Ancestry UK

Aycliffe School for Boys, Newton Aycliffe, near Darlington, County Durham

In October, 1942, Aycliffe School for Boys was formally certified to operate as an Approved School in premises at Copelaw, Newton Aycliffe, near Darlington. The buildings had previously been in use as a Ministry of Supply hostel.

Aycliffe was the first such establishment to be designated as a Classifying School. Previously, magistrates had named a specific Approved School when committing a child to confinement. The role of the Classifying School was to assess the 'character, mental attainments and physical abilities' of new entrants into the Approved School system and decide which institution would then best meet their needs. After the Second World War, several other Classifying Schools were established.

In addition to its Classifying School department, which provided 66 places for boys below the age of 17, Aycliffe also operated as a normal Intermediate School with 120 places for boys aged between their 13th and 15th birthdays at their date of admission. Boys under 14 received schoolroom education, while vocational training was provided for the older boys.

In 1973, the School became a Community Home with Education (CHE) under the control of Durham County Council. The site later became known as Aycliffe Children's Centre, and Aycliffe Young People's Centre. A number of educational establishments and service providers are still located there.


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  • Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain's Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
  • Hyland,Jim Yesterday's Answers: Yesterday's Answers: Development and Decline of Schools for Young Offenders (1993, Whiting and Birch)
  • Millham, S, Bullock, R, and Cherrett, P After Grace — Teeth: a comparative study of the residential experience of boys in Approved Schools (1975, Chaucer Publishing)