elected school boards rather than churches and led to the handing over of many church schools. Only those of the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Church continued for a time outside the state system. This thesis argues that in Aberdeen the Churches were successful in introducing and in keeping the Bible and a general religious education along Presbyterian lines in the state schools, even although this very success led to a diminution in direct church influence over state education and a shift to more secular control. To secure the position of religious education, the Churches in Aberdeen, in particular the Church of Scotland, acted as quasi-political parties and ran candidates in the school board elections. This led to head-on clashes with the "secularists" who wanted no religion in the schools at all and with the newly-emerging forces of "labour", in particular the Aberdeen United Trades Council, which wanted workingmen on the Board, free education, and freedom from clerical control. By the 1890s the position of religious education had been secured beyond challenge and the involvement of "Church" candidates ceased. Nevertheless, individual ministers and members continued to play a high-profile role in educational policy through ongoing membership of the Board.