Education (Georgian and Victorian)


It wasn’t compulsory to go to school until 1880 when an Act of Parliament was passed to make sure that every child went to school until the age of 10. What do you think children up to the age of 10 did before 1880? Circle one answer:

  • They worked.
  • They went to school.
  • They played and had fun. 

Children in Kingsbury, Aylesbury: one is carrying a bundle of straw, another is carrying a parcel on his or her headMost children had to work to bring money in for the family. Here are some jobs that children had to do. Find out from the internet or books what each of the jobs involve and write it in the second column:




Climbing boy






Shoe black



These jobs were usually very hard work, dirty and dangerous. But things had started to get better long before 1880. In 1841 the Mines Act, passed by Parliament, said no child under 10 was to work underground. In 1868 the Agricultural Gangs Act said no child under 8 was to be employed in an agricultural gang. The 1874 Factories Act stated that no child under 10 was to be employed in a factory and the 1875 Climbing Boys Act made it illegal for boys to climb up chimneys to sweep them.


Staff and children outside Bierton School some time between 1880 and 1901This made it easier for children to go to school. The 1870 Education Act required every area of Britain to build enough schools so that each child had a place. Do a search on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal to find schools built in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. Write five down here along with when they were built.















How many of the schools were built after the 1870 Act of Parliament? Can you find schools that were built before? What do you think this tells you about local people in those areas?


The schools were usually one room. Children of all ages would learn together. Some schools were established in cottages where one woman would teach young children. These schools were called Dame Schools. Did you find any schools in cottages in your previous search? There were probably more of these that we don’t know about.


Akeley Victorian school-houseThere were some schools that were much larger. Do a search for the church school in Wing on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal and answer the following questions about it: 

  1. What date was it established?
  2. Who set the school up?
  3. How many children attended in 1862?
  4. How many children attended in 1887?
  5. How many children attended in 1899?
  6. When were the two periods when the school was enlarged?
  7. Who was the schoolmistress between 1887 and 1899?

From the description it sounds as if boys and girls were taught separately, which was common in the nineteenth century. This was a big school, and got bigger from the time it was first opened in 1850, long before schools had to be built, up until 1899, nearly twenty years after schooling was made compulsory.


The schoolmaster would also usually live next to the school. Can you find any schools on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal where there is a schoolmaster’s house attached? You can do a separate search for teacher’s house to find them.


There were some benefits and some disadvantages of having the teacher living next to the school. Write the pros and cons for both teachers and children here:
















Go back to find out more about the Rich and poor.