National Education League

National Education League

National Education League

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The National Education League was a political movement in England and Wales which promoted elementary education for all children, free from religious control.

The National Education League, founded 1869, developed from the Birmingham Education League, co-founded in 1867 by George Dixon, a Birmingham Member of Parliament (MP) and past mayor, Joseph Chamberlain, a nonconformist and future mayor of Birmingham, and Jesse Collings, to include branches from all over England and Wales. Dixon was chairman of the League's council. Chamberlain became chairman of the executive committee. Collings was the honorary secretary. Other leading founding members (all in Birmingham) were R. W. Dale, A. Follett Osler, J. H. Chamberlain, and George Dawson. Twenty founding members subscribed £14,000. The first general meeting was in October 1869, by which time William Dronfield of Sheffield was acting as Secretary. It resolved that a bill should be prepared to present to Parliament at the next session.

The League was opposed by the National Educational Union of Manchester, consisting of Conservatives and Anglicans.

Dixon and Chamberlain were campaigners for the provision of non-sectarian education free of influence by the churches. The Anglicans and Catholic Churches were in control of most of the existing voluntary schools, and controlled the religious education of those who attended. The Liberals and Dissenters wanted compulsory education without religious doctrine. In the end the Elementary......
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