The reorganisation of secondary education in Suffolk 1900 - 1939
The purpose of this thesis is to compare the implications of educational reorganisation in an
urban area, Ipswich and the rural area of East Suffolk. The thesis opens with a brief account of the
historical context of two LEAs. Next comes a survey of the historiography of early twentieth-century
education, tracing developments in the subject with particular reference to the Education Acts of 1902
and 1918 and the Hadow Report of 1926. The national and local sources are summarised and the
intention is stated to use the local evidence in contributing to current debates on how the legislation
and the inter-war period should be interpreted.
Beginning with the genesis of the 1902 Act from a national standpoint, the evidence of how it
was applied in Ipswich and East Suffolk is reviewed. The two LEAs emerge as very different in their
priorities and their approaches, indicating that the factor of urban/rural differences may be important in
this context. The same approach .is then applied to analysing the effects on town and country of the
First World War and in assessing its influence on the Fisher Act.
The post-war period is investigated next, to consider how far government spending restraint
curtailed reform. The Hadow Report is closely analysed and evaluated as a framework for interpreting
the very different reorganisation strategies pursued by Ipswich and East Suffolk during the inter-war
years when preparing for a higher school leaving age.
The research has shown that national developments in education were the result of a subtle
interplay of central directives and what was deemed to be possible or desirable at the local level. There
were marked differences between the urban and rural areas even in the same county and factors
including conservative attitudes of parents and politicians, widespread communities, with poor
transport and economic recession were all significant. Both traditional and revisionist interpretations of
the I 920s and I 930s can be supported from the contrasting evidence found by this local study.