The history of education in the area has been taken from newspaper reports going back as far as the 1860’s.
Fochriw, Pentwyn and Penybank
The first school in the area was a National School at Pentwyn. It was opened in 1856 by the Gellygaer Charities which were left to the parish by Edward Lewis of Gilfach Bargoed in 1715.
Historically, a National School in England and Wales was a school originally established by The National Society to teach an Anglican education. British Schools by comparison taught a non-sectarian education.
From the 1861 census, the number of children living in Fochriw, Pentwyn and Brithdir (Penybanc) were 30, 70 and 45 respectively giving a total of 145.
In consequence of the 1870 Education Act and an increase in the population, the Gelligaer School Board, during meetings in Pontlottyn in June and July 1871 recommended that a new school be built at Fochriw to accommodate 150 children
It was also reported that the number of children aged 3 to 13 was 266; 3-5 = 64; 5-13 = 202.
Deduct 7% for absentees = 247.
The National School at Pentwyn only provided places for 127 children therefore there was a deficiency of 120 places.
During the same June meeting a petition was received from Carmel Chapel in Fochriw for the school to nondenominational.
The 1870 Education Act declared that:
1. School Boards could be set up by popular vote in districts where school places were inadequate.
2. These were to provide elementary education for children aged 5-13
3. Elected by ratepayers, they could raise a school rate to finance their activities (above the central government funding)