This page summarises the provision of schools throughout the parish, some of which are described in detail on other pages.

Charity schools
From the start, individuals and charitable bodies established schools in the parish. See here for an account of Raine's Foundation institutions from 1719 onwards.

In 1781 the Middlesex Society for educating poor children in the Protestant Religion, and for Clothing them was created, and in 1784 set up a school for 100 children in New Road [later Cannon Street Road]. Dr Stephen Addington, an Independent minister and a tutor at the Academy in Mile End, was among those who preached sermons for the cause: The Divine Architect - on laying the first stone of a building for the use of the Middlesex Society... One guinea annually, or a single payment of ten guineas, constituted a governor who was entitled to nominate a child. By his will of 1828, William Game further endowed the school. However, four years later the trustees were having to draw on capital. The British Magazine of October 1832 reported
The fifty first Anniversary of this Institution was celebrated on Wednesday the 11th ult., when a numerous company of gentlemen dined together at the Mermaid Tavern, Hackney. George Byng, Esq., M.P., presided and was supported by A. K. Hutchinson, Esq., a candidate for the Tower Hamlets, C.B. Stutfield, Esq., a county magistrate, and other gentlemen of influence. The interests of the charity were ably advocated by the Chairman and other speakers, and a handsome sum was subscribed in the course of the evening. The school is one of the oldest Protestant charity schools established in this country and is situated in Cannon-street-road St George's-in-the-East; the number of children enjoying its advantages is 100 boys and 40 girls, who are clothed and instructed and attend public worship twice every Sabbath day, at Stepney New Church*. They were introduced to the company and their neat clean and healthy appearance was very gratifying. Since the establishment of this charity, upwards of 3000 children have shared in its benefits. The Report stated that the number of annual contributors had been greatly diminished latterly by deaths, removals, and other causes, in consequence of which the Committee had been compelled to draw largely on the funded stock of the Institution to meet its current expenses.

It added an appeal to donors' self-interest: once trained, the boys would be available for work in your manufactories by land or on board your commercial vessels by sea. This is a common theme in contemporary appeals to support schools, orphanages and other charitable institutions.

* Stepney New Church was a proprietary chapel in New Road/Newark Street [Stepney Way] built by local residents between 1817-21, rebuilt 1892 as St Philip's Church, since 1988 the medical library and museum of the Royal London Hospital.

In 1862, still short of subscribers and qualifying children, the school was refounded as a National school [see below on the National Society, and the 1838 list which implies an earlier NS connection] within the district of Christ Church, Watney Street, the minister chairing the Committee of Management, and the scholars worshipped there instead - until it became part of Raine's Foundation [see below].

James Starke was the master in 1845; one Sunday evening, while at church with the boys, his house was robbed. Henry Crawcour, a Jewish surgeon, was tried but acquitted at the Old Bailey; the colourful account of the trial is here.

In 1808 Gowers Walk Free School was founded - an early example of an 'industrial school'; its fascinating story is told here. In 1851 the Poor Law Guardians of St George-in-the-East established industrial schools at Plashet (then a rural setting) - more details here.

In 1811 the National Society
was founded, with the aim of establishing a church school in every parish, and training and paying teachers for them. One of its founders was Joshua Watson, brother of the Rector of Hackney, who retired at the age of 43 having made a fortune in the wine trade and devoted the rest of his life to this cause. The original name was 'The National Society for the Promotion of the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church': its schools taught basic skills, and provided for moral and spiritual welfare by teaching the 'national religion', in its Anglican form. The founders' concern for the children of the newly-industrialised cities was both philanthropic and motivated by anxiety about social order. Astonishingly, by 1851 (anticipating state provision by 20 years) they had established 12,000 schools in England and Wales. The National Society continues its work - our parish's honorary assistant priest and Rector's wife, Jan Ainsworth, is its General Secretary and Chief Education Officer of the Church of England - and celebrated its bicentenary in 2011: see Lois Louden Distinctive and Inclusive: The National Society and Church of England Schools 1811-2011 (National Society 2012). In our parish, the schools of St George-in-the-East (Cannon Street Road), Christ Church Watney Street, St Mark Whitechapel, St Mary Johnson Street and St Paul Dock Street all benefitted from its support and funding - all but the last now gone.

