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Scottish Education - Schools and University
Chapter XXIV - Fourth Period (1872 - 1907). Training Colleges


THE history of the training colleges up to the time when the Scotch and English departments were separated has been dealt with under our third period (pp. 207-213). At that time there were only five colleges; two in Glasgow and two in Edinburgh, under the management respectively of the education committees of the Established and Free Churches, and one under the management of a committee of the Episcopal Church.

In 1874 a Church of Scotland and in 1875 a Free Church training college were established in Aberdeen, at first only for women, but in 1887 for both sexes. Both are conducted with most satisfactory results. In 1895 a Roman Catholic college for women was established at Dowanhill, Glasgow, and has proved a great success.

St George's College in Melville street, Edinburgh, founded in 1886 in connection with the High School for Girls, is the only institution in Scotland for the training of secondary teachers. Candidates for admission must be over nineteen years of age, and produce evidence of satisfactory attainments in general education. The majority have the degree of M.A. or L.L.A. They receive instruction in the college in the Theory, History, and Art of Education, and attend the university class of education in preparation for the Teacher's Diploma of Edinburgh University. Examinations in general attainments and practical skill are conducted under the superintendence of the teaching syndicate of the University of Cambridge. In both examinations the candidates are eminently successful.

In dealing with Training colleges it is not out of place to advert to the striking advance in the attainments of pupil-teachers from whose ranks the training colleges are mainly recruited.

Before 1873, when Scotland got a code of her own, the pupil-teacher (almost everywhere, except in Aberdeen, Banff and Moray, where the attainments were much higher than elsewhere, in some cases earning success in the bursary competition at the university) crowned an apprenticeship of five years by the conjugation of posse and velle in Latin, the four first rules of Algebra and Euclid I in Mathematics. He crowns it now through qualification to enter the university by means of Leaving certificates equivalent to the preliminary examination. There is corresponding advance in the equipment of the teacher. Before 1873 the panoply of the Training college student in secondary subjects was exceedingly slender. It now includes Cicero, Horace, Xenophon and Euripides in classics, and the binomial theorem, Trigonometry, Euclid I-VI, and the measurement of cylinders, spheres and cones in Mathematics. There is, in the teaching of science, the further important change in the substitution of experimental laboratory study for mere book-work. This latest change in his training is still on its trial, but its success, making as it does for initiative and elasticity, is not doubtful.

This great increase in his equipment has a very obvious connection with the scheme of joint university and normal school training, in which the present writer took an early and active interest. In the latter half of last century teachers of purely normal school training were in some cases being appointed to parish schools in Aberdeen, Banff and Moray, in which for more than a century, with very few exceptions, every teacher was a graduate, and from which boys were sent direct to the university. Fearing that the fine tradition of the parish schools in these counties would not be maintained at the former high level, he had many consultations with the Principals of the various training colleges, and sketched roughly a scheme by which university teaching might be combined with normal school training, and embodied it in his report to the Department in 1865. He reverted to it in subsequent reports, but it was not till Scotland got a code of her own, that the scheme was adopted. It has worked exceedingly well. The number of King's scholars in training in 1906 was 1395 of whom 414 were attending classes in the university, and it is safe to say that over 5000 students have during the past thirty years got a more or less complete university education.

It had been observed that for some time past the supply of candidates for pupil-teacherships was falling off; that there was a want of uniformity in their practical training, insufficient care shown in the choice of candidates, and a tendency to overpressure from their instruction and practice in teaching being to a large extent simultaneous. It had also been observed that increase in the number of students in the eight training colleges was necessary, and in 1900 the number admissible was increased and is now (1906) 1412.

There are however other sources for the supply of teachers. In 1895 a new class, called King's students, was introduced. These receive almost the whole of their instruction in the universities, local committees being responsible for furnishing the means of their professional training. Large and steadily increasing numbers have in this way become trained teachers. In 1905 there were 333 such students in training. In order to their being admitted to university classes, it was enacted that they must either have passed the university preliminary examination or hold Leaving certificates of value equivalent to that examination. The same qualification is required of King's scholars in the training colleges.

