The Education and Employment of Girls in Luton, 1874-1924: Widening Opportunities and Lost Freedoms

This book examines the education of Luton girls and its relationship with employment opportunities, concentrating on, but not exclusively confined to, the working-classes. The acknowledged independence of spirit to be found in Luton was especially noticeable among its female population, which enjoyed considerable economic power within the traditional hat-making industry. While there is evidence to show that girls' education was biased towards their roles as wives and mothers, by the early twentieth century the effects of compulsory education and the introduction of new industries into the town meant that their status and expectations had changed. The author pays particular attention to half time schooling and the granting of labour certificates, which allowed children to leave school before the statutory age; she also assesses the contribution of the home and independent organisations, the training of teachers, the character of rural schools, the introduction of technical and secondary education, and the role played by Sunday schooling.