Opened in 1909 by Henrietta Barnett, the Institute was at the heart of the Suburb Community for nearly a century. Dame Henrietta believed in the transformative social powers of education and an adult education provider such as the Institute.

In the 1990s the Institute, which shared its building with the Henrietta Barnett school, gave the school notice to quit. Its right to do so was upheld by the Court and in subsequent negotiation with the education authority the Institute’s interest in the building was purchased so that the school could remain. In 2007 the Institute moved to East Finchley after its building was fully taken over by the school. It continued to be one of the biggest providers of adult education in Barnet but, after being beset by financial problems,  moved to Kingsbury in 2014 and finally closed in 2016.

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The Institute, which shared a building with the Henrietta Barnett school, was opened by Henrietta Barnett herself to provide adult education.