The 1872 Education (Scotland) Act set up
a system of local schools controlled by elected local authorities
(initially school boards) and funded partly by local rates and partly
by pupil fees. From 1873 onwards head teachers kept admission registers.
These contained information about the child's school career, in
a type of register which was fairly standard throughout Scotland,
but whose information value depends upon the thoroughness of individual
head teachers. Usually the columns in an admission register allowed
entries to be written about the following for each pupil:
name, date of birth, date of admission to the school, date of leaving
school, reason for leaving (and name of other school, if transferred
to other school), name of last school attended, name and address
of parent or guardian.
Sometimes admission registers contain columns
for entries concerning exam results, class marks, annual attendance
figures, and (after for the second half of the 20th century) IQs.
If a head teacher has filled in these columns the admission register
may be closed for public access for a period of 30, 50 or 75 years.
However, it was left to the head teacher
to fill in whichever columns he or she thought fit, and, typically,
admission registers contain good details of the child joining the
school , but incomplete information in the other columns. Often
it is not clear whether a pupil completed a full education (the
head teacher was supposed to record the date of leaving and the
reason for leaving, including the child attaining the statutory
school leaving age, but in a large number of cases this was not
done). This is often frustrating for former pupils who are required
by emigration authorities, employers or higher education bodies
to provide evidence that they received a standard education.
Custody of records
In most areas of Scotland admission records
are still in the hands of the schools themselves. In many cases
records disappear when schools close. Some schools have simply destroyed
historical records, at the whim of head teachers, over the years.
In the 1980s and 1990s some local authority archives attempted to
preserve school records for their areas by systematically approaching
schools to ask for the transfer of school records to archives (for
details see FAQ1 or FAQ3).
School admission register (reproduced by
kind permission of Ayrshire Archives, reference CO3/10/7/46/13).
Alison Lindsay (National Register of Archives
for Scotland); Robin Urquhart (SCAN)
I require evidence that I attended school for higher education/emigration/employment
purposes. Where can I find this?
Are school admission registers a good source for family history
How do I find out where the school records of a pupil are, if I
don't know the name of the school he or she attended?