Classic History Books

Great Britain and Her Queen - by Anne E. Keeling

day schools; the Pastoral Address of 1837, regretting that children had to be trained outside the Church or
be left untaught, expressed the hope that soon, in the larger circuits, schools might be established which

would give a scriptural and Wesleyan education. Already some schools had been commenced; and the

plan was devised which has been the basis of all subsequent Methodist day-school work.

In 1840 it was decided to spend the interest of the L5,000 given from the Centenary Fund for the training
of teachers, work which was at first carried on at Glasgow. The determination of Conference to perfect

its plan of Wesleyan education was quickened when an unfair Education Bill, not the last of its kind, was

introduced into Parliament in 1843, proposing to hand over the children in factory districts to the Church

of England. An Education Fund was established. Government, in 1847, offered grants for the training of

elementary school teachers; and in 1851 the Westminster Training College was opened, with room for

130 men students. In 1872, in response to an increased demand for Wesleyan teachers, a separate college

for mistresses was opened at Southlands, Battersea. Already four thousand have been trained in these

institutions. Many hold positions in Board schools. In 1896 the number in Wesleyan and Board schools

was 2,400.

The system thus inaugurated met a great and real need, and under it excellent work has been done on the
lines laid down by the Department at Whitehall; for, receiving State aid, the training colleges and all the

schools, like other similar denominational institutions on the same footing, are inspected and in a

measure controlled by the national educational authority. In 1837 there were only 31 Wesleyan day

schools; to-day there are 753 school departments, and on their books 162,609 scholars. But the

introduction of free education has made it difficult for the Methodist Church to maintain her schools,

efficient though they be. Since 1870, when school boards were introduced, the number of Wesleyan day

schools has only increased by 10, while 9,752 Board schools have arisen, and the Church of England

schools have increased from 9,331 to 16,517; the Roman Catholic schools actually trebling in number

and attendance.

In view of these changed conditions, Conference has expressed itself anxious for such a complete
national system of education as might place a Christian unsectarian school within reasonable distance of

every family, especially in rural districts, with "adequate representative public management"; it has most

earnestly deprecated the exclusion of the Bible, and suitable religious instruction therefrom by the

teachers, from the day schools; but, so long as denominational schools form part of the national system, it

is resolved to maintain our schools and Training Colleges, in full vigour. Difficulties, undreamed of sixty

years ago, surround this great question; but assuredly Methodism will be true to its trust and its


The cost of Wesleyan schools last year was L215,634, and was met by school fees, subscriptions, and a
government grant of L185,780. The Education Fund of 1896, amounting to L7,115, was spent on the

Training Colleges, grants to necessitous schools, etc.

Wesley approved of Sunday schools as means of giving religious instruction to the children of the poor,
and Hannah Ball at High Wycombe, a good Methodist, and Silas Told, teaching at the Foundery, both

anticipated the work of Raikes by several years. In 1837 there were already 3,339 Sunday schools, with

341,442 scholars. Today the schools number 7,147, the officers and teachers 131,145, and there are in the

schools 965,201 children and young people. The formation in 1869 of the Circuit Sunday-school Union,

and in 1874 of the Connexional Sunday-school Union, has done much for the schools, in providing

suitable literature for teachers and scholars, and in organising their work. An additional motive to


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