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The Dissenters Volume IIIThe Crisis and Conscience of Nonconformity$
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Michael R. Watts

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198229698

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198229698.001.0001

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‘Once bit, twice shy’

‘Once bit, twice shy’

The Forster Education Act

(p.234) 2 ‘Once bit, twice shy’
The Dissenters Volume III

Michael R. Watts

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the issues surrounding a bill introduced by MP William Edward Forster into the House of Commons on 17 February 1870. This bill provided for England's first national system of elementary education. The bill gave voluntary organizations twelve months in which to increase the accommodation provided by their schools. Only at the end of this period, in places where school accommodation was still deficient, were school boards to be set up, chosen by town councils in the boroughs and by parish vestries elsewhere. Such boards would have the power to levy rates, build schools, employ teachers, and compel the attendance of children. On the issue of religious teaching in these board schools, Forster was ready to make a concession to the advocates of ‘unsectarian’ religious teaching.

Keywords:   Nonconformist schools, education policy, William Edward Forster, educational system, elementary education, school boards

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