Early Education in the UK

The Church was the instrument through which children received education until the Reformation.

    • Aside from those children who were apprenticed or whose families were very wealthy, the majority of children received little or no formal education.
    • Tuition by monks and nuns, who were licensed by Bishops to teach.
    • Following the destruction of the monasteries and abbeys during the Reformation, it was left to charitable benefactors to re-endow schools
    •  By 1740, there were approximately 2000 charity schools in England.
    • Educational standards fell through the C18th and only three out of every hundred children received even the most minimal schooling.
    • The state neither aided nor wanted to control education.

The Sunday School movement  popularized the need to teach children to read and write.

    • It’s primary purpose was to teach children to read the bible but it paved the way for a universal, organised education system.

The Government still did not want to be involved and when appeals were made for the establishment of rate aided parochial schools, they objected saying that it would weaken the Church schools and make the lower classes discontented.

Intriguing Connections

  1. The church provided education in Britain through it’s monastries and abbeys that people travelled from the continent to be taught. Education was lost for a few hundred years, it struggled as the state took control, something to consider in our present educational morass.
  2. Look at our theme on Education and Children to discover more about educational reform


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