MORE ON WELSH SCHOOLS (continued)
Contents in this section
The School Boards
1876-1901 Universal Education
1902-1905 The Coercion
of Wales Act
The School Boards
Board School: a school established by a School Board following
the Education Act of 1870, usually in areas where there was inadequate provision
by British or National schools.
British School: a school originally established by The British &
Foreign Society to teach non-sectarian education (often by Nonconformist donations).
National School: a school originally established by the National Society
to teach an Anglican education.
Church School: another name for National schools
Non-Provided School: term used by the 1902 Education Act to refer to
Church schools (not funded by the rates)
By 1870 the British Society (i.e. Nonconformist) had some 300 schools in Wales, but
the National Society (i.e. Anglican) had over 1,000. The Liberal government now tried
to create a comprehensive network of elementary schools in Wales, and also attempted
to get round the unwillingness of Anglicans and Nonconformists to compromise over
religion (which Peel had failed to do in 1843). This was the Education Act of 1870,
which provided for a full education for lower-class children up to the age of 13.
Government grants would continue to British and National schools, but where provision
was inadequate, a School Board was to be set up to build a Board school which would
be funded by the rates.
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In 1876 the principle was established that all children should receive an elementary
education, and parents were to be liable for the attendance of their children. The
Education Act, 1876 also recommended setting up school attendance committees to enforce
more regular attendance. The Education Act, 1880, made school attendance to the age
of ten compulsory. Children could leave school at ten, but could also be required
to stay on if their attendance had not been satisfactory.
The appearance of county councils in 1889 heralded the next development in education
in Wales. The Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889 established county joint education
committees, the majority of whose members were to be councillors. (The act was a
private measure by Stuart Rendel, Liberal M.P. for Montgomeryshire 1880-1894 and
a close personal friend of Gladstone.) The joint committees were to draw up plans
for county schools (later grammar schools) to be financed from a combination of the
rates, a treasury grant, fees from pupils and the reorganisation of old endowments.
This was the first time that public money was spent on specifically Welsh intermediate
education and it provided education supported by the rates earlier than in England.
Many of the old, endowed schools, chose to be part of the new system but others -
including Brecon - remained outside. In matters relating to examinations and inspections
they were answerable to the Central Welsh Board, established in 1896.
On 1 September 1891 elementary education became free of charge. In 1893
the school leaving age was raised to eleven, and in 1899 it was raised again to twelve.
Under Balfour's Education Act, 1902, School Boards were abolished and Local Education
Authorities were established. The Education Committees of county councils were made
responsible for elementary and intermediate schools (the act called Church schools
"Non Provided schools" and called Board schools "Provided schools").
But the measure was intended in part by the Conservative government to safeguard
the future of the Church schools, which had received no funding from the rates (unlike
the Board schools since 1870). The Nonconformists had hoped that the Church schools
would gradually disappear for lack of funds, but now they would receive funding from
the rates too - and since Church schools were often the only ones available in an
area it meant that Nonconformist children would have to continue to attend Anglican
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1902-1905 The Coercion of Wales
The local authorities demanded absolute control over the Non Provided (Church)
schools and an end to religious tests for teachers. By 1904, only Breconshire and
Radnorshire out of all the counties of Wales were prepared to implement the 1902
Act, and give rate aid to Non Provided schools. But after the local council elections
in May they fell into line with all the other councils in Wales and refused to implement
The government responded with the Education (Local Authority Default) Act, 1905,
also known as the "Coercion of Wales Act". The Conservative government
under Balfour fell in December 1905 and Campbell-Bannerman's Liberals came to power.
The new government withdrew the "Coercion Act".
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Secondary Education For
In 1918 the school leaving age was raised to 14. By R.A. Butler's Education Act
of 1944 every effort was made to ensure that every child should attend a secondary
school without having to pay fees. Following the act the school leaving age was raised
again, to 15. The Eleven Plus examination was retained: those who passed went to
grammar schools, and secondary "modern" schools were built to educate those
who failed. (Before the 1944 Act, those who failed the Eleven Plus had had to stay
on at junior school.)
In 1969 the school leaving age was raised (for the last time?) to 16.
The Labour government of 1974-79 abolished the distinction between grammar and secondary
modern schools and by the end of the 1970s the Eleven Plus was almost gone in Wales.
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