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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): MCC/EO/HFE
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1929-1965
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.33 linear metres
Name of creator(s): MCC | Middlesex County Council x Middlesex County Council


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Education Department of the Middlesex County Council may be described as one of the most important, progressive and vital public services provided by the council throughout its history. The Middlesex Education Authority, following its inception in 1903, stood as a pioneer in numerous aspects of its work. Previously various attempts had been made to provide public education, since the passing of legislation in 1870. Before 1870 schools were run as private concerns including small private schools and dame schools, the endowed grammar schools, and the beginning of the development of the Public Schools, and for the very poor there existed schools run by religious organisations.

Forster's Education Act of 1870 marked a watershed in the history of English education. It was based on the principle of elementary education for all. It aimed 'to cover the country with good schools and to get the parents to send the children to the schools', and principally to provide instruction in basic literacy and numeracy until the age of 12. The Act provided for the division of England and Wales into school districts. Wherever surveys showed that existing voluntary schools could not provide enough places for all the school age children within their districts, the ratepayers elected school boards, which were required to supplement the existing schools with (what became known as) Board Schools. Funds to build and maintain were to come from fees, government grants and the rates. This was the starting point of local responsibility for education expenditure, and of the partnership of central and local authorities.

School Boards were abolished by the 1902 Education Act and replaced by Local Education Authorities (LEAs), which were, in effect, the county councils or county borough councils. They were given charge of all elementary and much secondary education throughout the country. The Act was in many respects a great step forward, but Part II did create administrative complications in elementary education, that particularly affected Middlesex. For all higher education the LEA was to be the county council or county borough. However, the local variations in the needs of elementary education demanded closer local responsibility, and it was also felt that well populated urban areas deserved some degree of autonomy. Part III of the Act therefore laid down that within a county council area any boroughs of population over ten thousand or urban districts of population over twenty thousand should themselves be the LEA for elementary education in that area. The county council was left as the authority for any parts of the county that remained outside these areas. This produced anomalies in Middlesex where the County Council was directly responsible for secondary and technical education throughout the County (rural and inner city), but was only the elementary education authority for rural and agricultural areas, where the need was radically different. Generally, the Act instigated a period of great educational activity, as the LEAs were obliged to survey the needs of their areas, to shape their policies and implement them. The subsequent legislation described below modified and extended the power of the county council.

1918 Education Act
The fundamental principle of this Act was the right of the intelligent child to receive extended education to suit his age and ability. The minimum leaving age was raised to 14, and authorities were to increase the number of their secondary schools. The counties and Part III authorities were to co-operate in producing 'joint schemes of education', and the Board of Education was to make annual grants-in-aid to authorities related to their recognised expenditure on education as a comprehensive service. It was this Act which founded the Burnham Committee as the joint negotiating body for teachers salaries, which had previously been decided by the individual employing authorities.

The Hadow Report 1926
The recommendations of this Report were in accordance with Labour Party policy, although Labour were no longer in power. It proposed that elementary schooling should be renamed 'primary schooling' and end at the age of 11 or 12; and that children should then progress to one or other of two types of secondary school: grammar schools or 'modern schools' which would have a simpler curriculum in preparation for employment at 14 or 15.

The Butler Act of 1944
This Act called for the raising of the school leaving age to 15; for primary and secondary education to be provided in separate schools; for the provision of nursery classes for under 5's; for special facilities for the mentally or physically disabled and for the opportunity of boarding school education where parents desired it or where special circumstances made it advisable. The Act ended the autonomy of Part III authorities and made County Councils full Local Education Authorities for primary, secondary and further education with the duty to prepare comprehensive Development Plans for education in their areas and to implement them. The over-riding responsibility for all stages of education now lay with the County Council.

The 1944 Act triggered off a period of intense educational activity. There was a pressing need for school building, to replace premises damaged during the Second World War and to provide separate primary and secondary schools demanded by the Act.

On 31 March 1965 the Middlesex County Council ceased to exist under the terms of the 1963 London Government Act. Education became the responsibility of newly created London boroughs covering the area of the former Middlesex.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Middlesex County Council Education Officer's Department relating to higher and further education, 1929-1965, including further educational schemes; papers relating to higher education in Acton, Finchley and Tottenham; examinations for the Armed Forces and the Royal Society of Arts; papers relating to individual colleges and polytechnics.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The material is arranged in two series: MCC/EO/HFE/01: General and MCC/EO/HFE/02: Individual colleges.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the Corporation of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired with the records of its parent authority, the Middlesex County Council, and with successor authorities.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For more records relating to education see MCC/CL/L/EO.

Publication note:

For further information on the history of the Middlesex County Council please see Middlesex by Sir Clifford Radcliffe (2 editions, 1939 and 1953), LMA Library reference 97.09 MID; and The County Council of the Administrative County of Middlesex: 76 years of local government, 1 April 1889 to 31 March 1965, by Middlesex County Council (1965), LMA library reference S97.09 MID.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
April to June 2009

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