Volunteering as an oral historian.

Barbara Walker: born and bred in Bradford and very proud of my home city.

After leaving school I trained as a nursery nurse at Bradford College and have come full circle, now working there as a casual examination invigilator, having taken voluntary redundancy from my ‘proper job’ almost 20 years ago.

My interests are leading walks for several different groups including Bradford Council, gardening, cycling along towpaths and cycleways, theatre and going out for lunch.

My family has always had a keen interest in our forebears with many tales passed down orally through the generations. I feel oral history is extremely valuable for keeping the past alive so I jumped at the chance of taking part in this project. I have already found a teacher willing to be interviewed after seeing a post of mine on FaceBook.

 Barbara went to visit Lesley Wood a 72 year old retired teacher.

I found Lesley through something I put up on FaceBook, she must have seen it and responded, which is very puzzling as why would she see something when we’re not friends? FaceBook is a mystery to me…

And then there was quite a delay before we could meet, I had a new kitchen fitted, there was the referendum, my own work: invigilating and then she didn’t get back to me for ages…eventually I texted her and she said there had been a family emergency. We arranged a time when her husband was absent and I made sure she didn’t have a dog. I don’t do dogs.

Then I changed my mind, around the I.T mostly, not around talking to somebody, I find things like that very difficult…the IT, I’d just had to learn to use a new hob, a new phone and it all seemed like too much new I.T! But with a bit more training I decided to try it …I was still anxious about it, but went along…

During the interview, I wanted to make sure it was recording and didn’t want to record over what we’d done, so I stopped the machine to check it and then wasn’t sure it was on at all…and when I listened back to it, it sounded really slow like sssllllooowww. Then I didn’t know how to switch it off so I just let the batteries run out! However, it seems to have recorded OK and I feel better, I enjoyed the experience of doing it…

I liked the way Lesley talked about the process of bussing, she hadn’t met any parents – she’d never thought about that…I liked the way she responded to the situation. She was sympathethic. Didn’t think it was good and said it ended because of finance…

You can hear a clip from the Lesley Wood interview on SoundCloud and in the audio section of this website.



Sir Edward Boyle.

Sir Edward Boyle went to visit Beaconsfield Road Primary School, Southall in 1963 because of mounting political pressure from parents campaigning against the school being swamped by immigrants from Commonwealth countries. The Conservatives were in power and Sir Edward Boyle was the Minister of Education 1963 -1964. At the school he had a private meeting with parents and governors, he was so moved by their plight that he went back to the House of Commons and in a speech on 3rd December 1963 said:

I must regretfully tell the house that ‘one school’ must now be regarded as irretrievably an immigrant school. The important thing is to prevent this happening elsewhere.”

Sir Edward Boyle was instrumental in formalizing dispersal, through Circular 7/65, of ethnic minority children out of urban inner city schools. A process initiated in Southall, so that no school across the U.K needed to have more than thirty percent Black or Asian children on roll. Local Education Authorities are advised to arrange for the dispersal of immigrant children over a greater number of schools in order to avoid undue concentration in any particular school” (DES, The Education of Immigrants, Circular 7/65, London, HMSO, 1965, p. 4).

The illustration of Sir Edward Boyle is from a series called : Education Secretaries by Malcolm Laverty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

What is the point of history?

At Bradford Festival this weekend, I was talking to local people about our project. An elderly Gujarati man asked me: “Why bring all these things back up now? Its long time now, better forget about it”. In his book Why History Matters John Tosh argues history can provide counter images, by which he means alternative readings of the past that can shed light on the present and provide alternative futures. He also says history is about engaging with the past and acknowledging it in an age of presentism. Presentism means the way we live from moment to moment without understanding how those that came before shape each moment. Therefore engaging with the past must be from a 360degree perspective, in that we should look at culture, politics, economics as well as events and the people who lived them in order to create historical narratives.

So what did the elderly gentleman mean by forget about it?

One of his friends said: “We were so poor” and another “They didn’t send the white children, on the buses, only the Asians, why? ”

I think the elderly man meant that its painful to think about those days of poverty, racism and the strangeness of a new country and we have to move on.

