I have temporary access to the newspaper search engine, Newspaperarchive.com. So, I decided to search the term, “failing schools.”
The earliest usage of this term dates back to March 02, 1735, in the Dublin Evening Post.
The context of the term is financial. The 1735 news excerpt concerns “a Voluntary society in Dublin, who associated in the year 1717, for this very Purpose to promote Charity Schools”:
…[The Voluntary Society] assisted some failing Schools by the help of a Collection about once in two Years made in one of the Churches of Dublin….
The second oldest search result for the term, “failing schools,” is in the June 21, 1885, British publication, the Guardian. In this case, the “failing school” is one that does not make efficient usage of its financing. In this extensive article, the author mainly argues for the consolidation of the financing of individual schools…
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