Education

What records can I find at Denbighshire Archives?

Primary/ Elementary School records

Before 1944, primary schools were called ‘elementary schools’. The term ‘primary school’ only came into use as a result of the 1944 Education Act.

Prior to 1833, educational initiative was essentially private and often religious. In many cases, school records were deposited at Denbighshire Archives with parish records. Denbighshire Archives holds the records of over 140 individual primary schools which includes schools in areas now in the counties of Wrexham and Conwy.

From 1870, legislation made education for children aged between 5 and 13 compulsory, but this was particularly difficult to enforce.

You can search for an individual school collection through our catalogue.

Schools records often contain the following types of records-

  • Log books– Log books date from 1862 when the government first required schools in receipt of state grants to maintain a record of activities. They contain the day-to-day record of events, usually written by the head teacher. This may include school inspections, visits, outings, staff appointments, class reorganisations and concerns with low pupil attendance. Sometimes pupils are mentioned by name, particularly if they drew attention through illness, injury, misbehaviour or educational achievement.
  • Admission and attendance registers– Record date of admission, a child’s full name, date of birth, address, the name of a parent or guardian, details of transfers, the date of their last attendance and the cause of leaving. (Often indexed)
  • Punishment books– Record the date, name of child, offence and type of punishment.
  • Photographs– Some collections contain class photographs, but these often don’t identify individual pupils.

We do not collect/store individual pupil’s school work or exam certificates. If you need a replacement exam certificate you should contact the relevant examination boards. If you do not know the examination board, contact your old school.

The cost of building of a new school or building maintenance prior to the formation of school boards in 1872 was often met by charitable donations. However, some of the costs were met by government in the form of building grants from 1833 and maintenance grants from 1853. School Building Grant Plans (ED/SBD) cover schools that were built in Denbighshire from 1844-1874. Unfortunately all the school building plans cannot be consulted due to their fragile condition.

Grammar/ Secondary School records

The 1944 Education Act divided schools into primary and secondary schools. Before this, many elementary schools accepted pupils aged between 5 and 14. This act created the tripartite system of grammar, secondary modern and technical schools for pupils aged 11 and over. County or Grammar Schools which existed prior to 1944 were subsumed into this system, often becoming grammar schools.

Many schools changed to comprehensive schools from 1965. It wasn’t until 1972 that the school leaving age rose to 16.

You can search for a specific secondary school collection using our catalogue to search for the name of the school. Please note that a school may have changed its name over time and multiple schools may have merged to form a comprehensive in more recent years.

Private (Public) School records

We hold records for the following private schools-

  • Howells School, Denbigh
  • Ruthin School

We do not hold the main collections of records for Rydal Penrhos or St Brigids, Denbigh. However there may be reference to them in other collections. Some private schools continue to hold their own records.

College records

We hold records for the following colleges-

School Board records

After the Education Act 1870, School Boards were established to provide education in areas where no such provision existed. The School Boards were elected bodies, empowered to levy rates and to set up and maintain schools in areas where voluntary provision was inadequate. At this time Church or National Schools were given a choice to remain self-funded or become a Board or Council School eligible for grants.

School Board records were transferred from Denbighshire Education Authority. Collections often include committee minutes, correspondence and financial records. We hold the records for the following school boards-

Education Authority records

In 1902, schools boards were abolished and local administration of schools was transferred to the Local Authority under the Denbighshire Education Committee (CD/E). The Education Committee controlled all primary and secondary education in the county except for primary education in Wrexham, where the Borough Council was the education authority until 1945. Education Committee records consist of minutes only.

Education department records are part of the County Council records (CD/ED).

What language were the records written?

Most school records are in English. Some schools moved to a Welsh language system over time and later records are in Welsh. It is our policy to catalogue records in the language they were originally written. In some cases catalogues are mixed language collections, the collection level description is provided bilingually and each item is catalogued in the language written.

How can I access these records?

The only digital images of these records available online are Denbighshire school admission registers (1870-1914) through a findmypast.co.uk subscription. Please note that none of Denbighshire’s Log books are available through findmypast.co.uk. You can access this site for free in the searchroom by booking a PC.

You can view other school and education records in our searchroom. Book a place in the searchroom today.

There are access restrictions on school records due to personal and sensitive information they contain. See our access page for further details. This includes log books, admission registers and manager’s minutes.

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

Conwy Archives Service

Any school records deposited after 1996 for areas of Denbighshire now in Conwy will be held by Conwy Archive Service.

Flintshire Record Office

Most school records for north Denbighshire which were deposited before 1996 (i.e. those areas which were in Flintshire prior to 1974 local government reorganisation) have been retained by Flintshire Record Office.

The National Archives Kew

The National Archives holds records created by The Department of Education. These include school files for school in receipt of an annual grant and Local Education Authority Development Plans. Find out more about what is held at The National Archives by using the online research guide.