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A Victorian Education
The Schools

As mentioned previously, there were many types of schools established during the period ranging from private to the "ragged" schools. Below is a synopsis on some of them.

We've already talked about Sunday schools. The next establishment we'll discuss is The British Schools. The British Schools were started in 1810 by a non-denominational organization called the British and Foreign Schools Society for the purpose of teaching the works of Quaker teacher, Joseph Lancaster. These schools utilized the "monitorial" system whereby the older children, under the supervision of paid staff, taught the younger ones. An estimated 1500 of these schools were in existence by the year 1851.

The National Schools evolved after the success of Lancaster's schools. The curriculum here centered on the Church Liturgy and Catechism. The National Society for the Education of the Poor was formed in 1811. With the assistance of Dr. Andrew Bell, believed to be the originator of the monitorial system, organized the National School system which numbered 17,000 schools by the year 1851.

To provide for the education of the poor, John Pounds, a Portsmouth shoemaker, established the "Ragged Schools" which permitted the poorest of families to send their children to school for free. Slightly over 200 "ragged" schools were in existence by the middle of the century.

Two other schools which catered to the poor, were the "Dame Schools" and the "Workhouse Schools". The Dame Schools were run by women with no real teaching qualifications. They charged 3 to 4 pence per child per week and taught reading and writing at the most basic level. The "Workhouse School" was established under the 1834 Act, whereby unions were required to provide at least three hours a day of schooling for workhouse children. Here they were taught reading, writing and arithmetic and religion. They also received job training.

By an Act of Parliament in 1844, "Industrial" schools outside of the workhouses were established. The industrial schools provided accommodation and education for pauper children away from the main workhouse. Only a handful of these types of schools were ever formed.

"Cottage Homes" were introduced during the 1860s as an alternative to workhouse accommodation for children. These homes are found in rural areas and are based on the concept of a "village" of small houses each accommodating "families" of between 12 and 30 children. In addition to the houses and school, these "villages" also included workshops, an infirmary and a chapel.


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