Orme Girl's School, Newcastle, 1904 (Catalogue reference: COPY 1/218/230)

This is a brief guide to researching schools. The National Archives holds the administrative and policy files of the government departments concerned with education, but is not the best source of information about individual schools. Where these survive, they are most likely to be held by local archives.


  • What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

    • Records held locally

      Search our catalogue by name of town or school and refine your results using the filters. 

  • What other resources will help me find information?

    • Books

      Read Education and the State from 1833, Ann Morton (PRO 1997).

Did you know?

Local libraries and archives are the best place to begin researching individual schools. Search Find an archive to locate relevant archives.

Many public schools have published histories, which should be available in local libraries or through online booksellers. Some public school archives are listed in Education history records held in the UK. School inspections began in 1839 and eventually came to cover issues such as quality of the building, efficiency, teacher training and provisions for the disabled.

Under the Local Government Act 1929 educational provision for poor law children became the responsibility of the local authorities. Existing poor law schools were formally converted into public elementary schools.

After 1944 the term 'elementary' was replaced by 'primary'. Records relating to many individual primary schools established before 1966 are in ED 161.