Scotlands History


The Education Act of 1872 set up board schools for all children between 5 and 13. These were built by over nine hundred school boards. It was the first national system of state education, overseen by the Scotch Education Board, and it was compulsory.

Before this, school provision had been patchy, non-existent, or dependent on Ragged Schools for the poor, as in Aberdeen in 1841 and a similar scheme in Edinburgh in 1847 (set up by Dr Guthrie). There was also the work of the SSPCK (Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge) in the Highlands, though this was running down by the 1860s. In Glasgow, David Stow (1793-1864) had set up the first teacher training college in the British Isles: this was the Normal Seminary (1837), a forerunner of Jordanhill Training College.

By 1883 the school leaving age rose to 14. Pupils had a chance to progress to college, university or other training, via the Leaving Certificate set up in 1887. From 1889, fees were abandoned and educational provision was free but many children left school at the earliest opportunity as they needed to earn money to help support their family.

  • Old image of Barrhead School Girls
  • Child's writing slate with wooden frame

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