© 2017

Morality and Citizenship in English Schools

Secular Approaches, 1897–1944


Part of the Histories of the Sacred and Secular, 1700-2000 book series (HISASE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Susannah Wright
    Pages 1-16
  3. Susannah Wright
    Pages 17-50
  4. Susannah Wright
    Pages 83-113
  5. Susannah Wright
    Pages 209-220
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 221-251

About this book


This book sheds new light on early twentieth-century secularism by examining campaigns to challenge dominant Christian approaches to the teaching of morality and citizenship in English schools, and to offer superior alternatives. It brings together, for the first time, the activities of different educators and pressure groups, operating locally, nationally and internationally, over a period of 47 years. Who were these activists? What ideological and organisational resources did they draw on? What proposals did they make? And how did others respond to their views? Secularist activists represented a minority, but offered a recurrent challenge to majority views and shaped ongoing educational debates. They achieved some, albeit limited, influence on policy and practice. They were divided among themselves and by 1944 had failed to supplant majority views. But, with the place of religious and secular ideals in schools remaining a subject of debate, this analysis has resonance today. 


Education Morals Secularism Citizenship twentieth-century

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationOxford Brookes University School of EducationOxfordUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Susannah Wright is Senior Lecturer in Education Studies at Oxford Brookes University, UK. She has published on secularism, morality and citizenship in English schools, and on local case studies of educational and welfare provision. This is her first monograph. She is a co-editor of the journal History of Education.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Morality and Citizenship in English Schools
  • Book Subtitle Secular Approaches, 1897–1944
  • Authors Susannah Wright
  • Series Title Histories of the Sacred and Secular, 1700-2000
  • Series Abbreviated Title Histories of the Sacred and Secular, 1700-2000
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-137-39943-4
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-67994-2
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-137-39944-1
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XII, 251
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Britain and Ireland
    Cultural History
    Political History
    Legal History
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Wright presents a meticulously researched series of case-study snapshots into secular approaches to religious and moral education from 1897 until the 1944 Education Act … . Wright’s book thus significantly extends our understanding of how secularism was implicated in the teaching of morality and citizenship before 1944. It is therefore an important addition to the understudied history of religious education.” (Jody Crutchley, History of Education, October 14, 2019)