So it’s nearly that time of year where the kids go back to school and embark on the next phase of their education. Be it at primary, secondary, college or university level.
Education of the masses first became compulsory in 1880 in England. Before that the only education children would get would depend on their place in society. Children of the rich would have access to tutors and the best education establishments the country had to offer. Those from the poorer sectors of society would have attended Sunday School at the local church, or if they were really lucky they may have got into a ragged school (this was a free school started by John Pounds in 1818 which could be found in various places throughout the UK. The building for the school in Chesterfield still stands today).
From 1880 all children between the ages of 5 and 10 and from 1893 the age was raise to 13, had to attend school. This wasn’t well received in the poorer families who needed their children to work to help support the family. The financial loss to the family of a child going to school could be great, especially since children as young as 8 could work full time.
The school buildings were basic, with benches with tables attached and a black board at the front. The children would write on small chalk boards and have had access to very few books. They would have been taught the 3R’s or reading writing and arithmetic. How they could call it the 3R’s when only 1 started with an R is beyond me and surely implied bad education.
They would have been taught the basics which would have been enough for most for when they went back to the factories and fields. For some it would have perhaps lead them on to further education and maybe even a scholarship to go to university and given them a real chance to make a better future for them and their families.
I don’t envy the children going off to school. I hated school. The best part of the school day was the end. I wasn’t so much the education I didn’t like, although I still don’t get maths that’s what the calculator was invented for, no it was the other kids I didn’t like. School would have been fine without them. When they pulled my old secondary school down the other year to rebuild it I would gladly had done it for them. Same with my old college when it was pulled down this year.
I was lucky at primary school in that I had the best teacher in the world in Mrs Pryjomko. She really was great and I liked the 2 years she taught me for. I also loved the head teacher Mr Clark, he was like a granddad to us all.
The primary school I went to was built in 1928 and is still standing and used as a school today, although I think it has been modernised a lot. The old leaking classrooms in the playground have gone. Kids don’t know what their missing with buckets in the classroom when it was raining. Same to with the 1960’s secondary school I went to. Broken windows which didn’t shut and a ¼ mile walk between building in the pouring rain. My favourite is the college I went too. Most of it was built in the 1960’s but part of it was built in the 1990’s while I was a student there. They pulled it all down this year!
So good luck to you all with your studies, and good luck to the 4 munchkins of my extended family who start school this year. May you have a great time and learn all you can and enjoy your education. It’s only 12 years till you can leave or carry on if you want.