The founding of a modern nursing school
Nurses talking

Her actions managing and training nurses during the Crimean War made Florence Nightingale a national hero. Members of the public set up a fund to raise money for her work that had collected the equivalent of over £4 million pounds by June 1856. Florence chose to use this money to establish the world’s first professional school of nursing.

The Nightingale Home and Training School for Nurses opened its doors to trainees in July 1860 as part of the newly built home of St Thomas’s Hospital in London. The school admitted 20-30 students annually, for what was typically a year-long course that mixed classroom teaching with attending to patients at the hospital. Florence’s book Notes on Nursing became the basis for the curriculum.

Graduates of the school were known as ‘Nightingales’. Many of the went on to become nurses and matrons at leading hospitals – or even set up training schools of their own – helping spread Florence’s ideas around the world.

Florence sometimes invited the student nurses on holiday outings to her family home Lea Hurst in Derbyshire.

Florence’s work was an important catalyst for radical improvements in the training of nurses over the following decades and the School of Nursing developed and expanded greatly. Towards the end of the twentieth century, several mergers significantly increased the size of the school. In 1991, it was amalgamated with the Olive Haydon School of Midwifery and the Thomas Guy & Lewisham School of Nursing. In 1993 it combined with the King’s College Hospital School of Nursing at Normanby College, which itself dates back to 1885. It later merged with the Department of Nursing Studies at King’s. The school became the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery in 2014. In 2017 the Cicely Saunders Institute at King's moved from the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine to form the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care.

Famous alumni

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale founded The Nightingale Home and Training School for Nurses. The school was initially under the direction of Sarah Elizabeth Wardroper, the hospital matron who became an important advocate for the school.

Many of the nurses trained at the school became pioneers for nursing around the world, including Alice Fisher who became superintendent at Pennsylvania General Hospital, creating the nursing school there; Linda Richards, the first professionally trained American nurse, who established nursing training programs in US and Japan; Lucy Osburn, considered the founder of modern nursing in Australia; Henny Tscherning, a pioneering Danish nurse who headed the Danish Nurses’ Organisation; and Emmy Rappe, founder of the Swedish Nursing Association.

Sarah Mullally

Other significant alumni include Isla Stewart, the founder of the Royal British Nurses Association; Kofoworola Abeni Pratt, who, in 1950 became the first black nurse in the NHS and was later the Chief Nursing Officer in Nigeria; Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement; Sir Jonathan Asbridge, the first president of the UK’s Nursing and Midwifery Council; and Dame Sarah Mullally, former Chief Nursing Officer for the UK and the current Bishop of London.