In 1833, the government awarded grants of money to schools. Not everyone who was in charge was able to read themselves, so the standard of education was not very good. In 1844, Parliament passed a law requiring children working in factories, be given six-half-days schooling every week. 'Ragged Schools' were set up to provide free basic education for orphans and very poor children. One of the first “Ragged Schools” was started by a Sprowston Shoemaker John Ellis; he sold up to fund the Saltley Reformatory in 1853. In 1870, Parliament passed the Forster`s Education Act, requiring all parts of Britain to provide schools to children between the ages of 5 and 12. Not all schools were free and many families could not afford the “School`s pence” which had to be paid each week. Schools were not free until 1891. Queen Victoria`s reign brought many improvements to the education of children, especially for the poorer families.
Extract from Kingston Fowler Memories about school
School at the “Switchback” on Wroxham Road. There used to be an Infants School at the corner of Sprowston Park, about 1860`s, part of the foundations are still there, also flowers from the old School garden still appear every year. According to Kingston Fowler`s mother, the first school existed near the dip on the right looking towards Wroxham, and was known as “Hillsens Hole”, near Home Farm, and nearly opposite the Blue Boar PH, on land owned by the Gurney family of Sprowston Hall; parents had to pay to send their children to this Infants School. My mother and father in Law attended the School, it was not compulsory, and they made a charge of one penny per week. In about the year 1910, my grandfather William Graver, agricultural engineer and blacksmith, owned a four seater Benz car with cushion tyres. On one occasion he took some of his grandchildren for a ride in this car, which he called “Old Ben”. On approaching the hill in the Sprowston “switchback” he said “I don`t know if Old Ben will get to the top, if not you will have to get out when I stop”. Fortunately this was not necessary as Old Ben got there all right. I cannot remember that part of the road getting flooded in my young days, I don’t suppose a school would have been built there if it were so. My Father in Law didn't go many times; found it was more profitable to go Crow scaring I expect. He never could read or write until the day he died, he however produced six lovely daughters and four sons, that’s how he learnt to count I think.