The social world of the school

Education and community in interwar London

By Hester Barron

The social world of the school


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5074-5
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: August 2022
  • BIC Category: History, Social & cultural history, HISTORY / Social History, EDUCATION / History, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / 20th Century, History of education, Humanities / 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Education


This book shows why the study of schooling matters to the history of twentieth-century Britain, integrating the history of education within the wider concerns of modern social history. Drawing on a rich array of archival and autobiographical sources, it captures in vivid detail the individual moments that made up the minutiae of classroom life. It focuses on elementary education in interwar London, arguing that schools were grounded in their local communities as lynchpins of social life and drivers of change. Exploring crucial questions around identity and belonging, poverty and aspiration, class and culture, behaviour and citizenship, it provides vital context for twenty-first century debates about education and society, showing how the same concerns were framed a century ago.


'Hester Barron puts the school back where it belongs, as the heart of communities, in the period when the primary school became the most significant and most appreciated state institution in most people's lives, a harbinger of later prized welfare-state institutions. The result is a vivid and eloquent social history of interwar London viewed through its children, their parents and their teachers.'
Peter Mandler, Professor of Modern Cultural History, University of Cambridge


Map of Inner London


Part I School and community
1 The school as a community
2 The school in the community

Part II What were schools for?
3 Preparing for the future
4 Fighting poverty
5 Brightening lives
6 Making citizens
7 Teaching morals
8 A sense of place



Hester Barron is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Sussex

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