Friends (Quaker) schools

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George Fox, (July 1624 – January 13 1691) was born at Drayton-in-the-Clay, Leicestershire, England, the son of a weaver. His education was based around the faith and practice of the Church of England. At odds with the pomp and ceremony of the traditional Church of England, George Fox became the founder of the Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers (

The Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) was founded as a Christian denomination with its worship based on silence and the belief that there is ‘that of God’ in every person.

1668 – 78 Early Quaker school at Waltham Abbey for boys, at Shacklewell for girls were founded.
1689 - 97 Quaker Schools founded in Pennsylvania
1695 Quaker Meetings for Sufferings requested the establishment of schools
1695 John Bellers made proposals for "Colleges of Industry"
1697 Support for Bellers' proposals by Friends’ Meeting for Sufferings

In 1702, in Clerkenwell a combined work-house and school was founded, This was 50 years after the start of the society, and is now known as the Friends School Saffron Walden. This was not the first Quaker school, but it is the only one in England to have survived for 300 years without a break (

There was, at that time, religious persecution and non-conformists were imprisoned for their unauthorised meetings for worship. Education was very limited

Since this time Quaker schools have become firmly established as fee paying co-educational establishments. There are seven schools listed in England and further schools world wide (

These are mostly co-educational establishments which offer flexible boarding. This option allows everything from fulltime boarding, to a day pupil staying on a sleepover on a nightly basis. This offers great flexibility for working parents, as well as less of a divide between day and boarding pupils (

Less than 15% of pupils are from families who are Quakers; all faiths are welcomed and accepted; and few staff are Quakers, however they continue to support and promote the ethos of the schools. They are Christian schools, practising core values of religion without the dogma (

Emphasis is placed on the whole person, not just the academic achievement, although they also promote the belief that each individual should strive to do as well as they can possibly do. The exam results are on a par with other independent fee paying schools (

Ethos of Quaker Schools

The behaviour management is based around mutual understanding and respect for each other. “Conflict should always be rejected in favour of co-operation; people should always consider that they may be mistaken; that the individual should always be respected and silence esteemed.” (Ian Small in Williams 2004).

Great emphasises is placed on mutual respect, encouragement and participation. A fundamental belief is that a child who is busily occupied is likely to be a happy child. A happy child has little cause to misbehave.

Quaker schools place great importance on respect and responsibility for the environment and current issues. There is considerable support for green issues, re- cycling, and support of institutes such as Amnesty International.


Department for Education and Skills
Performance league tables (visited 25 June 05)

Friends School, Saffron Walden
For further details of the history of Quaker schools. (visited 26 June 05)

The life and beliefs of George Fox and the beginning of Quakerism. Links to additional Quaker sites and reading materials (visited 23 June 05)

Quaker schools in England
Lists Quaker schools in England, with a link to schools worldwide. (visited 26 June 05)

Williams, Elaine (2004) Strength in Silence, Times Educational Supplement (visited 26 June 05)

Useful links

The Benefits of Trust, Respect and Silence
Article by Ian Small from The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - March 13th 2004. (Visited 25 June 05)

Directory of Quaker schools in North America (Visited 25 June 05)

George Fox, an Autobiography (visited 26 June 05)

The Idea of a Quaker College
Article by Douglas C. Bennett. Understanding Quakerism in the United States, and the possible decline of Quakerism in the United States. Provides recommendations on further reading for understanding Quaker Education. (Visited 25 June 05)

Religious Society of Friends (or Quakers) in Britain
Quaker committees, associations, schools and other Quaker sites in Great Britain (Visited 25 June 05)