There are fourteen independent schools which report annually to Conference through the Methodist Council. Apart from The Leys, Kingswood and Woodhouse Grove, they are the survivors of a number of boarding schools founded by local initiatives to enable children from middle-class Methodist homes to progress beyond elementary education: Shebbear College (BC, 1834), Queen's College, Taunton (1843), Queenswood (1869), Ashville College, Harrogate (1877), Truro School (1880), Rydal Penrhos School, Colwyn Bay (comprising the former Penrhos (1880) and Rydal (1885) schools), Culford School, Bury St Edmunds (1881), Edgehill College, Bideford (1884), Kent College, Canterbury (1885), Kent College, Pembury (1886) andFarringtons, Chiselhurst (1911). Their development was quickened by the success of the Irish schools - the Wesley Connexional School (1845) and its successor, Wesley College, Dublin (1879) and Methodist College, Belfast (1868) - and by the opening of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge to Nonconformists in 1871.
As qualified lay headmasters and mistresses replaced ministerial 'Governors', school chaplains were appointed, usually separated from circuit responsibilities. They were responsible for arranging school worship, taught (but not necessarily RE), exercised pastoral care of staff and pupils, and offered training for church membership or confirmation. In 2007 there were some 11,000 day and boarding pupils in these schools, from a variety of religious and social backgrounds.