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King Alfred School, London

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2179 KAS
Held at: King Alfred School
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Full title: King Alfred School, London
Date(s): 1898-2003
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: approximately 140 boxes.
Name of creator(s): King Alfred School | 1898-1921 | Ellerdale Rd, Hampstead
King Alfred School | from 1921 | Manor Wood, North End Rd
King Alfred School Society | 1897


Administrative/Biographical history:

In July 1898 Mr E White Wallis, scientist, and Mrs Alice Mullins (wife of E Roscoe Mullins, sculptor) issued a circular titled 'A proposed rational school'. This led to the formation of the King Alfred School Society (KASS) which had as its object 'the furtherance, in every possible way, of true educational methods', which was a protest against contemporary education practice. The founding members of the Hampstead based Society along with Alice Mullins, were Isobel White Wallis, F W Miall, Cecil J Sharp, Hamo Thorneycroft, Gerald C Maberly and J Godfrey Hickson. A preliminary prospectus for the new school was issued in December 1897.

The stated principles which were the basis for the school were to educate boys and girls together; to cater for children of all ages; to limit class sizes to secure greater individual attention from teachers; to hold the object of teaching to develop faculty in all directions and to draw out the self-activity of the child; to award no scholarships, prizes or awards on the understanding that learning should be encouraged for its own sake; studies and occupations were to be carefully co-ordinated instead of being treated as separate subjects, the various subjects would be interlinked; closer cooperation between parents and teachers; that the home must help the school to achieve its aim though a common bond of sympathy; and that the school be free from any religious or political organisation.

These were based on the rationalist ideology and theories of education reformers such as Pestalozzi, Herbart, Herbert Spencer, and Louis Compton Miall.

The school opened on 2 May 1898, with Charles E Rice, formerly of Bedales School, Hampshire, as its first headmaster. By the time of the official opening on 24 Jun 1898, performed by Millicent Garret Fawcett, leader of the suffrage movement, the school had seven pupils, though this quickly expanded to twenty during the autumn term, organised into a senior and junior school.

Initially located at 24 Ellerdale Rd, Hampstead in a residential house. The acquisition of 22 Ellerdale Rd in 1906, increased available space for the school.

In 1901, the relationship between Rice and the School Council had deteriorated, amidst attempts by Rice and some members of the Council to limit the School to pupils aged 14 years or younger, to the point where Rice resigned, and later established his own school -West Heath School in Ferncroft Avenue, Hampstead.

The second principal, John Russell a more experienced teacher, former assistant master at University College School, was able to consolidate the effectiveness of the School. By 1911 the school was described as a demonstration school, such was the interest taken in it and in the educational reforms which it exhibited in its curriculum and practice. Enrolments had also jumped from 31 pupils in 1901 to 91 pupils in 1920. During the period, two 'garden schools' for younger children were operated in the vicinity.

Russell was succeeded by Joseph Wicksteed, and in the climate of economic collapse the school faced financial stringency just at a time when it was relocating premises at Manor Wood, North End Rd in 1921. In 1918, the School had purchased the Garden Suburb Montesorri School, however, it refused to tie its curriculum to the Montesorri philosophy. Wicksteed favoured a broader education and based his new curriculum on the Dalton plan. He also embarked on a building programme, completing a new hall in 1926 and new teaching blocks for science and the arts and a junior block prior to his retirement in 1933. The school population peaked at 170 in 1930, but dropped to 139 in 1932.

Violet Hyett, former senior mistress and Holland de Birkett, former senior master were appointed joint heads of school to succeed Wicksteed. They largely continued the educational principles of their predecessor. In 1936, the School Council approved plans to find a country base for the school for weekend and summer camps, as well as a safe haven in the event of war. Flint Hall Farm, near Royston, Hertfordshire, was purchased, and the buildings gradually transformed to accommodate the school. The school moved to Royston in early 1940, returning in September 1945, as Manor Wood buildings were vacated by the Home Guard, but facilities at Royston continued to be used, mainly by local residents, until July 1946.

In the meantime, Baron Harleigh Montgomery had been appointed the new head as Birkett and Hyett had retired. He faced an initial challenge in refurbishing the school building for habitation, as well as the need to persuade parents of the lasting value of the KAS education system on the face of competition for better discipline and examination results comparable to the new grammar schools. The post-war inspection by the Board of Education in 1949 was scathing of the Dalton philosophy. The Council and staff refused to change course, determined to maintain its progressive ethos, however the pressure to prepare pupils for examinations in a wider range of subjects, and in particular the GCE and 11+ examinations, did produce some modifications to the curriculum.

