Testing Times: The Origins of School Examinations

As thousands of pupils prepare for their exam results, Richard Willis describes the origins of school examinations in England.

Complaints about grade inflation and the government’s refusal to alter radically the school examinations’ system abound, but these will not detract from the joy or disappointment of thousands of school students as they learn their GCSE, AS and A-level results this summer. Whatever their grades, they are unlikely to give much thought to the origins of school examinations in England, which were a Victorian innovation masterminded by the obscure  College of Preceptors, a teachers’ society founded in Bloomsbury, London, in 1846.

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