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About Us –
The History Of Education Centre

School days are our heritage

Whilst everyone might not agree wholeheartedly with the saying that ‘schooldays are the best days of your life’, none the less, schooling of some sort is part of our popular heritage. So in 1986 a number of people involved in the world of education and museums got together, and started collecting things; to save them from oblivion.

The result of their action is a formidable, possibly unique collection, that incorporates a very eclectic mix of old school ‘stuff’. Most of it is indeed old, robust, and built to last, but some of it is a bit more recent vintage – including a BBC Computer.

At this time, it was agreed that the best way to organise the care of this collection and to give some form of public access, was to put it all in the hands of a charitable trust. Since then, we have moved with the times and are now a duly constituted SCIO, a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, but still run by a small band of dedicated trustees aided and abetted by a growing number of volunteers.

Thousands of children have loved the experience

Thousands of primary school children have now ‘experienced’ the delights and formality of the period classroom, and a lesson in social education round the kitchen range. Visits from schoolchildren have been augmented by visits from community groups and more and more people are enjoying the authentic experience in the schoolroom. We have also started to take our experiences out to schools who find it difficult to come to us, in our new outreach project.

One of the truly remarkable things about this is that it has all been delivered by volunteers. All suitably dressed as role-play teachers, these stalwarts have given freely of their time and talents to give the children of today an insight into schooling in the past.

We look forward to the school and museum rooms continuing to play an active part in the educational and community life of the Edinburgh area.

Our Beginnings

Dr Walter M. Stephen M.A. (Hons), M.Ed., PhD., was one of the founding members of The History of Education Centre working in collaboration with Peter Wright and other like-minded people in saving artefacts, books, documents and photographs from destruction at a time when many education establishments were closing. He was elected as its first President by the trustees. His dissertation entitled “Fabric and Function: A Century of School Building in Edinburgh, 1872 – 1972”, which was subsequently published, was awarded the Research Prize by the Scottish Council for Research in Education. It provided a comprehensive public record of a central part of Edinburgh life and institution over a significant period of educational development in the City. It also gave a contemporary snapshot of the school establishment of its time. The trustees are indebted to Dr Stephen and his colleagues for their vision in establishing the Trust, initiating the formation of the unique collection which it now holds, and creating the core service to visiting groups of school children of today.

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Affiliations and Partnerships

Working in partnership with other organisations widens charities’ potential influence and operation considerably. We currently work in partnership with the following organisation: The Volunteer Centre Edinburgh.

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Funding

Like all charities, the Trust needs to manage its financial affairs prudently. Income comes from two main sources: the modest charge which visitors pay, and occasional grants received for project development. Copies of the annual accounts are available on request.

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Trustees

There are six Trustees who between them incorporate a range of interests and experience, including, teaching, volunteering, youth work, administration, educational records, and museums, acting, journalism and local history etc.

  • Alice Bacciarelli: Chair person

  • Catherine Homan: Treasurer

  • Christine McDerment: Secretary    

  • Frances McDevitt

  • Ben Walsh

  • Freddie Alexander

  • Julie Donald: Administrator