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ragged schools

ragged schools were elementary schools for street children pioneered at the beginning of the 19th cent. by John Pounds, a Portsmouth cobbler, ‘to chase away ignorance, to relieve distress, and to teach the Gospel’. The Ragged School Union, with the 7th earl of Shaftesbury as president, was formed in 1844 to further this object. Within a few years, most large towns had ragged schools. Other urgent needs were also supplied: food, clothing, and footwear. In 1851 the shoeblack brigades were formed as a means of giving employment to their pupils. Schemes of emigration to the colonies were also introduced. After 1870 the union concentrated on Sunday schools.

Peter Gordon

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