We are trying to compile a list of national schools, please contact us if you have memories or photographs of a national school
or basic details of where
a national school once was.
NATIONAL SCHOOLS MENU
Can you help?
We are intrigued by this book we have been sent which appears to have belonged to someone at
Batley National School in 1850.
More details here.
This the beginnings of what we understand is the first online directory of the national schools of England and Wales. If there are enough visitors, and enough demand, I will make it a stand-alone website.
Many people who spent time in children's homes and orphanages remember having their schooling in the local national schools. This is what initially prompted the need to provide some basic information about national schools although the interest in national schools is, of course, much wider than this.
National Schools - a history
National Schools were once a common feature of our villages, towns and cities. They were often smallish buildings (compared with modern school buildings) providing basic facilities - perhaps only one or two classrooms.
Girls and boys were generally educated separately in the national schools in the early days - either in separate national school buildings or in different parts of the same school.
So where did these schools come from? And who ran them?
Providing education for children whose families could not afford to pay for it was a key issue in nineteenth century England and Wales. Several organisations and individuals took on the task of providing schools for the poor.
One such organisation was the Church of England body known as the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church in England and Wales. It was set up in 1811 with the aim that 'the National Religion should be made the foundation of National Education, and should be the first and chief thing taught to the poor, according to the excellent Liturgy and Catechism provided by our Church'.
The Society became known as the National Society for Promoting Religious Education.
The schools founded by the National Society were called National Schools. The local Church of England church was fundamental in the establishment of the National Schools in that parish. The aim, in fact, of the National Society was to have a National School in every parish.
According to the Society's website*, "Five thousand Church of England and Church in Wales schools, educating almost a million children and young people, are the heirs of [this] proud tradition."
Key milestones in the life of many national schools included the Education Acts of 1870 and 1880. The 1870 Act established the foundations of English elementary education. The state became increasingly involved and after 1880 attendance was made compulsory for children until they were 13 years old. These development meant the expansion or increased local authority involvement in many national schools.
National Schools were set up from the early nineteenth century onwards and some continued in use as schools until the mid twentieth century. During the twentieth century, the state (rather than the National Society) took on the job of funding the schools.
* The National Society's website seems not to be functioning at this time.