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

By John Roach | Go to book overview
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10

The 1890s: the technical instruction committees

The 1890s was a decade of major developments in which the Department of Science and Art, the Charity Commissioners, and the new county and county borough councils all played an active part. The annual DSA reports of the later 1880s had already referred to the effort to create organized science schools, to the growing involvement of school boards in DSA work, to improved laboratory provision and better standards of teaching, and to the increased number of science and art scholarships awarded. For some boys these provided important career openings. The higher-grade school at Cambridge, for example, had several successes of this kind, like the scholar of 1879 who had gone to the Perse Grammar School, then to St John’s, and had become senior wrangler and a college fellow (DSA 38th Report PP 1890-1 XXXI:22-3). After 1890 the reports make frequent reference to the provision of facilities by the new local authorities with the local taxation grants at their disposal. The county boroughs tended to limit themselves to the purely technical field, but many of the counties gave money to endowed schools to provide better laboratory accommodation and to pay science teachers (BC I:32-9). These new activities made some of the more elementary DSA work unnecessary. After 1892 the payments for second class examinations, elementary stage, were discontinued, and the grants for advanced work and for honours raised (DSA 39th Report PP 1892 XXXII:57-8).

One of the major changes during the 1890s was the steady increase in the number of organized science schools, which had grown so slowly during the 1880s. In 1893 there were 70 day schools with 8,469 pupils and 9 evening schools with 1,061 (DSA 41st Report PP 1894 XXXII: 8-9). By 1897 there were 143 Schools of Science (the name was changed by new regulations of that year) in England and Wales. Of these 62 were held in higher-grade schools, 55 in endowed schools, and 38 in technical and other schools (DSA 43rd Report, PP 1898 XXIX:251, 254). It is noteworthy that the number of host endowed and technical schools (partly financed by the counties and county boroughs) exceeds that of the higher-grade schools (which were the responsibility of the school boards). This disparity, which reflects the activity of the technical

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