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Until the 1870 Education Act, children were taught by individuals or Sunday Schools. The first Day Schools were set up by the Iron and Coal companies who deducted the money to pay for them from the workers’ wages. Between 1860 and 1886, 34 colliery schools were opened in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. Schools were also set up by the chapels and the Church; the chapels set up British Schools, which were non-doctrinal and non-denominational, and the Church set up National Schools, which were based upon Anglican principles. The 1870 Act provided for the setting up of school boards where there were not enough day schools. These were funded with money from rates and by Government grants. By 1900, most 4-12 years olds had an elementary education provided for them. Here the education concentrated on the 3Rs and scripture to be learned by memory. The 1902 Education Act abolished school boards and replaced them with Local Education Authorities.


Although the 1870 Act had allowed for some Higher Grade Schools to be set up by the School Boards, most schools were fee paying Grammar and public Schools. The Welsh Intermediate Education Act in 1889 allowed local authorities to set up County Schools for children up to the age of 18. Most places were however, fee paying. Under the 1902 Education Act, most of these places became free, and although many children left at the age of 12, more attended County Schools and sat exams. 

Source: Coal Society: A History of the South Wales Mining Valleys 1840-1980 David Egan


Evans, L. Wynne. Education in Industrial Wales. (Avalon Books, 1971).

Nash, Gerallt D. Victorian School days in Wales. (University of Wales Press, 1991).

Seaborne, Malcolm. Schools in Wales 1500-1900: a social and architectural history. (Denbigh, 1992).

Smith, Robert. Schools, politics and society: elementary education in Wales. (Cardiff, 1999).

Welsh Department. Ministry of Education. Education in Wales.  (HMSO 1948).

All items listed in the further reading are available for consultation in either the South Wales Miners’ Library or the Library and Information Centre, University of Wales Swansea. Click here to link to the library catalogue. 


Powys Digital History Project Education in Wales 1811-1847





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