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School records guide

Log books, admission registers and punishment books

School log books

Central government issued a Revised Code of Regulations in 1862.

This required schools which were inspected and eligible for state grants to keep a log book giving a regular account of activities in the school.

Many schools did not initially meet the criteria for a government grant, which included employing a certified headteacher and having suitable school premises. Therefore their log books often start at a later date.

The 1862 code specified that the school log book should be a bound volume of more than 500 pages, into which the headteacher made daily entries. From 1871, weekly entries were acceptable.

Once an entry had been made, it could only be amended by a new entry and could not be deleted or changed.

His or Her Majesty’s Inspector (HMI) checked the log book during a visit to the school and a summary of the inspection report was copied into the book by the headteacher.

Log books are the primary source for the history of a school, but they can vary in content and the level of detail is often dependent on the headteacher making the entries.

However, the type of information they give can include details of the school’s academic progress, inspection and teaching methods or materials used.

Log books often give the names of staff and their status, sometimes with brief details of employment.

Most information about pupils is administrative, but in cases of exceptionally good or bad behaviour, sickness or lateness, names are sometimes given.

The log book might also indicate details of any school fees paid.

Since government grants depended on pupil attendance, log books often record the effects of bad weather, employment of children or epidemic diseases.

Some log books also give information beyond school matters which might include details about the local community, wartime or significant national events.

Many school log books held by us are available on microfilm.

  • For log books of closed Norfolk schools, see C/ED 2/1-313
  • For log books of closed Norwich schools, see N/ED 1/1-135
  • From July 1991, log books are listed with the records of individual schools

Some log books and admission registers, c. 1870-c. 1914, are available to view online at www.findmypast.co.uk.

For a detailed history of log books and their uses, see P Horn, The School Log Book, in Short Guides to Records: Second Series, ed. K M Thompson (London, 1997).

School admission registers

Registers of pupils admitted to a school were usually kept from the 1870s, but some schools maintained such records before this date.

They usually record the child’s name, dates of birth and admission, plus parents’ or guardians’ names.

Some include information on the standard attained, job taken on leaving and details of transfer from or to another school.

In cases where school admission registers have not survived, daily class attendance registers have been kept where they are available.

Many school admission registers at the NRO are available on microfilm.

  • For admission registers of closed Norfolk schools, see C/ED 4/1-124
  • For admission registers of closed Norwich schools, see N/ED 8/1-155
  • From July 1991, admission registers are listed with the records of individual schools

Some log books and admission registers, c. 1870-c. 1914, are available to view online at www.findmypast.co.uk.

Punishment books

It was required that a separate book should be kept for each school, detailing all corporal punishments administered.

From 1900, HMIs examined the school punishment book during their visit.

These books usually record the pupil's name, date of punishment, nature of the offence and type of punishment given.

  • For punishment books of closed Norfolk schools, see C/ED 10/1-16
  • For punishment books of closed Norwich schools, see N/ED 13/1
  • From July 1991, punishment books are listed with the records of individual schools