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Victorian Schools

Updated on September 17, 2011


Queen Victorian came to the throne in 1837 and reigned for 64 years until her death in 1901. These six decades were a time of huge change in Britain.

At the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign, very few children even attended school. By the time of her death school was both compulsory and free.

Board School

It was not until 1870 that the government passed its Elementary Education Act. This was intended to provide education for the many thousands of children who were not already attending a school. The schools set up under this act were run by a board of locally elected people, and were known as Board Schools. By 1880, there were about 4,000 Board Schools, and school was made compulsory for the first time for children up to 10 years of age. School was not free however, and many poor families struggled to find even the smallest fees charged for their children's education. In 1891, the government finally gave grants to make education free in all elementary schools.

Boarding School

Don't mix up with Board School mentioned above. Board School was a special name for schools existed between 1870 and 1902, which was run by an elected School Board. While a boarding school is a school where pupils study and live during the school year, The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of "bed and board," i.e., lodging and meals.

The novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë tells of that Jane was sent to Lowood Institution - a boarding school for girls who have lost one or both parents. The fee was £15 a year. Normally, life was difficult for the boarders. because the discipline was harsh. Once Jane drops her slate, and the schoolmaster makes her stand on a stool for half an hour and forbids anyone to speak to her for the rest of the day.

Public School

Public school actually is a private school that charges fees. Wealthy parents could afford to send their sons to one of the large public schools. While their daughters were mostly educated at home. Middle class often went to small private schools in their local towns.

The education at Victoria public schools focused on the classics - Latin and Greek language and literature. Boys needed to study these subjects in order to go to university, or to enter a profession. Life could be tough in these schools - the younger boys were expected to run errands for the older boys, which was called "fagging". Many of these schools were places for unwanted children who stayed there all year round.

A student in Victorian School wear a dunce cap
A student in Victorian School wear a dunce cap

Dame School

The 1870 Elementary Education Act did not make school either free or compulsory. Most Victorian schools charged fees which many poor people simply could not afford. For those who could afford it the cheapest education was often at a dame school, so-called because such schools were often run by elderly ladies.

Ragged Schools

Workhouse is a place where the sick and destituted could seek shelter and food in return for work. Children in workhouses attended classes in the mornings, and many churches and charities ran free schools for the poorest children The most famous of these charities was the Ragged Schools Union which was established in 1844. The Ragged Schools provided free education for the very poorest, homeless children.As well as giving children a basic education, the Ragged Schools often provided a place to eat and in the winters, shelter from the cold.

Grammar Schools or boarding Schools

Sons from whealthy families were often sent to grammar schools or boarding schools. Many of the boarding schools were expensive public schools that had been founded hundreds of years before Queen Victoria came to the throne.



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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You are stupid

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      ok intresting but a little rubish

    • profile image

      Canvas Prints 

      7 years ago

      Great article - just 'borrowed' your dunce pic for my daughters school project :)


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      klicker shut up and get a life, how is what you said got to do about this page?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      u guys who posted them are suckish.

      u r being mean to victorian children.

      how would u feel if u were them with no mum or/and dad u guys i no ive never met u but i think u just think of your selves.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      u spelled "weirdo" wrong. wow.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      u weirdows

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      sex is cool

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      bob is my name

    • profile image


      9 years ago


    • profile image

      beth bulpitt 

      9 years ago

      boring,boring but a bit intresting

    • profile image

      Milton Craig 

      9 years ago

      well from my point of view i think that QVS is a nice school.


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