Arnold (1908)

Reports on Elementary Schools (text)

Reports on Elementary Schools 1852-1882
Matthew Arnold, edited by FS Marvin (1908)
London: HMSO

Background notes

Matthew Arnold

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) (pictured), whose father, Thomas, was famously head of Rugby School, is best known as a poet. His works include The Scholar Gypsy (1853) and Dover Beach (1867).

He was one of the earliest inspectors of schools. He was appointed in 1851, when there were only around twenty inspectors responsible for inspecting some four thousand schools, and retired in 1886. His reports thus cover an important period in the development of state education in England, during which the government finally accepted its responsibility for the education of all the nation's children, often in the face of vicious hostility.

As FS Marvin says in his Introduction:

No other period covers so large a development of our system of public education, or of our expenditure upon it. It contains the grant of free education, the abolition of the system of payment by results, the constitution of the Board of Education, the formation of local authorities in touch with all grades of education, the organisation of secondary schools, the transformation of the pupil teacher system (page xv).
Arnold's reports were first published in book form in 1889. In 1908 the Board of Education appointed FS Marvin (himself a schools inspector) to edit a new edition, and it is that which is presented here. It contains a selection of Arnold's annual reports on elementary schools covering the period 1852 to 1882, and of his reports on teacher training colleges from 1853 to 1870.

The Appendices are particularly valuable to the educational historian. They contain a selection of government papers - from the Treasury Minute of 1833 dealing with the government's first grant to schools, to the Revised Code of 1862, which introduced the notorious 'payment-by-results' system.

The book online

The complete text, including the Appendices, is presented here in a single web page.

I have corrected a handful of printing errors and simplified some of the punctuation. Blank pages have been omitted.

There are two Greek words in the text (on page 214) which I have done my best to render in HTML.

The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 15 May 2016.