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Alan Johnson, the former education secretary, on 140 years of English education through the prism of one school - St Michael and All Angels in Camberwell.

Alan Johnson, the former Education Secretary, tells the story of English education over the last 140 years through the prism of one school - St Michael and All Angels in Camberwell.

Over the decades, the school has undergone many transformations, including names, in response to changes in policy, but its purpose has remained constant - to provide decent and free education to local children.

The story is told through original documents – from headmasters’ logs and inspection reports – and the testimony of the children and teachers who went there. It is as much a social history of inner-city life down the ages as it is a study of our attempts to educate the children of poor families.

Episode 2:
Alan Johnson visits one of the few remaining hop gardens at the Museum of Kent Life to discover how, during September each year, generation after generation of St Michael and All Angels School pupils used to truant - or "hop the wag" as they called it - to pick hops and earn money for their school uniform. He talks to some of the last of those who went hop picking. He considers how, with changes in legislation and the end of child labour in mines and mills, schools became even more important – not just for education, but to meet society’s concerns about children "running wild on the streets".

Presenter: Alan Johnson
Producer: Sara Parker
Executive Producer: Samir Shah

A Juniper Connect production for BBC Radio 4

Available now

14 minutes