Papers of (William) Michael Duane (1915-1997)

Scope and Content

Papers reflecting many aspects of Duane's career. In particular, the collection includes reports, memoranda and correspondence relating to Duane's headships of Howe Dell Secondary School, Hatfield (1949-1951); Alderman Woodrow Secondary Boys' School, Lowestoft (1951-1959); and Risinghill School, Islington (1959-1965). Also included are published and unpublished writings, lectures, correspondence, press cuttings and transcripts of interviews reflecting Duane's broad interests in education including on the following topics: the nature of intelligence, teacher training, discipline and punishment, 'delinquency', 'de-schooling', religious instruction and moral education, comprehensive education, non-authoritarian and 'progressive' education. Background research material, drafts and correspondence relating to his MPhil thesis at the University of Nottingham 'An Experiment in Progressive Education in a State School' (1977) [later published as The Terrace: An Educational Experiment in a State School (London: Freedom Press, 1995)] are also included.

Administrative / Biographical History

Michael Duane (1915-1997), teacher, headmaster and lecturer, was best known for his 'progressive' educational views, his belief in inclusivity and a multi-racial approach, his encouragement of informal relationships between staff and pupils and his opposition to corporal punishment.

(William) Michael Duane was born on the 25 January 1915 in Dublin, Ireland. After moving to England, he was educated at the Dominican School at Archway, North London; St Ignatius' Grammar School in Stamford Hill, London. In 1938 he graduated from Queen Mary College, London, with a degree in English Language and Literature. He trained as a teacher from 1938-1939 at the Institute of Education and afterwards took up his first teaching post at Dame Alice Owen's Grammar School, Islington, until 1940 when he started war service.

In 1941 he was promoted to Second Lieutenant and in 1942 became the Captain of the HQ Tank Squadron of the 8th Armoured Corps. He was subsequently the Staff Captain to the 20 Armoured Brigade, 6th Armoured Corps.; Staff Officer to General Richard O'Connor, Commander of the 8th Armoured Corps.; Liaison Officer to General Miles Dempsey, Commander of the 2nd Army and to Field Marshal Montgomery. In 1945 he became a Major of the 8th Corps. District, during the occupation of Germany. During the war he was mentioned in dispatches and was awarded two Belgium Medals, the 'Chevalier De L'Ordre De Leopold II Avec Palme' and 'Croix De Guerre Avec Palme'. He was demobilised in 1946 and returned briefly to Dame Alice Owen's Grammar School.

From 1946-1948 he lectured at the Institute of Education on the English Method; to teachers under the emergency scheme; and at the Workers Education Association. In September 1948 he was appoint the Head of Beaumont Boys' School, St Albans. In 1949 he became the Head of a newly opened school, Howe Dell Secondary School in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Duane's headship of Howe Dell was marked by controversy and the school closed shortly after he resigned in 1951. From 1951-1959 Duane was Head Master of Alderman Woodrow Secondary Boys' School, Lowestoft.

It was in 1959 that he took the headship of Risinghill School in Islington, a post which was to make Duane a famous figure. Risinghill opened in 1960 after the amalgamation of four pre-existing schools and under Duane's headship became the subject of much public and media attention and controversy focused on his non-authoritarian approach. There were difficulties with the London County Council and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Schools, Risinghill was closed in 1965 and Duane became a peripatetic lecturer mainly based at Garnett College in London.

From the 1960s he wrote and lectured widely on the topic of education. In 1995, for example, he published 'The Terrace: An Educational Experiment in a State School' (London: Freedom Press, 1995) about a joint scheme established by Royston Lambert, Head of Dartington School and Sir Alec Clegg, Director of Education for the West Riding of Yorkshire at Northcliffe Comprehensive School, Conisbrough, Yorkshire to provide non-school education for fifteen-year olds after the raising of the school leaving age in 1972-1973. Michael Duane died in January 1997


This collection has been largely arranged by the School and writings by and collected by Duane. The cataloguing of this collection has been made more difficult by the fact that Michael Duane's papers appear to have been dismantled and reordered in order to allow Leila Berg to research Risinghill: Death of a Comprehensive School (Penguin, 1968). Thus, many of the documents bear numberings and annotations by Berg. It has not been possible to reconstruct Duane's original filing system, and the catalogue has therefore been structured to include the 'Berg element'. For example, MD ordered his papers relating to Howe Dell alphabetically, A-Z and thereafter AA onwards. This order can still be seen in some files, but certain papers have been removed and added to the Berg research files. Many of the documents therefore have multiple numberings and annotations. Where there is multiple numbering systems the references have been noted on the catalogue. The collection also contains various copies of the same documents which have been retained as they are annotated or are important to the context of each file. The original file titles have also been retained though they may not relate to all the material they contain.