There was also a Free Church society, which began in 1808 as 'The Society for Promoting the Lancasterian System for the Education of the Poor' (the monitorial system created by the Quaker Joseph Lancaster), which after they parted company with him - he had trouble with debts, and allegations of cruelty to children - became the
British and Foreign School Society. But they did not build any schools in this parish. In an attempt to avoid denominationalism in RE [which was to become a recurring issue] a 'British Union' charity school was created in 1816 by the Joseph Fletcher (who presented evidence to the various parliamentary commissions on the education of the poor, and later wrote The history of the revival and progress of Independency in England, since the period of the Reformation (John Snow 1847)). This was in Farmer Street/Shakespeare Walk, Shadwell, serving Wapping, St. George's, Limehouse, Shadwell and Ratcliff. Specially-printed chapters from the Bible were used without comment by the teacher, and Fletcher seems to have obtained the co-operation of the Roman Catholic clergy. After two years Fletcher reported that his school had a substantial number of dissenters and Roman Catholics as well as Church of England boys and girls; in 1819 the school had 550 pupils on its registers. See here for details of an application to this school where the parish registers had given a false date of birth.

Parliament introduced annual monitoring of the provision of, and charitable donations to, urban schools in 1815 by
An Act for procuring returns relative to the Expense and Maintenance of the Poor in England, and also relative to the Highways. The local return for the year ending 28 March 1815 was
Middlesex Society, for clothing and educating 100 Boys and 50 Girls; Tower Hamlets, for clothing and educating 40 Boys and 20 Girls; Pell-street School, for clothing and educating 40 Children; Roman Catholic School, for educating 65 Boys and 36 Girls (the Girls and also 45 Boys are clothed); Raine's Charities - £1,027 15s 5d.

By 1833 the provision of places at day and Sunday schools - though not the sums contributed - were listed in the 'Abstract of Education Returns' (published in volume 42 of Parliamentary Papers 1835, p561):

GEORGE, ST., IN THE EAST, Parish (Pop. 38,505.) One Infant School (commenced 1827) containing 175 children of both sexes, is supported by voluntary contributions - Forty four Daily Schools (including Boarding Schools): two whereof were founded and endowed in 1719, by Mr. Raine, and contain 381 males and 202 females, of whom 50 of the former and 90 of the latter are on the foundation, the rest are paid for by voluntary contributions; these Schools (to which a lending Library is attached) were united to the National Society in 1816; another, called the "Middlesex SocietyNational School", contains 80 males and 40 females; another, in Pell-street (late Nightingale-lane), contains 40 males, who are annually clothed; a lending Library is attached to this School, which is in connexion with the Kirk of Scotland; another, called the "Tower Hamlets School", appertaining to Protestant Dissenters, contains 40 children; another, in Shakspeare-walk, in connexion with the Baptist denomination, contains 40 females; the four Schools last mentioned are supported by voluntary contributions: of the other thirty-eight Schools (wherein the children are instructed at the expense of their parents), one contains 40 males, with an evening class for females, attended by about 20; in three others are 90 females; in another, 75 males; in another, 25 males and 3 females; in another (commenced 1820) are 100 males; in another (commenced 1822) 10 and 15 females; in another (commenced 1825) 40 males; in another (commenced 1826) 52 males and 4 females, of whom 7 attend for evening instruction only; another (commenced 1827) contains 17 females; in three others (commenced 1830) are 35 males and 45 females; another (commenced 1831) contains 30 females; another (commenced 1832) about 50 males and 20 females; the remaining twenty-two Schools (kept by females) are for very young children, and contain collectively 152 males and 148 females: six of these schools, with 83 children, have commenced since 1818. One Day and Sunday School (commenced since 1818) of the Established Church, is attended by 130 males and 30 females daily, and 50 males and females on Sundays; this School is partly supported by subscription and partly small payments from the parents of the daily scholars, those who attend on Sundays are wholly free. - Six Sunday Schools, in connexion with various denominations of Dissenters, consisting of 1,320 children of both sexes; these Schools are supported by voluntary contributions.

It is difficult to identify all of these schools where locations are not given. See below on the 'Tower Hamlets School'. The reference to the 'Kirk of Scotland' is puzzling: although until 1823, when it moved to Stepney, there was a 'Scotch Chapel' in Wapping, also meeting at Shakespeare Walk, Shadwell, there was no Kirk presence in Pell Street. But officials, and mapmakers, often got denominations wrong!