In [1959], it was decided to appoint a woman joint head from outside the school, and the post was filled by Mrs Nikki Paul Jones (later Nikki Archer). She joined the staff in April 1959, and in Oct 1962, Alan Humphries, took up the post of co-head on Montgomery's retirement, but left in 1970 to found the British School in Brussels, leaving full responsibility of headship to Archer. Pupil numbers increased from 298 in 1962 to 410 in 1982 when Archer retired. She was replaced by Francis Moran, head from 1983-1999. He was succeeded by a number of short headships - Lizzie Marsden, 1999-2001 and Sue Boulton, 2001-2003. In 2003, Dawn Moore was appointed head.


Scope and content/abstract:

Archives of King Alfred School comprising:

Head of School's correspondence files 1898-1999;

records of the School Council including Council minutes 1898-1997; preliminary circular 1897; bye laws 1901, 1930; memorandum and articles of association 1898, 1924-1985; members nominations, 1959-1962; constitution 1929; chairman's correspondence [1962-1983]; constitutional amendments 1989-1958, 1964; charitable registration, 1965; Annual General Meeting minutes and papers, 1898-1998; annual reports 1901, 1922-2003; School Committee minutes and papers 1904-1970; Organisation Committee report [1902]; Joint Consultative Committee papers 1962; General purposes committee report 1903-1904; Staffing Committee report 1901; Education Committee report 1906; Propaganda Committee minutes and papers reports 1904-1929; New Schools Scheme papers [1898-1920]; Communications Committee papers 1992-1995; Finance Committee reports 1903-1911; Working Party and Extraordinary General Meeting papers 1979-1982; School Advisory Council papers, [1920-1939]; papers relating to appointments of staff, 1983-1992; employment contracts 1958-1963; salaries, 1975; correspondence 1898-1999; and related papers;

financial records of the School including minutes of the Finance Committee 1898-1997; cash book 1989-1909; correspondence 1941-1945; and papers relating to mortgages, balance sheets, legal advice, fundraising, insurance, fees, grants, assisted places, salaries, appeals, appointments and resignations;

records relating to the School estate including minutes of the Building Committee 1920-1979; minutes of the Grounds and Building 1984-1997; and papers relating to maintenance and development of grounds and buildings, 1920-2003; and plans 1920-2003; correspondence with neighbours, 1945-1978;

School publications including the prospectus 1898-1996; papers relating to Inspections 1908-1997; annual reports 1946-1999; statistical returns 1930s-1977;

general press cuttings 1898-1999; and press cuttings relating to the tree house 1934; the school in temporary premises at Royston [1939-1945]; news reel script 1933-1937; Manor Wood rehabilitation [1945-1962];

other publications including works by principals J R Russell: The School of War; Eugenic appeal in moral education; Over systematisation of school life; KAS farewell to 1920; School antidotes, Aims and methods of KAS; Education and Sex; Pestalozzi; Book of Verses; Ideals in Practice; Overhaste in education; The sex symphony; works by J H Wicksteed: Education at KAS, 1922; Ideals in practice, 1925; Evolutionary value of co-education, 1926; Live dangerously, 1926; Principles and practice of KAS, 1929; The challenge of childhood; works by V A Hyett: Social life and sex development, 1933; Experimental Schools in Modern Society, 1934; School Practice, 1935-1936; Freedoms' temporary inconveniences, 1939; History and principles of KAS, 1948; works by B R Montgomery: Discipline; On co-education, 1945; Discipline, 1947; Address to parents, 1950, 1959; Principles and practice; by Montgomery and Hibburd: Short History of KASS, 1962; by Montgomery and Paul-Jones: KAS 1962; works by F P Moran: Teaching in independent schools, 1990; Teaching in progressive schools, 1990;

records of staff activities including minutes of staff meetings, 1928-1939, 1945-1961, 1965-1977, 1984-1999; papers relating to curriculum review, 1983, 1990-1998; timetables 1913-1922; 1947-1976, 85-99; staff circulars 1966-1999; obituaries of Wicksteed, 1960; Russell, 1937; testimonials 1945-1983; Staff Association minutes 1993; Curriculum Group minutes and papers 1982-1983; papers re retirement of Russell, 1920, Kemp 1956 Maxwell, 1982, and Moran 1999; Hyett, 1949; contracts 1898-1901; conditions of employment [1945-1983];

records of pupils including Register of fees paid 1889-1924; pupil lists 1898-1961, 1979-1995; Pupil Register 1933-1946; admission register [1898-1920], 1979-1987; Pupil entries 1927-1934, 1942-1946; Entries and leavers 1938-1947; Pupil leavers 1946-1949, 1951-1959, 1979-1987; Oakhurst Pupil Register 1944-1945;

papers relating to curriculum and examinations including Examination results 1928-1999; examination policy statements 1987-1992; School Certificate examination 1923-1949; Higher School Certificate 1932-1935;

records of pupil activities including Pupils Council minutes 1947-1987; Pupils Council constitution 1937-1973; reports 1943-[1962]; regulation [1937]-1942; attendance register 1957-1961; notes on Pupils Advisory Council 1903-1962; School Parliament 1905; Prefects minutes 1908-1912; Games Committee papers 1937-1939; Reports of the Sports, Chip and Party Committees [1939-1945]; Fire Brigade Reports [1939-1945];

