Schools out!

From 22 August the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery kicks off its 2011-12 Education Room display series with a fascinating showcase of events in Leeds during the 1911 schools strike.

On 5 September 1911, a group of thirty or so boys marched out of Bigyn council school in Llanelli (south-west Wales) to protest the caning of one of their peers. Within days, pupils in more than sixty towns throughout Britain had taken to the streets to express their grievances. Among them were approximately 300 boys in Leeds, who marched out of their schools on strike on 12 and 13 September 1911.

Although thousands of children were involved, they still only represented a tiny proportion of the school-age population at the time. Their significance, however, does not relate to numbers, but the fact that young people, albeit a minority, felt empowered enough to speak out on issues that concerned them.

Guest curated by Sarah Prescott, the display will include materials from the Alf Mattison collection, from the University of Leeds Library Special Collections, which charts the development of British socialism and the history of the Labour Party and the Independent Labour Party.

The exhibition will also include archival material from West Yorkshire Archives Service, and artwork created by pupils at local schools today in response to the events of 100 years ago.

The display has been generously supported by the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society.

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