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Back to School

Dear Reader,

As the academic term starts this month our theme is “back to school”. Perhaps the start of the academic year has got you thinking about taking a course? Not taken a course with us before? Our What’s Right for me? page can help. If you are looking for a certificate in genealogy you may be interested in our Intermediate and Advanced Certificate programmes, developed in association with the Society of Genealogists. If you’ve already taken a course and want to know what else your favourite tutor has to offer you can visit the Tutor Page to find out more.

Of course education nowadays is nothing like the educational opportunities our ancestors had and childhood was a very different affair. We have a brand new course in development on that very subject: Victorian and Edwardian Childhood and Education 1820s to 1920s.

School Records

School Records

School records can be a great way to find out more about the community in which your ancestors lived. Some of the records you might find for educational establishments are: School Board minutes, log books, accounts, punishment books, admission registers, lists of pupils, photographs, timetables and staff appointments.

Here are some examples of the riches you can find in school log books. Log books were introduced in 1862 for all schools receiving grants, in the which “the principle teacher must daily make in the log book the briefest entry which will suffice to specify either ordinary progress, or whatever other fact concerning the school or its teachers, such as the dates of withdrawals, commencement of duty, cautions, illness etc, may require to be referred to at a future time, or may otherwise deserve to be recorded.

The following are extracts from the school log books for the Infant School, Girls School and Boys School in Sawston, Cambridgeshire. Some entries give a real insight into life in the community:

07 Apr 1887 “Sidney Barker went home on Wednesday morning because he was afraid to pass the master’s dog, thereby losing his attendance.

27 Jul 1888 “… Holiday given on account of the annual pea picking.

01-04 Jan 1889 “Attendance very thin – sent to over 20 different homes to know reason of children being kept away – several were ill and others kept at home to mind little ones. Mrs Ellison answered…. rudely and said she did not know when she could send her daughter.”

07 Apr 1891 “The Infant School work could be done much better if the lessons were relieved by a (?) hour or 20 minutes recreation, both morning & afternoon, in a playground. Parents naturally object to 3 hours brain work, without any interval for young children. …

19 Jun 1891 “… We have been able to give from the first time, a little out-door recreation to the children, as the playground is now finished.

06 Sep 1893 “Sent Alfred Chapman, Hubert Osborne and Harry Holden home at 2 o’clock to be washed. The parents of the two former boys sent impertinent messages and refused to send the children back again.

Others can give clues as to the movements of individual students and teaching staff:

05 Sep 1904 “… Edward Patterson and Cyril Cowling have been successful in gaining County Council Scholarships (Minor) and will proceed to the County School.

21 Sep 1900 “… Winnie Cowling has been in the school this week with a view to becoming a candidate for PT [Pupil Teacher] if she shows aptitude.

30 Nov 1900 “Miss Barker leaves to-day… I have every hope that Winnie Cowling will in time turn out to be a useful teacher & I should be glad if she could be appointed as monitress in this school.

You can find some log books, along with admission registers, on Find My Past: National School Admission Registers & Log-Books 1870-1914.

Our course, Victorian and Edwardian Childhood and Education 1820s to 1920s, builds upon education records to consider childhood as a whole. The course explores childhood and education throughout the Victorian and Edwardian eras in England and Wales. It starts by considering the definition of childhood and the various social status influences on the childhood experience, such as wealth, gender and the differences between urban and rural living. You will learn about the influence of philanthropic and charitable organisations, that brought about social change by Acts of Parliament, laws and legislation, all of which ultimately led to improvements in the childhood experience and the provision of education for all. 
By the end of this course, you will know how to locate a wide range of records related not only to education, but many other organisations associated with childhood, and be able to apply this to your own family history research. 

The course starts in November with Linda Newey and places are selling fast. Book your place here >>

Featured Courses

Featured Courses


Victorian Families - Your Ancestors in the Census

Facts from civil registration and the census tell us something, but say little about how they lived. This five-week course takes you beyond the facts and explains what census records reveal.

The census is a window on the Victorian family and this course helps you take a closer look at life - in fashionable streets, back alleys and the countryside, in large houses, town houses, cottages and tenements. It looks too at food, work, fun, life and death.

You will learn to interpret what you have found, get to know your ancestors better, and realize the genealogical value of a close acquaintance with past lives.

This course also lends itself to our Victorian Education theme this month!

Discover course details and start date here >


Unlocking Heraldry for Family Historians

Heraldry was originally a means of personal identification in a world that was largely illiterate, by means of easily recognisable designs which we know as coats of arms. 

This four-week course begins with an introduction to heraldry and the terminology. Looking at different types of coats of arms, and examine how they are used for personal, civic and corporate identity. We will examine the components of an achievement of arms and the language of heraldry and you will learn to blazon simple coats of arms.

In the second half of the course, we will move onto ways in which coats of arms are combined in families, how to begin to identify an unknown coat of arms and where to dig for more genealogical information.

You will learn that having a coat of arms in the family can unlock a host of genealogical information and sources that you may not have previously considered.

Discover course details and start date here >

History & Genealogy Around the Web

History & Genealogy Around the Web

Our monthly feature to bring you some interesting articles from around the internet that we think will be of interest to you:

Tutor News

Some lovely news to share: Julie Goucher has been awarded a Certificate of Recognition from the Society of Genealogists for exceptional services to genealogy and one-name studies, promoting methodology, aims, processes and strategies. Congratulations, Julie!

We are sad to announce that Guy Grannum is leaving us. Guy has taught our course on The National Archives catalogue for many years and we will miss his expertise. We wish him all the best.


That's all for this month. Happy ancestor hunting!

Pharos Tutors

P.S. Reminder of Price Increases

This is a reminder that the increase in prices previously announced will become effective on 1st November 2021. 

You can still take advance of our current pricing by booking courses now and we have added as many dates as possible into 2022 to enable you to do this.

Check out all our course listings here >>