A shorter list of 1838, from the Minutes of the Select Committee on Education of the Poorer Classes [right]  gives numbers:

in St George-in-the-East parish (12 schools, 1,110 scholars)
(Unlike the 1815 return, no Roman Catholic schools are specified, though they certainly proliferated. By the late 1850s there was one in Pell Street, which the newly-established Sisters of Mercy visited. See here for RC temperance work in this area.The map above shows 'St Mary & St Michael's Catholic School' (by this time the church of that name had been built on Commercial Road) - as well as St Matthew's School, next to the church.)

in St Mary Whitechapel parish
(12 schools, 845 scholars)

From the 1830s, some politicians began to advocate proper state provision, to which there was strong resistance. The 1832 report from the British Magazine referred to above continued with this item:
National Education. -  A numerous meeting of Schoolmasters was held on Wednesday, the 29th ult., at Mr Palmer's School Room, Lower Chapman Street. Commercial Road, to take into consideration Mr Hume's notice of bringing a Bill into Parliament for the establishment schools in every parish of the United Kingdom. [They conceived that the measure would only be another plan of imposing an additional tax upon the people; that it would cause the overthrow of Charity Schools and deprive the really necessitous of the educational advantages they now enjoyed; and that it would destroy the interests of the scholastic profession, as it was not likely that any would be appointed masters but the under graduates of our Universities. A resolution was adopted to the effect that not merely schoolmasters but every parochial rate payer should oppose the measure and act with the same spirit as the Dissenters did when Lord Brougham contemplated a similar Bill and thus nip the design in the bud.]

Church schools
The first major project of William Quekett, the energetic curate of St George-in-the-East from 1830 and first incumbent of Christ Church Watney Street, was to fit out as boys, girls and infants schools three arches east of Cannon Street Road, near Walburgh Street, under the viaduct of the new London and Blackwall Railway, which he persuaded the directors to let on a 100-year lease for £20 a year, reasoning that as the trains were cable-hauled from stationary steam engines there would be no engine noise!  In the event, this system failed and conventional engines were used - see here for more details. The drawing is from the National Society's archive in Bermondsey. The handwritten note says There is communication with each arch by a door in the centre - and to warmed [sic] by an Arnotts' Stove. The 1878 Vestry map shows the location; they are shown as 'Christ Church School' on this 1868 map. [See below for the later fate of these premises.]

William Quekett went on to identify a site for new schools in the eastern end of the parish, which was to become the parish of St Mary Johnson Street. St Mary's Schools were designed by George Smith and begun in 1848, providing places for a further 550 children. Quekett claimed he never remembered any child from 'his' schools being in prison. When asked  Supposing a child who had been in prison applied to one of your schools, would you admit him? he replied Certainly not.
In the newly-created parish of St Mark Whitechapel National Schools  were established in 1841 with a schoolroom between Chamber Street and Royal Mint Street, initially in a portion of a house and two arches under the Blackwall Railway. J. Gledhill, from Battersea Training College, was appointed the master in 1857. The boys' section was rebuilt in 1862, to designs by John Hudson of 40 Leman Street (for which Mr John Jacobs submitted a tender for £685 with £360 for extra classrooms, and Mr F.F. Dudley £675 with £325 for the classrooms). The site is shown left from Goad's 1887 insurance maps, demonstrating how it had become hemmed in by railway lines. From 1912 to 1921 the school was in protracted negotiation with the Midland Railway over windows opening onto railway property; draft agreements were eventually produced. In the latter year a petition for closure of the school was submitted, but this did not happen; the final report by the LCC inspectors was in 1939, and it presumably closed during the war. A member of our congregation remembers attending the school. (The London Metropolitan Archives hold a series of files on church and school matters.)

See here for the story of St George's National Schools, rebuilt on the site of the Middlesex Schools in 1856. St Matthew Pell Street also had National Society Schools. St Paul's Church for Seamen Schools were built with National Society assistance in 1870 (see
here for the story, and correspondence) - one of its claims to fame is that the first ever free school dinners were served here. It is now the only church school in the parish - see here for current news.

