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DUANE, William Michael (1915-1997)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0366 MD
Held at: Institute of Education
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Full title: DUANE, William Michael (1915-1997)
Date(s): 1940s-1990s
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 7 boxes
Name of creator(s): Duane | William Michael | 1915-1997 | teacher and headmaster
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Michael Duane (1915-1997), teacher, headmaster and lecturer, was best known for his 'progressive' educational views, his belief in inclusivity and a multi-racial approach, his encouragement of informal relationships between staff and pupils and his opposition to corporal punishment.
(William) Michael Duane was born on the 25 January 1915 in Dublin, Ireland. After moving to England, he was educated at the Dominican School at Archway, North London; St Ignatius' Grammar School in Stamford Hill, London. In 1938 he graduated from Queen Mary College, London, with a degree in English Language and Literature. He trained as a teacher from 1938-1939 at the Institute of Education and afterwards took up his first teaching post at Dame Alice Owen's Grammar School, Islington, until 1940 when he started war service.
In 1941 he was promoted to Second Lieutenant and in 1942 became the Captain of the HQ Tank Squadron of the 8th Armoured Corps. He was subsequently the Staff Captain to the 20 Armoured Brigade, 6th Armoured Corps.; Staff Officer to General Richard O'Connor, Commander of the 8th Armoured Corps.; Liaison Officer to General Miles Dempsey, Commander of the 2nd Army and to Field Marshal Montgomery. In 1945 he became a Major of the 8th Corps. District, during the occupation of Germany. During the war he was mentioned in dispatches and was awarded two Belgium Medals, the 'Chevalier De L'Ordre De Leopold II Avec Palme' and 'Croix De Guerre Avec Palme'. He was demobilised in 1946 and returned briefly to Dame Alice Owen's Grammar School.
From 1946-1948 he lectured at the Institute of Education on the English Method; to teachers under the emergency scheme; and at the Workers Education Association. In September 1948 he was appoint the Head of Beaumont Boys' School, St Albans. In 1949 he became the Head of a newly opened school, Howe Dell Secondary School in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Duane's headship of Howe Dell was marked by controversy and the school closed shortly after he resigned in 1951. From 1951-1959 Duane was Head Master of Alderman Woodrow Secondary Boys' School, Lowestoft.
It was in 1959 that he took the headship of Risinghill School in Islington, a post which was to make Duane a famous figure. Risinghill opened in 1960 after the amalgamation of four pre-existing schools and under Duane's headship became the subject of much public and media attention and controversy focused on his non-authoritarian approach. There were difficulties with the London County Council and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Schools, Risinghill was closed in 1965 and Duane became a peripatetic lecturer mainly based at Garnett College in London.
From the 1960s he wrote and lectured widely on the topic of education. In 1995, for example, he published 'The Terrace: An Educational Experiment in a State School' (London: Freedom Press, 1995) about a joint scheme established by Royston Lambert, Head of Dartington School and Sir Alec Clegg, Director of Education for the West Riding of Yorkshire at Northcliffe Comprehensive School, Conisbrough, Yorkshire to provide non-school education for fifteen-year olds after the raising of the school leaving age in 1972-1973. Michael Duane died in January 1997.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers reflecting many aspects of Duane's career. In particular, the collection includes reports, memoranda and correspondence relating to Duane's headships of Howe Dell Secondary School, Hatfield (1949-1951); Alderman Woodrow Secondary Boys' School, Lowestoft (1951-1959); and Risinghill School, Islington (1959-1960). Also included are published and unpublished writings, lectures, correspondence, press cuttings and transcripts of interviews reflecting Duane's broad interests in education including on the following topics: the nature of intelligence, teacher training, discipline and punishment, 'delinquency', 'de-schooling', religious instruction and moral education, comprehensive education, non-authoritarian and 'progressive' education. Background research material, drafts and correspondence relating to his MPhil thesis at the University of Nottingham 'An Experiment in Progressive Education in a State School' (1977) [later published as The Terrace: An Educational Experiment in a State School (London: Freedom Press, 1995)] are also included.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

This collection has been largely arranged by the School and writings by and collected by Duane. The cataloguing of this collection has been made more difficult by the fact that Michael Duane's papers appear to have been dismantled and reordered in order to allow Leila Berg to research Risinghill: Death of a Comprehensive School (Penguin, 1968). Thus, many of the documents bear numberings and annotations by Berg. It has not been possible to reconstruct Duane's original filing system, and the catalogue has therefore been structured to include the 'Berg element'. For example, MD ordered his papers relating to Howe Dell alphabetically, A-Z and thereafter AA onwards. This order can still be seen in some files, but certain papers have been removed and added to the Berg research files. Many of the documents therefore have multiple numberings and annotations. Where there is multiple numbering systems the references have been noted on the catalogue. The collection also contains various copies of the same documents which have been retained as they are annotated or are important to the context of each file. The original file titles have also been retained though they may not relate to all the material they contain.

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form. Many files have been closed under Data Protection Act (1998) until 80 years after the last date on the file due to the personal data they contain.

Conditions governing reproduction:

A reader wishing to publish any quotation of information, including pictorial, derived from any archive material must apply in writing for prior permission from the Librarian or other appropriate person(s) as indicated by the Archivist. A limited number of photocopies may be supplied at the discretion of the Archivist.

Finding aids:

Online catalogue available.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Given by the family in April 2000.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Duane's personnel file is held in the records of the Institute of Education.

Leeds University Special Collections: Papers of the Rt Hon Edward Charles Gurney Boyle, Baron Boyle of Handswort

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
Created 04/28/2000, modified 12/6/2000

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