Andrew Bell — Introduction &Works

Mansi Mestry
3 min readJun 7, 2022


A well-known Scottish Teacher who Pioneered Madras System Of education. Andrew Bell was born at St. Andrews, in Scotland on 27 March 1753 and attended St. Andrews University where he did well in mathematics and Natural Philosophy, Graduating in 1774. He received his education in his hometown. He started working as a private tutor in the American colony of Virginia from 1774 to 1781 after finishing college.

Bell Andrew -Scottish Teacher who Pioneered Madras System Of education.
Essay on Bell Andrew -Scottish Teacher

As a preacher with the British East India Company, He depart for India in February 1787 and arrived in Madras, where he stayed for ten years. He was appointed superintendent of a school in Madras for orphans of European soldiers in 1789 (Chennai).

He claimed to have observed some children Teaching others the alphabet by drawing in sand and The ‘Classroom Education System’ or ‘Monitorial Education System’ is the new experiment he conducted in this School in the classroom, this method he was decided to create a similar system, putting talented students in charge of the less bright students. This process enables a large number of students to be taught in the absence of Trained Teachers.

In 1791, Bell returned to London. In 1797, he published An Experiment in Education, a book about the Madras educational system. He was a prudent man who had amassed considerable wealth. Because of his health, he left India in August 1796 and published an account of his system, which began to be implemented in a few English schools in 1798/99, and he totally dedicated himself to expanding and developing the system. He was appointed as a priest in the Anglican Church upon his return to Scotland

After a brief stint as a priest in Edinburgh, he married Agnes, the daughter of Dr. George Barclay, in December 1801. He was then selected Rector of St Mary’s Church in Swanage, Dorset, where he established a school to teach straw-plaiting to girls as well as infants using his system.

He and his wife accepted the new exploration of smallpox vaccination and personally vaccinated a large number of people in the district. However, his marriage did not work out, and in 1806 he was granted a judicial separation decree. Bell Andrew’s system was adopted in army schools and the Clergy Orphan School, and he received strong support from the Church.

In November 1811, a Society was formed to establish Schools based on Bell’s system. This was the National Society for the Poor’s Education in Christian Church Principles. Twelve thousand schools had been established in Great Britain and the colonies by the time he died. The Church Missionary Society and other organisations used the system as well. Bell was an intolerant man who was a zealous supporter of his system. He was difficult to work with and to deal with. Despite this, he was always good with kids.

At the age of 75, he retired to Lindsay Cottage in Cheltenham, where he died on January 27, 1832, at the age of 78. He left large sums of money for educational purposes. William Behnes designed and carved a monument for him to be buried in Westminster Abbey.

Bell Andrew’s system did not last long after he passed away. It required close, enthusiastic supervision and small classes, and it was only useful when funds were limited and Teachers were scarce.

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