Government and elementary education in Britain in the mid-nineteenth century
This thesis attempts to describe the growth of the central government’s involvement in elementary education, and the corresponding growth of the staffing and expenditure of the Education Department in Whitehall, in terms that have explanatory force. It goes from 1833 to the early 1860s, covering the 1840s and 1850s in most detail. The first chapter establishes a theoretical framework within which education can take its place beside other examples of government intervention. It reasserts the relevance of A.V. Dicey's analysis of the movements of opinion and the corresponding legislative trends, and concludes that in the mid-nineteenth century a description as far as possible in terms of demand factors is the appropriate one. The next two chapters describe the structure and growth of the systems of building grants and pupil-teacher grants; and the consequences for the staffing and expenditure of the Education Department. These are traced in detail, allowing an assessment of the Department's efficiency and the adequacy of the staff to the work, and how these changed over the period. Chapter 4 examines the evidence for Treasury restrictiveness of the Education Department's activities, and finds little, contrary to the assumptions of many accounts of the period. Chapter 5 traces the development of the views of the Newcastle Commission, and of Gladstone's interventions, and relates them to the Revised Code. These are together interpreted as a reassertion, ultimately unsuccessful, of an individualist approach to government intervention against the increasingly collectivist tendency of the system as it had become.