There are fifteen independent schools which report annually to Conference through the Methodist Council. Apart from The Leys, Kingswood and Woodhouse Grove, they are the mostly 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), which merged with the East Anglian School for Girls, also in Bury St Edmunds, in 1972, to become a fully co-educational school, Edgehill College, Bideford (1884),Kent College, Canterbury (1885), Kent College, Pembury (1886) and Farringtons, Chiselhurst (1911). (The Moorlands School, Leeds, was added in 2013.) 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 2015, there were some 10,500 day and boarding pupils in these schools, from a variety of religious and social backgrounds. They are regularly inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate, which publishes its reports on educational standards and pupil welfare.
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