Powys Digital History Project

Education in Wales 3


The founding of the Societies
The National Society was established in 1811 to set up schools in which the children of the poor would be taught the Anglican religion. The British and Foreign Society was established in 1814 to promote non-sectarian education. At the time there was no state funding of education, and these schools were dependent on voluntary contributions. However, the National Society had an advantage in benefiting from the Anglican diocesan system, and also from the readiness of landowners to endow Anglican education. (For detailed information on an individual school, see the pages on the Presteigne British School). Therefore by 1833 (when the government made the first state contribution to the funding of schools) there were 146 National schools in Wales as opposed to just some 15 British schools. This did not reflect the growing numbers involved in Nonconformity, and many Nonconformist parents refused to allow their children to attend the Church schools.

First moves towards state involvement
In 1833 the government began to contribute towards the cost of erecting schools. It was decided to share the money between the National Society and the British Society. The National Society were better organised to take advantage of this, and during the period 1833-47 a further 231 National schools were established in Wales. (See the pages on Machynlleth National School, for information on the very beginnings of a school of this type)
In 1843 Sir Robert Peel's Tory government tried to introduce a bill to establish schools for the children of the poor. But according to the proposals, the boards which would have been set up to supervise them would have had an Anglican majority, and in the face of Nonconformist protests (from both Protestants and Catholics) the measure was withdrawn.
The Nonconformists in Wales had been slow to take advantage of government grants to establish British schools since 1833 (by 1843 there were still only 28 British schools in Wales). But now more rapid progress was made, and by 1847 another 79 had been established, mainly in the north and west.

There are 6 pages on the origins of education in Wales. Use the box links below to view the other pages.