SGM supports name change resolution
Members voted in favour of a new name for the British and Foreign School Society at a Special General Meeting.
The Privy Council is to consider formal request to change.
The new name, Educational Opportunity Foundation, was approved by 35 votes to 2, with 3 abstentions. The decision still has to be approved by the Privy Council, as BFSS has a Royal Charter. We hope the Privy Council will be supportive of the Members’ decision, and expect to hear from them by mid-2024.
At the SGM, 27 Members voted, with 24 in favour, and 3 abstentions. These votes were added to the 13 proxy votes received of which 11 were in favour and 2 against.
BFSS President Estelle Morris thanked Members for submitting proxy votes or attending to make such an important decision. Chair Jane Creasy particularly welcomed the Lancaster-Jones brothers, descendants of Joseph Lancaster, who joined us from Mexico where it was 4.30am. It was Joseph Lancaster who transformed the life chances of millions of children with his innovative system to bring learning to more children by having older children teach the younger.
“The brothers bring a very direct connection to Joseph Lancaster, our heritage and the work we are still doing here which is hopefully still transforming lives,” Jane said.
The Council of the BFSS decided to consider a new name for the charity in order to better communicate our inclusive and life changing work, which strives to maximise education for all.
At a BFSS Council Strategy Day in June 2022 there was broad agreement that the BFSS name no longer reflects what we do and the value we place on effective teaching, learning and sharing of good practice; as well as our commitment to inclusivity, valuing and respecting others.
BFSS was initially a society that ran schools, but we now predominantly meet our charitable objectives by awarding grants to not-for-profit organisations to support educational projects in the UK and around the world. Almost all members of the Council and staff admitted feeling uncomfortable with the BFSS name, particularly the word ‘foreign’; and some have been told by Grant Partners that they found the name offensive.
Following the decision to start the process of changing our name at BFSS Council on 9 November 2022, a Working Group of staff and Council members investigated best practice and the experience of other charities that have been through a name change. The Working Group created a shortlist of potential new names; carried out desk research to ensure they were not used by similar organisations, which included a Charity Commission search; and then consulted internally. This was followed by a survey in May 2023 with 249 individuals which included 159 BFSS Members and representatives from 99 organisations that BFSS works with, to which almost 50% contributed their views.
Following consideration of the survey responses at the BFSS Council meeting on 28 June 2023, it was agreed that permission should be sought from the Privy Council and our Members to change the BFSS name to Educational Opportunity Foundation. If the name is approved it will be used with the strapline: ‘Improving life chances worldwide since 1808’, to indicate our heritage and that we work internationally.
Published: 9 November 2023