British and Foreign School Society

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British and Foreign School Society. The society stemmed from the work of Joseph Lancaster, a pioneer of English elementary education, who established a school and a training institution at Borough Road, Southwark, in 1798. With the promise of £100 p.a. from George III, Lancaster formed ‘The Society for Promoting the Royal British or Lancasterian System for the Education of the Poor’ in 1808, later changed to the British and Foreign School Society. The main object was to enable poor children to read the Bible. The schools were not confined to any one denomination, in the words of the Royal Charter ‘all sects and parties sinking their differences in the provision of the best educational means, and using them in the common school on equal terms’. Nevertheless, the Anglicans soon established their own National Schools Society. The training institution at Borough Road was moved to Isleworth (Middx.) in 1890, retaining the name of Borough Road Training College. Almost 4,000 British schools were established by the Society. Many became board schools after 1870 and either closed or transferred to local education authorities after the 1902 Education Act.

Peter Gordon