The educational system of the Forest of Dean has its roots principally in the missionary work of Anglican ministers in the early 19th century. P. M. Procter led the way in 1813 by opening a day school in his new chapel at Berry Hill and was followed by Henry Berkin, who established a similar school at Holy Trinity church near Drybrook in 1819, and by Henry Poole, who provided schools for Parkend and Bream in 1824 and 1830 respectively.
The Forest's chief colliery owners built schools in Cinderford in 1840 and a British school in 1851. In the mid 19th century six more National or church schools supported by the Crown were established, largely through the efforts of local clergy such as Henry Poole and H. G. Nicholls.
By 1874 the Education Department identified ten districts in want of schools. A school board formed in 1875 had built five schools by 1878 but in 1879, another 1,150 places were needed. The board reopened two schools which had closed and built three new ones in the 1880s and provided a school in Cinderford for older children in the mid 1890s. Four new council schools were built before the First World War. The county later took over most of the Forest's remaining voluntary schools and after the Second World War it provided several new schools to replace some older buildings. Management of the county council's schools passed to smaller local committees in 1969. There was an independent Roman Catholic school, started in 1960, in Cinderford.
Dean Hall (formerly Old Dean Hall) school for children with learning difficulties was opened by the county council in 1958 in a building south of the Speech House.