StorageSiteUCL Institute of Education
Reference Number SIM
TitlePapers of Brian Simon (1915-2002)
DescriptionPapers relating to the life and work of Brian Simon, (1915-2002), including talks, articles, lectures; research papers for his publications particularly his four volume history of education - 'Studies in the History of Education, 1780-1870' (1960), 'Education and the Labour Movement, 1870-1920' (1965), 'The Politics of Educational Reform, 1920-1940' (1974) and 'Education and the Social Order, 1940-1990' (1991) - and on the Soviet Union; correspondence with various educationists; press cuttings; obituaries of Simon's contemporaries; papers regarding visits abroad to the Soviet Union, Australia and Japan; personal papers including correspondence with his mother, Shena Simon, and father Ernest Simon; papers regarding the research and writing of his autobiography 'A Life in Education' published in 1998; scrapbooks collated by Brian Simon and his wife Joan Simon; papers collected after Brian's death by Joan Simon; and correspondence from Brian Simon sent to others (donated to the archives by various individuals).
Extent61 boxes; 4 oversize boxes; 1 presentation box; 1 tube
AdminHistoryBrian Simon (26 March 1915 - 17 January 2002), educationist, was born into a family already dedicated to the field of education. His father, Ernest Simon, was a Liberal MP for Manchester Withington from 1923-1924 and 1929-1931, and was interested in higher education, housing and the removal of slums. He was also head of the family firm Henry Simon Ltd and Simon Carves (later renamed The Simon Engineering Group), which had been founded by Brian's grandfather Henry Simon. His mother Shena Simon (née Potter) was also an educationist, sitting on Manchester's Education Committee for fifty years. She was predominantly interested in primary, secondary and further education, and was a member of the Spens Committee which looked into secondary education and reported in 1938.

Simon was from a privileged background and as such he received a high level of education. After kindergarten and preparatory school he attended Gresham's School, at Holt in Norfolk (1928-1932). Between 1933 and 1937 he studied at Trinity College Cambridge, gaining second class honours degrees in English in 1935, and Economics in 1937. After leaving Cambridge he attended the University of London, Institute of Education (1937-1938) gaining a Diploma in Education. His parents were keen for him to experience a wide range of education and in 1933 he attended Kurt Hahn's School in Salem, Germany. During his school years he also visited the USSR and Sweden and whilst at the Institute of Education he visited France and Belgium.

During his time at Trinity College, Cambridge, Simon was President of the Cambridge University Education Society. He also joined the Communist Party in 1935, and became actively involved in the National Union of Students. He was their Vice President from 1938-1939 and took up the full-time position as President during the period 1939-1940. In 1943, his book 'A Student's View of the University', originally due to be funded by the NUS, was published.

In 1940 Simon joined the Army and served in Africa, Italy, France and Germany with the First, Eighth and Canadian Armies. He also served as Captain in the GHQ Liaison Regiment, known as 'Phantom'. For the last eight months of his service he was education officer of a unit of 1200 men and developed a scheme for army education. After being demobilised in 1945 he spent the next five years working in as a teacher in the Manchester area. His first year was spent at Yew Tree, a selective central school, and then Abbott Street School, Manchester, an all-age school. During the following year he taught at the Secondary Modern School at Openshaw. In 1947 he joined Salford Grammar School as a Master where he stayed for three years before joining University College Leicester as a Lecturer in Education, in October 1950. Simon stayed at the University of Leicester (as it became in 1957) for the remainder of his career. He was promoted to a Professor in 1960 and on his retirement in 1980 became an Emeritus Professor of Education.

Simon was extremely active in his field and founded or co-founded a number of organisations during his career. Whilst a teacher after the Second World War he formed a branch of the (then called) New Education Fellowship in Manchester, becoming Secretary. In 1958 he co-founded, with his colleague at Leicester Robin Pedley, the journal FORUM, which published articles regarding comprehensive and primary education. In 1967 he, and a group of colleagues, founded the History of Education Society, covering England and Wales which, at the time of writing (2009), continues to serve as a forum for historical research in the history of education. In 1979 Simon was instrumental in the establishment of the International Standing Conference for the History of Education. Initially aiming to provide a medium for contact between academics in Western and Eastern Europe it quickly spread to North America, Australia and Japan.

Simon's interests were very broad but, apart from his four volume history of education known as 'Studies in Education' and published between 1960 and 1991, he is best remembered for his work on comprehensive education, intelligence testing and streaming. He was also a campaigner against government policy, both of the Labour and Conservative parties and wrote widely against the education policies of the successive Thatcher administrations, and particular the 1988 Education Reform Act. Between 1975 and 1980 he headed the Social Science Research funded project into primary education 'Observational Research and Classroom Learning Evaluation' (ORACLE). He maintained close links with academics from the Soviet Union, particularly in the field of education psychology. He visited the country on at least four occasions - in 1935, 1955, 1961 and 1968. He also visited Japan in 1985 and spent a term teaching at the University of Melbourne, Australia in 1982.

Simon married Joan Peel in 1941 and had two sons - Alan and Martin. He died at the age of 86 on 17 January 2002.

