Celebrating the bicentenary of the National Society
The National Society for the Promotion of the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church was founded on 16 October 1811 to promote elementary education and fund the building of schools across England and Wales.
The National Society, as it was known, supported local initiatives to build church schools and over time became involved in other aspects of education - such as setting up teacher training colleges, publishing school books and providing equipment for schools.
Click on the image (above right) to view more sketches and plans of National Society schools.
Supporting state education
From 1833 the Treasury provided a grant to support the building of schools 'for the Education of the Children of the Poorer Classes'. This was the beginning of state-funding for education. Many of the schools nominated for this grant were supported by the National Society and by the nonconformist British and Foreign School Society. There are still around 5,000 church schools in England and Wales, many of which can find their roots in the work of the National Society.
You can use records at The National Archives to trace the history of these and other schools - from trust deeds recording a school's foundation, to inspection reports and information on staffing, accommodation and school expansion.
Where to find out more
- If you are interested in tracing the history of your school, go to our in-depth research guides on elementary and secondary schools
- Search ED 103 for building grant applications dating from 1833 to 1881, with details about a proposed school or teacher training college and information about the local community it was to serve
- The National Archives holds the administrative and policy files of the government departments concerned with education, but not staff records of teachers or information about individual pupils. Where these survive, they are held by local archives. See our research signpost on teachers and pupils for more information