The Scattered Homes system was devised in1893 by John Wycliffe Wilson who was the Chairman of the Sheffield Board of Guardians. Wycliffe Wilson criticised the existing system of cottage homes as he felt it isolated children from the real world in which they would have to eventually make their way.
Isolated or Scattered homes placed small groups of children in ordinary houses scattered around the suburbs of Sheffield. The children attended ordinary local Board schools and there were never more than 30 scattered homes children attending any one school.
Initially Sheffield had nine homes each containing between fifteen and twenty eight beds. Seven were allocated to Protestant children and two to Roman Catholics. Each house was presided over by a foster mother, assisted in the household work by the elder children and occasionally, a charwoman.
Similar schemes were adopted by many other unions, beginning with Whitechapel and Bath. In some cases a union would take over or even erect a small row of ordinary houses in a normal residential area.
By 1914 over 90 unions all over the country were making use of scattered homes system.