History of Schooling



We are grateful to Derek Gillard for the carefully researched information which he has provided and which is available on his website for those wishing for a more in-depth article than our own. Here is Derek's site.

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British and Foreign Schools

The Lancasterian System

Joseph Lancaster was a Quaker who became concerned that the poorer classes were denied the opportunity of education in the late 18th century. Recognising that the cost of education lay mainly in the salaries of teachers, he devised a method of teaching by which one schoolmaster was responsible for 300 or more boys, all accommodated in one large schoolroom. The first school started in 1798. A facility for training teachers, Borough Road College, was opened in 1801.

Lancaster employed a monitorial system in which older, more able, children who had already received some education were tasked with teaching the younger children. It was designed to provided a cheap basic education with limited resources and numbers of teachers.


Lancasterian school

Seating plan for Lancasterian School. The teacher seated at a high desk, overlooks a room full of students. Pupils sit in rows, or classes, with a monitor overseeing each class.