supported by Labour Heritage
8pm Saturday 12 April
The Ruskin College 'strike' of 1909
Leytonstone, E11 4LJ
0208 555 5248
07443 480 509
The few dozens workers students at Oxford resisted the takeover move in 1909. They used the traditional methods and went on strike, making the issues a national one. After a few months , when the academics did not back down, the students established the Labour Colleges system. Classes were run in numerous cities , correspondence courses were soon set up and the adult education system divided down the middle as the conventional teachers kept to their intentions. They continued with the-middle-of-the-road Workers Education Association, the bitter rival of what was to become the National Council of Labour Colleges (NCLC), with its own college in Tillicoulty, Scotland. This continued right up to 1964, when the TUC took over the residue in numerous cities.
The more aggressive unions, especially the miners, called on their financial and political resources. They sent full time students to the NCLC and their members received correspondence sheets and other materials for a decade or so. Then the situation was complicated by the divisions within the labour movement as the political party adopted conventional parliamentary procedures but many of the rank and file supported the Communist Party and the new Russian society. Readers may have their own views on the fate of the USSR but the struggle still continues for education free from open capitalist influences.
Colin Waugh who is active on the Post 16 Educator journal, has written a booklet to tell more fully the story above. Today education is not totally subject to strong influences from powerful institutions in society but many union members feel that the old master institutions are still very influential. And there is still alienation Many children grow up without any personal knowledge of how, when and where unions can act to benefit workplace members , let alone the higher reaches of current society.