Catalogue description Records of the Information and External Relations Branch, its predecessors and successors

Details of Division within ED
Reference: Division within ED
Title: Records of the Information and External Relations Branch, its predecessors and successors

Records reflecting the creating bodies' responsibilities for the administration of educational work and experiments at home and abroad, including international teacher and student exchanges, and liaison with international bodies.

Registered files are in ED 121, ED 157 and ED 223.

Minutes, papers and reports of international bodies dealing with the interchange of students and teachers and a wide variety of cultural and educational matters are in ED 25.

Correspondence and papers of the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education are in ED 42.

Papers relating to the Basic English Foundation are in ED 52. Files on the education of Poles in Great Britain are in ED 128.

Date: 1871-1980
Related material:

For records relating to the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education, the work of UNESCO, and the Basic English Foundation, see also FO 924

Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Board of Education, Department of Intelligence and Public Relations, 1935-1944

Board of Education, Office of Special Inquiries and Reports, 1899-1935

Department of Education and Science, External Relations Branch, 1964-1966

Education Department, Office of Special Inquiries and Reports, 1895-1899

Ministry of Education, External Relations Branch, 1949-1964

Ministry of Education, Information and External Relations Branch, 1945-1949

Ministry of Education, Information Branch, 1949-1964

Physical description: 7 series
Administrative / biographical background:

In 1895 an Office of Special Inquiries and Reports was established which was responsible for keeping systematic records on educational work and experiments at home and abroad. It also carried out special investigations into and reported on subjects referred to it. Its functions expanded as the work of the education departments grew. Initially an information bureau, in 1896 it became responsible for the library and from 1903 it produced the Board of Education's annual report. Later it co-ordinated the activities of the various territorial and functional divisions within the board, and from 1944, within the Ministry of Education.

Both the Office and its successors produced educational reports for other government departments, especially the Colonial Office and the Foreign Office. It worked on teacher exchanges with foreign countries and made educational appointments in crown colonies and in India until 1947. It became involved in the activities of various international bodies, starting with the Imperial Education Conference in 1907 and including the Universities Bureau of the British Empire, which was represented on the League of Nations International Committee on Intellectual Co-operation between 1921 and 1927. In 1928 a British National Committee on Intellectual Co-operation took over this work and administered grants for international teacher exchanges.

In 1942 the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education was formed; this included representatives from the Scottish Education Department, the Foreign Office, the British Council, and allied governments. This conference was absorbed in 1944 by the Educational and Cultural Organisation of the United Nations, which became the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). These organisations worked on the problems involved in the supply and distribution of educational aid and cultural materials.

In 1946 the Office took over sponsorship of the Basic English project from the Cultural Relations Department of the Foreign Office which had held this function since 1944, and administered the grant made to the Basic English Foundation from April 1947 until it ceased operations in 1953. In April 1947 the Minister of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland delegated their responsibilities under the Polish Resettlement Act 1947 to a Committee for the Education of Poles in Great Britain. This ceased work in 1954, its tasks being transferred to a Polish section staffed by the External Relations and Awards Branches. An Advisory Committee and an Education and Library Committee were created to work with the section; these had their last meetings in 1966 and 1967 respectively.

The original office underwent a number of changes. In 1935 it was renamed Intelligence and Public Relations, in 1945 Information and External Relations and in 1949 it was sub-divided into an Information and General Branch and an External Relations Branch. Between 1963 and 1966 the Accountant General's Department had a Research and Intelligence Branch associated with it. In 1966 an Arts, Intelligence and External Relations Branch was formed. Until 1958 there was also a separate UNESCO Branch. At various times, the office had overall responsibility for the department's Information Division and Press Officer until the former became a separate branch in the 1980s.

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