Pictured above, two famous sons of India : Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi  both had Gujarati as their mother tongue. Lest we forget…


Post-war Immigration

The arrival of  larger numbers of Black and Asian people into Britain after World War Two slowly increased especially as people started to bring in their families. Bussing Out was a response to the larger numbers of children arriving in Britain, especially places like Bradford. I thought it would be useful to remind ourselves why we had an increase in  immigration after World War Two.

Post-war Immigration to Great Britain

In 1945 at the end of World War Two there was a shortage of workers in this country. In 1949 the Royal Commission on Population stated that immigrants of ‘good stock’ would be welcomed ‘without reserve’ to live and work in Britain.

The invitation for migrant workers was at first meant for White Europeans this was because so many of them had already come to Britain during the war and then afterwards as well. People from Ireland have always been the largest group to migrate to Britain for work. There were also smaller groups of German prisoners of war, some refugees from Eastern Europe, escaping Communism as well as Italians alongside a diverse range of other refugees from camps across Europe.

Commonwealth Immigration

The British Nationality Act of 1948 created an “open door” policy so that anyone in the Commonwealth could come to Britain to live and work without restriction. The Commonwealth are a group of countries that were once ruled over by the British Empire; then became independent but kept strong links with Britain. The first Commonwealth citizens to respond were Jamaicans: five hundred Jamaicans came to Britain on The Empire Windrush in 1948 believing they were coming to the Mother Country. Indians and Pakistani migrants started coming after the Partition of India and Pakistan and then more so during the 1950’s and 1960’s. The people from India and Pakistan are often just referred to as Asians but they included Hindus from the Gujarat region of western India, Sikhs from the eastern Punjab region, and Muslims both from the west part of Pakistan and from East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh in 1972.

Photograph by Royal Navy official photographerhttp://media.iwm.org.uk/iwm/mediaLib//19/media-19146/large.jpgThis is photograph FL 9448 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums., Public. Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25120617




Friday 1st April 2016

Interviewed my little brother at Christmas when he was on his annual daytrip to Bradford from Saudi via his family home in Nottingham. I let him sit on the armchair good for Netflix-bingeing whilst trying to sit upright on the edge of the bed. The interview had a formality in tone, despite being in my bedroom. Labeeb, now a comfy looking 51 year old, his arms folded above his head and legs crossed at the ankles told of a man in command. The interview only lasted half an hour, as it was my first one and really hard to think of what to say. He started off by visibly throwing his mind back to our early days in England; you could almost hear the harps singing as his thoughts wound backwards and he remembered his younger self with fondness. I don’t believe his childhood was entirely happy but it was nice hearing the warmth in his voice for the child he’d been.

Since then we’ve officially launched the project, been on Look North, BBC Radio Leeds, Yorkshire Post, the Telegraph and Argus and had a fair few get in touch to be interviewed, still looking though. Ged from Artworks organised the Launch event at The Pavilion Café on 10th March 2016, 5-7pm and ordered too much food. Fortunately we had a few hungry souls who made away with the leftovers. Here’s a picture of them….with bellies full and they’ve promised to help with the project!!

Lovely volunteers backlit by Centenary Square 10th March 2016. Thanks to The Pavilion Cafe.

Welcome to the Bussing Out Blog

Welcome to the Bussing Out blog. For more information about the Bussing Out project contact Shabina Aslam on @bussingout or email: contact@bussingout.co.uk  

Bussing Out: an exploration into the impact of the Dispersal Policy on migrant children.

Bussing Out will focus on the experience of migrant children in schools in Bradford during the Sixties and Seventies, exploring how a particular policy affected the identity of ethnic minority children who came to the United Kingdom in that time. The Dispersal Policy, also known as Bussing Out, was a Department of Education policy, advising local authorities to disperse migrant children from inner city primary schools into schools in outlying areas, which were predominantly White. The reason for this was racially motivated; the ‘immigrant’ children were entirely from South Asian and West Indian diasporas. The dispersal of ethnic minority children took place in Bradford from 1962 – 1980.