Characteristics of 19th Century Public School

Aims, Characteristics and physical
activities of public schools
What were the aims of public schools?
What were the characteristics of public schools?
What physical activities were originally undertaken at public schools?
Public schools were established long before state or government schools
were thought of
 Only used to cater for the ‘elite’ society of the upper class (such as Eton
and Harrow)
 During the 19th century the middle class emerged
 They had worked hard for their wealth and wanted to emulate the
lifestyles of the upper class
 Not allowed in public schools due to their background
 Middle class built their own Proprietary schools (such as Marlborough
and Clifton)
They aimed to educate the future leaders of society for their
role as politicians, lawyers and doctors
 Leadership skills and ‘behaviour befitting gentlemen’ key
components in their education
 Taught social order
 Prepared to serve their country in whatever way necessary
Public schools for the upper and eventually the middle classes
 Elitist
 Fee paying
 Controlled by trustees
 Often a long way from the boys homes in rural locations- most boarded
 Boys leaving home at an early age became institutionalised- learning their place in
 Older boys became prefects and younger boys were made to serve them (Fags)
 Bullying arose- very harsh and wide spread
 Single sex (initially for first sons only then daughters too)
 Strict discipline- flogging often occurred
 Harsh treatment and basic living conditions prepared boys for adult life
Physical Activities
Boys used to spend afternoons unsupervised and caused problems in the local area
trespassing on property, poaching, gambling and taking part in Mob games.
 School authorities disapproved of these activities because...
 they happened away from school grounds
 they had no moral values
 they bought the school’s reputation into disrepute
Development of Physical Activity
 Before the 1850’s sporting activities were seen as a waste of
 In 1864 Queen Victoria appointed the Earl of Clarendon and his
team to examine public school life
 Criticised many aspects and gave advice on how to improve-
recognised the value of team games
 Legacy remains here today with Rugby, Hockey and Cricket still
popular during curricular and extracurricular time