Most Dorset schools kept records fairly systematically from the mid to late nineteenth century onwards.

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.

School records we hold

Admission Registers

Admission registers generally date from about the 1860s and 1870s. They may include admission and leaving dates, names and addresses of parents and the dates of birth of individual children. More detailed registers may also include the name of the school from which a pupil has moved or is moving to. Admission registers often contain contemporary indexes to the names of pupils recorded within the volume

Log Books

The earliest log books held by Dorset History Centre date from the 1860s. They were compiled by the head teacher and contain general information about the school, including information about teachers and the numbers of children attending. Notes on misdemeanours and health, school inspections and important events and visitors may also be found. They provide a valuable insight in rural areas such as Dorset, into the seasonal agricultural employment of children and the effects of bad weather, sickness and disease on school life.

Other school records

These include: attendance registers, photographs, school publications, punishment books, governors' minutes and other papers, and HM Inspector's reports (a sort of early OFSTED report)

Restricted access

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a Data Protection Form, declaring that you will use the information from these records for personal research only and not for publication.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.

Depositing school records

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