Schools under the control of locally elected School Boards were made possible by the 1870 Education Act. Drafted by William Forster, Education Minister in the government headed by William Gladstone, the act stated that any area which voted for it could have a school board. These new board schools could charge fees but they were also eligible for government grants and could also be paid for out of local government rates.
Boards provided an education for the five to ten age group. In some areas board school boards pioneered new educational ideas. For example, the London School Board introduced separate classrooms for each age group, a central hall for whole-school activities and specialist rooms for practical activities. In Bradford Fred Jowett and Margaret McMillan pioneered the idea of free school meals for working-class children and in Brighton Catherine Ricketts developed the idea of increasing attendance rates by hiring women to visit mothers in their homes to explain the benefits of education. School boards came to an end with the passing of the 1902 Education Act.