Peter Ewart gave us a fascinating talk at our recent meeting on Victorian and Edwardian Schooldays and the impact of the wider universal and compulsory educational system on the general population after the various 19th century Education Acts.
He explained that in the 1860s, one third of children in England and Wales did not attend school at all and right up until the 1881 Act which made elementary education compulsory, children were not required to go.
He covered previous provisions which included Dame schools, Church sponsorship, including Sunday Schools and other philanthropic groups which organised the Ragged Schools in cities not forgetting the Workhouse establishments. After 1891 almost all children had access to free education.
Only in the 20th century were young children no longer regularly expected to work alongside adults and by 1902 total responsibility for state supported education was passed to Borough and County Councils. By 1918 school attendance was not only compulsory but the school leaving age was raised from 12 to 14 years old.
Edwardian schools had mainly single sex classes in fairly large rooms with seating often arranged in tiers. Subjects covered the 'three R's' (reading, writing and arithmetic) and there were also physical education lessons ('drill'). Girls were generally taught sewing and needlework, and boys wood and metal work.
Peter concluded by giving examples taken from school log books which provided members with some excellent contemporary stories.
David Birch reminded members that the Society's 2014 Calendar and their latest publication "Herne Bay Then and Now - a pictorial history covering 180 years" was now on sale.
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