chapter  12
28 Pages

Paying for education

With the exception of very limited activities like regimental, work­ house and prison schools, the state in England was not involved in actually providing education until after the 1870 Education Act and then only on a residual basis, filling in where the churches and private bodies had left gaps. State provision thus came later in England than in most other countries in Europe and North Amer­ ica. That did not mean, however, that the state played no part. Ever since the seventeenth century in Scotland, grants from the local rates had been made to support parish schools, and in 1833, in the wake of the newly reformed Parliament, a very small grant was made to support the work of the National Society which promoted Church of England schools and the British and Foreign Schools Society that promoted Nonconformist ones. The grant amounted to only £20,000 and had to be matched by local voluntary dona­ tions. Parliament was in fact extremely reluctant to give assistance on a large scale, not merely because of the cost, but also because it was felt that if the state were to contribute generously this would merely reduce charitable or voluntary activity. As late as 1861 the Newcastle Commission argued that there was no case for state provision or compulsion to attend school. The Commission’s re­ port argued that with more generous financial help the voluntary sector could meet the rising demand for education. Nevertheless,

aid grew significantly from 1833 to 1870. Its purposes were ex­ tended from school building to the building of teacher training colleges and teachers’ houses, the provision of furniture and equip­ ment, and the costs of training teachers, and of their salaries and pensions.