Froebelianism in the UK

The Froebel Trust traces its history as a charity, through its predecessor the Incorporated Froebel Educational Institute (IFEI), back to 1892.

Friedrich Froebel, the great German educator, had devised a set of principles and practices which would form part of an interactive educational process to take place in institutions which he named 'kindergarten'. In August 1851, the Prussian government ordered the closure of all kindergartens, fearing that their encouragement of the free development of children's faculties was a contributory factor to the radical democratic movement which had recently threatened to topple the government. The result was that many committed kindergarten teachers took their enthusiasm and methods abroad, many coming to England, where the first kindergarten was established in Tavistock Place, central London.

Julia Salis Schwabe widow of a Manchester industrialist, Unitarian and educational benefactor discovered Froebel's philosophy during her travels in the German states, and had come to see it as the key to social progress. Having established a successful kindergarten and school in Naples, Mrs Salis Schwabe proposed the establishment of a training college with a 'demonstration school' in England. As a result, the Froebel Educational Institute was inaugurated in 1892 and the school opened in 1894. Manchester industrialist William Mather became the first Chairman, followed in 1920 by Claude Montefiore.

In 1922 Froebel College moved to its current location at Roehampton. After the second world war, there was a drive to train new teachers and the college worked closely with the demonstration school adjacent to the College at Ibstock Place. In the 1970s a free research nursery school was also established.

In 1975 Froebel College federated with three other local colleges to become Roehampton Institute of Higher Education, and since 2004 has been an integral part of the University of Roehampton, which now holds the campus on a long lease from The Froebel Trust.

Ibstock Place is now an independent school, and in 2013 The Froebel Trust amalgamated with The National Froebel Foundation (NFF) to provide a single focus of Froebelian thinking within the UK. The NFF also had a long and proud history leading back to The Froebel Society and National Froebel Union, focussing on Froebelian teaching certification, accreditation and the training standards of practitioners. The work of the two charities has long overlapped and the amalgamation provides a natural synergy for the future strategy of the combined charity.

You can find out more at the Froebel Archive or in Peter Weston's book The Froebel Educational Institute: the Origins and History of the College (University of Surrey Roehampton, 2002, £3.00 inc p&p).

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