Education in The Potteries during the 1920s
During the early 1920s, the type of school a child attended depended on its parents’ social status.
Middle-class children, whose parents could afford to pay school fees, were sent to secondary schools like Newcastle High School, the Orme Girls’ School and Hanley High School where they received an academic education.
Except for a few scholarship boys and girls attending secondary schools, working-class children went to elementary schools and left to start work at 14.
When the First World War ended in 1918, the Labour Party demanded educational reform and called on the government to give all children a secondary education.
In 1926, the Hadow Report recommended replacing elementary schools with primary schools and selected entry secondary schools – grammar and secondary modern. The report was accepted by the government and local education authorities in North Staffordshire made plans to reorganise their schools.
Stoke-on-Trent’s three secondary schools, Hanley High School, Longton High School and Tunstall High School for Girls became grammar schools. Parents whose children attended these schools still had to pay school fees although a few free places were given to working-class children who had passed the eleven plus.
Reorganisation started in Tunstall during 1929. Tunstall High School for Girls left the Jubilee Building and moved into purpose-built premises at Brownhills. Existing school buildings in Forster Street, High Street and Summerbank Road were modernised or enlarged. Three secondary modern schools were created and Forster Street, where new classrooms and a hall were constructed, became a primary school.
By 1932 all the local authority’s schools in The Potteries had been reorganised. Influenced by the public schools, the grammar schools and the secondary modern schools organised their pupils into houses. House points were awarded for pupils’ academic and sporting achievements. School societies were encouraged and senior pupils who were made prefects helped to maintain discipline.
Although class teaching, where a teacher had a class for a year and taught every subject, was retained in primary schools, it was replaced in secondary modern schools by subject teaching. New teachers had to specialise in one or two subjects, and those who had taught in the elementary schools were given in-service training to help them adapt to the change.
Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2013
Photograph Copyright The Phoenix Trust 2012