School Education and Educators

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The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” Attributed to Mark Twain


“The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant”. Maximilien Robespierre


Colour key:



School leaving age

Limits on child employment

Children & punishmnent


Universities and Colleges – see Education and Universities.

See also Child Protection.


0.0. UK – see below for events relating specifically to other countries.

1/7/2015, Average annual fees for UK boarding schools were £30,369. Fees have outpaced UK inflation every year since 1990, pricing out many middle class UK parents. Overseas pupils now comprise 38% of the total, the largest groups from overseas being Chinese (21%), Hong Kong (17.6%) and Russian (10.3%).

1999, Corporal punishment was abolished in UK private schools.

23/6/1998, In Britain, Labour Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett announced plans for a £75 million joint business and Government initiative for 25 ‘education action zones’. Schools, in these zones of poor educational performance, would experiment with longer teaching hours and more use of IT.

10/6/1998, In Britain, the Government started a programme to promote laptop use by schoolchildren, called Anytime Anywhere Learning.

25/1/1996, In the UK, the results of the first National School Tests sat in May 1995 showed that over 50% of 11-year-olds failed to reach expected standards in English and Maths.

22/3/1990. Teacher’s Unions said teachers in Britain were over-burdened with paperwork.

1988, In Britain the AS Level was introduced. Equivalent to ‘half’ an A level, it was intended as a means to broaden the 6th form (age 16-18) curriculum and include more students in the exam system.

15/8/1987. Caning was officially banned in Britain, except in independent schools.

11/9/1987, The British Conservative government announced plans to abolish the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA).

1986, In Britain, the Certificate of Pre-Vocational Education (CPVE) was introduced for students aged over 16 who wanted a 1-year course of preparation for work or further vocational study.

24/7/1986. MPs in the UK voted to abolish the cane in state schools.

18/9/1979, Corporal punishment was abolished in all inner London schools.

23/10/1978, The UK Government planned to replace GCE O levels and CSEs with a single exam, the GCSE.

26/10/1977, The UK Department of Education announced plans for national testing of schoolchildren in mathematics, reading and writing.

26/6/1977. Lady Baden Powell, founder of the Girl Guides movement in 1910, died.

1973, In Britain, the school leaving age was raised from 15 to 16.

25/6/1971, In Britain the Department oif Education announced a cash allocation of £132 million to replace 6,000 ‘slum’ primary schools. On  the same day, Mrs Thatcher, Education Secretary, announced an end to free milk for primary school pupils.

1966, The Labour Government replaced the old grammar and secondary modern system by a new system of comprehensive schools.

8/2/1961, The BBC dropped its radio programme Children’s Hour because TV had cut its audiences.

10/12/1959. In Britain, the Crowther report recommended raising the school leaving age to 16. Meanwhile in Portugal schooling was only compulsory up to age 11. Only 7% of older Portuguese children went on to secondary school, and a further 13% to trade schools.

24/9/1957, BBC broadcasts to schools began.

31/1/1956, A A Milne, English author of children’s books, including Winnie the Pooh, died in Hartfield, Sussex.

1951, In England and Wales, the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Ordinary and Advanced Levels replaced the ‘School Certificate’.

17/2/1944, In the UK, the Education Bill was published, raising the school leaving age to 15. Also, free secondary education was provided for all children up to age 15, divided into grammar schools, technical schools and secondary modern schools, selection for these by an 11-plus examination. Primary education was divided into infant and junior schools. Schools would provide free milk, subsidised meals, and free dental and medical examinations. There was provision for raising the school leaving age to 16; this was implemented in 1973.

12/2/1943, Lord Nuffield set up the Nuffield Foundation with a gift of £10 million.

30/12/1938, The Spens Committee, in a report to the Board of education, advocated raising the school leaving age to 16.

31/7/1936, In Britain, the Education Act raised the school leaving age from 14 to 15. However this provision was not implemented until 1944.

12/2/1932, In Britain, a Bill was introduced in Parliament to ban the whipping of children aged under 14.

21/1/1931, A Bill to raise the UK school leaving age to 15 was defeated in the Commons.

31/7/1929, World Boy Scouts jamboree opened at Arrowe Park, Merseyside.

