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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

Related information

Current parliamentary business on the topic of schools