A REMARKABLE archive of primary and secondary school histories has opened to the public in the Institute of Education, Bloomsbury.
The School Histories Collection has more than 1,500 books and pamphlets dating from the 18th century to the present day, revealing fascinating stories of schools in Camden and across the country.
“The idea [of the archive] is to encourage people to engage in their school’s history and realise it is very different from how it used to be,” says project director Shirley Franklin. “It’s so important that we hear the stories of the past.”
The archive reveals that Fleet Road primary school was founded as a “board school” in 1877 under a government initiative aiming to increase the number of schools in areas where there was inadequate education provision. More than 140 years on, parents are still fighting for a new school in NW3. Fleet was one of the most popular schools in the capital and became known as “Hampstead’s Eton”.
Literacy teaching 140 years ago involved children transforming themselves into living illustrations of the letters of the alphabet, and writing on their “slates”. There was a clear gender pay divide among teachers with women earning around £129 a year, around £7,500 in a today’s money, while men earned almost three times more. Headmasters were paid around £400 per year at the start of the 20th century – a mere £23,000 in today’s money, with inner London headteachers earning around £80,000.
The archive also reveals how a notorious 17th-century highwayman, William Platt, released farmland he owned in what is now Tufnell Park “to endow scholarships and fellowships”. It became “Burghley Road School” in 1884, and is now known as Acland Burghley School. The Burghley archives reveals a “difficult start” with “inexperienced teachers and unruly children” and that the head was “obliged to cane severely two Class 1 girls for disobedience to Miss Turriff”.
• The Schools Histories Collection is open to the public in the main library at the Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, WC1. Contact the Library Membership Desk or in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
• A teachers’ resource pack is also available
Published: 14 July, 2011
by NATASHA KARIMIAN