21 March 1811 – 25 April 1891
Nathaniel Woodard, a priest in the Church of England, founded an incredible eleven schools for the middle classes in England during his lifetime. His aim was to provide an education with a fundamental foundation based on “sound principle and sound knowledge, firmly grounded in the Christian faith”.
As a priest in Shoreham he was surrounded by and shocked by social conflict, poverty, deprivation and lack of aspiration in a chaotic society and he set out to try to transform this situation. He firmly believed that education was the only way to aid this transformation and began his lifelong work of founding schools. In 1870 he was made Canon of Manchester Cathedral in recognition of his efforts and received a generous stipend with this position. He used the majority of this towards funding the building of his schools.
Today, Woodard schools form the largest group of independent Church of England schools in England and Wales and as part of The Woodard Corporation, strive to promote Nathaniel Woodard’s educational principles.
His first school, Lancing College was founded in1848 and his tomb is in the College Chapel.
In 2011 Woodard celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of this remarkable educational visionary with Eucharists across the country on his birthday, 21 March, and a gathering in Westminster Abbey on the 24 November, the most representative gathering ever of Woodard schools.
A new biography, ‘In Search of Nathaniel Woodard – Victorian Founder of Schools’ by David Gibbs, was published to coincide with the 2011 celebrations. It is a fascinating account of the life, times and legacy of Nathaniel Woodard. It helped to put into context this very special year for all involved in the Woodard family of schools and provides a tangible memento of the anniversary and of the world that he created.
Without doubt Nathaniel Woodard’s achievements were to education what Brunel was to engineering and still his name is unknown both in the nation and, sadly, in the Church of England.
The Birthday Gift – The Woodard Langalanga Secondary School
As part of Woodard’s commemoration of the 200th anniversary of its Founder’s birth, it was decided to raise sufficient money to build a secondary school in Gilgil, in the Rift Valley, Kenya. Through generous donations received from the Woodard schools, members of the wider Woodard family and others, the Woodard Langalanga Secondary School opened its doors to the first intake of pupils in January 2012. By February 2015 the school will be full with 480 pupils being influenced by the Woodard ethos.
Donations are still being received which go towards projects not included in the original plan or to sponsor pupils and staff at Woodard Langalanga Secondary School.
Click here to visit the Woodard Langalanga Secondary School page and for information on how to make donations.