The 1870 Education Act was popular with radicals as they were elected by ratepayers in each district. This enabled nonconformists and socialists to obtain control over local schools.
In 1902 the Conservative government introduced a new Education Act that abolished all 2568 school boards and handed over their duties to local borough or county councils. These new Local Education Authorities (LEAs) were given powers to establish new secondary and technical schools as well as developing the existing system of elementary schools.
Nonconformists and supporters of the Liberal and Labour parties campaigned against the 1902 Education Act. John Clifford formed the National Passive Resistance Committee and by 1906 over 170 men had gone to prison for refusing to pay their school taxes. This included 60 Primitive Methodists, 48 Baptists, 40 Congregationalists and 15 Wesleyan Methodists.