Sir Cyril Jackson KBE (1863-1924) was a leading British educationist, born in Kentish Town, London.  He graduated from New College, Oxford, in 1885, but instead of pursuing a career in law, as intended, he changed direction and was inspired to improve educational opportunities for the socially disadvantaged in the deprived industrial community of east London. 

Jackson resided at Toynbee Hall, Whitechapel (a progressive centre for social improvement, still open today), for 10 years from 1885.  He became a member of the London School Board from 1891 to 1896 and ran a boys' club at Northey Street School (opened in 1875) which aimed to help and support Limehouse street boys.  He was appointed inspector-general of schools in Western Australia in 1896 and implemented major reforms to their educational system.

When Jackson returned to England in 1903, he was elected a member of the London County Council, Limehouse Division, and became chairman of the Education Committee from 1908.  For services during World War I, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1917. In 1930, six years after Jackson’s death, Northey Street School was renamed The Cyril Jackson Primary School in recognition of his work and dedication to public service.  Jackson’s portrait hangs in the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

There are two schools named in his honour: one in Limehouse, the other is The Cyril Jackson Senior High School, Bassendean, Western Australia.

School Inspections of the Past

What did school inspectors think of Cyril Jackson in years gone by?

The report of the 1925 inspection of the Girls’ School (girls and boys were educated separately in those days) says:

"Art and Singing good or better; some weaknesses in Maths and Spelling; teachers’ planning not entirely comprehensive; behaviour good."

Cyril Jackson Girls' School - 17 June 1925

But it wasn't just the girls who were criticised. The boys' school was inspected in 1931, and the inspectors noted that there was room for improvement.

"Behaviour management inconsistent; standard of children’s work not yet satisfactory; specific weaknesses in the teaching of arithmetic; revisions to the curriculum required."

Cyril Jackson Boys' School - 24 April 1931

During the Second World War, the Lowood Street School (which was between The Highway and Shadwell Station) was damaged by a bomb. The school had classes for children with physical disabilities, but, when it was bombed, many children in London were living with other people in other parts of the country, because they had been evacuated. When the war finished, all these children came back to live in London again, and the children from Lowood Street, whose school was too damaged to use, had to go to Hoxton House School or Mary Ward School (in Tavistock Place) instead. These schools became very full, and it was realised that another school had to be found. Cyril Jackson was the school chosen.

The Cyril Jackson Special School was open from 1947 to 1950. It was for up to sixty children, and was called a ‘PH’ school; this stood for ‘Physically Handicapped’, which isn’t really a term we would use today. Before you read the report, be aware that some of its language sounds a bit unsympathetic – and some of the children’s stories are a bit sad. Nobody can be identified individually in this report, but you can see how some children in the 1940s lived with illness, disease, injury and discomfort.

Cyril Jackson PH School - 14 October 1948

"Attainment inadequate in some year groups; some areas of comparative strength (PE, Needlework, Pottery); good attention to children’s social experience; behaviour good."

Cyril Jackson County Primary School - 27th-29th February 1952