Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in History






Socialism -- Great Britain, Educational law and legislation -- Great Britain -- History, Fabian Society (Great Britain), Education -- Great Britain -- History, Socialism -- Great Britain



Physical Description

1 online resource (48 leaves)


The purpose of this paper was to prove that the Fabians were a political pressure group and that Fabian methods were responsible for the enactment of the 1902 Education Act that nationalized education in England. Also that Sidney Webb played far greater and more significant part in the formulation of the actual Bill than did Robert Morant, who is usually credited as the person responsible for the Bill. It seemed to me that it was necessary to trace the evolving educational system in England; therefore, I made the arbitrary decision of beginning with the “Sunday school” which I view as the beginning of "education for all.” It was necessary to select the elements of the social and political affairs that I felt pertained to the subject as I dealt with it. There are situations that have been omitted, and there were times when it was difficult not to digress into areas of lesser significance. Therefore, the paper is divided into two sections: the first section traces the historical pattern of the emergence of education for the common people; the second section is devoted to the active involvement of the Fabians and covers a much shorter span historically. The first part of the paper traces the dual system of education that consisted of the “board” schools, which date from 1870, and the “voluntary” schools. Although the “voluntary” schools are as old as the Christian Church in England, the development of the “voluntary " system for the purpose of this paper, begins at the time of the Wesleyan rift with the Church of England. It was from that time that the voluntary schools developed into “denominational” schools and as a consequence, reflect the power struggle that developed between the landed gentry and the entrepreneurs as a result of industrialization. Throughout the nineteenth century, the ever extending franchise brought with it an increasing demand for change in the educational system in England. The second part of this paper deals with the manner in which the Fabians, as a pressure group, influenced the enactment of the 1902 Education Act. It is my thesis that the basic structure of the act was outlined originally by Sidney Webb and that Fabian Tract No. 106 was the primary model used by the Conservative government in formulating the Bill. Inasmuch as the educational system of England is still in the process of fulfilling the suggestions contained in the Act of 1902, perhaps from an historian's standpoint, it is too early to be definitive concerning the role of the Fabians. Nevertheless, enough material about the Fabians is available to prove their influence in securing the enactment of the Bill. Much more work needs to be done on the Fabians. They were a remarkable group of men and women whose impact in my judgment, is far greater than we are able, at present, to measure. Party politics are of recent origin and the Fabians belong to what some political scientists have termed the “third house” in the legislative process. The Fabians are a pressure group and the activity they carried on in regard to the Education Act, in my view, was a form of lobbying. It is from this viewpoint that I have dealt with the Fabians in this paper.


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Portland State University. Dept. of History

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