Education Living gallery heading 1901: Living at the Time of the Census Living in 1901
A Political Football?What Did Children Learn?Pupils and Teachers*  

What Did Children Learn?

In 1901, the curriculum in elementary schools was governed by a Code of Regulations for Day Schools, issued every year by the Board of Education. This Code defined the core curriculum at various levels. For infant schools, it was to be 'suitable instruction in Reading, Writing and Numbers; simple lessons on common things; appropriate and varied occupations; Needlework; Drawing; Singing and Physical Exercises'.

For older pupils the core consisted of 'English, by which is to be understood Reading, Recitation, Writing, Composition, and Grammar insofar as it bears upon the correct use of language; Arithmetic; Drawing (for boys); Needlework (for girls); lessons, including object lessons on Geography, History and common things; Singing, which should as a rule be by rote and Physical Training'.
'Learning to Cook' - link to an enlarged version

To this core could be added one or more additional subjects from a list that included Algebra, Mechanics, Chemistry, Physics, Animal Physiology, Botany, Welsh (in Welsh schools), German, French, Book-keeping and Domestic Science. There was a third list of options for girls: Cookery, Laundry Work, Dairy Work and Household Management, and for boys: Cottage Gardening, Manual Instruction and Cookery 'for boys in seaport towns'.

Follow this link to East Tuddenham and Honingham school.

A revision to the Code, issued in July 1901, encouraged greater flexibility and urged schools to aim to prepare their pupils 'for their future callings in life, or to enable those who may continue their education further to take advantage of the instruction afforded in schools of a more advanced character'. Basic reading skills and rote learning were not enough: 'children may be taught less and learn more, i.e. the teacher should endeavour to make the children observe and infer for themselves, and should be less anxious to convey to their minds ready-made information'.

Formal examinations would no longer be held by school inspectors, who would rely instead on pupils' coursework and their behaviour in lessons to assess schools. Corporal punishment should be discouraged and 'no punishment which excites the emotion of terror in a child should ever be employed'.