Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

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A Short History of the School of Education

by Professor David Sugden

"I found seven students in the first year. ……The students have been very successful…and their papers showed that they were entitled to be placed in the first division."
Mr. Oakley’s examination report 1892. (Gosden 1991)

The current School of Education has undergone many changes since it began as the Yorkshire College over a hundred years ago, but it is so striking and heartening to see that the highest possible standards we now aspire to in our teaching, our research and our students was present from the very beginning.

Following the Elementary Education Act of 1870, there was an enormous amount of secondary and elementary school building with the Yorkshire College, designed for among other things "the training of teachers of technical science". (Gosden 1991). The new College was opened in 1874 and in 1891 a separate department was established for teacher training. A new post of Lecturer on Education and Master of Method was advertised with a salary of £300 p.a. Sixty seven applications were received and James Welton aged 37 was appointed. The students were all men in the first entry in 1891 with women admitted in 1896. Minimum contact on teaching practice was 75 hours pa. In 1904 Hannah Robertson was appointed to take charge of the training of women teachers on a stipend of £400 with the title of Mistress of Method.

The period from First World War, the aftermath and the Second World War involved both growth and changes. The period of study, three or four years was a constant source of debate, the title of department was discussed and numerous distinguished educators led the now School. Of interest is in 1917/18 there were 164 on the course over three years with 153 women and 11 men.

Post World War Two many changes took place with normal training resuming in 1947 with the appointment of Roy Niblett as Professor of Education. The most significant development in this period that lasted until the 1970s was the establishment of two bodies: The Institute of Education, and as one of its constituent members The Department of Education. The Institute was initially located in Beech Grove Terrace. This interdependence of the Institute and Department continued for many years with not just teacher education but post graduate courses such as the ones offered in 1959/60: Diplomas in Primary Education; Secondary Education; Education of Backward Children; Physical Education; Religious Education.

In the 1960s several distinguished academics, Gosden, Layton, Lovell, Hartley changed the face of the now School forever and by 1972 there 400 on the PGCE, 88 MEd, 27 MA, 18 M.Phil and 22 PhD. In 1969 the University Senate and Council approved the merger of the Institute and the department to foster educational research and teaching within a unified School of Education.  Some functions were still done separately but in 1976 this became the unitary School of Education with all academic and financial arrangements under one body with essentially the same structure as today.

New professor and lecturers were appointed for specific subject areas with the same commitment to quality and academic rigour that so characterised the early Yorkshire College in the 1890s. The School and its forerunners recognized how essential it is to work with partners and stakeholders in the education services and these have been present for over a century with many issues remaining the same. As Peter Gosden accurately states in his edited text on the history of the School:

“ Growth and success have depended in the past on adaptability and the maintenance of high standards. No doubt future problems will yield to a similar approach.” (Gosden: Page 73).

Readers are advised to read the detail of the development of the School in:
Gosden, P.H.J.H. (Ed). (1991) The University of Leeds; School of Education, 1891-1991. Leeds University Press.

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