Dr Barry Blades is an independent researcher, writer and speaker specialising in the history of war and education. His particular focus is on the impact of the Great War on British schools and teachers. Barry taught History for over thirty years in secondary schools in London and Peterborough. He has extensive and successful experience of senior leadership in education, having been an Associate Headteacher, Ofsted Additional Inspector, Chair of Governors and Trustee of an educational charity. From 2006-2010 he worked as a freelance Education Consultant supporting the establishment and development of new schools and academies in England. He now works full time on his historical research.
Website and social media:
Barry started the Schooling and the Great War website at www.ww1schools.com in 2013 and uses it to advertise his research and publications, both current and in production. It is extremely visual and contains many fantastic images related to British schools and the Great War. Most of the images are drawn from Barry’s own extensive collection of archives and ephemera which he often uses as props when giving talks. The Schooling and the Great War Archive will be donated to the University College London Institute of Education (IOE Archives) in due course.
Barry’s Twitter account is Barry Blades @ww1schools – it has been running for two years, contains only material related to schooling in wartime, and already has over one thousand followers.
Roll of Honour: Schooling and the Great War, 1914-1919 Published in October 2015 by Pen & Sword Books Ltd. Roll of Honour is the first book in the Schooling and the Great War Trilogy. It will be followed by:
Temporary Gentlemen and Other Ranks: Teachers and the Great War (Due to be published by Pen & Sword Books Ltd in 2019)
Little Soldiers: the Militarisation of Childhood and the Great War (research in progress)
Amazon or other bookseller links:
Synopses of books:
Roll of Honour (2015)
Thousands of books have been written about the Great War. Roll of Honour is different; it is not just about the trenches. Roll of Honour shifts our gaze; it is not just about ‘Tommy Atkins’. Roll of Honour moves beyond the mythology and stereotypes; it shines a light instead on the ‘myriad faces of war’, describing a conflict fought on many different fronts by many different participants. It focuses especially on how the Great War was experienced by those communities involved in schooling the nation’s children. The dramatis personae in Roll of Honour include headteachers and governors charged by the wartime authorities with mobilising their ‘troops’; school masters, whose enlistment, conscription or conscientious objection to military service changed lives and career paths; the temporary school mistresses who sought to demonstrate their interchangeability in male-dominated institutions; the school alumni who thought of school whilst knee-deep in mud; and finally, of course, the schoolchildren themselves, whose numerous and varied campaigns added vital resources to the war economy. These myriad faces existed in all types of British school, from the elite Public Schools to the elementary schools designed for the country’s poorest waifs and strays.
Temporary Gentlemen and Other Ranks (2018)
Amongst the patriots who answered the call-to-arms in August 1914 were thousands of schoolmasters and trainee teachers from Britain and its Dominions – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. Many of their counterparts in France, Germany and other belligerent nations also made their way to the battlefronts of the Great War. Schoolmistresses responded too; some worked as ancillaries in the battle zones, but most filled the gaps in the classrooms vacated by their male colleagues and fought their particular war on the home front. Temporary Gentlemen and Other Ranks tells the story of these men and women. It recalls the decisions made by individuals who were united by their occupation but divided by their social, professional and geographical contexts, personal beliefs and considered actions. It speaks of the commitment, heroism and sacrifice of members of the teaching profession, many of whom have since been forgotten, victims of the condescension of posterity.
Little Soldiers (2021)
In this, the final part of the Schooling and the Great War Trilogy, the experiences of children before and during wartime is explored in more detail. As Mark Twain once advised, ‘never let your schooling get in the way of a good education’. Little Soldiers therefore looks at the numerous ways – beyond formal schooling – in which children were conditioned and prepared for forms of juvenile service during the Great War of 1914 to 1919. It develops much further some of the themes introduced in Roll of Honour, exploring, for instance, the influence of popular media (magazines, songs, and literature), youth organisations (Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Boys’ Brigade, Church Lads’ Brigade etc.) and Sunday Schools. Little Soldiers makes extensive use of contemporary photographic images from Britain and other belligerent nations, and explains how militarised notions of childhood became both fashionable and a feature of wartime service and propaganda.
Pitch to Publishers & Festival Organisers:
Barry is a former teacher, trainer, headteacher, visiting lecturer and education consultant. He has extensive experience of speaking in public to diverse groups of people (see website). Audience numbers have ranged from ten to a thousand, in locations as varied as small meeting rooms to Central Hall Westminster. The response to his talks – both subject content and presentation style – is invariably very positive and enthusiastic:
‘Barry gave a wonderful talk and opened up a completely new world to me … and delegates were fascinated’ (Sir Anthony Seldon, Wellington College)
‘a truly engaging speaker’ (UCL Institute of Education)
‘a fascinating talk and presentation’ (Department for Education)
Reviews for Roll of Honour:
‘skilfully weaves these (schools at war) stories together … the depth and breadth of original research is evident … the book is a refreshing and important addition to the Centenary offerings so far.’ (Andy Arnold, P&S)
‘not only an affectionate, sympathetic and moving account of the relationship between schooling and WW1, but one of the very few books to explain a key aspect of that war.’ (Firetrench)
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org