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Education Records

We are often asked if we hold education records for individual pupils or lists of who attended schools in Bedfordshire.  We're asked for a variety of different reasons and so this article will outline the situation with regard to school records.


There isn't any legislation requiring schools to pass their completed/superseded records to an Archives Service like ours.  We therefore only hold records for around 10% of the schools that have ever existed in Bedfordshire.  As there is legislation that states mainstream schools can destroy pupil files seven years after the pupil leaves the education system (or when they turn 25 years old) it is very rare for us to hold any pupil files*.  As pupil files contain examination results, we don't hold any of those either and you would need to access the UK Government website to see if it's possible to get replacement results or certificates. 

*Though rare, we do hold pupil files for Dunstable Grammar School for Boys and Luton High School for Girls.  Both sets of records are stored offsite so you would need to contact us by email with your details before we can recall the records from storage and make a search on your behalf.


We are asked for such records for a variety of reasons; in recent times, due to changes in immigration laws, we have been increasingly asked for proof of school attendance by people who immigrated to the UK as children.  We also get asked for class lists by people planning school reunions.  However, the Information Commissioner has placed an embargo of 100 years on all school and education records that contain personal information.  The records are not available to the public, and whilst we can check a record for you that is about you (via a Subject Access Request) we are not permitted in law to disclose any information about anyone else.


We will usually accept log books (recording the day to day running of the school, as written by the Headteacher) and admission registers that record the pupils attendance.  In the case of those that date up to 1914, they have been digitised and can be found online at Find My Past the family history website (for a fee).  This was part of a national project and although we don't have records for every school in the county there's a great deal of information to be found.  The website can be accessed for free if you visit the Archives Service (by appointment only).


Bedford is noted for the Harpur Trust, a charitable foundation originally set up in the 1500s to provide free education to the children of Bedford.  Nowadays it runs four fee-paying independent schools and funds an academy.  Of the fee-paying schools, we hold records for Bedford Modern School [ref: BMS] (boys) up to 1977 (contact them for any material after that date as they have their own archive); Dame Alice Harpur School [ref: DAH] (girls) which has now merged with Bedford High School (girls - no records held as they kept their own archive) and is known as Bedford Girls School.  We don't hold any records for Bedford School (boys) as they have their own archive).  We also hold the records of the Harpur Trust itself [ref: HT] relating to their ownership of property and land and their adminstrative records.

We also hold records for Bedford Training College [ref: BTC] which opened in 1882 to train the Kindergarten teachers of the Kindergarten School that fed into the Harpur Trust schools.  All of the references given (BMS, DAH, HT and BTC) can be searched by using the reference box on our online catalogue.