Oxfordshire Libraries to mark anniversary of the Elementary Education Act

Oxfordshire’s library service is to mark a major anniversary for the nation’s education being 150 years since the passing of legislation which entitled every child of elementary age to access a school education by right.

In September, Oxfordshire County Council’s Libraries will be commemorating the anniversary with a series of activities on social media and a nostalgic look at our memories of schooldays. School – Best Days of Your Life? will run from 2-16th September on Oxfordshire Libraries Facebook page.

Among the activities will be a scheduled video demo of reminiscence session using a Childhood Reminiscence Box, examples of quirky and nostalgic school photos from the past and the regular online book club (Bloomin’ Good Books) will take a nostalgic look at book covers of titles like Just William, Mallory Towers and Harry Potter.

We take the right to education for granted today but in the 1870s, some children continued to be employed on farms and in factories. Others had family care duties, all of which interrupted their education. In Oxford in 1871, records show that nearly one in five children received no education at all.

Forster’s Education Act – or to give it its true name, the Elementary Education Act of 1870, changed the course of history for our education system, setting a framework for the education of all children aged between five and 12. Local authorities were required to submit a return on the number of children in their area, compared with the number of places available.

The History and Museum Services will, in due course, be preparing an online collection of photographs, historical objects and records to support research from local communities interested in starting a community project about a local school.

Councillor Lorraine Lindsay Gale, with joint responsibilities for Education and Cultural Services said:

“This educational landmark presents a fantastic opportunity to spend a moment reflecting on our own experiences of school and the books we enjoyed as well as new books which continue to be inspired by schooldays. I look forward to the upcoming collection of historical records, photographs and objects which will inspire students and communities shape a research project about local schools.”

For more details on School – Best Days of Your Life? 2-16 September plus other great library activities, please visit: