A Brief History of UK education Through the Ages

St. Peter's College, Cambridge
St Peter's College, Cambridge, view from Trumpington Street, 1815

Education in the UK has changed a great deal over the centuries. In ancient times, teaching was mainly carried out by priests and prophets who generally only taught the children of rich people. They would show them how to become leaders and businessmen, to take over this role when their turn came. Eventually, the Roman Catholic Church took charge of teaching the children of nobles and some of their centers of learning still exist today, such as Cambridge University whose first college was St. Peters that was established in 1284.

However, before this, in Saxon times religious institutions had set up schools for children that were not of noble birth, although it was mainly a matter of choice who attended them. It was not until 1880 that education became compulsory for 5 to 10-year olds, and then gradually the leaving age was raised until it reached 18 in 2015.

The Evolution of Further Education

It was 1836 when the government gave permission for the first school of design to be created, and this was the start of further education in the UK. By 1856, the Science and Art Department of the Board of Trade has become responsible for giving grant-aid to schools of a technical or design nature. Progress in further education continued slowly until the end of the 19th century by which time it had become available at day schools, night schools, various institutes, polytechnics, universities and working men’s clubs and colleges. It was 1902 before the responsibility for further education was passed to the Local Education Authorities, but it was after the second world war before commercials schools of further education were fully integrated into the UK education system.

The University Years

As the years have passed, the importance of further education has become much more apparent. For several years, anyone that wanted to qualify in a profession such as medicine or law would attend university to get their degree. This did restrict the number of students that studied because of the room that each university had to accommodate students, and the places were generally taken by younger people.

The Advent of Online Learning

Online courses have become so popular that there is some debate as to whether they will eventually mean the end of traditional colleges and universities. When you consider that Aston University, for instance, offers a business analytics masters online that has flexible study options, six different start dates and helps you to build connections with peers and future business leaders, it is clear this is a great option.

Studying online does away with the need to commute, means you can save cash by eating at home and fit the work in with your lifestyle whether you have a full-time job or are a stay-at-home parent. You are taught to the same standard as if you attended a class-based course and only get your certification if you pass the same exam. There are online tutorials and any help you need when you need it, and when you consider all these things it is easy to see why more people are opting to get their degrees online and university numbers are falling.

Education has continued to evolve in schools too, and no doubt technology has also played a large part in that too.

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