Publications: 'A Student's View of the University' (1943); 'Intelligence Testing and the Comprehensive School' (1953); 'Education in the New Poland' (1954); 'The Common Secondary School' (1955); 'New Trends in English Education a symposium' (1957); 'Psychology in the Soviet Union' (1957); 'Studies in the History of Education' (1960); 'Educational Psychology in the USSR (1963); 'Non-streaming in the junior school: a symposium' (1964); 'Education and the Labour Movement 1870-1920' (1965); 'Education in Leicestershire, 1540-1940: a regional study' (1968); 'The Evolution of the Comprehensive School 1926-1972', with David Rubinstein (1969, 2nd edition 1973); 'Half Way There', with Caroline Benn (1970, 2nd edition 1972); 'Intelligence, Psychology and education: a Marxist critique' (1971, 2nd revised edition 1978); 'The radical tradition in education in Britain': a compilation of writings' (1972); 'The Politics of Education 1920-1940' (1974); 'The Victorian Public School: studies in the development of an educational institution: a sympoisum' (1975); 'Inside the primary classroom' with Maurice Galton (1980); 'Research and practice in the primary classroom' (1981); 'The Two Nations and the Educational Structure 1780-1870' (1981); 'Education in the Eighties: the central issues' (1981); 'Margaret Gracie: a teacher for our time' (1984); 'Does Education Matter?' (1985); 'The Rise of the Modern Educational System: structural change and social reproduction, 1870-1920', edited by Detlef K Muller, Fritz Ringer and Brian Simon (1987); 'Bending the Rules: the Baker "reform" of Education' (1988); 'The search for enlightenment: the working class and adult education in the twentieth century' (1990); 'Education and the Social 1940-1990' (1991); 'What Future for Education' (1992); 'Education answers back: critical responses to government policy', edited with Clyde Chitty (1993); 'SOS: Save our Schools' (1993); 'The State and educational change: essays in the history of education and pedagogy' (1994); 'In search of a grandfather: Henry Simon of Manchester 1835-1899' (1996); 'A Life in Education' (1998); 'Comprehensive education in the 21st century' edited by Clyde Chitty and Brian Simon (2001).
CustodialHistoryCollected from the family in Leicester in August 2005 and later in 2006. Letters listed in SIM/A were sent to the Archives in 2008 and 2009.
AcquisitionTransferred to the archives between 2005 and 2009.
ArrangementThe collection was originally sorted into four series by Don Jones. These series were as follows:
SIM/1 - Articles, reviews, talks and lectures
SIM/2 - Correspondence
SIM/3 - Press Cuttings - Obituaries
SIM/4 - Working papers for Simon's publications divided into five series one for each of Simon's four volumes from his major work 'Studies in the History of Education' (SIM/4/1-4) and a miscellaneous series containing research papers for his other publications (now SIM/4/6). Further series have since been added to section four regarding Simon's autobiography (SIM/4/5 - moved from series three); research on the National Union of Students (SIM/4/7); correspondence and papers regarding publishers (SIM/4/8); and bibliographical material (SIM/4/9).

Further series have been added during cataloguing as follows:
SIM/5 - Personal Papers divided into:
Family Papers (SIM/5/1)
Education (SIM/5/2)
Employment (SIM/5/3)
Photographs (SIM/5/4)
Honorary Degrees (SIM/5/5)
SIM/6 - Visits Abroad divided into:
Soviet Union (SIM/6/1)
Japan (SIM/6/2)
Australia (SIM/6/3)
SIM/7 - Scrapbooks
SIM/8 - Papers collected by Joan Simon after Brian Simon's death
SIM/9 - Indexes of papers compiled by Simon
SIM/A - Correspondence from Simon to others donated to the Archives by various individuals

PLEASE NOTE: Although the collection has been divided into series which attempts to reflect Simon's own organisation of his papers the way he used his papers means there is a great deal of overlap between each series. For example a great deal of his personal papers were collated during the research for his autobiography and have therefore been catalogued as part of SIM/4/5. Users are advised to search across the online catalogue if interested in a particular subject. Please ask a member of staff if you would like further assistance.

Material held on digital storage media have been removed from the body of the collection and placed in the Digital Physical Media Storage Area (JW, March 2014)
AccessConditionsOpen, subject to signature of Reader Application Form. Some files are closed under the Data Protection Acts. Full details are at the relevant file level descriptions.
Related MaterialThe Institute of Education Library has a number of Simon's published works. Please see the online Library Catalogue for further details

Papers of Ernest Simon are at Manchester Archives and Local Studies. There are further related papers in other collections held by various archive services.

Papers of Shena Simon are at Manchester Archives and Local Studies and London School of Economics: The Women's Library

Papers of the National Union of Students are at Warwick University: Modern Records Centre

Papers of the Communist Party are at Labour History Archive and Study Centre (People's History Museum/University of Central Lancashire)

Please see the National Register of Archives (NRA) for further details
FindingAidsCatalogued. Paper list and available through online catalogue

Show related Persons records.

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