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‘Life at School: Then & Now’ Archive Workshops

January 22nd, 2014 by Alix in Archives

This post was initially featured on our Archive Education blog, found here.

When we initially started education outreach within the archives, we expected to work primarily with Key Stage 2 to 4 pupils. However, we’ve had a fair bit of interest from Key Stage 1 classes, and it has been fantastic seeing younger students interact with history in a new way.

Prior to the holiday break, I delivered several ‘Life at School: Then & Now’, workshops to Year 2s at schools in Fulham and Westminster.  Using a variety of our archive collections, we explore the differences between life at school in the past and present, particularly investigating the differences for boys and girls.  The second main learning goal for this workshop is to know different ways we can learn about the past.  The afternoons went by quickly, but here are a few of the sorts of activities we get up to in ‘Life at School: Then & Now’ workshops…

We first use the archives to look at the traditional differences of school in the past and now, that students are often already familiar with:

- Victorian schools with students in rows versus tables arranged in groups
- Blank walls versus colourful artwork, posters, etc.
- Stern looking teachers in formal clothes versus smiling teachers in more modern fashions
- All the while, thinking about how our classrooms are now arranged in comparison (the students immediately observed the absence of computer stations and carpet areas in photographs from the early twentieth century)

Hard at work drawing birds-eye views of their classroom in 2013, and classrooms in the past.

Children then explore archive collections including photographs, timetables, and documents depicting gender-specific learning… domestic science classes for girls, and woodwork classes for the boys.

This photograph was featured in a magazine about School Home Economic classes; taken at Mayfield Comprehensive School in London in 1953, ‘the girls learn to use household (items) and equipment’. Document Reference: BF/1/1/21

Male students in a Craft, Design and Technology class, from the 1970s. Document Reference: ABB/A/75/10

Finally, we take a look at progressive schools and later decades (like this primary school in East London), as both male and female students were included in domestic science & craft, design, and technology classes. Document Reference: BF/1/1/9

Following an afternoon break, we use the National Union of Women Teachers collection to look at the differences for male and female teachers in the past.  Two students volunteer act as male and female teachers in 1914, and come up and collect their annual pay (in the form of highly coveted Monopoly money – £82 for women, £139 for men) to illustrate the pay inequality.  Shock from the female students naturally ensued.

Taking care with the archives, the Year 2s were particularly interested in the old handwritten notes jotted on the backs of the photographs.

Investigating photographs from the Brenda Francis collection, which depict ‘ironing… making tea… cutting the fish’.

In small groups, taking a look at the NUWT archives with their white gloves on. The document of choice for most was an old ticket from a demonstration at Royal Albert Hall. The Year 2s had been learning about London landmarks and were excited to see the familiar Royal Albert Hall. One student paused and asked, ‘… Did the ladies we learned about go there for a meeting?!’

It was great to see how well the NUWT collection can lend itself to other themes and topics, in addition to the campaigning workshops we’ve done thus far.  In the upcoming weeks, we’ll be using the NUWT papers to create workshops focusing on historiography, in addition to an adult learning day around the theme of ‘Education for Peace’ during the war and inter-war period.

For ‘Life at School: Then & Now’,  we drew from a few of our other archive collections, in addition to the NUWT, including:

The papers of Brenda Francis.  Francis was a London County Council / Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) Advisory Teacher in the field of domestic science.  Throughout her career, she collected a a large collection of photographs which captured domestic science from the 1930s to the 1980s, and a range of supporting papers.

I also brought along photographs from the photographic archive of the Ministry of Education’s Architects and Buildings Branch.  The A&B Branch collection contains photographs and slides which depict a range of features of school life from the 1940s to the 1990s.  The collection is amazing in its breadth, illustrating a wide range of subjects which reflect both the Branch’s activities, the consturction of schools, and also records of changes in styles of education, concepts of child-centred learning, planning, furniture, colour in schools, landscape, sociology, social history, post-war changes in secondary education, the secondary modern, vocational/technical education, gender stereotypes, and many more.

A big thank you to the wonderful teachers we worked with: Ms Casey, Ms Murphy, Ms Vandepas, their T.A.’s, and each of their engaged and enthusiastic Year 2s.

