Papers of Cynthia Reynolds (1928-2008)

Scope and Content

Papers regarding Cynthia Reynolds career as an advisory teacher for the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) including, writings by Cynthia Reynolds, including reports for the ILEA and published writings, 1970-1983; papers regarding home economics curriculum development in secondary schools, 1945, 1968-1983, including sample syllabuses and exam papers from across the UK and overseas, development of in-service courses for teachers, ILEA publications and general files on curriculum development with reference to home economics; papers regarding the development for parenting courses in secondary schools, 1963-1985, including development within the ILEA, developments outside London and writings about parenting courses; Health and Nutrition education publications from the ILEA and other local education authorities, 1972-1985; ILEA lower school projects in home economics, 1979-1983; papers regarding home economics in further education, 1972-1985, including Reynolds MA dissertation; and general publications on home economics education.

Administrative / Biographical History

Marguerite Elizabeth Cynthia Reynolds was born on 21 November 1928. She was educated at The Lady Eleanor Holle School, Hampton, Middlesex and trained as a teacher at The National Society's Training College of Domestic Subjects, also known as Berridge House from 1946. After qualifying in 1949, Cynthia applied to the London County Council for a teaching placement and worked at Chelsea Secondary School until 1952. After a brief interlude at Ilfracombe Grammar School, Devon, she returned to London to teach at the Kingsway Day College, teaching 16-18 year olds who were already in employment. In 1956 she became the domestic science teacher at Twickenham County School, where she taught both cookery and needlework up to 'O' level and was promoted to the Head of the department. While at Twickenham she was granted a year's secondment to attend a new course at Battersea College of Education for serving teachers which led to a Diploma in Education, with special reference to Home Economics, validated by the University of London. After qualifying for her diploma in 1966, Cynthia returned to Twickenham until 1967 when she moved to Stockwell Manor School in Brixton as the Head of Department.

By 1970 the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) had established Teachers Centres which provided in-service (INSET) education for ILEA teachers and had a team responsible for the development 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. Patricia Searle, North & North West Inspector, was responsible for child development and oversaw the warden of Essendine Teachers Centre. Advisory teachers were also appointed to work with each subject inspector to help develop the different subject areas.

In the early 1970s there was a concern at government level over the cycle of deprivation and the need to educate the next generation of parents. In January 1971 Reynolds was appointed, with Honor Mason, as an ILEA Advisory Teacher, under the direction of Patricia Searle, to develop child care courses as part of Home Economics curriculum. Reynolds was based in the Essedine Home Economics Teachers Centre in West London while Mason was based in the Pitfield Street Home Economics Teacher Centre in East London.

Their first task involved making contacts by visiting schools outside London which were already running child care courses; contacting people working with children under 5 and visiting playgroups and nurseries. They each worked under a home economics inspector and with colleagues in health education. They also to made contacts with experts in child development at the Institute of Education and the Tavistock Institute. Two strands of work emerged from their initial research, firstly the development of the curriculum and a syllabus combined with practical experience, and secondly the creation in-service (INSET) education for teachers embarking on such courses.

By September 1971 they had set up several 'Child development and the family' pilot courses in ILEA schools. After surveying the existing materials it was decided there was a need to create a completely new course. Reynolds and Mason contacted Peter Weiss, Director of the Media Resources Centre (MRC), for help in creating teaching material, initially on the subject of child's play. They arranged a two-day workshop for teachers who were already teaching child development to discuss and decide the basic aims and format of the materials they needed. The first pack of teaching materials was introduced in 1972. Soon Reynolds was building up contacts with experts in the field of child development and pre-school education and wrote articles and gave talks to teachers. The ILEA was the first local authority to run courses in this scale, but later other authorities appointed similar advisory teachers. Her work was recognised as part of the Education for Parenthood project by the Department of Education and Skills.

The ILEA ran a number of INSET courses in the early 1970s located at London Teachers Centres which brought teachers in contact with experts in the 'under 5s' fields. They also provided weekend residential courses at The Manor House in Stoke D'Abernon; Dartford College of Education and the University of Kent.

By the late 1970s Reynolds became involved in other home economics projects those she continued to support the child development work. Other projects included a project to develop guidelines for home economics teaching pupils in the first two years of secondary education; other in-service courses for home economics teachers; and the development of the home economics curriculum for pupils at the end of their secondary education.

In 1974 Reynolds studied at the Department of Education, University of Southampton for a MA (Ed.) course. She wrote her dissertation on the history and development of the teaching of home economics, using her previous work experiences. After completion of her course, Reynolds returned to the ILEA. She continued to work for the ILEA until she retired in December 1983.

Publications: Teaching Child Development (London, 1973).


Originally the collection was roughly arranged into several categories, home economics/home Economics Curriculum development; exam papers; health education; child development; degree courses including Reynolds' dissertation; reports/courses by Reynolds; ILEA lower school projects. These categories were retained though rearranged slightly and renamed. There were two categories of exam papers, general home economics and child development courses therefore they were placed under 'home economics curriculum development' and 'Preparation for Parenting' series.

Access Information


Open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form.

Acquisition Information

Given by Cynthia Reynolds in 1998.


The Institute of Education Archives would like to thank Cynthia Reynolds for her assistance and advice to catalogue this collection.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued. Hard copy of catalogue is available in the searchroom and on request.

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 were removed and the collection was weeded for irrelevant articles.

Custodial History

The collection comprises the personal copies of the work Reynolds had been involved in during her employment for the ILEA. Duplicates of all her work remained in the Essedine Home Economics Teachers Centre but may have been lost during the break-up of the ILEA. All the material regarding the history of domestic subjects was collected by Reynolds during research for her dissertation.

Related Material

The Archives also holds the papers of Brenda Francis (DC/BF) who was the Subject Inspector in the ILEA responsible for needlecraft.