13/3/1918, In Britain, it was announced that the minimum school leaving age was to be raised to 14, from 13; this measure was implemented in December 1918 under the Education Act.

2/2/1914, The Cub Scouts were founded at Robertsbridge, Sussex.

12/3/1912, The Girl Guide movement was founded in America by Juliette Gordon Low.

4/4/1911, The Duke of Marlborough and other former pupils at Eton opposed the abolition of birching at the school.

31/5/1910. Lord Baden Powell’s sister, Agnes, announced the formation of the Girl Guides.

8/2/1910. W Boyce founded the Boy Scout movement in America.

4/9/1909. The first Boy Scout rally took place at Crystal Palace, south London. The Boy Scout movement was begun in 1908 by Baden Powell; he set up a Scout camp for 20 boys on Brownsea Island in 1908. In 1910 the Scout movement spread to the USA, and became so successful that in 1911 Baden-Powell left the army to develop it; the Scout movement received a Royal Charter in 1912.

17/2/1909. A Royal Commission on Britain’s Poor Laws said no more children should live in workhouses. In urban areas, up to a third of older people also died in Poor Law institutions, which included children’s homes, infirmaries and lunatic asylums as well as workhouses.

8/10/1908. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame’s children’s book, was published. It was still in print in 2001.

4/3/1908. The whip was banned as a means of corporal punishment in US schools.

26/1/1908, The first Boy Scout troop was registered, in Glasgow.

16/1/1908. The first issue of Scouting For Boys, Baden-Powell’s fortnightly journal of the scouting movement, was published.

1907, Start of medical inspections of schoolchildren in Britain, under the Education Act.

25/7/1907. Sir Robert Baden-Powell’s experimental camp, to test the feasibility of scouting, was set up on Brownsea Island, near Poole; 20 boys attended. The Boy Scout’s association was created on 29/7/1909.  The camp closed for the winter on 9/8/1907.

1906, Sport became part of the national curriculum in Britain.

15/7/1906, A Commons Commission recommended providing school meals, and a separate Ministry for Wales.

19/9/1905, Doctor Thomas Barnardo, who set up over 112 homes for deprived children from 1867, died aged 60.

9/2/1905, In Britain, the Board of Education called for greater thrift amongst schoolchildren.

1903, The ‘Common Entrance’ examination was established, to regulate the acceptance of boys into ‘publc schools. A Common Entrance exam for girls was set up in 1947.

2/5/1903. The US paediatrician, Dr Benjamin Spock, was born in New Haven, Connecticut.

8/8/1902, The British Academy, London, was granted a Royal Charter.

23/3/1902, Major reform of schools in England and Wales. The Education Act. County Councils and large urban authorities took over responsibility for education from several thousand school boards and managers of voluntary schools. However non-conformist churches objected to the use of public money to finance Anglican and Catholic schools, which still retained considerable autonomy in their curricula.

30/12/1899, In Britain the school leaving age was raised from eleven to twelve (excepting children employed in agriculture); in 1893 it had been raised from ten to eleven.

1897, The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) was formed (then known as the National Federation of Head Teachers Associations).

1893, In the UK, the Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act empowered local authorities to provide education for blind and deaf children aged 7 – 16.

8/1891, In Britain, fees for elementary education were abolished.

1884, St Pauls School, London, moved from St Pauls Cathedral to West Kensington.

15/10/1881, Marie Stopes, scientist and education reformer, was born in Edinburgh.

1880, In Britain the Education Act made school attendance compulsory for children aged 5 to 10.

31/8/1870, Maria Montessori, who developed the Montessori system for teaching children, was born.

9/7/1870. The Elementary Education Act was passed in the UK, giving compulsory free education to every child in England and Wales.

1868, The Public Schools Act improved the Governing Bodies of these schools. It also extinguished the rights of certain local farmers and tradesmen to have their sons educated for free at Harrow, Rugby and Shrewsbury Schools.

27/10/1854, Sir William Smith, Scottish founder of the Boys Brigade movement in Glasgow in 1883, was born.

1853, Cheltenham Ladies College was established.

6/9/1852. The first free public lending library opened in Manchester.

21/6/1852, Friedrich Froebel, German educationalist who founded the Kindergarten system in 1837 at Blankenberg, died.

