The Elementary Education Act 1870, commonly known as Forster's
Education Act, set the framework for schooling of all children between
the ages of 5 and 12 in England and Wales. It was drafted by William
Forster, a Liberal MP, and it was introduced on 17 February 1870 after
campaigning by the National Education League, although not entirely to
their requirements. In Birmingham, Joseph Chamberlain, not yet a
Member of Parliament, was a prominent campaigner on the issue.
However, like many grassroots Liberals he opposed the bill because it
was open to the possibility of subsidising
Church of England
1 Need 2 Principles 3 Effects of the Act 4 Commercial consequences 5 End of school boards 6 Standards of education 7 Scotland 8 References 9 Further reading
9.1 Primary sources
10 External links
A driving force behind the Act was a perceived need for Britain to
remain competitive in the world by being at the forefront of
manufacture and improvement.
The Act was not taken up in all areas and would be more firmly
enforced through later reforms. There were objections to the concept
of universal education. One was because many people remained hostile
to the idea of mass education. They claimed it would make labouring
classes 'think' and that these classes would think of their lives as
dissatisfying and possibly encourage them to revolt. Others feared
that handing children to a central authority could lead to
indoctrination. Some poor people feared that mass
education would equip people to defraud or mislead those without an
education. Another reason was the vested interests of
the Church and other social groups. The churches were funded by the
state with public money to provide education for the poor and these
churches did not want to lose that influence on youth.[citation
The Act established the foundations of English elementary education.
The state (Gladstonian Liberalism) became increasingly involved and
after 1880 attendance was made compulsory for children until they were
10 years old, with various exemptions.
The Act was passed partly in response to political factors (such as
the need to educate the citizens recently enfranchised by the Reform
Act 1867 to vote wisely). It also came about due to demands for reform
from industrialists, who feared Britain's status in world trade was
being threatened by the lack of an effective education
system. The spectacular military successes of the
Prussian army in the
The following are the six Standards of Education contained in the Revised code of Regulations, 1872
Reading One of the narratives next in order after monosyllables in an elementary reading book used in the school.
Writing Copy in manuscript character a line of print, and write from dictation a few common words.
Arithmetic Simple addition and subtraction of numbers of not more than four figures, and the multiplication table to multiplication by six.
Reading A short paragraph from an elementary reading book.
Writing A sentence from the same book, slowly read once, and then dictated in single words.
Arithmetic The multiplication table, and any simple rule as far as short division (inclusive).
Reading A short paragraph from a more advanced reading book.
Writing A sentence slowly dictated once by a few words at a time, from the same book.
Arithmetic Long division and compound rules (money).
Reading A few lines of poetry or prose, at the choice of the inspector.
Writing A sentence slowly dictated once, by a few words at a time, from a reading book, such as is used in the first class of the school.
Arithmetic Compound rules (common weights and measures).
Reading A short ordinary paragraph in a newspaper, or other modern narrative.
Writing Another short ordinary paragraph in a newspaper, or other modern narrative, slowly dictated once by a few words at a time.
Arithmetic Practice and bills of parcels.
Reading To read with fluency and expression.
Writing A short theme or letter, or an easy paraphrase.
Arithmetic Proportion and fractions (vulgar and decimal).
Scotland Although universal primary education had been established in Scotland by the Education Act of 1633, a similar act to the English Elementary Education Act was passed in 1872 for Scotland, the Education (Scotland) Act 1872. It required compulsory attendance from the start. It allowed post-elementary schools, but not public funding of them. There were around 1,000 boards in Scotland at the time they were eventually abolished. The 1872 Education Act brought in compulsory education for all children between 5 and 13, although fees still had to be paid until 1890. Teacher shortages continued and problems arose in areas where teachers who spoke no Gaelic attempted to teach children who had no English. Pupil-teachers could later qualify after attending Teacher Training College. Local school boards made sure sufficient schools were built and that children attended them. After 1918, this became a county responsibility. State control increased the number of school inspectors after 1872. Medical and dental inspections were introduced after 1908, though reaching remote schools proved difficult. The leaving age was raised to 14 in 1883. The new system was co-ordinated nationally by the Scotch Education Department with the curriculum emphasising the teaching of reading, writing, and arithmetic (the three ‘Rs’). The churches made a crucial contribution to the new system by handing over their schools without charge to the School Boards. At this time, the Free Church supported 548 schools across Scotland together with 584 teachers. References
^ Peter T. Marsh,
Armytage, Walter H. G. (1970). "The 1870 Education Act". British Journal of Educational Studies. 18 (2): 121–133. Briggs, Asa (1991). "Struggle: fighting for the Education Act, 1870". The Collected Essays of Asa Briggs. Volume 3: Serious Pursuits: Communications and Education. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf. pp. 246–83. ISBN 0710805365. Heffer, Simon. High minds: the Victorians and the birth of modern Britain (2013) pp 412-69. Marsh, Peter (1994). Joseph Chamberlain: entrepreneur in politics. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 34–55. ISBN 0300058012. Stephens, W. B. (1998). Education in Britain, 1750–1914. Basingstoke: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-60511-X.
MacLure, J. Stuart (1985) . Educational Documents, England and Wales, 1816 to the present day (5th ed.). London: Methuen. ISBN 0-416-39470-1. Collected reports and publications of the National Education League, Library of Birmingham, A370.8, z1103222
The Internet Archive – OCR scanned full text of The Elementary Education Act, 1870, with introduction, notes, and index, and appendix containing the incorporated statutes, W. Cunningham Glenn, 1870, Shaw & Sons, Fetter Lane.
v t e
List of English statutes Charter of Liberties Magna Carta
Acts of Parliament by states preceding the Kingdom of Great Britain
Parliament of England
to 1483 1485–1601 1603–1641 Interregnum (1642–1660) 1660–1699 1700–1706
Parliament of Scotland
Acts of Parliament of the Kingdom of Great Britain
1707–1719 1720–1739 1740–1759 1760–1779 1780–1800
Acts of the Parliament of Ireland
to 1700 1701–1800
Parliament of the United Kingdom
1801–1819 1820–1839 1840–1859 1860–1879 1880–1899 1900–1919 1920–1939 1940–1959 1960–1979 1980–1999 2000 to date Halsbury's Statutes Legislation.gov.uk Short titles
relating to the European Union
1972 to date
Church of England
Church of England
Legislation of devolved institutions
Acts of the Scottish Parliament
Acts and Measures of the National Assembly for Wales
Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly Acts of the Parliament of Northern Ireland
Orders-in-Council / Orders in Council
for Northern Ireland (1972-2009)
Orders in Council for Northern Ireland
Scottish Statutory Instruments
Acts of Sederunt Acts of Ad