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In early Victorian England, most children did not go to school and grew up unable to read or write. Instead they were sent out to work and earned money for their families. Fortunate children from well-off families were afforded an education, but even then the opportunities for girls were fewer than for boys. Poor children who did receive schooling went to free charity schools or 'Dame' schools, and Sunday schools run by churches. In the 1840s, Parliament passed a law requiring children working in factories be given six half-days schooling every week and 'Ragged Schools' were set up to provide free basic educatino for orphans and very poor children. By 1870 Britain provided schools for children aged 5 to 12. However, not all were free so many could not afford to attend, and it was not mandatory for another 10 years, so many children still went out to work. It would be another 20 years before the school leaving age was raised to 12 and teh 'school's pence' fee abolished so that schools became free. Here is the story of Victorian schools, and the teachers and children who lived through a period of great change as the British nation evolved and developed under the rule of Queen Victoria.
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