Outline of education in Kent
  • Within a century of Augustine converting the King of Kent to Christianity, c.597, schools were established in Canterbury and Rochester. Alfred the Great encouraged teaching and reading, c.880. Aelfric compiled school books for young monks in the late 10th century. Outside monasteries, home tutors were employed by the wealthy.
  • From the 16th century, public schools, grammar schools, church schools, charity schools, Sunday schools and Dame schools provided education, for a fee. In 1833 the government first offered grants to religious societies.
  • The 1870 Elementary Education Act allowed establishment of School Boards. Rapid increase of elementary schools, supplementing existing church, private and guild schools. The idea of education for all was now widely valued.
  • 1880: there was compulsory attendance for 5–10 year olds. However, poor children took time off to work, e.g. at harvest time.
  • 1890s: tax on the drinks industry provided funds to establish technical schools and colleges, for example Wye College.
  • Minimum school leaving age was increased to: 11 in 1893, 12 in 1899, 14 in 1918, 15 in 1947, and 16 in 1973.
  • The 1902 Public Education Act recognised the need for better provision of secondary education. Elementary schools passed from control by School Boards to that by District or County Councils.
  • 1944: Butler’s Education Act provided free secondary education in grammar, technical, modern or comprehensive schools.
  • The 1964 Labour Government proposed and generally implemented national comprehensive secondary education, including special needs. (The move to comprehensives was opposed by Conservative-led Kent County Council, which still retains variations of the ‘selective’ system, including the ‘Kent Test’.)
  • Throughout the above changes in state education, private and independent schools either continued to flourish or struggled to adapt and then closed down.

Education 1700-2000. Ian Coulson. In An Historical Atlas of Kent, pp.172-6.