The 1870 Education Act
Government support for elementary education was piecemeal and very limited. One instance was the Committee of Council on Education, a committee of the Privy Council, set up by Order in Council (to avoid denominational disputes) in 1839 with Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth its first secretary, which made grants. It also had a Science & Art Department (St George-in-the-East was one of the venues for its drawing examinations in the 1860s.)

The 1861 Commission on Popular Education in England (the 'Newcastle Commission' - it was chaired by the Duke of Newcastle) had investigated public spending on education, recommending that it should continue but on a 'payment by results' basis (shades of the contemporary education debate!) Robert Lowe, Vice-President of the Education Board (and later Chancellor of the Exchequer) introduced a revised code of examination and inspection in order to improve effectiveness, commenting enigmatically in the House of Commons If it is not cheap, it shall be efficient; if it is not efficient, it shall be cheap. The Commission's report (vol.3) included a detailed survey by Josiah Wilkinson of provision in three metropolitan Poor Law districts (p320ff), of which St George-in-the East was one; he described it as an area of deteriorating character, and quoted the Medical Officer of Health's description of its people as cowed in mind and exhausted in body.

This Commission paved the way - at last - for significant state provision and funding. Major change came with the 1870 Education Act, which created local School Boards (elected by ratepayers: significantly, women were eligible, and a number were elected in London). They were empowered to build elementary schools (5-12 years) 'on the rates' - a member of St George's Vestry protested in 1876 at the level of expenditure. Parents still paid fees - unless they were very poor. Religious education was on a 'non-denominational' basis (the result of the then-controversial 'Cowper-Temple clause'): see this 1869 conference paper by the Revd R.E. Bartlett, previously of St Mark Whitechapel, on the subject. Boards could also provide subsidies to church schools.

In the next quarter-century, the following Board Schools were built in the parish [excluding those in Whitechapel] to cater for the huge child population - most accommodated over 1,000 pupils. Many of them, as elsewhere in London, were designed by the London Board School architect E.R. Robson, some (such as Lower Chapman Street) with additions by his successor T.J. Bailey. They used a 'simplified Queen Anne' style for most of their schools between 1874 and 1914, and had large, airy classooms with careful provision of natural light; separate entrances or double staircases to separate boys and girls; and typically, rooftop playgrounds.

Some of the clergy supported this programme; others did not, because it reduced their influence. At Christ Church Watney Street, for instance, the
loss of the railway arches schools was a major blow - see the Rector's comments below. Its three arches are now the site of James Garden, a small community garden [right]  created and lovingly maintained by the St George's Gardens association and other local residents in memory of James Gair. The church also lost the attendance of the Middlesex Society scholars when, in consequence of the Act, this School was incorporated into Raine's Foundation - see above for both institutions - though, as explained here, as part of the scheme £600 was provided to build a mission room adjacent to the church.

§ Berner Street: 1871, disused by the 1920s; now the site of Bernhard Baron House [street renamed Henriques Street 1961] -  Harry Gosling School was built opposite in 1909 - the site of both schools is shown on Goad's 1899 insurance map, right. Here is a paper on 'Scientific Method in Board Schools' delivered in the school in 1895. In July 1892 Mrs Louisa Hopkins, chair of a Massachusetts commission appointed to investigate manual training and industrial education, visited this, among many other, schools. Note her comments on the implications of being a Jewish-majority school:
...We first called at the St. [sic] Berner Street Board School, on the spot where the opium joint described in 'Edwin Drood' stood [she seems to be confusing this with the other local school she visited, St George's Street]. We visited first the old school building, which was an old rice mill; the tall mill still stood there; the ground floor is now used as a storeroom. I saw a cart loading up with apparatus for drawing tables and large T-squares. We went up stairs and visited the cookery class of Jewish girls; the teacher was giving a demonstration lesson on a fruit pie; only a gas stove was in use. After this part of the lesson, which took one hour, the class was divided, one-half attending the demonstration lesson and the other half writing it for an hour, and the next hour vice versa ; the lesson was three hours long, — each child has sixty lessons. The girls are eleven and twelve years old. The laundry room we next visited was large, with closets, boiler, tubs, ironing tables and stove with flat irons. A similar class to the cooking class was receiving a lesson from the black-board in washing cretonnes and colored cloths. After this I saw the girls washing at the tubs, one tub being fltted for washing colored articles, and the other for white silk scarfs or handkerchiefs which the girls had brought from home. I saw some of their laundered work also, cuffs and collars, — very good; the girls evidently enjoyed the work very much.
We then went to the new school-house near by, — Berner Street School. It was a fine large building, with well-lighted rooms, sliding partitions largely of glass, big halls and play-grounds for boys on the top of the building. We visited a sloyd class [a handicaraft-based education system originating in Finland, popular in the USA at this time] taught by the son of the head master; it showed very good work for the first year, — in operation only since the previous October. They used knife, plane, saw, etc....
The pupils of the school are nearly all Jews, Russian or Polish, some German, who the master said were much the most intelligent. All have to be taught the English language, and much the same means are used as in the Eliot School, — in fact, when I described that way, the master said it was exactly his way, and he thought he had invented it. However, I saw the boys spelling small words on the black-board in an old-fashioned way, without knowing what they meant or how to use them ; then they learn to use a book and write words, and up in the higher grade to read fairly well. This was not in accordance with the method described.
All through the school were pictures, cabinets of science objects, collected by pupils and teachers with some help from a school fund. One teacher showed me her schedule of object lessons, — much like ours in the lower grades. Sewing is part of the girls' work. The boys come for extra time in sloyd. The master complained that as soon as the boys got up a little way many left to go to a Jewish school which gave them some advantages and was privately endowed, or else they went to America. Some of the teachers were Jewish; the teacher of the upper class was selected in order to conduct their religious exercises suitably. The cookery classes also have special provision for meeting the Jewish code with regard to food.

