Ragged Schools in Sydney

Eureka Henrich


During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Ragged Schools were a feature of many of Sydney’s overcrowded inner city suburbs. At their height over 500 children were taught across five Schools each day. This article charts the formation of the Ragged Schools in 1860, preceded by an overview of their precursors in Great Britain and a survey of the social and demographic changes in Sydney in the 1850s. It explores the relationships between teachers, scholars and their parents and probes at the slum stereotypes that affected the way the Ragged Schools were written about by middle-class philanthropists. Finally, the reasons for the disintegration of Sydney’s Ragged Schools in the 1920s are surmised and the article concludes with a reflection on how this part of Sydney’s history has been both remembered and forgotten.


Education; Poverty; Charity; Welfare; Class; Respectability

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