"Ham Peggotty, who went to the national school, and was a very dragon at his catechism"
Former National School
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeFormer National School - Credit: Philip Halling
In nineteenth century England national schools were founded by the National Society for Promoting Religious Education to educate the children of the poor.

A catechism was a kind of religious user's manual and was often styled as a series of questions and answers.