Attendance Medals:

I never cease to be amazed at what has survived over the years and has found its way into my fathers' collection of family memorabilia. The medals shown here belonged to my fathers' Aunt Freda (Elizabeth Freda Victoria Barnes 1901-1986) and were awarded for regular school attendance and good conduct. The medal scheme in London started in 1887 and lasted until the 1st World War when the scheme was suspended in 1915. Attendance medals briefly reappeared after the war but were discontinued in 1920. This page details the history of the attendance medals and shows photos of Aunt Freda's medals.
In 1870 a new education act swept aside all the old educational institutions and replaced them with a standardised system based on local school boards. Each major administrative area had to set up a board to build and run schools. It was also decreed that attendance would be mandatory, non attendance being punishable by law. The schools were to be run on a grant, from central government, to be calculated on actual daily attendance figures and not on the size of the school roll. It was not long before the various school boards realised that it was very much in their interests to encourage the regular attendance of pupils. Some school boards decided to reward regular attendance with picture cards and/or medals. Liverpool started the award of medals as early as 1877 London not following until 1887. Although starting later than some others, the London scheme rapidly became the most complex and varied.

The School Board for London set out its scheme in March 1886 when it was decided to award a medal to every pupil attending school every time the school was opened during a complete school year. No exceptions were made, even one half days unavoidable absence due to illness was enough to disqualify a child from receiving a medal. A 100 per cent attendance record would not automatically mean the award of a medal, the headmaster also had to certify that the pupil's conduct had been good. Even the headmaster's word was not to be accepted without a certification of accuracy by the school managers. Although these conditions were very severe, a large, and ever growing, number of children got their medals.

The first issue was the Queen Victoria Medal and when Queen Victoria died on 22nd. January 1901 the School Board prepared a design for a new medal and submitted it for Royal approval. The medal had the portrait of King Edward, designed by F Boucher, and was named 'The King Edward the Seventh Medal'. All the medals issued for the year 1901 were of the Queen Victoria design, the King Edward the Seventh Medal not being issued until 1902.

The King Edward The Seventh Medal - The London County Council First Medal Issue::

In 1904 all the old School Boards were replaced by either a new Education Committee or Education Authority, with the responsibility for education in London being given to the London County Council. Clearly the reference, on the medals, to the now defunct School Board for London would have to be removed. As the L.C.C. already had 65 worth of medals to the old design, it was decided to issue them and to make up the required number from the School Board die. The result of this decision was that all the medals issued by the L.C.C, in their first year, bear the title of the School Board for London. The first L.C.C. medals were issued for the year 1905. They were identical to the previous issue apart from the new authority name, and a change in ribbon colour from white to orange. In 1906 it was decided to change the reverse inscription. Instead of reading 'DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR ENDED A.D. 1906' they would read 'DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR 1905-6', several other changes to the layout of the reverse design were also made at this time. The following year, 1907, the Day Schools Sub-Committee recommended that the medal award scheme should be abolished, but the Council decided that the medals would be retained with amended qualifying rules.
The King Edward VII medal 1902 - the coronation of King Edward VII was on the 26th June of that year. The medal clasp is dated 1909.  Freda would have been eight years old when this medal was issued by the London County Council. The King Edward VII medal reverse.
The medal is inscribed to F BARNES for punctual attendance during the year 1908-9. Interesting that even at the age of eight Elizabeth Freda Victoria was known as Freda.
As a regulation made by the old Board in 1898 excluded all children below standard I from receiving a medal, it was realised that after 1908 it would be impossible for children to earn eleven medals in succession and generally, not more than eight medals would be awarded. It was decided not to make any changes up to the seventh year medal, but to make the eighth and subsequent medals of silver. The new nine year medal was very similar to the old eleven year medal, the eight year medal had no ribbon the clasp being attached by means of a pivot.  To allow for such events as Jewish Holidays it was decided to allow for up to four half days, or two whole days, absence if notified by letter at least two days in advance. In an attempt to stop children attending school when ill, for fear of losing their medal, it was decided that children, absent due to sickness, would not be disqualified from receiving a medal, if the absence conformed to the school rules. This revised scheme came into effect from the school year 1907-08, and so from this year no more medals for ten or eleven years good attendance were awarded.

