In 1857, a Royal Commission under the Duke of Newcastle examined the state's education and advised on "sound and cheap elementary instruction to all classes of the people".
The Commission found that for children of poorer classes, education lasted 4-6 years with most leaving at the age of 11 years. There was a demand for child labour and a child's wages was expected to supplement that of their parents. Having said that, the Governments annual grant to schools was over half a million.
So to ensure teaching was effective and favoured all pupils alike, each school which received a government grant had to set examinations, for all of its pupils, every year. Schools were paid on the exam results. Hence the culture of favouring brighter pupils over the "duller" children was ushered in.
Although provision for younger children existed in Stroud, Secondary and Adult provision came much later.