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The Durham diocesian training school for masters, 1839 – 1886

Wilkinson, Kenneth Riley (1968) The Durham diocesian training school for masters, 1839 – 1886. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The discovery in Durham of extensive College records has provided a welcome opportunity to prepare a College history and this is the first aim of the thesis. A second aim is to relate developments in Durham to the generally accepted pattern for the development of training colleges for men. The history of the College is confined to the years 1839-1886, that is the period in which it was known as the Durham Diocesan Training School for Masters. In terms of the national picture it is the period from the setting up of the Committee of Council on Education to the work of the Cross Commission. In the earlier period, from 1859 to 1860, the generally accepted view of the development of training schools, holds them to be scarcely distinguishable from the diocesan monitorial training centres. They were accommodated in humble premises, and were financially insecure. Even so their curriculum was pretentious and not well suited to students who were drawn from the poorer classes and who had a limited educational background. As centres for the training of elementary school staff they could have no real contact "with the Universities. The emphasis placed upon practical teaching forced the training schools to recruit staff from their own trainees. Their future lay in following the lead established by the metropolitan colleges. During the period 1860-1890, when the model for development was very much that prescribed by the government, the training of teachers remained wedded to the work of the elementary schools. So humble were the beginnings of the Durham Training School that the Committee were unable to obtain a government grant, and the School was not even listed by the National Society until four years after it had opened. The Training School was founded as a diocesan enterprise, in 1839, after the failure of an earlier attempt to open a teacher training centre in the University. Students were admitted to temporary premises in 1841, and the first purpose-built accommodation opened six years later. The initial curriculum was pretentious when one considers the mean length of the course at nine months, and the meagre attainment of students on entry. By 1860 the number of students had risen from five to fifty, the mean length of the course had been extended to two years, and very satisfactory results were being obtained in the Certificate examinations. Unfortunately the measure of progress achieved had been all too heavily dependent upon Committee of Council grants. A reduction of grant from 86% to 75% of annual income was sufficient to jeopardise financial security. Further plans for expansion were delayed until the increased demand for teachers which followed the passing of the 1870 Act. After 1870 expansion was again possible and by 1886 the Durham Training School was enlarged to take seventy students, a new Model School was opened, and part of the buildings was dedicated as a chapel. It was in this year that the School was re-named, Bede College. In the case of the Durham Training School, the pattern of staff recruitment, the curriculum followed, and the relationship established with the University, constitute a challenge to the accepted view of training college development. With very few exceptions members of staff were graduates. The standard of work achieved was sufficiently outstanding for the Inspectorate to recommend that students be given opportunities of attending lectures in the University. In many respects the history of the Durham Training School exemplifies the model given by writers such as Rich. This is especially true with regard to humble beginnings, the dominance of Council grants, and the cramming imposed by the Certificate in later years. In other respects the Durham records show that there have been fundamental omissions in accounts of the history of teacher training previously published. Of these omissions the two most important are - the extent to which diocesan training schools were forced to shed their attachment to the monitorial approach in order to obtain Council grants, and the extent to which the energies of staff, after 1870, were increasingly devoted to work outside of the requirement of the Certificate syllabus. In the case of Durham it was hoped that the change of name from School to College, would mark the opening of better opportunities for working more closely

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Education
Thesis Date:1968
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:07

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