Instructing them in 'the things of god': the response of the bishop and the synod of the Church of England in the Diocese of Sydney to the Public Instruction Act 1880 (NSW) regarding religious education for its children and young people, 1880-1889

Doctoral Studies Completed Theses – 2014 Archive

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Riley Warren

MEd (Research) thesis, conferred 2014

The role of the Church of England as an education provider in the colony of New South Wales prior to the Public Instruction Act 1880 (NSW) is well documented by education historians. Very little is written about of its role after 1880. There is an assumption generally held by education historians that following the promulgation of the various secular education acts in Australia’s colonies in the latter decades of the Nineteenth Century, the Church of England 'gave up' its schools. As a consequence it neglected the religious educational and spiritual care of the majority of its children and young people, concentrating its efforts on establishing a small number of elite grammar schools for the children of the wealthy. The thesis endeavours to test this assumption insofar as the evangelical Diocese of Sydney is concerned by researching the official documents - the Proceedings of Synod - to ascertain the Church's response to the 1880 Act during the decade of the 1880s. The role of the leaders of the Diocese and their influence on the Church's response is also examined. The research reveals that the Diocese of Sydney did not simply 'give up' its schools and concentrate on a few elite schools. Instead it undertook a concerted effort to reach as many of its children as possible with instruction in the faith, be they in Public schools, Church Schools, Grammar Schools or in Sunday Schools. The research shows that Bishop Barry focused his educational efforts in areas quite different to those of Bishop Barker and Dean Cowper.

Supervisor: Dr Helen Proctor