School publications including School Magazine 1898-1920; Alfredian Magazine 1920-2003; School Bulletins 1963-1998; Mailbag 1994-1998; Lower School Magazines 1972-1990; Middle School Magazine [1950], 1967; First Form Magazines 1990-1995; Reception Magazine 1996; Sixth Form Magazines 1990-1998; Fourth Forcite Magazine 1964; KAS book of verse [1920-1939]; Saturday Magazines [1939-1945];

records relating to parents involvement with the school including minutes of Parent Staff meetings, 1903-1904, 1973-1999 and report 1966; also copies of circulars sent to parents relating to Royston, 1937-[1945]; general circulars 1945-1999;

files relating to events and outings including fetes 1920-1939; sports days [1920-1939]; Drama productions 1920-1945; retirement of John Russell, 1920; Jubilee celebrations 1973; concerts 1949, 1959; films 1960, Annual dinner 1928; posters for lectures [1898-1920]; staff log book , 1956-1950, 1954-1966; School camps 1937-1999; and Farjeon concert 1917; scripts for school theatricals [1945-1962], 1973-1999; Conferences on ethics, 1966; authority 1968; Lectures, [1898-1920]; Centenary Plans 1996-1998; concerts [1920-1939, 1983-1999]; posters [1898-1999];

records relating to Old Alfredians including Old Alfredian Club papers 1907-1960, 1981; Old Alfredian Dramatic Club papers 1933-1939, 1980; Old Alfredian News 1898-1955, 1989-1998; Old Alfredian minutes 1944-1945, 1948-1955; Old Alfredian Hockey Club [1920-1939]; Club Ramble 1949; and related papers; Questionnaires 'What is KAS' 1920-1999; Brooks 1920-1999; papers concerning reunion of Class of 1962; articles, obituaries, correspondence, and memoranda;

Certificate of Incorporation, 1989; Visitors book, 1946-1960; admission pack, 1973; rules; and miscellaneous material;

photographs and portraits including photographs of the whole school 1920-2003; portraits [of staff and students] 1898-2003; photograph album of John Russell, [898-1920]; frames portrait of Solomon Cutner; photographs of landscapes; portrait photographs; 1898-2003.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Material is arranged in the following order:
1898-1920 Ellerdale Rd; 1920-1939 Manor Wood 1; 1939-1945 Royston; 1945-1962 Manor Wood 2; 1962-1983 Manor Wood 3; 1983-1999 Manor Wood 4; 1999-2003 transition;

and then in the following subject areas:
Heads correspondence; Council Proceedings; Council documents; Council miscellany; Finance Proceedings, Finance Documents; Finance Miscellany; Estate Proceedings; Estate Documents; Estate Miscellany; Publications; Press cuttings; bibliography; staff minutes; staff circulars; staff miscellany; pupil lists; curriculum and examinations; pupil miscellany; Alfredian Magazines; Bulletins and Magazines; Magazine miscellany; Parent staff minutes; Parent circulars; Parent Miscellany; events; outings; event miscellany; Old Alfredian Activities; Old Alfredian Memoranda; Overall miscellany; Portraits; Portrait-landscapes; landscapes.

Conditions governing access:

By appointment only. Proof of identity is required. Contact the Archivist in the first instance, King Alfred School, Manor Wood, North End Road, London NW11 7HY.
Records relating to the management of the School including Council records, Financial records, Head's correspondence available by permission of the Head of School.
Note: Pupil lists are published and deposited in the School Archive, however, individual student files are not retained for transfer to the archive.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopies available.

Finding aids:

Database catalogue

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Created and held in situ by the School.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Papers of former headmaster, John Russell, 1876-1937, also held at King Alfred School.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

King Alfred School and the Progressive Movement, 1898-1998, Ron Brooks, University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1998.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Historical Manuscripts Commission's On-Line National Register of Archives; King Alfred School and the Progressive Movement, 1898-1998, Ron Brooks, University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1998. Compiled by Alison Field as part of the London Signpost Survey Project.

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:
August 2003

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