In my post about the Normal Department I noted that the origins of Teacher Education at Reading University could be traced to the founding of the University Extension College in 1892. In 1898 this became Reading College, soon followed by recognition as a Day Training College. This extended its field of operations and laid the foundations for what would eventually become today’s Institute of Education.
According to Carol Dyhouse’s ‘Students: a gendered history‘, day training departments in colleges and universities were introduced by the government in 1890 and were responsible for a significant increase in student numbers, particularly of women. Reading and Southampton followed in the steps of 13 other institutions in gaining recognition in 1899.
By the time of Edith Morley’s appointment in November 1901, the Day Training College was preparing 80 full-time students for the Elementary Teachers’ Certificate on a course lasting two years. These students formed the bulk of full-timers in the arts and sciences.
The provision was innovative in at least two ways. First, from the outset most students were accommodated in halls of residence (rendering the phrase ‘day training’ inappropriate). And second, thanks to the cooperation of heads of the other departments, they were admitted to degree courses. The latter initiative raised some eyebrows in Whitehall but it seems to have been a success in as far as the trainees became fully integrated members of the student body and helped to secure the future of a group of subjects that became the nucleus of the Faculty of Letters. In other words, Education was at the very centre of academic activity.
A half century later, in 1949, Sir Frank Stenton, the University’s third Vice-Chancellor, paid tribute to the role of this early Education department in helping to overcome fears that the College was doomed to provide little more than technical instruction:
‘For this, all who are interested in the University of 1949 owe gratitude to the little group of teachers and students who formed the miserably housed and infelicitously named Day Training College of fifty years ago.‘ (p. 4)
Admission to the Day Training Department
Those eligible for admission were:
- Candidates who had obtained a first or second class pass in the Queen’s Scholarship Examination;
- Certified teachers who hadn’t received 2 years training;
- Candidates over the age of 18 who had passed an examination approved by the Government Education Department.
Candidates in categories 2 and 3 only had to complete one year of the course.
Acceptance was subject to a health check conducted by the Medical Officer, Dr J. B. Hurry, and a declaration that it was the candidate’s bona fide intention to teach in a state school.
The College received £20 per student in fees (£10 from the student and £10 from the Government Education Department). Grants for maintenance for Queen’s Scholars consisted of £20 for women and £25 for men. Students not living at home paid a maintenance fee of £15 (women) or £12 (men).
As the first-year timetable below suggests, students were kept busy six days a week with a combination of subject knowledge and lectures on teaching method. These were interspersed with just four short slots for private study or tuition.
The Master of Method
The creation of the Day Training Department also marked the appointment of the first official Lecturer in Education. As can be seen from the first Calendar extract above, this was J. H. Gettins who served as ‘Master of Method‘ until 1907 when he was succeeded by H. S. Cooke.
Professor Albert Wolters, the subject of a previous post on this blog, had been a student in the Day Training Department in 1902. Nearly half a century later, he still had fond memories of Gettins:
‘The staff consisted of Mr. J. H. Gettins, who, harassed but cheerful, worked from morn to night, giving lectures and supervising school practice, knowing all the time that by reason of the training being concurrent with academic studies his Department was a nuisance.‘ (p. 18)
During Wolters’s time as a student, teaching practice was a mere three weeks per session and took place at the Swansea Road Board School. Further schools became involved later, including Redlands.
The Next 50 Years
In the half century following its establishment as a Day Training College in Valpy Street, the Education Department went from strength to strength and was responsible for a number of key innovations. A previous post has already mentioned the Department’s early contribution to educational research and to the schooling of evacuees during World War II, following which it was fully engaged in the government’s Emergency Training Scheme.
One particular initiative excited wide interest. This was the University College’s ‘Farm School‘ at Shinfield, an experiment that took place between 1912 and 1926. It was attended by as many as 120 children annually from the borough including pupils from Redlands School (by then the Department’s ‘demonstration school’). Sadly, the scheme was abandoned as priorities changed when the University College became the University of Reading, but the tradition of Outdoor Education is still maintained today through the work of Dr Helen Bilton, Professor of Outdoor Learning at Reading’s Institute of Education.
There were Mistresses of Method as well as Masters, though none of the lecturers in education at Reading ever had the title.
In Edith Morley’s chapter on women at universities, she includes training teachers as one of four kinds of opening available to women:
‘These posts, which are remunerated on about the same scale as other University lectureships are well suited to those whose interest lies mainly in purely educational matters. Girls who have obtained good degrees, but do not wish to devote themselves entirely to scholarship, will find here an attractive and ever-extending sphere of influence.’ (p. 19)
‘Mistresses of Method are well aware that the ideal type of training has not yet been evolved: they are seeking new ways of carrying on their work and experimenting with new methods at the same time as they are guiding others along paths already familiar to themselves.‘ (p. 19)
Armstrong, H. (1949). A brief outline of the growth of the Department. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 9-17). University of Reading.
Barnard, H. C. (1949). A note on the term “Day Training College. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (p. 8). University of Reading.
Campbell, I. E. (1949). The farm school, 1912-1926, and the development of courses in rural science for intending teachers. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 33-6). University of Reading.
Dyhouse, C. (2006). Students: a gendered history. Abingdon: Routledge.
Morley, E. J. (2014). Women at the universities and university teaching as a profession. In E. J. Morley (Ed.), Women workers in seven professions: a survey of their economic conditions and prospects (pp. 11-24). London: Routledge. [Edited for the Studies Committee of the Fabian Women’s Group].
Morley, E. J. (2016). Before and after: reminiscences of a working life (original text of 1944 edited by Barbara Morris). Reading: Two Rivers Press.
Reading College. Calendar, 1899-1900 & 1900-01.
Reading College. Report of the Academic Board, 1898-9 & 1899-1900.
Stenton, F. (1949). Vice-Chancellor’s foreword. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 4-6). University of Reading.
Wolters, A. W. (1949). Early days. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 18-20). Reading: University of Reading.