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Independent schools saved Victorian pupils

Congratulations on your centenary and the engaging interpretations of educational history you published. The view that Victorian schooling, with its mind-numbing drill and rote learning, was designed to achieve social control chimes with my understanding, unlike that of Dr Lang (Letters, September 17).

Victorian state schools not only attempted to regiment the children's minds but also delivered poor reading results. Working parents preferred to send their children occasionally to independent schools - the dame and private venture schools whose individual method was far more successful. That is, of course, until the Education Act of 1870. Phil Gardener's excellent book, The Lost Elementary Schools of Victorian England (Croom Helm, 1984), exposes as propaganda the Victorian caricatures of the independent schools of the day. The past has plenty to teach us all.

Judith Mabbott, Teacher at a state school and EbD student at Sheffield University.

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