4/7/1845. Thomas John Barnardo was born in Dublin. In 1867 he started homes for some of London’s many destitute children. They became known as Dr Barnardo’s Homes although he never qualified as a medical doctor.

14/2/1845, Quintin Hogg, founder of polytechnics, was born.

See also Morals & Punishment for measures to protect children from labour exploitation and educate them

1844, So called ‘ragged schools’ were set up in Britain to ensure even poor children received a basic education.

21/12/1844. Changes in the law now meant no-one under 18 years of age could work over 12 hours a day, and it was proposed to limit teenagers to a 10 hour day. Children under 13 were restricted to a 48 hour week and had to attend school for 2 hours a week.

10/8/1842. The Mines Act was passed in the UK forbidding women and children to work underground.

1841, Cheltenham College was established.

1840, In Britain, the Grammar School Act gave powers to the Court of Chancery to amend the statutes of these schools, adapting them to contemporary needs.

7/8/1840. The UK Parliament passed an Act forbidding the employment of children as chimney sweeps. In 1840 only 1 in 5 of London children had any type of schooling, and most of the rest were working up to 80 hours a week. Chimney sweeping was very unhealthy; sometimes the boys got stuck, their knees and elbows got raw and infected and later they got cancer from the soot. Lord Shaftesbury campaigned against Victorian child labour and got the Climbing-Boy Bill passed as law in 1840. It decreed that no apprentice could be under 16. However this was not enforced until the Shaftesbury Act of 1875.

29/8/1833, The Factory Act was passed in the UK. This applied only to the textile industry, but was the forerunner of many working practice reforms. The Act forbade the employment of children under nine, and children under 13 were to have two hours of schooling a day.

1828, The Reverend Thomas Arnold became headmaster at Rugby School. He began a process of reform, introducing prefects, the ideal of ‘Christian Duty’, and a more rigourous intellectual atmosphere. Other public schools soon adopted these principles.

10/10/1818. The first reference to school exam marks was made, by Dr Samuel Butler, the Headmaster of Shrewsbury School.

5/4/1811, Robert Raikes, founder of the Sunday School movement, died.

16/5/1804, Elizabeth Peabody, kindergarten pioneer, was born.

1796, William Pitt, British Prime Minister, proposed extending the system of Industrial Schools for pauper children to all children working in industry, but this was not implemented.

4/12/1795, Birth of Thomas Carlyle, Scottish historian.

16/1/1794, Edward Gibbon, English historian and author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, died.

1798, Attendance at Sunday Schools across Britain was now over 300,000.

1784, The first Sunday School opened in London.

21/4/1782, Friedrich Froebel, German educational pioneer who established the first Kindegartens, was born in Oberweissbach.

1780, Robert Raikes opened three Sunday Schools in Gloucestershire. Sunday Schools then spread to other counties.

18/1/1779, Peter Mark Roget, author of Roget’s Thesaurus, was born.

14/9/1735, Robert Raikes, who founded the Sunday School system in 1780, was born in Gloucester, son of a printer.

1723, The General Workhouse Act was passed in Britain, and workhouses then proliferated in towns and large parishes. Many of these workhouses employed a teacher to instruct the children therein in basic reading and writing, and in spinning, weaving or knitting, in the hope that they might lead a productive life away from desttituion.

5/1714, In Britain, under the Schism Act, no person was allowed to run a school except a member of the Anglican Church.

15/7/1662, The Royal Society received a royal charter.

1/4/1662, King Charles II of Britain granted Royal Patronage to the Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge. The group of scientists and  naturalists had been meeting since 1645.

30/6/1660, William Oughtred, English mathematician who invented the slide rule in 1622, died in Albury, Surrey.

1619, Dulwich College was founded by Edward Alleyn, actor (1566-1626).

4/4/1617, The mathematician John Napier died, at Merchiston Castle, Edinburgh.  He was the first to publish logarithm tables, in 1614.

3/10/1614, Charterhouse School, London, opened.

1/7/1589, Christopher Plantin, printer, died.

1584, Uppingham public school, Rutland, was founded.

10/4/1583, Hugo Grotius, (De Groot) jurist, was born.

1576, Cheltenham Grammar School was established.

5/3/1575, William Oughtred, mathematician and inventor of the slide rule, was born at Eton.

