Key dates

Foundation of the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK); its chief purpose is to provide education for the poor

National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor founded; it provides education in the Anglican faith

British and Foreign School Society founded to cater for children from dissenting backgrounds

First government grant to voluntary societies of £20,000

Annual grant to the societies increased to £500,000, and to £800,000 by the early 1860s

Parliamentary commission on education

National Education League founded to campaign for free, compulsory and non-religious education for all

1870 - Education Act
Establishes system of new 'board schools' alongside schools of the two voluntary societies

1880 - Education Act
Makes school compulsory for all children between the ages of 5 and 10

1893 - Elementary Education (School Attendance) Act
Raises age of compulsory attendance to 11; a further act of 1899 raises it to 12

1893 - Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act
Begins specialist education for blind and deaf children

1899 - Elementary Education (Defective and Epileptic Children) Act
Provides further extension of special education in state sector

1902 - Education Act
Reorganises administration of elementary schools and encourages local councils to make provision for secondary education

1906 - Education (Provision of Meals) Act
Provides free meals for needy school children

1907 - Education (Administrative Provisions) Act
All school children to receive medical inspection

Total elementary school population reaches 5 million

1918 - Education Act
Raises school leaving age to 14, and abolishes elementary school fees

Spens report on the future of secondary education

1944 - Education Act
Raises school leaving age to 15 (with future provision for it to be raised to 16), and provides free secondary education for all pupils

1988 - Education Reform Act
Enables schools to opt out of local control

Related information

Current parliamentary business on the topic of schools