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No finer school than a settlement: the development of the educational settlement movement

Taylor and Francis
Publication Date
  • La History Of Education
  • Education
  • History


Mark Freeman Freeman, M. (2002) No finer school than a settlement: the development of the educational settlement movement. History of Education, 31 (3). pp. 245-262. ISSN 0046-760X Deposited on: 19 May 2010 Enlighten – Research publications by members of the University of Glasgow Mark Freeman ‘No finer school than a Settlement’: the development of the educational settlement movement The history of the settlement movement in Britain has attracted the interest of a varied group of historians.1 However, almost all have focused on the social settlements, giving a disproportionate share of their attention to Toynbee Hall in Whitechapel, the first such institution, founded in 1884 under the wardenship of Canon Samuel Barnett. In other words, they have followed the definition of a settlement used by the first historian of English settlements, Werner Picht, who declared in 1914 that ‘[a] Settlement is a colony of members of the upper classes, formed in a poor neighbourhood, with the double purpose of getting to know the local conditions of life from personal observation, and of helping where help is needed.’2 Leaving aside the implied restriction of settlement work to ‘members of the upper classes’, this definition suggests, firstly, that a settlement had to be residential, and, secondly, that its focus was social. Moreover, the majority of the early settlements were associated with universities or Oxbridge colleges (although Barnett himself was a Wadham man, Toynbee Hall’s closest links were with Balliol). However, there was a group of settlements, the first founded in 1909, which, although they often had formal or informal links to universities, did not grow out of them, and which were non- residential and had an educational rather than a social focus. Whereas the early settlements developed from educational institutions and fulfil

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