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Writing Research Projects: An introduction

Introduction to an archive of research data on the writing of pupils from the 1960s

Collection snapshot

What were the Writing Research Projects?

Between 1966 and 1976 academics working in the English Department at the University of London, Institute of Education undertook two large research projects into the development of children's writing abilities during their secondary education. The first project, 'The Development of Writing Abilities, 11-18' (1966-1971), was led by Jimmy Britton and was essentially a developmental study of the processes by which the written language of children becomes differentiated during the years 11-18. It involved the collection and systematic analysis of samples of writing from secondary school pupils. The second follow-on project, 'Writing Across the Curriculum, 11-16' (1971-1976), investigated the practical and educational implications of that research in collaboration with teachers. This project was directed by Nancy Martin. 

The collection comprises the research data, administrative records and some project outputs from both projects, as well as two smaller projects. The writing samples collected as part of the first project were created by pupils at a number of schools nationwide during lessons across the curriculum. They can be used to research the development of handwriting and student abilities (over a range of subjects), but also to gain an understanding of students' perceptions of a wide range of subjects including their own lives, friends / family, and the world around them.

Contact the archive team

Telephone us on:

020 7612 6983

or e-mail our dedicated enquiry service at

You can also write to us at:

Newsam Library and Archives
UCL Institute of Education
University College London
20 Bedford Way