Blakesley Street [between Watney Street and Sutton Street, south of Commercial Road]: serving the most concentrated area of poverty (apart from St George's Street School), and becoming predominantly Jewish: a 1910 inspection noted the difficulties attending instruction with a large foreign intake, but reported praiseworthy regularity in attendance and full interest in work. See here for memories of a Blakesley Street resident. The site is now occupied by Fitzgerald House, a care home for the elderly; see below for the replacement school.

Lower Chapman Street [now Bigland Street] - [left on Goad's 1899 insurance map; right, from front and rear, and today]:one of Robson's earliest, and one of the few of his to survive (with an example of a double staircase separating boys from girls). Robson added a cookery centre - a pioneering example of provision for practical and vocational training. Its catchment area included parts of Wapping, though two Board schools were also built there. [After closure, it had a variety of uses, including the University of Greenwich's School of Earth Sciences (as 'Walburgh House') before becoming Darul Ummah Community Centre. The London Borough of Tower Hamlets supported their plans for its demolition and an eight-storey replacement with three basement levels to include a mosque, funeral facilities, a gym and a café as well as the current boys' school. But in 2010 English Heritage, at the instigation of the Victorian Society, listed the building (Grade II) and revised plans are being produced.]

Betts Street: 1884, the first 3-storey school with halls for all three departments - places for 300 boys, 300 girls, and 386 infants. Its opening led to the closure of the railway arches school: despite excellent reports for 1881, the boys section was closed in 1883 and the girls and infants in 1884-85 and the premises declared unfit (though the authorities were happy to use them for a time until the new school was ready). H.C. Dimsdale, Rector of Christ Church Watney Street 1892-1909, admitting that the old premises perhaps were quaint, somewhat jealously described the new school as palatial....replete with all the luxuries that art and faddism can supply. This school also became predominantly Jewish. See here for pictures, and more about this street.

In the run-up to the 1909 municipal elections, the Daily News ran a mischievous campaign accusing council schools of neglecting their duty to feed the poor, focusing on Glengall Road School on the Isle of Dogs (which later had a pioneering music and drama teacher, Charles Thomas Smith). Sir John McDougall, chairman of the London County Council, visited the school and asked those who are hungry and have had no breakfast to hold up their hands. Four out of the five were deemed not necessitous; the fifth had been given money by one Mr Crooks, who stated that but for your generosity my boy would have had to live and learn on promises... In fact take-up was low, and arrangements had been made to feed needy children elsewhere. But children's care committees were provided with circulars for distribution to parents; the Betts Street committee declined to do so.
§ Cable Street: 1898 - smaller, for 'only' 400 children [two early class photos right]: built on the site of a former sugar refinery, it bears a plaque 'Cable Street Schools' but has had various names and uses in its time, as maps of the area bear witness. (Some show it as 'Nathaniel Heckford School': Nathaniel Heckford was a paediatrician who founded the East London Hospital for Children, near what is now Heckford Street further along The Highway).
These 1908 photographs show: boys' drill, girls' drill, netball, special nature study, nature study, art, mixed maths and standard VII maths.

