Secondary Education in England, 1870-1902: Public Activity and Private Enterprise

By John Roach | Go to book overview

9

Higher-grade schools: Bradford, Sheffield, Manchester

Three northern cities—Bradford, Sheffield, and Manchester—were pioneers in the higher-grade school movement, and were very proud of what they had achieved. Bradford’s first such school, Feversham Street, had been opened as an ordinary board school in 1874. Shortly afterwards an HMI report recommended that the fairly small number of older children in all the board’s schools should be concentrated into a few schools in order to provide them with a better education. As the Feversham Street building was not fully used, it was decided to adapt it for that purpose (Bradford Education in 1970:19). Other schools were opened during the following years. The most important of them, catering for both boys and for girls, were Belle Vue, opened in 1879, and Hanson, opened in 1897 and named after James Hanson, a former chairman of the board.

The Bradford schools were not planned as central schools, but rather as schools for children of a superior class whose parents could afford an education better than the average. Hanson himself told the Cross Commission that all the standards were taken, though there were not many children in the lower standards. Pupils usually began in the ordinary elementary schools, and then entered in standard III or upwards. Those who attended the higher-grade schools were, Hanson said, ‘children of the thoughtful and better-to-do working people, the children of clerks, managers, foremen, and artisans, and some of what you would call small tradesmen—the lower middle class’. The fees were 9d a week. The girls’ schools were nearly self-supporting. The boys’ schools cost about the same as ordinary board schools, though the cost of building was a charge on the rates. In his view the children who attended these schools had as much right to their share of the rate money as anyone else (PP 1888 XXXVII:739:35252; 739-40:35255; 751:35540; 740:35267-8; 747-8:35407; 746:35405; and compare PP 1881 XXXIII, App. no. 7:113-14). The school board, in the information they provided for the Bryce Commission, gave an account of the social background very similar to Hanson’s (BSB Report 1891-4:115).

The more advanced teaching in the schools was closely linked with the

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