All the medals were redesigned in 1910, for the sake of clarity, the obverse legend being shortened to 'KING EDWARD VII MEDAL' and placed directly above the portrait, the reference to the L.C.C being moved to the reverse. The contract for this issue was awarded to Wright and Son of Edgware instead of Spink and Son. As King Edward died later that year, this medal appears for one year only, dated 1910.

The King's Medal - King George The Fifth::

As usual the L.C.C took rapid steps to ensure that the new design was ready for the next school year. The Council's special art examiner Sir George Frampton R.A. recommended that the engraver Frank Ransom should prepare the new design for a medal to be called 'THE KING GEORGE THE FIFTH MEDAL'. The Council allowed 25 for the preparation of the obverse designs by Frank Ransom, and 5 for a new reverse. The design gained the royal assent but it was decided to name the medal 'THE KING'S MEDAL' and not as originally proposed. This issue was produced in the same combination of metals and coatings as the previous one but was issued for 1911 only as during that year the Council decided on a complete revision of the medal award scheme.

The King's Medal - 1911 Large Size Issue:::

The Kings Medal dated 1911. Freda would now be ten years old. Issued by the London County Council. The Kings Medal reverse.
"For Punctual Attendance during the year 1910-1911"
In March 1911 the Council decided to award medals to pupils who, in the opinion of the Head teacher, after consultation with the class teacher, had been the most deserving of recognition in respect of conduct, industry and attendance throughout the educational year. No more than six medals were to be awarded in each class. The design of the previous medal issue was to be retained, but the size reduced from 1 to 1 inches. The pupil's name was to be impressed on the edge of the medal, as on military issues, and not engraved on the reverse as in previous types. The medal would be suspended from a ribbon and have a clasp showing the year of issue. One, two or three bars would be added to the medal to represent the number of years for which the medal was awarded. It was proposed that the first three medals would be in bright nickel, the second three in bronze and the final three in silver. If nickel was found to be not suitable the first six medals would be in bronze. Frank Ransom was commissioned to produce models for the various clasps and bars required and casts of the new reduced metal design. The sum of 15 15s was allotted for the preparation of dies and the striking of a series of medals, bars and clasps in the various metals, to be displayed in the lobby of County Hall for public examination.

After due consideration it was decided, in March 1912, that white metal was not a suitable medium for the medals and that an unpolished surface was more artistic than a shining one. The new medal issue would therefore have the first three medals in unpolished bronze, the second three in gilded bronze and the final three in oxidised silver. The ribbon would be of red, white and blue silk and the medals supplied with an improved box and label, as the old style box rapidly fell to pieces. On the ribbon would be a  clasp  bearing an oak leaf design, with the letters "L.C.C" superimposed, and another bar bearing the date. The second and third medals of each style would bear one or two bars with a laurel branch, in addition to the clasp and date bars, to denote the number of years for which the medal was issued. The main contract was placed with Wright & Son, who subcontracted some of the work to Elkington & Co. and Vaughton & Co. This revised issue continued without change until 1915 when it was decided to discontinue the award of medals for the duration of the war. However, the medal was reintroduced briefly after the conclusion of hostilities. It was discontinued altogether in 1920 and the awards for the school year 1919/20 were the last. During the
wartime suspension, a form of certificate was issued indicating that, but for wartime suspension, the pupil in question would have been awarded the medal.

The King's Medal - 1912 Small Size Issue:::

The Kings Medal. Medal clasp carries the initials L.C.C. for the London County Council on an oak leaf. One bar has the dates 1912-13. The other two bars are not dated and carry oak leaf designs, they represent the number of years for which the medal was awarded. The Kings Medal reverse. The inscription reads "Awarded by the London Country Council for Attendance, Conduct and Industry during the year.  Freda would now be twelve years old. F. Barnes is inscribed on the edge of the medal.

These medals are currently in the possession of Ernest Barnes, the nephew of Elizabeth Freda Victoria Barnes (Aunt Freda).