Public Schools Act 1868
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The Public Schools Act 1868 was enacted by the
British Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kin ...
to reform and regulate seven leading English boys' boarding schools, most of which had grown out of ancient
charity school Charity schools, sometimes called blue coat schools, or simply the Blue School, were significant in the history of education in England The history of education in England is documented from Anglo-Saxons, Saxon settlement of England, and the ...
s for the education of a certain number of poor scholars, but were by then, as they are today, also educating many sons of the English upper and upper-middle classes on a fee-paying basis. The preamble describes "An Act to make further Provision for the good Government and Extension of certain Public Schools in England." The concept of a public school therefore predates this Act. The Act followed the report of the
Clarendon Commission The Clarendon Commission was a royal commission A royal commission is a major ad-hoc formal public inquiry A tribunal of inquiry is an official review of events or actions ordered by a government body. In many common law countries, such as ...
, a
Royal Commission A royal commission is a major ad-hoc formal public inquiry A tribunal of inquiry is an official review of events or actions ordered by a government body. In many common law countries, such as the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of ...
set up to inquire into nine leading schools, which sat from 1861 to 1864 and investigated conditions and abuses which had grown up over the centuries at these originally charity schools. The bill was presented for its first reading in the Lords by Lord Clarendon on 13 March 1865 and for its second reading on 3 April 1865. The bill was in two parts, the first containing the general provisions of the bill and the second containing specific proposals for each school. St Paul's School and
Merchant Taylors' SchoolMerchant Taylors' School may refer to: *Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood (founded 1561), is a British independent school originally located in the City of London and now located in Northwood in Middlesex . *Merchant Taylors' Boys' School, Crosby ...
were omitted, as they argued successfully that their constitutions made them legally "private" schools and that their constitutions could not be altered by public legislation; thus the act concerned itself with the other seven schools investigated by the Clarendon Commission: *
Charterhouse School (God having given, I gave) , established = , closed = , type = Public school Independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independ ...
*
Eton College Eton College () is a public school (private sector) for boys in Eton, Berkshire Eton ( ) is a town in Berkshire, England, on the opposite bank of the River Thames to Windsor, connected to it by Windsor Bridge. The civil parish In ...

Eton College
*
Harrow School (The Faithful Dispensation of the Gifts of God) , established = (Royal Charter A royal charter is a formal grant issued by a monarch under royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege ...
*
Rugby School Rugby School is a public school (English independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope, Pennsylvania, a ...
*
Shrewsbury School Shrewsbury School is a public school (English independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope, Pennsylvani ...
*
Westminster School (God Gives the Increase) , established = Earliest records date from the 14th century, refounded in 1560 , type = Public school Independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups ...
*
Winchester College Winchester College is a public school (a fee-charging independent school An independent school is independent in its finances and governance. Also known as private schools, non-governmental, privately funded, or non-state schools, they ...

Winchester College
The act regulated these seven schools in a number of ways, as recommended by the Clarendon Commission, with the aim of creating better conditions in them and preventing abuses, and authorized the establishment of a board of governors for each school, to supervise their administration. It also freed them of their obligations under their founding charters to educate "Foundation Scholars", i.e. scholarship boys paying nominal or no fees. The Act made it clear that parliament had authority to legislate for the schools. The act led to development of the schools away from the traditional exclusively
classics Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer ...

classics
-based curriculum taught by clergymen, to a somewhat broader scope of studies. In 1887 the Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal determined that the
City of London School , established = , closed = , type = Public school Boys' independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope ...

City of London School
was a public school.''Blake v The Mayor and Citizens of the City of London''
887 __NOTOC__ Year 887 (Roman numerals, DCCCLXXXVII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. Events By place Europe * November 17 – East Frankish magnates revolt against the ...
L.R. 19 Q.B.D. 79.


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Text of the Public Schools Act 1868
Education in England {{Portal bar, United Kingdom, Law United Kingdom Acts of Parliament 1868 United Kingdom Education Acts 1868 in law 1868 in education July 1868 events