What was school like?

Basingstoke, Board School, Council Road (1898) A basic education was available at a 'board school' like this one in Basingstoke, Hampshire
A classroom of the Boys Home Industrial School Boys were placed at an 'industrial school' to learn technical skills to help find jobs when they left
Rugby School, Warwickshire, England a Free Grammar School Pupils attending grammar schools were taught academic subjects to a high standard

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Schools provided children from poorer families a basic education and they would attend either a board school or a school run by the church.

Most children at board schools in the early 1900s did not have uniforms, they just wore their ordinary clothes. It was only in the 1920s that board schools began asking their pupils to wear uniforms.

At some schools, known as 'industrial schools', boys learned skills such as baking, print-making or shoe-making, to help them find a job. Industrial schools did have uniforms for their pupils.

School life

The law said children had to stay at school until they were at least 12 years old. After that, children from poor families usually had to leave and go out to work. The school leaving age was raised in 1918, the last year of the war. All children then had to stay at school until they were at least 14. Some richer children were educated by a governess or a tutor at home. Many rich girls continued their education at home and never went to school.

Public schools

Five Eton schoolboys in smart suits and top hats, sitting on a wall

Pupils from public schools wore smart uniforms.

Children from poor families who did well at academic subjects could take an exam to win a 'scholarship'. This would pay for a place at a grammar school, where they could be taught to a higher standard. These schools also took pupils from families who could afford to pay for a place and a uniform.

'Public schools' had uniforms, too. These were for the richest families and charged parents money for their children's education. Pupils often lived at school, only going home for the holidays. Public schools concentrated on sport and on preparing their pupils to lead the country. Many public schoolboys went on to be officers in World War One.

Teachers' notes

Teachers' notes to accompany the 'What was school like?' section

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