League of Exchange for Commonwealth Teachers (LECT) archive now at the IOE

January 2nd, 2014 by Becky in Library and Archives

Elizabeth Middleton Ord Marshall believed that people from across the Empire would benefit from direct interaction between themselves – and the best place to start was between children. So, in 1901, she established the League of the Empire (renamed the LECT in 1963) and encouraged children from across the world to write to each other. Soon teachers from Canada and Australia began visiting British schools to further this ‘friendly and educational communication’. From 1919 these visits became organised exchanges between teachers in the UK and those living across the world – all either current or old parts of the Empire, and later the Commonwealth. The majority of exchanges were with teachers living in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, but over the years British teachers exchanged with those living across the world including Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone and Jamaica. (As I sit and write this on a chilly January day I have particular envy for those who managed to organise exchanges to Mauritius, Antigua, the Seychelles, and the Maldives!) Apart from a break during the Second World War, exchanges continued for the next 92 years, until July 2011 when funding was withdrawn by the UK government. The final exchanges were completed by August 2013 and the records passed to the Institute Archives.


Many of those who took part in the exchanges, particularly early on, were unmarried young women, with the number of women outnumbering men five to one. The LECT archives record information about these individuals, who would set out on journeys across the world by boat. Many either didn’t come home, or left the UK soon after their return. As fighting broke out in 1939 many were stranded in their host countries, with a small number not returning until the war had ended.

Read the rest of this entry »

Open Days at the British Library in 2014

December 16th, 2013 by Nazlin Bhimani in Library and Archives, Research Support

The British Library’s Doctoral Open Days, aimed at first year PhD students who are new to the Library, are a chance for PhD students to discover the national library’s unique research collections. From newspapers to maps, datasets to manuscripts, ships’ logs to websites, the BL’s collections cover every format and language and span the last 3,000 years.

The dates of the workshops for next year have just been announced.  They are listed below  – you may want to register for both your subject group and the Social Sciences.

13 January – Environmental Science

17 January – Digital Research

20 January – History 1

31 January – History 2

3 February – English 1

14 February – English 2

24 February – Media, Cultural Studies and Journalism

The workshops will take place in the British Library Conference Centre  and cost £5.  The day includes lunch and refreshments and this provides an excellent opportunity to network with other PhD students and the librarians.  If you are coming from outside of Greater London, there are £20 travel bursaries are available details of which are available at:

To make the most of your day, it is recommended that you obtain your Reader Pass before the workshop.



Happy Christmas Viewing !

December 13th, 2013 by Beverley in Library and Archives

Picture of Director and Clapperboard

The double Christmas/ New Year issue of the TV. listing magazines are now on sale. If your heart sinks upon perusing them, do not despair. The Library has a variety of films for loan which can be found in the Education in Literature Collection. The Collection is located on the left at the end of the computer room corridor.
Try ‘Educating Rita’ (1983) and enjoy the witty exchanges between Rita (Julie Walters), an eager Open University student and her disillusioned, boozy tutor played by Michael Caine.
Fans of ‘Downton Abbey’ may enjoy watching Maggie Smith in an early role as the redoubtable Edinburgh teacher Jean Brodie in ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’(1969).
South Africa has been in the news recently and the events portrayed in ‘Skin’ (2008) reflect how conditions used to be under apartheid. Sandra Laing (Sophie Okendo) is a black child born to white Afrikaners (Sam Neill and Alice Krige) unaware of their black ancestry, who raise their child as a ‘’white girl’’. But this is the 1950’s and Sandra’s life becomes a struggle for acceptance under the harsh apartheid laws. Remarkably this film is based on a true story.
Be inspired by another true story, that of Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank), the teacher at the heart of ‘The Freedom Writers’ (2007). The film portrays her battle to connect with and teach a class of unruly students.
Loose a few of those Christmas calories by dancing along to the songs in ‘Fame’ (1980). Or you might prefer some jazz in which case ‘It’s Great to Be Young’ (1956) is the film for you. A curiosity from the 1950’s in which popular history and music teacher Mr Dingle has to cope with a new, autocratic Headmaster. Humphrey Lyttleton dubbed the jazz trumpet for John Mills.
Be adventurous and try a foreign language film. ‘Twenty-four Eyes’ (Nijushi no hitomi) (1954) is one of Japan’s most beloved film. A young woman arrives to teach on a remote island and is slowly accepted by the villagers. Has a strong anti-war message. The eponymous hero of ‘Monsieur Lazhar’ (2012), a French–Canadian film, is able to use his own experience of grief to help his young class recover from the sudden death of their previous teacher.
The DVDs are available as 1 Week Loans but if they are borrowed from Monday, 16th December, onwards then they will only be due back on Friday 3rd January 2014.

