Records of the Independent Schools Careers Organisation (ISCO) and predecessors

Scope and Content

Records of the Careers Advisory Bureau (CAB), the Public Schools Employment Bureau (PSAB), and the Independent Schools Careers Organisation (ISCO), 1933-2003, including publications (1933-2003), minutes (1933-1980), annual reports (1981-1992), reports of meetings (1936-1939), legal matters (1947-1950), subscriptions and donations (1949-1955), memorandum and associated articles (1942-1973), funding appeals (1949-1951), a salaries book (1970-1972), programmes and index cards.

Administrative / Biographical History

The origins of ISCO may be found in the small Careers Advisory Bureau (CAB), run by the educational agents Messrs. Truman & Knightley from the 1920s onwards. In 1933, a Public Schools Section of the CAB was instituted, run by a Captain Pullein-Thompson. It was advised by a committee of headmasters

Following the outbreak of war, the Public Schools Section of the CAB removed themselves from Truman & Knightley and formed the Public School Employment Bureau (PSEB) in 1939. This entity became a company limited by guarantee in 1942. The end of the war and the increasing numbers of public school leavers meant that the resources and staffing of PSEB were stretched to the limit. In 1947, an enquiry by a committee of the Headmasters' Conference, led by Sir George Schuster, came to the conclusion that PSEB needed to be radically overhauled. The new goals were to widen the range of help given to boys, improve contacts with schools and businesses, encourage schools to work out training schemes for 18 year olds, and assist careers masters by sending them prepared and classified information regarding openings throughout the whole country.

The new organisation, known after May 1950 as the Public Schools Appointment Bureau (PSAB), was given a national structure and staffing, and was led by a Council composed of headmasters and representatives of school governing bodies. Regional offices began appearing in 1951, and PSAB provided a systematic placement service, various courses and summaries of training schemes. Though membership grew during the 1950s and early 60s, by the later part of the decade it had slowed due to the wish of students to attend higher education, economic fluctuations, and a lack of new schools eligible to join the scheme.

PSAB responded by working more closely with parents, for example implementing the Parents Participation Scheme (later the Careers Guidance Scheme), where parents contributed money in exchange for packages of guidance, information and access to courses. In 1972, PSAB was renamed ISCO, the Independent Schools Careers Organisation, and the criteria for membership was relaxed to allow in non-HMS schools. Growth was maintained during the 1980s with the introduction of Morrisby tests and the computerisation of careers guidance.

Joan Hills was the ISCO office manager from 1948 to the 1980s

This information was taken from an unpublished work by Mike Hicks, 'Careers Work and Independent Schools 1920 - 2000: Eighty Years of Vocational Guidance', to mark the 50th Anniversary of ISCO. Mike Hicks is a member of the ISCO Council.

Access Information


Open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The volumes require some conservation work including traditional repair and de-acidification.

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.

Custodial History

Some material was given by Joan Hills in September 2002. The bulk of the records were deposited by ISCO in October 2002. Further deposits were made in 2003.


Expected. New publications to be sent by Camberley office.

Related Material

The Institute of Education also holds the publications archive of the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (Ref: CSU). Administrative records after 1972 are held at the ISCO office in Camberley.

A file relating to the Mayfair Group was transferred to the Tavistock Institute in Jan 2003.

See also records held at The National Archive, namely:

LAB 19/54 Brief History of the Headmaster's Employment Committee.

LAB 19/398 National Services and its Effects. An enquiry made for Sir George Schuster's Human Factors Panel 1949.

LAB 19/389 Report of an inspection of Youth Employment Service provided by the Local Education Authority of London County Council carried out 29/11/54 to 12/12/54.

LAB 19/829 Correspondence regarding proposal of British Association of Women Executives for a Careers Advisory Service on Industry for Girls.

The Institute of Career Guidance Archive is held at Copthall House, Stourbridge.