Education Acts of 1870, 1873, 1876, tough on poor families?

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Law the Education Act
  • Education Acts of 1870, 1873, 1876, tough on poor families?

Education Acts 1870 1873 1876

The Education Act 1870 was a landmark in the development of British Education it marked the trnasition of the state as supervisor to interventionist, Education Acts shape the future of social reform by bringing Education to the masses but they were also tough and a costly obligation on the poor. You might also like to explore our Social Reform theme on Intriguing History here

Provisions initiated the School Board era with local involvement to supplement voluntary provision of education.

The Education Act of 1870 required all children aged between 5 and 13 years to attend school.

    • The education provided was not free. A family had to pay a few pence a week for each child attending. The elected School Boards were able and empowered to levy a rate which was discretionary and they were required to enforce attendance whether that family could afford the rate or not.
    • For poorer families, where the total weekly income left only a shilling or so after rent, then this became an intolerable burden.
    • In poor families, children were important contributors to the family income, a loss of their income, whilst they attended school, caused very real hardship.
    • Failure of the child to attend school would result in a visit from an inspector and a fine for the family.
    • In some areas school fees would be paid for the poorest families by the school board.
    • The act did lead to the founding of some 5,000 new schools.

education acts

School boards could decide whether or not to make attendance compulsory. By 1873 40% of schools were compulsory.

Intriguing Connections

    1. Reform of education took many decades, the Factory Acts in the 1830’s were intended to protect children and allow them some sort of education
    2. Compulsory education was a momentous change in the lives of children, look at our Education and Children theme to see how other reforms impacted on the lives of children



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