The Portal Trust

The Portal Trust (formerly the Sir John Cass's Foundation) is one of London’s oldest and largest education charities. Founded in 1748, the mission of the Trust is to promote the education of young people in inner London through its grant programmes for individuals, educational institutions and organisations.

In 1710 Sir John Cass established an independent all age school in Aldgate. Sir John Cass and his wife Lady Elizabeth Cass supported the school until their deaths in 1718 and 1732 respectively, the school thereafter closing a number of times until the Foundation was established in 1748.

The Sir John Cass’s Foundation managed the school and paid for all expenses until 1896 when the Government provided funds to meet part of the running costs. The Foundation bore all of the capital costs in providing for a new school building, which opened on its current site in 1909.

The School became Voluntary Aided in 1951 and a primary school in 1966. The Foundation, now known as The Portal Trust, is the school's Trustee. It owns the freehold of the site and provides ongoing support to the school.

Recent partnerships and projects have included the development of the relationship between the Hampshire and Cass Foundation Mountain Centre and The Aldgate School through it's award of a grant for the school to visit the Mountain Centre. In 2016, the Trust awarded a grant for the Making Learning Real project that equipped classrooms with the latest technology to enable teachers and children to utilise IT purposefully and to enhance the learning experience for every child. The grant enabled the school to install high specification teaching walls and visualisers to display children’s work, drawing and other documents in real time.
Find out more about the SJC Foundation
Founder's Day Procession
Founder's Day Procession

Our History

To the west of the School is the financial heart of the country, the pomp and ceremony of the City of London, its ancient traditions and unique ways. To the east is Aldgate, Petticoat Lane Market and Whitechapel; diverse and vibrant areas which have played host to waves of immigration for centuries. Each year the school takes part with the local community in the Beating of the Bounds, remembering the rich history of the area.

The School is built on the site of the Roman Wall around Londinium and sits at its eastern gate. Beneath the playground is the site of Holy Trinity Priory, founded by Queen Matilda in 1108.
John Cass, born in 1661 in Rosemary Lane, East Smithfield, inherited considerable property mainly in Hackney, the City and Essex. He was sometime Master of both the Worshipful Company of Carpenters and Worshipful Company of Skinners and was elected Alderman of Portsoken Ward in 1710 and that year held office of Sheriff. John Cass represented the City in two Parliaments and was knighted in 1712. In 1710 he founded a school in the churchyard of St Botolph without Aldgate, just a stone’s throw from the current building.

On 5 July 1718 in the act of signing a second will, Sir John died. It is reputed that his quill pen was stained with blood. As a remembrance of Cass’s philanthropy the children and adults would wear a red feather, his symbol to an annual Founders' Day. As Cass’s will remained unsigned, it was disputed and the school was closed down for a time until the Sir John Cass’s Foundation was formed in 1748.

The current school building dates from 1908 and is a Grade II* listed building. Originally the school building was open to primary and secondary aged pupils. It is now home to primary aged pupils and The Child and Family Centre, which opened in 2006.
In September 2020, Sir John Cass's Foundation Primary School was renamed The Aldgate School and in March 2021 the Trustee was renamed The Portal Trust. We continue to be proud of our rich history, traditions and achievements however we aspire even further now; aiming for all of our pupils and community to become advocates for themselves and beacons of fairness equality in our diverse world.
Former Pupils of the School
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