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

By John Roach | Go to book overview

16

Some individual schools

Though some information about individual schools can be gleaned from the directories, there are not many institutions about which enough is known to provide a more detailed picture. One of the most interesting experiments of the day was the International College at Spring Grove, Isleworth, opened in 1866-7 under the headmastership of Dr Leonard Schmitz, who had been tutor in Edinburgh to the Prince of Wales. The college formed part of an international education movement which planned to establish schools in several countries as a means of increasing the understanding between nations (Bibby 1956-7:25-36; Stewart and McCann 1967:317-26; VCH Middlesex I (1969): 256-7). Among the promoters of the English college were Richard Cobden, who died before it opened, the philanthropist William Ellis, who advanced a large part of the money for the site and buildings, and the scientists John Tyndall and T.H. Huxley (HSE 203-4; P.N. Farrar 1987:498-515).

The college prospectus linked its aims with those of the associated institutions at Godesberg near Bonn and Chatou near Paris (West Sussex Record Office CP 477). They planned ‘to afford an education of the highest order, harmonizing with the wants and spirit of the age’. In order to achieve this, special attention was to be given to modern languages and to the natural sciences. Languages were to be taught so that pupils might speak and write them fluently. In the sciences pupils were to be brought ‘into direct contact with the facts furnished by observation and experiment’. Latin and Greek were to be learnt at a later age than usual, and, like all linguistic studies, were to be preceded by a study of the grammar of the mother tongue. Boys were to be admitted from 10 years and upwards, and the curriculum was to cover a period of seven to eight years. The school was quite expensive—80 guineas for boarders, 24 guineas for day boys, though there were very few extras.

In 1867 there were 10 day scholars and 58 boarders. Huxley himself drew up a scheme for the teaching of science, though Tyndall criticized this as too ambitious, and a modern writer considers that the work in science was not particularly successful (Bibby 1956-7:33). In 1880 all the pupils learned mathematics, science, Latin, French, and German,

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