DOMUS Seminar Series 2012-13
Speaker: Julie Foster, University of Birmingham
A good education is seen as a major contributing factor for social mobility for children from poor families in the 21st century. However, can the same be said to be true for children in the early 19th century?
This seminar will explore the lives of the children who attended the Blue Coat charity school in Birmingham from 1780 – 1850. Founded in 1724, its purpose was to ‘….clothe, maintain, and educate them in reading, writing and arithmetic…’ as well as ‘give them a ‘right direction and bias, to implant in their minds a deep and well-grounded sense of the truth and doctrines of the Christian religion’. The children were required to be a member of the Church of England and legitimate (a marriage certificate was later required as proof). They were also required to be seen as ‘worthy’ of receiving charity. Demand for places was great, and there were always more candidates than places. Once the children had finished their education they were apprenticed out or later provided with some form of employment. In a period when education for the poor was limited, the children who attended this board school for seven or eight years could be seen as the privileged few.
Findings to date will examine the type of children who attended this school, the subjects they studied and the type of education they received and questions whether this education indeed made a difference to their lives.