The news media has been awash with education stories ad nauseam. It set me thinking about folk I know, know of or knew and their experiences of education in the 19th, 20th and 21st century.
Researching family history, the word 'scholar' is used for children as young as 4 years of age (1881).
The (Forster) education act of 1870 set up school districts and elementary schools along with school boards to run them.
Time for a brief digression to mention a book dramatised and aired on radio 4 extra. It's taken all day to find it! 'South Riding' by Winfred Holtby and well worth reading if I say so myself. Showing life in a Yorkshire elementary school; in particular the redoubtable Mrs. Beddows of the School Board.
Another novel, 'Lark Rise to Candleford', the book, not the apology that was the made for TV adaptation paints a true story of village school life years ago,
In the early 20th century, some of my family went to the local village school. At lunchtime it was customary to walk home, collect lunch for family workers, take it to them at the mill before having own lunch. People thought little about walking everywhere as that was the main form of transport.
Returning to education history...
1880 compulsory schooling from 5-10 or up to 14 unless needed for work (little enforcement)
1891 elementary education was made free
1918 raised the school leaving age to 14
Although the Hadow reports recommended secondary schooling, it took until the act of 1944 for a structure to be put in place.
In the 1960s parents of grammar school pupils signed to allow their children to remain at school to 16.
Secondary school pupils left at 15.
Now to talk about my friend who went to the local secondary school. He spent a lot of his time on practical subjects and left without much in the way of formal qualifications. On leaving school, he became an apprentice welder and when qualified...they 'let him go'. As a qualified welder he 'cost too much' to keep on. Not being one to remain idle, he went to Israel and carried on with welding work.
Moving on a few years and he decided on a career change...the curate's wife encouraged him and he became a nurse in a mental hospital. There his creativity was encouraged and he gained qualifications. Over the next few years he bought and restored an old cottage. Then moved across the road and took over a large derelict building and restored a four-storey 19th century former warehouse.
1973 ROSLA raising of the school leaving age to 16. Introduction of 'comprehensive' education.
The place I worked in had 1200 on roll and a teaching staff of 75; class sizes were usually 30-36 pupils.