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Britain – The Liberal Reforms, 1906-14

2. Children

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the Liberal reforms that were aimed at children, focusing in particular on: (i) the broad agreement among the political classes that impoverished children were not responsible for their own poverty and therefore deserving of state assistance; (ii) the introduction of free school meals in 1906; (iii) the introduction of medical inspections at schools in 1907; (iv) the 1908 Children Act; (v) the extent to which some of these measures had their origins outside of the Liberal Party; (vi) the limitations of these measures; and (vii) the extent to which these measures established important principles as to the proper extent of state support.


In this course, Professor Matthew Cole (University of Birmingham) thinks about the series of acts of social legislation passed by the Liberal government between 1906-14, known collectively as the Liberal reforms. In the first module, we think about the aims of the reforms and their impact. In the second and third modules, we think about the reforms aims at children and people of working age, respectively, before turning in the fourth module to the introduction of the state pension in 1908.


Matthew Cole is Teaching Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Birmingham. He is a historian of modern Britain with a particular interest in twentieth century constitutional and party politics, and local history.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Cole, M. (2021, March 18). Britain – The Liberal Reforms, 1906-14 - Children [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Cole, M. "Britain – The Liberal Reforms, 1906-14 – Children." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 18 Mar 2021,