Catalogue description Ministry of Education and predecessors: Public Elementary School Files

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Details of ED 21
Reference: ED 21
Title: Ministry of Education and predecessors: Public Elementary School Files

Ministry of Education and predecessors public elementary school files relating to schools, including those in the Channel Isles and the Isle of Man, in receipt of an annual parliamentary grant or accorded temporary approval, and to a number of proposed elementary schools.

This series show how the character and status of the schools altered over the years as a result, not only of the changing needs of the areas which they served, but of the legislative measures which led to the establishment of a comprehensive system of elementary education. The files contain information about amalgamations with other schools, changes in name status (eg from"Voluntary" to"Board" School) and movement from one administrative area or county to another, in addition to papers relating to the adequacy of accommodation and measures taken to effect improvements.

The files contain statistics and information about school premises, trusts, inspection and organization. The Elementary Education Act, 1870, made provision for the transfer of Voluntary Schools to the local School Boards; where such a transfer occurred the relevant papers are on the school file. In some instances they contain endowment papers transferred by the Charity Commission (otherwise in CHAR) following the transfer of duties under the Board of Education Act 1899. The series also contains preliminary statements for schools opened after 1924.

Periodical reports by HM Inspectors and correspondence between the Board of Education and Education Department and the bodies responsible for the schools also provide a useful background to the history of elementary education in general and of individual schools in particular. School files contain, in some instances, papers of national importance to education for example papers relating to the"Swansea Judgment" which are to be found in the files for Oxford Street Church of England School, Swansea (ED 21/22722-22730).

Date: 1857-1946

The first 754 pieces are arranged alphabetically by county in sequences for England, Wales, Isle of Man and Channel Islands.

Within each accession they are arranged alphabetically by county, county borough and borough in England, Wales, Channel Islands and Isle of Man

The first section of the list, covering ED21/1-754, relate to schools in receipt of an annual grant which had closed before 1906. The former reference is the school number listed in the annual grant list.

The remainder of the list relates to schools which were still in being in 1906, or started since. The files for schools in the Isle of Man and Channel Islands are concerned with inspection by HM Inspectors on the invitation of the governments concerned, largely for the purpose of assessment of grant. Titles of schools are listed as in The List of Public Elementary Schools in England and Wales (List 21), first published in 1906. The former reference is the new school number introduced in 1906, which provided for a separate series of numbers for each Local Education Authority. This new number is listed in the Victorian County History footnote reference 'Min of Ed File 13/+ sub number'.

Related material:

Since 1924 preliminary statements have been filed on the respective school files. For details of the grant to individual schools until 1895 see the Appendices to the Minutes and Keepers of the Committee of Privy Council on Education in ED 17

Papers concerned with endowments were transferred to the Board of Education by the Charity Commission following the transfer of duties under the Board of Education Act 1899 and, if not part of the school file, can be found in ED 49

Inspectorate reports on primary institutions are in ED 156

Later files of a similar nature are in ED 161

Separated material:

A number of Welsh files were lost as a result of flood damage in Cardiff in 1960.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Board of Education, 1899-1944

Education Department, 1856-1899

Ministry of Education, 1944-1964

Physical description: 67451 file(s)
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure
Administrative / biographical background:

Early in the 19th century voluntary bodies, in particular the British and Foreign School Society (previously The Royal Lancastrian Association) and the National Society (The National Society for promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church throughout England and Wales) began to establish Voluntary Schools called "British" and "National" Schools respectively, which were supported by voluntary subscriptions and school fees, supplemented from 1833 by State Grants for building and later by Annual Grant from Government funds. The use of the terms "British" and "National" was discontinued by the Board of Education in 1906 and, where necessary to avoid confusion between neighbouring schools, the title "National" was replaced by "Church of England".

Details of annual grants to individual schools appear in the Appendices to the Minutes and Reports of the Committee of Privy Council on Education until 1895, when this information was published up to 1904 as a separate list. Preliminary statements are required to be submitted for new schools.

Under the Elementary Education Act, 1870, locally elected School Boards were required to provide elementary schools, known as "Board" Schools, where existing facilities were inadequate. In this connection, an Educational Census was undertaken and the subsequent reports and recommendations, together with school accommodation notices and known as "Parish Files", are to be found on the school file where it provided the sole educational provision for the parish (this is indicated in the list by an asterisk).

Under the Education Act, 1902, the duties of the School Boards were assumed by the Local Education Authorities and "Board Schools" thus became known as "Council Schools". The Local Education Authorities also became responsible for the maintenance, but not the provision of, Voluntary or "Non-provided" schools as distinct from Council or "Provided" Schools.

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