Access Information


Open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form. Many files have been closed under Data Protection Act (1998) until 80 years after the last date on the file due to the personal data they contain.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the family in 2000.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue on CALM and hardcopy available in the search room and on request.

Archivist's Note

Catalogue completed by Katie Mooney in May 2007.

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.

Appraisal Information

Duplicates have been removed where possible.

Related Material

Duane's personnel file is held in the records of the Institute of Education.


Publications and writings by Michael Duane:'Drama in Schools' in 'The Derbyshire Countryside' Jan 1943'Sex education: a small experiment' in 'Family Planning' 11, No. 2 (1961) (published anonymously as M Duanel)'Parents and discipline: lessons from a tough-area school' in 'The Sunday Telegraph', (25 April 1965).'The Stench of hypocrisy' in 'Education' Vol. 31 No. 22 (May 1968)'Headmaster's View of the Risinghill Story' in 'The Morning Star' (18 Jun 1968)'The Risinghill Myth' in 'New Society' (20 June 1968) pp91-92.'Children are not factory Fodder' in 'Peace News' (21 Jun 1968)'Comprehensives in dangers of perpetuating middle-class elitist assumptions' in 'The Times Educational Supplement' (12 Jul 1968)'Good relationships - the life blood of teaching -are poisoned by assumptions taken from the industry and competitive Society' in 'The Times Educational Supplement' (19 Jul 1968)'How we ought to train teachers' in 'The Times Educational Supplement' (26 Jul 1968)'The teachers' in 'Technical Education and Industrial Training' Vol. 11, No. 3 (1969)'Education in Britain today' in 'Education for Democracy', Edited by D. Rubinsteinand C. Stoneman. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970).'The training of teachers' in 'Education for the Seventies: Transcriptions of the Cambridge Union Teach-In', edited by H. Anderson, J. Hipkin and M. Plaskow. London: Heinemann, 1970'The Seminar: a dilemma' in 'Teachers World' (3 Mar 1971)'New Developments in British Secondary Education'. Amsterdam: ECF, 1971.'A Summerhill school meeting' in 'Children's Rights' 2 (1971): 29-30'Why exams?' in 'Children's Rights' 5 (1972)'Freedom and the state system of education' in 'Children's Rights', Edited by J Hall (London, 1972)'In my innocence' from 'Drama in Education 2' Edited by John Hogson & Martn Baham (London, 1973)'The Children we deserve' in Discipline in Schools ed. B Turner (London, 1973)'A.S Neill and Summerhill' in Teachers World (19 Oct 1973)'Towards a definition of intelligence' from Education & Training (Dec 1973)'Towards that happy state' Teachers World (18 Oct 1974)'R.I-why compulsory?' in 'Teachers World' (2 May 1975)'Freedom for Children' in 'Teachers' bookshelf - a teachers World supplement' (29 Oct 1976)'Work, Language & Education in the Industrial State' (Freedom Press, 1991).'The Seeds of Its Own Destruction or Education in Capitalist Britain' in 'The Raven', (16) Vol. 4, No. 4, (October-December 1991) 'Education for what?: a guide to the Dartington Hall experiment' in 'Contemporary Issues in Education and Geography' 32 (1991): 113-139'Church, State and Freedom' in 'The Raven', (25) Vol. 7, No. 1 (Spring 1994) 'The Terrace: An Educational Experiment in a State School' (Freedom Press, 1995) Articles written using the Duane collection:David Limond, 'Risinghill Revisited', History of Education, 31.6 (2002).David Limond, 'Risinghill and the ecology of fear', Educational Review, 54.2 (2002).David Limond, 'Dead man talking; Michael Duane's reflections on Risinghill, after 'Risinghill', History of Education Researcher, No. 72, (Nov 2003).David Limond 'Michael Duane After Risinghill: Rise and Fall of an Educational Celebrity' Journal of Educational Administration and History, Vol. 37, No. 1, April 2005, pp. 85-94David Limond 'Frequently but naturally: William Michael Duane, Kenneth Charles Barnes and teachers as innovators in sex(uality) education in English adolescent schooling: c.1945-1965 in 'Sex Education' Vol 5. No 2. (2002)pp.107-118. Other publications about Duane and Risinghill School:Leila Berg, 'Risinghill: Death of a Comprehensive School' (Penguin, 1968).''Barbed Wire beyond the cage': Risinghill's reforms rejected" in Colin Fletcher, Maxine Caron and Wyn Willians 'Schools On Trial: The Trials of Democratic Comprehensives'' (Open University Press, 1985).M Small 'About Risinghall' (1968) reprinted in C Ward (ed.) 'A Decade of Anarchy, 1961-1970:Selections from the Monthly Journal Anarchy' pp184-204 (Freedom Press, 1987).