1571, Harrow School was founded under a Charter granted to John Lyon, yeoman of Preston, by Queen Elizabeth I.

1567, Rugby School, Warwickshire, was founded.

1552, Christs Hospital School was founded, in Newgate Street, London. It moved to Horsham, Susses, in 1902.

16/9/1519, Death of John Colet, who founded the modern St Pauls School.

6/2/1515, Death of Aldus Manutius, the first publisher of paperbacks and inventor of italics.

4/4/1508. The first book printed in Scotland.

1509, St Pauls School, London, was founded.

1506, John Colet (1466 – 1519) was made Dean of St Pauls Cathedral, London.

14/11/1477. William Caxton issued the first dated, printed, book from his printing press in Westminster. It was Dictes or Sayengis of The Philosophres.

1440, Eton School was founded by King Henry VI.

1382, Winchester College was founded by William of Wykeham, setting a model for future public schools.

24/12/1317, Jean de Joinville, Crusader and historian, died.

1274-Aquinas, see Christianity.

11/5/868. The world’s first printed book, the Diamond Sutra, was published in China. It was found in 1900.

859, The world’s oldest library opened, the Al-Qurawiyy in Morocco.

627, St Peters School, York, was founded.

598, The first English school was founded, at Canterbury.

529, Emperor Justinian closed down the Greek pagan schools of philosophy.

105 BCE, The mathematician Heron founded a college at Alexandria.

212 BCE, Archimedes died.  He was engaged on a mathematical problem and was killed by an invading Roman soldier when he refused to leave until he had solved the problem.

287 BCE, Archimedes was born.

307 BCE, The great library of Alexandria was founded by Ptolemy Soter.



1869,School attendance between ages 6 and 14 became compulsory.

6/12/1774. Austria introduced the world’s first state education system.



1983, Belgium raised the school leaving age to 18.

1914, Belgium made attendance for school compulsory for 6 – 12 year olds.



1905, The rigid system of examinations based on knowledge of classic Confucianism, giving access to jobs in the Chinese civil service was replaced by a modernised system based on a wider curriculum, The old system had become increasingly corrupt during the 19th century.



14/5/1968, French workers called a one-day strike to support the students. The French Franc plummeted.

10/5/1968. Student clashes with police continued in Paris.

3/5/1968. French police evicted striking students from campus, sparking large street demonstrations.

2/5/1968, Students rioted in Paris.

31/3/1900. France passed a law limiting the working hours of women and children to 11 hours.

1882, In France, State primary education was made free, compulsory and outside of any Church control.

1755, The first school for the deaf was founded in Paris by Abbe de l’Epee.



1900, Sex education was introduced in German schools.

1826, School attendance until age 14 made compulsory in Prussia.

1717, School attendance in Prussia was made compulsory.

1642, Compulsory school attendance began in the state of Gotha.



1877, Education became compulsory for Italian children aged 6 to 9. However this law was often not enforced through poor administration.



8/1872, The Japanese Meiji Government made school education compulsory.

5/1869, Japan’s first public elementary school opened, in Kyoto



1618, Free village schooling began in some areas



13/10/1973, The Polish Sejm (Parliament) passed a Bill adopting a national system of education, 11 years from ages 7 to 18, 3 years primary, 5 years secondary, and 3 years specialised secondary for certain careers.



17/7/1857, In Spain, education for all children aged from 6 to 9 became compulsory.



29/9/1908. In Switzerland, the international conference on worker’s rights banned night shifts for children under 14.



5/9/1911, The first adult literacy school in the United States began, when Cora Wilson Stewart, school superintendent for Rowan County, Kentucky, began what she called the Moonlight Schools. The night classes at the county's 50 schools took place so long as the Moon was bright enough for students to safely travel. She had expected that 150 might come; however, 1,200 signed up.

20/10/1859, John Dewey, US educator, was born in Burlington, Vermont.

24/4/1800, US President John Adams approved the spending of US$5,000 to set up a Library of Congress. This library was established on Capitol Hill, and is now the largest library in the world.

1786, The first Sunday School in America opened.

1647, The Massachusetts Bay Colony established publicly finded schools, paid for by a tax on dwellings. This was to ensure that Puritan children learned Bible virtues.

1635, The Boston Public Latin School was founded; the first secondary school in the American colonies.


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