Until 1856, when the National School was built, education in Ivybridge was provided by a number of private schools.
Between 1870 and 1902 school boards were established in England and Wales. These public bodies had the authority to establish and administer elementary schools under the Elementary Act 1870. They were able to raise funds from a rate, build and run non-denominational schools where inadequacy prevailed, pay the fees of the poorest children, and if deemed necessary, create a by-law to make attendance compulsory between the ages of 5 and 13, before the Elementary Education Act 1880 included this. School boards were eventually replaced by local education authorities at the turn of the century.