Topics / Schools
Prior to the 19th century, there were very few schools and education was largely dependent on religious institutions, charities or private fee paying establishments. Sunday schools began to appear from the 1780's and by the 1830's many of these had begun to also provide classes on weekdays. These schools preceded the first state funding of schools. The schools founded by the Anglican National Society were called National Schools and most of the surviving National Schools were eventually absorbed into the state system. By the 1880's education was compulsory for children aged 5 to 10.
The 1918 Education Act rationalised free education for all children and included both educational as well as medical provision. This is demonstrated in the school Log books, regular visits are made by the school nurse, oculist, dentist and local doctors. It also requires the Local Educational Authority LEA to provide and supervise a range of the schools. Managers act in a similar role to todays Governors. The 1918 Act raised the school leaving age from 12 to 14 and made provision for a system of part-time 'continuation day' classes for those in work aged 14-18. It abolished all fees in state elementary schools and widened the provision of medical inspection, nursery schools, and special needs education. The greater part of the financial burden of education - some 60 per cent - was transferred from the local authorities to central government. This was partly to foster a greater sense of professionalism among teachers by allowing them improved salaries and pensions. However, many of these innovative changes could only be implemented in part, or not at all, due to cuts in public expenditure forced by the economic depression of the 1920s.
The 1936 Education Act raised the school leaving age to 15, but empowered LEAs to issue employment certificates to allow 14 year olds to work rather than attend school in certain circumstances - for example, where a family would suffer 'exceptional hardship' if the child did not work