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School records

Most Dorset schools kept records fairly systematically from the mid to late nineteenth century onwards. School records can be particularly illuminating for family and local history.

Elementary education during the first half of the nineteenth century was primarily dependent on the provision of schools by the Church and by various charities. The role of the state was extended from the late nineteenth century onwards with many new schools being established.

After 1870 most children between the ages of 5 and 10 should be going to school. After 1880, schooling until age 10 was compulsory (though in practice non-attendance was still widespread in places).

So from the 1880s onwards, chances are most of your ancestors should have attended school, most likely the school nearest to their home.

Use our guide to school records (pdf, 19kb) (opens in a new window) to help with your research.

School records include:

  • Admission Registers
  • Log Books
  • Other school records, including: attendance registers, photographs, school publications, punishment books, governors' minutes and other papers, and HM Inspector's reports (a sort of early OFSTED report)

Please note that some school records may be under restricted access. In most cases this will simply mean that you are required to sign a Data Protection Form, declaring that you will use the information from these records for personal research only and not for publication. In a few instances access to records may be closed to protect the rights of those mentioned in the documents.

If you are responsible for records generated by a school and are interested in depositing them, see our information for depositors page.

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