This study attempts to construct a picture of the emergence and growth of the ragged schools in England during the nineteenth century. It assesses the influence on these schools of the work of John Pounds and Sheriff Watson but finds their origin in the Sunday School Movement. The history of the Ragged School Unions in London, Manchester and Liverpool is traced. Differences between metropolitan and provincial schools with regard to the philosophy of voluntaryism are noted. The problems of compiling statistics relating to ragged schools are discussed and a preliminary list of English ragged institutions is offered.\ud Material from widely varied sources and representing different stages in the development of the schools has been used to show the patterns of ragged school education, organisation, finance and management. Particular attention has been given to the social status of the children and the parents served by these institutions.\ud The case study of a single school with good records offers insight into the way schools responded to religious pressures, political decisions and the social and economic conditions at the local level.\ud The study offers an estimate of the significance of the Ragged School Movement to nineteenth century educational history. It analyses the effects on the Movement of the work of Lord Shaftesbury and shows how the schools responded to the political decisions affecting education made by Parliament
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