Apartheid and after

December 13th, 2013 by Christina Egan in Library and Archives

South Africa has been foremost in the news recently, with its struggle for equality and enlightenment throughout the twentieth century.

If you want to know more about it, have a look in our Comparative Education Collection on Level 3 of the Library. We have several bays of books on education and society in South Africa specifically. The oldest one dates from 1900 and the latest ones have just come off the press.

For your convenience, works about Africa in general are grouped at 600, works about southern Africa at 680, and about the Republic of South Africa at 681 (note there are two sequences, at normal size and oversize). Older titles may be only in our Stores, so do look on the catalogue. Our enquiry librarians are happy to help you find the topics you are most interested in.

Moreover, our Curriculum Resources include a number of illustrated children’s books on Nelson Mandela. Most are filed at 323.1196, together with material on other black campaigners for equal rights, and most are for loan for eight weeks. There are also some films aimed at children available about these people who made history.

If you fancy some fiction, we have stories set in South Africa, both for children and for adults. You can look up “Novels” or “Picture books” together with your other keywords on the catalogue.

Finally, we put a link to the annual education statistics of the RSA’s Department for Education into our catalogue, so you can keep updated!

EID in Paris

November 16th, 2013 by Barbara in Library and Archives

Last week, I accompanied  Education and International Development (EID) MA students for three of their five-day, annual study trip to Paris.  On the 13th and 14th of November, we visited the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP), we had time to search for resources in the Documentation Centre and we had presentations on gender equality, Education for All (EFA), capacity development, education in crisis contexts and data visualization. On the 15th, we visited the OECD for an overview of the OECD and  information about the Survey of Adult Skills study and PISA.

My mission on this trip was to seek IIEP and OECD resources and to listen to the interests of students to ensure that the IOE Library holds relevant materials for research. My findings were manifold:

  • Firstly, while the IOE Library holds wondrous materials, we’re always seeking more — so tell us if there is something we’re missing.
  • Secondly, the IIEP and OECD resources are generally available online (OECD iLibrary, etc.) – but the Library will continue to collect printed copies of education materials when possible.
  • Thirdly, perhaps the future mantra should be ‘education, context, education’ as contextual issues are key to education research. Resource-wise, other Bloomsbury libraries can often help out with contextual issues — more information can be found in Using Other Libraries.
  • Fourthly,  IOE students are diverse and dedicated with a range of education interests. This EID group of 56 derived from 26 different countries — I was transfixed by their experiences, their energy and their drive.
  • Lastly, staff at the IOE are pretty cool, too — ace administrators, Bev Dee and Sarah McEvoy, organised the trip efficiently and effectively and Tejendra Pherali was always on hand for a pithy annecdote.

Viva la IOE students and staff!

BBC archives for teaching and research

November 11th, 2013 by Antony in Library

The British Universities Film & Video Council (BUFVC) is currently working with Jisc and the BBC to establish which programmes and other items (e.g. documentation, photographs and sheet music) from the BBC archives would be of greatest value for the purposes of teaching and research in further and higher education.

To ensure they get this right, the BUFVC would like your view on which items, from 1922 to the present day, are most sought after by academics. They will use this information to highlight the need that currently exists for increased access to archive material. A short survey is available until 30th November to allow academics to contribute to this process.  Access the survey here.  All participants who submit a completed survey will be entered into a prize draw to win Amazon vouchers worth £50.

For an idea of the type of material that is already available from the BBC, have a look at their ‘Archive’ website.

