infant school
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An infant school is a term used primarily in
England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. It covers the constituent countries England and Wales and was formed by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. The substantive law of the jurisdiction is Engli ...
, for the education of children between the ages of four and seven years. It is usually a small school serving a particular area. It is sometimes a department in a larger
primary school A primary school (in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and South Africa), junior school (in Australia), elementary school or grade school (in North America and the Philippines) is a school for primary ed ...
educating children up to the age of approximately eleven years old. An infant school forms part of local education provision giving
primary education Primary education or elementary education is typically the first stage of Education, formal education, coming after preschool/kindergarten and before secondary school. Primary education takes place in ''primary schools'', ''elementary schools' ...
. In England and Wales, children start at infant school between the ages of four and five in a Reception class. They sometimes attend part-time (mornings only or afternoons only) for the first term. In England, reception is considered part of early years education whilst the following two years are known as Key Stage 1. In Wales, the entirety of nursery and infant school is included in the foundation phase. Infants is followed by
Junior School A Junior school is a type of school which provides primary education to children, often in the age range from 8 and 13, following attendance at Infant school which covers the age range 5–7. (As both Infant and Junior schools are giving Primary E ...
known formally in both England and Wales as
Key Stage 2 Key Stage 2 is the legal term for the four years of schooling in maintained schools in England and Wales normally known as Year 3, Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6, when the pupils are aged between 7 and 11 years. England and Wales Legal definition The t ...
.


History

The first infant school in England was at Brewers Green, Westminster in 1818 which was placed under the charge of James Buchanan, a weaver. Buchanan had served at what is considered the first infant school in Great Britain, Robert Owen's at New Lanark. The second in England was opened in 1820 by Joseph Wilson in Spitalfields and placed in the charge of
Samuel Wilderspin Samuel Wilderspin (23 March 1791, in Hornsey (parish), Hornsey, Wakefield – 1866) was an English people, English educator known for his pioneering work on infant schools. His belief was that a child should be encouraged to learn through experie ...
. In 1823, Wilderspin published
On the Importance of Educating the Infant Children of the Poor
'. In June 1824, Henry Brougham,
William Wilberforce William Wilberforce (24 August 175929 July 1833) was a British politician, philanthropist and leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave—someone ...
, Samuel Wilderspin and William Allen formed the Infant School Society. The purpose of the society was to train teachers and to promote infant school formation. Unlike Owen's school, those opened under Wilderspin's influence placed great emphasis on religious training for the young children of the poor.
Dame school Dame schools were small, privately run schools for young children that emerged in the British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean off the north-western coast of continental Europe, consisting of ...
s, which had existed long before, had shown the need for childcare of very young children for women who worked outside the home. The new infant schools were to provide a safe environment for these children as well as give them some educational advantages. Wilderspin's schools were based on the reform education theory of Swiss thinker
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (, ; 12 January 1746 – 17 February 1827) was a Swiss pedagogue and Education reform, educational reformer who exemplified Romanticism in his approach. He founded several educational institutions both in German- and ...
. James Pierrepont Greaves, secretary of the Infant School Society, worked with Pestalozzi for several years, as did Charles Mayo, who along with his sister Elizabeth Mayo, worked with the Home and Colonial Institution (later the Home and Colonial Infant School Society) to set up infant schools and train teachers. As a state school system was established in England and Wales from 1870 onwards, infant schools were incorporated into the system. The government set standards for pupils attainment in order to prepare them for the next stage of their schooling but from as early as 1893 infant schools were being encouraged to educate children in way that was suited to their development and by the
interwar period In the history of the 20th century, the interwar period lasted from 11 November 1918 to 1 September 1939 (20 years, 9 months, 21 days), the end of the First World War World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated a ...
they adopted a child centred approach. Later, following a 1967 report on primary education teachers were given more freedom to teach as they wished until the 1988 education reform act introduced a more specific subject based curriculum and mandatory testing. Infant and junior schools were often separate schools, but from the 1970s through the 1990s, many infant and junior departments were merged into single primary schools, as both an infants school and junior school gives primary education. The 1970s and 1980s saw hundreds of infant schools in Britain abolished in favour of first (primary) schools, but some were reverted into infant schools by the early-1990s. Since 2000, there have been several changes back and forth between infant and junior schools, and the combined
primary school A primary school (in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and South Africa), junior school (in Australia), elementary school or grade school (in North America and the Philippines) is a school for primary ed ...
model. By the 2010s, there was no single way in which schools are structured, and the academy school education model had been introduced. In 2016, the UK Government expressed an intention for all primary schools in England (combined infants and juniors) to become academy schools, and this plan is facing some criticism. The introduction of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 meant that classes in infant schools in
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...
and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the ...
are limited to no more than 30 children per school teacher.


See also

*
Education in the United Kingdom Education in the United Kingdom is a devolved matter with each of the countries of the United Kingdom having separate systems under separate governments: the UK Government is responsible for England England is a Countries of the Unit ...


Notes


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Infant School Educational stages School terminology Education in England School types Education in Wales Primary education Early childhood education in the United Kingdom