Despite the history of preparatory schools in the independent sector which have long separated classes at the age of 13, Middle Schools are a relatively new phenomenon in the English state education system, with even the oldest having a history dating back no more than 40 years. In fact, until the mid-1960s, Middle Schools as we now know them were effectively illegal.
It could be said that the first step towards a Middle School, was the introduction of a three-tier system in the county of Leicestershire in 1957. This however, did not introduce Middle Schools. It served only to break Secondary education into two phases. Even today, many schools in that county are High Schools for 11- to 14-year-olds and Colleges for 14- to 18-year-olds.
This section details the history of the rise and fall of Middle schools in the maintained sector in England.