After the Second World War it became a secondary modern school, St George-in-the-East Central School, with Alex Bloom as a pioneering headteacher from 1945-55 [left, with colleagues - he is second from the left at the front]. He rejected regimentation, corporal punishment,  and the use of marks, prizes and competition, and introduced a school council [left] which among other things voted for lunchtime ballroom dancing, and the selling of cakes from a local bakery in the school canteen. Right is a 1951 article from the Daily Mirror about his work. On his interesting website, Abraham Wilson, a Ghanaian pupil (who had previously attended St Paul Whitechapel and other local primaries - and is now a member of the Bahá'í faith) recalls the Bloom era: assemblies with classical music, and his stress on keeping down noise in the school (keep your foot on the soft pedal).

It was in Bloom's time that Edward Ricardo Braithwaite, the Guyanan author of To Sir with Love, taught here. He was an engineer who served as an RAF bomber pilot in the Second World War, but struggled to find employment because he was black, and so trained as a teacher. (The well-known film, starring Sidney Poitier, was made elsewhere; Braithwaite later said of if I loathe that film from the bottom of my heart, because it focused on the classroom rather than on the wider issues of black recognition.) He revisted the area in 2007, for the first time in many years, for a Radio 4 programme. He walked round St George's and read out the sign for the crypt hall, and then tried to peep into the crypt. His 1965 novel Choice of Straws was adapted for Radio 4 in 2009. He was present at the 2013 Northampton premiere of Ayub Khan-Din's well-reviewed play based on his autobiography, with Ansu Kabia as the Braithwaite character 'Ricky' [far right] and Matthew Kelly as the headteacher 'Florian'.

The building subsequently provided accommodation for various local schools being rebuilt, and has now been converted into 34 luxury apartments as 'Mulberry House' [right] - though Mulberry Girls' School was only one of various temporary occupants. In 1980 the church exterior and adjacent buildings featured in the gangster film The Long Good Friday, starring Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren, in which Harold Shand's Rolls Royce is blown up while his mother attends a service.

Christian Street: 1901 - built on the site of Martineau's sugar refinery, which at one time had the tallest chimney in London; it was the first local school to have a Jewish headteacher, Isaac Goldstone in 1908. Professor Bill Fishman (b.1921) was a pupil here - here are his childhood memories of the area. Under postwar legislation, it was transferred to denominational control as Bishop Challoner Girls Secondary School, which is now part of Bishop Challoner Catholic Collegiate School and Learning Village off Commercial Road; the Christian Street site [right by night before demolition] has been redeveloped for housing by Bellway Homes as SpacE1.

St George's Street, The Highway (off Dellow [formerly Victoria] Street), shown right on Goad's 1887 insurance map - with two other schools beyond: regarded as a school of 'special difficulty'. See here for a spat over evening dancing classes, and here for classes in Esperanto. Mrs Louisa Hopkins, for the report noted above, also visited this school, and commented briefly:
We went to the Highway School for girls, close to the scene of the worst White Chapel murders [does she mean 1888 Ripper victim Elizabeth Stride, linked to the nearby Swedish church and brought to the mortunary in the churchyard but killed some distance away, or the Marr murders of 1811?] It is a fine new building, about five years old. The care-taker lives in a house on the premises, and opens the gate to visitors; he had a beautiful show of potted plants in bloom, with pretty shells near the opening of the yard. All the girls were out at play, the mistresses with them.
This is the more likely location for Dicken's opium den in Edwin Drood - note the comment from 1897 that the particular den described in the story was pulled down some years ago to make room for a Board-school playground, while the bedstead, pipes, etc., were purchased by Americans and others interested in curious relics.

§ These schools came to cater for those classified as 'M.D.' (mentally defective), which together with those for the partially deaf formed the 'St George's-in-the-East Group' (and from 1908 'Stepney (No.2) Group of Special Schools').

