Papers of Brenda Francis

Scope and Content

Photographs: Large collection of photographs of domestic science, home economics, needlework, cookery, child care and homecraft teaching in London schools and other educational institutions such as open-air schools and teachers centres from the 1930s to the 1980s, possibly compiled as a reference collection intended for the use of teachers;

Publications: Printed material about home economics education, including works published by the ILEA, booklets published by the International Federation of Home Economics, relating to the 10th and 12th international congresses, regulations on teaching domestic education in 19th and 20th century, a publication of the Administration of Home Economics Education in Finland, a reference pack for teachers of pupils of ESN(s) [Severely educationally sub-normal] schools, and a work published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.;

Minutes and Papers: Relating to the meetings, activities and correspondence of the United Kingdom Federation for Education in Home Management.

Administrative / Biographical History

Brenda Francis (fl. 1930s-1980s) was a London County Council (LCC)/Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) Advisory Teacher in the field of domestic science. She retired in the 1980s.

Advisory Teachers are experienced classroom teachers who are either seconded or employed permanently by their Local Education Authority to provide advisory and inspection services in schools in order to meet the training and development needs of teachers. They did so by arranging in-service training, helping schools prepare for inspection, and identifying and disseminating good practice.

The London County Council was the local government body for London from 1889 to 1965. It gained responsibility for education in London in 1904, as a result of the 1902 Education Act (which passed responsibility of education to Local Education Authorities). As such, it instigated a number of educational reforms and institutions within London, such as school medical services, school meals, open-air schools for delicate children, and the division of schools into primary and secondary stages.

The LCC was also influential in the passing of the 1944 Education Act, which introduced free secondary education for all children, with particular emphasis on girls and those of a lower socio-economic status. The Act also introduced comprehensive secondary schools, which had particularly strong political and administrative support in London. The first purpose-built state school in the United Kingdom was Kidbrooke School, in Greenwich, which opened in 1954.

In 1963, the London Government Act (an overhaul of general administration of the capital influenced by the 1957-1960 Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London, also known as the Herbert Report) abolished and replaced the LCC with the Greater London Council (GLC). This came into force from 1965.

Responsibility for the education of Inner London (the London boroughs of Camden, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, and the City of Westminster) was transferred to the newly-created Inner London Education Authority (ILEA).

The ILEA was considered to be a 'special committee' of the GLC, and consisted of members of the GLC from the Inner London area, plus one member delegated from each of the inner London boroughs and the City of London.

The ILEA was involved in some experimental approaches towards education, such as introducing an educational television network where programmes were prepared and presented by practising London teachers on secondment, with the assistance of professional television staff. By 1970, all London schools had been brought into the closed circuit network. The ILEA's desire to disseminate information and promote learning and training among the teachers as well as the pupils was also reflected in the number of advisory and resource books published by the organization during its existence.

By 1970 the ILEA had established Teachers Centres which provided in-service (INSET) education for ILEA teachers and had a team responsible for the development of home economics. Maureen Walshe was the Staff Inspector of home economics and was responsible for 4 subject inspectors who were each responsible for a region of the ILEA, oversaw the wardens of the Teachers Centres, and were responsible for an subject area of home economics comprising, needlecraft; special education; health education; and child development. From 1972 Brenda Francis was the ILEA Subject Inspector responsible for needlecraft and the East & North East and Central Regional of the ILEA. She also oversaw the warden of the Exton Street Teachers Centre. Advisory teachers were also appointed to work with each subject inspector to help develop the different subject areas.

Towards the end of the 1970s, ILEA was noted for its adoption of a culturally pluralist approach towards ethnic minorities in London schools. As such it issued a number of policy statements endorsing multiculturalism, with an emphasis on allowing children who had immigrated to London from countries outside the UK to be fully integrated into the education system. This reflected the current educational climate in the UK that propounded the belief that learning in schools should mirror the growing multicultural nature of the UK. The ILEA's publications on life in the Caribbean contained in this collection are part of this emphasis on integration of ethnic minorities into UK culture.

By the 1980s, the ILEA came under criticism from Conservative politicians, in particular the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who believed that the organisation was over-spending and over-bureaucratic. Subsequently the ILEA was abolished in 1990 as a direct result of the Education Reform Act of 1988. Responsibility for education in London was transferred to the individual London Boroughs.


Originally the collection was roughly arranged into three categories of photographs, publications, and minutes and papers.

Of the photographs, these were arranged in terms of photographs of identified schools and other educational institutions, many contained in labelled envelopes and folders (which have been retained within the collection for their evidential value), photographs of unidentified schools, arranged according to size and similarity of content, and photographs of particular areas of domestic science education, sometimes specified, sometimes not, such as C.S.E. project work. These categories were retained though rearranged slightly and renamed. Of the unidentified school photographs, these were arranged according to date, where applicable.

The publications and minutes and papers were not originally arranged in any discernible order, and thus these were rearranged according to publishing body (for the publications), and committee or type of document (for the minutes and papers).

Access Information


Open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form.

Acquisition Information

Collected from the Ragged School Museum in 1998.

Other Finding Aids


Conditions Governing Use

A reader wishing to publish any quotation of information, including pictorial, derived from any archive material must apply in writing for prior permission from the Archivist or other appropriate person(s) as indicated by the Archivist. A limited number of photocopies may be supplied at the discretion of the Archivist.

Many of the photographs of this collection have copyright restrictions.

Appraisal Information

Duplicates were removed and the collection was weeded for irrelevent articles.

Custodial History

These records were formerly held by the Ragged School Museum in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LDRSL37; LDRSL 221-231). They had been given to the Museum in 1990 by Brenda Francis. In 1998 they were deaccessioned by the museum and transferred to the Institution of Education Archive.

Related Material

The Archives also holds the papers of Cynthia Reynolds (DC/CR) who was also an ILEA advisory teacher in home economics specialising in the development of the child development curriculum.