Schools and Education
in Stoke-on-Trent

also see: Pubs and Inns | Churches and Chapels | S-o-T Districts


List of Schools and Education establishments

Bentilee / Bucknall / Berryhill
Heron Cross


"The promotion of useful knowledge among the working classes" 

aim of Hanley's Mechanics Institution, founded in 1826.


Education in the mid 1800's:
Not many generations ago, few children received a full-time education and, of those who did, most were unable to continue their studies beyond elementary level unless they were exceptionally bright or of wealthy backgrounds. In the first half of the nineteenth century it was not uncommon for local children over the age of five to work sixty hours a week in the potbanks and mines. A report on the Staffordshire Potteries by the 'Commission on the Employment of Children and Young Persons', published in 1843, revealed that regular employment commenced between the ages of 7 and 8, not infrequently 5 to 6 and, in certain instances, 3 to 4. No differentiation was made between girls and boys, who were usually employed by the workers themselves and not by the manufacturers. The great majority of work-places were badly drained, poorly ventilated and unclean. Children commonly worked for 12 hours per day and sometimes for 15, 16 and even 18. Parents urged on by poverty and improvidence, generally sought employment for their children as soon as they could earn the lowest amount of wages, paying little regard to the probable injury to their offspring's health by early labour, and still less to the certain injury to their minds by early removal from school, or even by the total neglect of their education. 

on working conditions for children in the potteries.


Development of schools:
Day schools appeared locally in the early nineteenth century, when education was neither free nor compulsory. By 1842, there were only 2831 day school places in the Potteries, and not all of those were filled. By contrast, attendance at Sunday Schools approached 18,000. The  majority of day schools were run by The National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church, founded in 1811 and closely linked to the Church of England. The British and Foreign Schools Society, largely supported by Nonconformists, had schools at Hanley, Cobridge, Tunstall and Burslem. 

Compulsory state education:
Times changed and, following the Forster Education Act of 1870, a compulsory state elementary education system was introduced; many new schools were built to house the sudden upsurge of pupils. Stoke-on-Trent Education Committee came into existence following the Six Towns' Federation. It always laid great emphasis on providing every pupil with the opportunity to excel and, to this end, was a pioneering body. To the fore in abolishing the Eleven-plus examination and a leader in the introduction of a comprehensive system of education, it also had the distinction of founding the country's first purpose-built Sixth Form College. 

Further education:
The history of technical, vocational and art education in the Six Towns is closely intertwined with the growing needs of the local pottery, mining and construction industries. Most of the old institute buildings survive, though only Burslem's School of Art and Longton's Sutherland Institute stay true to their origins. The creation of the North Staffordshire College of Technology came about when the need for a central school offering tuition in advanced courses was recognised towards the end of the nineteenth century, foreshadowing the Federation of the Six Towns in need and deed. The original College buildings are now at the heart of North Staffordshire Polytechnic's (now Staffordshire University) main campus.

Text from: "Six of the Best" - Richard Weir




questions/comments/contributions? email: Steve Birks