In the 18th century sons of wealthy parents were sent to expensive public schools such as Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Charterhouse, Westminster and Winchester. The public school curriculum was dominated by Greek and Latin and teaching methods tended to be very traditional. Nonconformists were excluded from most public schools so they formed what became known as Dissenting Academies such as those at Daventry and Warrington. The education received at these schools was more closely linked to the world of business and included subjects such as science and accountancy.
Some headmasters attempted to reform public schools in the 19th century. Samuel Butler introduced mathematics and history at Shrewsbury School whereas Thomas Arnold provided lessons in geography, modern history and foreign languages at Rugby.
In the 1850s Frances Buss and Dorothea Beale began to establish new types of public schools for girls. The North London Collegiate School and Cheltenham Ladies College, both provided an education that helped prepare young women who wanted a career in the professions.