Papers of George and Judith Baines

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection includes George Baines' correspondence and papers re his work at Brize Norton, 1962-1966 and school magazines from Ashwell County Primary School, 1950s. However, the majority of the papers are those of George and Judith Baines relating to their work at Eynsham County Primary School, 1960s-1980s. These include administrative papers, teachers' guides, teachers' record books, school magazines, building plans and press cuttings. Also included is a copy of the episode of the BBC television series, 'The Expanding Classroom' which featured the work of George and Judith Baines at Eynsham School. The film was made in the summer term of 1969 before the first new school building burnt down. The collection contains many examples of children's work, mainly from Eynsham County Primary School, but also from Brize Norton, including project books, creative writing, audio tapes of music, art work, including block printing, and work with fabric. The project books each include some mathematics, scientific observation or experiment, creative writing and art work and were bound in block-printed covers designed and executed by the children. Also included are texts of lectures and lecture notes; papers relating to courses and workshops; correspondence re visits, including overseas connections (Iceland, Canada and the USA), 1960s-1980s; papers relating to George and Judith Baines work with students at Bishop Grossteste College, Lincolnshire, 1980s. There are also slides and photographs of staff, pupils, activities, displays and field study trips at Eynsham County Primary School; of Judith Baines' work at Strathmore Infant School; of George Baines' work at Brize Norton; of tours and visits to Gambia, Canada and Iceland. There is also a small group of photographs, memorabilia and correspondence relating to Robin Tanner (1904-1988).

Administrative / Biographical History

George and Judith Baines were both primary school teachers who pioneered new teaching methods in an open-plan environment in the 1960s-1980s. George Baines once summarised his views that the work of a teacher should be to 'prescribe the environment of school, to release the children permissively into it, to observe and diagnose needs from their activities, and to draw upon all our professional resources to meet those needs [George Baines, 'Social and environmental studies', in Vincent R. Rogers (ed.), Teaching in the British Primary School (London: Macmillan, 1970), p. 199-216.] George Baines trained as a teacher, at Newland Park Training College, Buckinghamshire, 1951-1953. From 1953-1962 he taught in schools in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, before being appointed as Headmaster of Brize Norton Primary School, Oxfordshire, 1962-1966, where he first began to experiment with teaching in open-plan spaces. In 1966 he was appointed headmaster of Eynsham County Primary School, Oxfordshire. Here he spent one year preparing the teachers for the move into a new open-plan school building, which was then being designed, and for the adoption of new teaching methods. Judith Baines, née Purbrook, trained, 1951-1953 at OffleyTraining College, Hertfordshire, and then taught briefly at Ashwell County Primary School, Hertfordshire. In 1960-1961 she taught at Strathmore Infant School, Hitchen, Hertfordshire, and then for three years at a private school in Oxfordshire, before joining the staff at Eynsham County Primary School in 1967. She was appointed Deputy Head in 1968 and she and George Baines married in 1974. In 1967 the new Eynsham school building opened and George and Judith began their teaching collaboration pioneering new teaching methods, including learning through the environment and project-based work, in an open-plan school. The building burned down in 1969 and the school was housed in temporary accommodation until it re-opened in 1970. It was initially a school for the age-range 5 to 9, extending to children up to 11 in the mid-1970s. The children followed a course of 'self-directed learning'. The building was not divided into classrooms, but into a number of specialist areas for different activities, e.g. 'Botany Bay' and 'Cookery Bay'. Each child had a 'Home Bay' where they gathered before morning assembly and at the end of each day and where an individual teacher was responsible. A system of vertical grouping was adopted for these groups. In the morning the children would launch straight into whatever task they wished, before the whole school gathered for morning assembly, and at the end of the day they would talk over their activities with their own teacher in their 'Home Bay'. For the rest of the day the children moved freely around the building depending upon what type of activity they wished to do and during this period they could ask for help from any teacher. Eynsham was visited by groups from all over the world to look at the teaching methods employed. Whilst at Brize Norton and Eynsham, George Baines lectured in Bristol and elsewhere, including in Germany and Iceland (c.1975) and made three trips to Gambia (1968, 1970, 1971) and a Canadian exchange visit (1980). George and Judith retired from Eynsham in 1983. However, George went on to teach INSET courses at Bishop Grossteste College, Lincoln in the mid-1980s and in 1987 they moved to Lincoln where Judith also taught at the College as a first-year tutor for primary studies. Here, they collaborated with David and Mary Medd on the design and establishment of a Primary Base.

Arrangement

The list is structured as follows:

  • Eynsham County Primary School
  • Talks/courses
  • Correspondence
  • Published material
  • Ashwell County Primary School
  • Brize Norton
  • Strathmore Infant School
  • Material relating to Robin Tanner
  • Personal information

Conditions Governing Access

Open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form. Some records containing personal information are closed.

Acquisition Information

The majority of these papers were given by George and Judith Baines in July 1999. A few had previously been given by George Baines to the National Primary Education Archive at Bishop Grosseteste College, Lincoln and were collected from the College in June 1998. Another deposit was made by George and Judith Baines in 2004.

Other Finding Aids

Electronic and paper catalogues.

Archivist's Note

Used IoE online catalogue. Submitted to Archives Hub as part of the Genesis 2009 Project.

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.

Related Material

Papers relating to the making of the television programme featuring Eynsham County Primary School are contained in the papers of Eileen Molony (See DC/EM). The personal papers of Robin Tanner are also held (DC/TA) as are the papers of David Medd (DC/ME).