riverside school

In 1868 as deputy president of the Board of Education William Edward Forster (1818-1886) was charged with developing a national system of education. There had been debate around the role of church schools (and the voluntary societies largely organizing them) and concerning the lack of provision for many children. His Elementary Education Act 1870 established popularly elected (by ratepayers) local school boards and gave the right to women to vote and be candidates. The Boards had to examine elementary education provision in their picture: riverside school, bermondseyarea. If there were not enough places, they could build and maintain schools out of the rates. The activities of both the Boards and the voluntary societies seeking to maintain their position led to some 4,982 schools being set up by 1874 (8,281 were already established).  

Riverside School was one of the first generation of schools designed for the new School Board for London (established 1870). Built in 1874, to the design of M. P. Manning it continued in the Gothic style commonly used up to around 1870 and is 'an early and fine example of London School Board architecture'. It makes good use of a cramped site. There is a ground floor playground and it opens to the front in an arcade. The next generation of London schools was built in a Queen Anne style and generally followed a pattern developed by E. R. Robson (the Board's architect) based on German schools. Instead of a large hall with tiered seating for classes, these had separate classes opening out from the hall - a design that was adopted by many other boards. School boards were important in encouraging local democratic participation in schooling. They involved direct local oversight of schooling and could be a counterbalance both to the power of heads and of central government. They were replaced by local education authorities under the Education Act 1902.

Reference: Williamson, E. and Pevsner, N. (1998) London Docklands. An architectural guide, London: Penguin.
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