Sir Henry Craik

(1846—1927) civil servant and author

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(1846–1927), educational administrator and Unionist politician. Craik was born in Glasgow, where he studied at the university and then at Balliol College, Oxford. After working as an examiner with the Committee of the (Privy) Council on Education, he was appointed in 1885 as the secretary of the newly established Scotch Education Department (see Scottish Office), the government department responsible for Scottish education (see schools and schooling: 4). He held the post until 1904, and laid the basis for Scottish school education until the present day. His first achievement was to end so-called payment by results, by which teachers in elementary schools were paid according to the results of their pupils in tests set by the schools inspectorate. This had been controversial in Scotland, and Craik shared the general Scottish view that teachers should be accorded as much professional autonomy as was consistent with a general governmental oversight of standards. Believing also in the value of a broad liberal education for all, he abolished fees in elementary schools and promoted the study in elementary and secondary schools of subjects beyond the core of reading, writing, and arithmetic; in particular, he was a proponent of physical education. He firmly believed in the value of secondary education, and sought to extend it and to raise its status by a new Leaving Certificate in 1888 (the main component of which, the Higher Grade, lasted unchanged in principle until the end of the 20th century). He broadened the social basis of secondary education by inaugurating Higher Grade schools and Supplementary Courses in elementary schools.


From The Oxford Companion to Scottish History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: British History.

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