Graduates in arts or science of any British university are another source of supply. They become certificated teachers on their satisfying such conditions as secure a specified amount of practical experience and skill in teaching, and passing satisfactorily an examination on subjects necessary for teachers but not covered by the degree they hold.

Yet another source of supply is found in acting teachers who, though they have not entered a training college, have, as pupil-teachers and afterwards as assistants, had a valuable training and enter the examination for certificate.

With a view to improve existing facilities for the training of teachers, and bring it into such close connection with universities as the attainments of students admit of, regulations in draft form were issued by the department on January 30, 1905, and submitted to the criticism of experts and others interested in education. The scope of this important and skilfully drawn minute may be summarised as follows.

There shall be established in connection with the four Scottish universities provincial committees for the training of teachers (including teachers for secondary schools). These committees will carry on the work formerly undertaken by all the training colleges whose managers consent to their being transferred to the Department. To this transference all but two have agreed, the Episcopal in Edinburgh and the Roman Catholic in Glasgow. These committees shall consist of members of the Senatus Academicus, of school-boards, of managers of secondary and technical schools, of persons actively engaged in the work of education, of representatives of the various churches which have hitherto had the management of the training colleges, and of the chief inspectors of the respective divisions as assessors of the Department. The number of members to be appointed from each of the bodies mentioned above is specified. Each committee thus constituted shall, subject to the approval of the Department, provide, in the universities or elsewhere, suitable courses of instruction, and opportunities of practical training, and shall appoint an executive officer as director of studies. These committees have been in operation since the issue of the minute. During the session of 1906 they undertook the work of the former local committees for the training of teachers. They subsequently got their officers appointed for full operation in the following session. The students in training were accordingly to consist in the main of the following classes:

Those undergoing a three years' curriculum of which university classes were to form an integral part.

Those undergoing a two years' curriculum without attending university classes.

Graduates and acting teachers were to undergo one year of training. Provision was also to be made for the training of secondary teachers and teachers of special subjects.

It was unlikely that the pupil-teacher system would long survive the effect of these regulations. But to guard against the difficulties which, during transition, accompany sudden changes, temporary and elastic provision has been carefully made over a series of years for pupil teachers and others who have to complete their training.

Under the regulations there are two classes, junior students and students in full training (senior students). Before admission junior students must have received a good general education on the level of the intermediate certificate, or one recognised as of equivalent value, and must have given evidence of fitness for the office of teacher [The position and training of the junior and senior students and the corresponding certificates are dealt with in Appendix II, page 398.]. During their course facilities for further advanced study are afforded, so far as consistent with professional training under efficient superintendence.

Admission as senior students is open to all who have obtained the junior students' certificate, and to others whether pupil-teachers, King's students, King's scholars, untrained teachers, or graduates, on their satisfying what seem reasonable and carefully considered conditions applicable to their various positions in respect of training and experience.

Students in full training obtain their practice in teaching in schools approved by the Department. The head-masters and infant mistresses assist in supervising and guiding the students, and the masters of method of the provincial committees visit the schools and keep in close touch with the work. Demonstration and model lessons are given by the teachers and masters of method, and a systematic course of criticism lessons is gone through.

By the constitution of these provincial committees, who have established courses for teachers in intermediate and secondary schools, and by the transference to the Department of the Presbyterian training colleges, an important step has been taken towards the complete nationalisation of our educational school system.

The pupil-teacher system has already to a large extent and will probably soon altogether come to an end, and its place will have been taken by another and better one, but many if not all the older inspectors will be disposed to say good-bye to it in a kindly and not ungrateful spirit. It was not perfect, but its imperfections were not so much inherent in the system as in the carelessness with which it was in many cases worked. The two main sources of weakness were careless choice of candidates, and neglect of practical training after they were chosen. Most of the older inspectors will agree with the writer in saying that they could name a great many schools in which they had scarcely ever found a useless pupil-teacher, and many in which they had scarcely ever found a useful one. When judiciously selected and carefully trained the pupil-teacher was a cheap and valuable member of the staff. They will also be able to name many pupil-teachers who have crowned their work by becoming headmasters of not only elementary and higher grade, but also of secondary schools.


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