‘I know this stuff is old because it’s mostly all grey…’ – Archives & Year 2s

October 25th, 2013 by Alix in Library and Archives

With our Heritage Lottery funded project, New Perspectives, we are taking the archives on the road and into London schools.  Using the collection of the National Union of Women Teachers (NUWT), free workshops are offered to classes to explore social history through the archives.  Here is a quick update on how our school sessions have been going (and follow more of our archive learning adventures on our blog & twitter @NUWT_Archive)…

This past week was our first foray into working with Key Stage 1; our ‘Clever Campaigners’ workshop was delivered over two days to a Year 2 class in Camden.  Before focusing on the collection and campaigning, we considered just what an archive is, and the students compiled their own class archive.

The pupils have been busy learning about the civil rights movement as a part of Black History Month, so we linked the NUWT’s campaign for equal pay to extend their study of campaigning and equal rights.  We explored different campaigns (from civil rights to McDonald’s to Anti-Smoking to Recycling) as the students debated what the goal of each campaign was.

Armed with their white gloves, and with great care, the Year 2s explore the NUWT’s ‘The Woman Teacher’ publications.

After they had time to explore the visual, verbal and written campaign strategies of the NUWT, the students then got busy creating their own campaign.  Following a very democratic class vote, they decided to create an environmental campaign.  The students designed ephemera encouraging others to take care of their planet by recycling, walking instead of driving, and to stop smoking.  With their carefully designed badges and posters, they then went on an enthused environmental march around the school.

Future campaign designers.

The students’ care, attention to detail, and genuine curiosity of the archives reinforced the valuable role primary sources can play in early years learning.  Upon investigating a newspaper clipping of Mrs. Bale (former NUWT president) speaking at an equal pay demonstration in Trafalgar Square, a pupil came up to me, document in hand; he pointed to the photo’s caption, and patiently explained:

‘this newspaper article says Mrs. Bale talked yesterday… but I know they mean yesterday a long time ago because on the back it says it came from 1940…

… Plus, they’re all wearing silly hats!’

Mrs. Bale and some impressive hats. Another pupil immediately spotted the lion and wisely pointed out that she was in Trafalgar Square, and… ‘with all that space for people, what a good place for a big meeting!’ (document reference: UWT/D/38/1)

Thanks to Ms. Albrecht and her lovely class of year 2s (otherwise known as the Polar Bears) for having us visit!

If you are intersted in archive workshops for your group (from Key Stages 1-4; adult education; informal learning; etc), check out our autumn schools programme here, and email for more information / to make a booking.

Stories of conflict: Curriculum Resources display

October 16th, 2013 by Beverley in Library

Whilst selecting books to include in the current Conflict in Children’s Literature display I was struck by the prevalence of works by one author. The writer in question is Michael Morpurgo and I could find books by him to cover several of the major themes of the display.

War Horse, Private Peaceful (First World War, 1914-1918), A Medal for Leroy, Little Manfred, Friend or Foe (different aspects of the Second World War, 1939-1945), The Mozart Question (the Holocaust), An Elephant in the Garden (the effect of the war on German civilians), The Kites are Flying! (Arab-Israeli Conflict) and Shadow (The Afghan War 2001- ).

I tried to include books which covered more recent conflicts such as the Lebanese War and the Falklands War. The plight of displaced persons, refugees and the child soldiers are also subjects of novels and picture books. Controversial subjects such as
conscientious objectors and the experiences of the enemy (children in Germany in the Second World War) help to provide a rounded view of the way children can be affected by conflict.

There is also a variety of material available in the Curriculum Resources non-fiction section.

When you visit the library take a copy of the Reading List which includes the titles on display and other picture books and novels.

2014 is the Centenary of the start of the First World War and new books will be added to the Curriculum Resources fiction and non-fiction sections as they appear.

Digital Literacies in Higher Education – a JISC funded project at the IOE

October 14th, 2013 by Nazlin Bhimani in Library and Archives

Digital Literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute (JISC-IOE Study)

The ‘Digital Literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute’ project was run at the IOE between 2011 and 2013 and is one of twelve recent JISC projects in the broad area of academic literacies.  A newly published IOE LibGuide:  Digital Literacies in Higher Education summarises the findings from the IOE  study.

Though the research project focussed on postgraduate students (the IOE being mainly a postgraduate institution until its recent intake of undergraduate students in 2012), the findings share similarities to other user behaviour studies such as the Google Generation and User Behaviour in Resource Discovery studies which focus on undergraduate students. Read the rest of this entry »

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