This map (from W.E. Marsden Unequal Educational Provision in East and West: The 19th Century Roots (Psychology Press 1987) p165ff) shows how thick on the ground were the Board Schools of the area, and how small their catchment areas, mapping those for the first three to be built: Berner Street, Blakesley Street and Lower Chapman Street. (It mis-locates Blakesley Street to the site of its 1960s replacement school on Commercial Road.) The other Board Schools above are also shown, including Brewhouse Lane and Globe Street in Wapping. He comments The relatively homogenous social nature of the area does not appear to have generated a clear-cut hierarchy of elementary schools based on differentiated fees. In 1877, for example, the two board schools then in existence in St George's, Berner Street and Lower Chapman Street, had fees of 1d. and 1d. or 2d. respectively. Of all the board schools of St George's only Cable Street, small for a board school with accommodation for 400 only, attained higher grade status. They were conspicuous in their absence in the lists of successful London scholarship schools.

As for the overwhelming preponderance of Jewish children: in his updated 1898 survey Charles Booth quotes one observer who said
I can remember when even at Chicksand Street school [in Whitechapel] less than half the children were Jewish, and now there are hardly any Christian children in the polace. Bink's Row, Rutland Street, Lower Chapman Street and Betts Street schools are all now Jewish or being Judaized. While Booth deplored the overcrowding that resulted from Jews accepting the most cramped living conditions, he regarded them as more moral and less promiscuous than the English or Irish poor: see here for his detailed comments. Benjamin J. Lammers, In a monograph 'The Citizens of the Future’: Educating the Children of the Jewish East End, c.1885–1939 (Twentieth Century British History (2008) 19 (4), pp393-418) argues that - despite the antisemitisms of the age - the policies of the School Board for London were enlightened in enabling Jewish pupils to participate fully in school life without  compromising their faith background, and that Jewish pupils had a largely positive attitude to their education in the state system.  This can be contrasted with the experience of New Commonwealth immigrants a few generations later.

In 1904 the London County Council's education department took over the functions of the London School Board, adding responsibility for secondary schooling. The LCC continued much of the good practice of their predecessors, and had a proud record, until its abolition in 1965. Division 5 comprised the schools of Bethnal Green, the City of London, Poplar and Stepney.

Towards the present day

There are two voluntary aided (VA) church primary schools in the parish today: St Paul's CE Whitechapel, and English Martyrs RC. Other primary schools are Shapla (next to St Paul's), Harry Gosling on Berner [Henriques] Street, and Bigland Green. Their pupils are almost entirely from Muslim-origin families, but they - and other primary schools on the borders of the parish - enjoy making curriculum visits to St George-in-the-East Church. 

Harry Gosling School was built in 1909/10. The main block was plain, but the cookery and laundry block, designed by T.J. Bailey, is described in the current Pevsner as charmingly detailed. Pictured left is the school shortly after its opening, and a plaque giving the date; Bailey's block; the boy's entrance; and the cookery and laundry doorway.

During the War the school remained open, taking in children from other blitzed schools; it was also used for firefighting practice, and a 1940 watercolour by Rose Henriques (from the roof of the adjacent Settlement) shows this 'Dual Purpose'.

Right are two views from Fairclough Street today, and two views of the recent redevelopment and extension. To mark the school's centenary, in 2011 pupils produced an animation about its past and present.  See here for more about the life of Harry Gosling. Edith Wyeth, our long-serving warden who died in 2011, was school secretary, occasional teacher and governor at the school for many years. The school playground was the site of the discovery in 1888 of the body of Elizabeth Stride, one of Jack the Ripper's victims - see here for more about her, and her Swedish connections.

After Blakesley Street School was demolished, a new secondary school, with an entrance on Richard Street [site left - the former 196-200 Commercial Road] was built, initially known as Tower Hamlets Secondary School [images from the 1960s right, including a lesson on binary maths, the library and staffroom], then as Tower Hamlets Secondary School for Girls (with 980 pupils, aged 11-18), and now Mulberry School for Girls, with the buildings extended and upgraded. Daphne Gould OBE was the headteacher for seventeen years (following six as deputy) and a member of the National Curriculum Council; she gave evidence to the 1985 Swann Report Education for All (particularly on provision of multicultural education for girls).

During the academic year 2012-13 the first year's intake of Wapping High School - a free school - was based in the eastern part of the crypt at St George's and elsewhere, pending development of a new site on Commercial Road.
Plans for the redevelopment of the News International site include the provision of a new school - secondary or primary?

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