|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
A first school or lower school was the first part of the 'three tier' school system, the others being Middle school and Upper School in rural areas of England and Wales. Virtually all have now either been merged into Primary schools or converted to Infant schools or Junior schools.
The notion of First Schools was mooted by the Plowden Report of 1967 which proposed a change to a three tier model including First Schools for children aged between 5 and 8, Middle Schools for 8-12 year-olds, and then Upper or High Schools for 12-16 year-olds. First schools were officially introduced into the first areas to use them in September 1968.
In practice, two main models were used:
- 5-8 First Schools, followed by 8-12 Middle Schools, as suggested by Plowden
- 5-9 First Schools, followed by 9-13 Middle Schools, as implemented by the West Riding of Yorkshire in the mid-1960s. These are sometimes known as Lower schools.
Other options were implemented in different authorities, including using the term Primary School in place of First School.
The National Curriculum, introduced after the Education Reform Act 1988, the new curriculum's splits in Key Stages at age 11 encouraged the majority of remaining Local Education Authorities to return to a two-tier system of Primary and Secondary schools. The majority of first and middle schools have been reorganised to infant and junior schools since. Exceptions include Dudley in September 1990.
In areas where the three-tier model has been replaced, first schools have been converted to infant or primary schools in many cases, or closed in others. No authority has introduced three-tier education in any area since 1995, although some new first schools have opened in areas which already have three-tier systems in place.