This chapter reviews the changes that have occurred since the public school movement began with William of Wykeham's foundation for seventy poor scholars at Winchester College. It notes a continuous theme in public school history since the early nineteenth century, that of their ability to cast off the shackles of historical tradition. It argues that the greatest public school advances of the following century were to widen the syllabus beyond the Classics and some maths to include science, modern languages and more contemporary history and literature, to introduce sport as a successful solution to bullying and rioting, and to improve the quality of the relationship between master and pupil. The chapter also considers the centuries-old sense among public schools that they are educating leaders from among the country's elite.
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