Education as an academic subject has been taught at the University since 1890, when a Day Training College for male trainee teachers was set up. Owens College had previously provided instruction for practising teachers in maths and classics in the 1850s, and a number of evening class students were teachers. However until the 1890s universities and university colleges had no direct role in providing professional training for aspiring teachers.
During the 1880s several Owens academics began to take an interest in education either as an academic subject or due to a practical interest in raising standards of instruction in schools, which they believed would improve the quality of students entering the College. Probably the most active figure in this area was Robert Adamson (1853-1903), the professor of logic and political economy, who incorporated theories of education into his philosophy lectures. The College authorities also began to take a more active interest following the report of the Royal Commission into the working of the Education Acts (the Cross Committee) in 1888, which recommended a new role for universities in teacher training. Previously all such training had been conducted by private colleges, whose number and quality was generally considered inadequate (there was at this time no private training college in the Manchester area). It was hoped that the involvement of bodies like Owens College with their established academic reputations would significantly raise the standards of teacher training.
In the aftermath of the Cross Committee, the College appointed a committee to investigate how it might provide teacher training courses. This committee's report, written by Adamson, recommended that a day training college be established (so-called because it was non-residential), and that its students take two year diploma course which would qualify them as teachers (at this stage, it was only envisaged training elementary school teachers). Contrary to the hopes of some, the college was to be open to male students only. To assuage the concerns of some Owens academics, students would be instructed in mainstream academic subjects in addition to the professional parts of their course. Students would also have the option of taking a degree in the year after completing their diploma, something which the College authorities were to encourage.
The new day training colleges were regulated by government through the Education Department (later the Board of Education) based in Whitehall. After the Department issued Circular 187 outlining regulations for the new colleges, the Manchester Day Training College (DTC) opened at the start of the 1890/1 academic session. The College was an autonomous body, with its own governing committee and headed by a principal (also the Principal of Owens College), but was answerable to the Council and Senate of Owens College. The DTC was also closely supervised by the Education Department, a fact that was to cause some tension with its staff. Initially the College had one member of staff, a master of method, W.T.Goode, who administered the College and provided instruction in the professional parts of the curriculum. In 1892, a counterpart day training college for women was created, based on similar administrative arrangements. It was headed by a mistress of method, Catherine Isabella Dodd. 1 Elementary school teaching was a growing sector of employment for women, and the College proved very successful in attracting female students.
Trainee teachers studied standard academic subjects alongside professional subjects such as the history and philosophy of education and educational administration. DTC staff were keen that training should include a significant amount of classroom teaching. Manchester's School Board proved supportive, opening its elementary schools to students, but there was an emerging consensus among educationists that the best experience was gained at so-called "demonstration schools". These schools, usually administered directly or indirectly by the training colleges, were specially designed for trainee teachers to allow them to engage critically with the theories they had learnt in the lecture rooms through practical experience of teaching children. This concept had proved successful in Germany and the U.S.A, but Owens College, fearful of the administrative and financial burdens of running such a school, initially proved resistant to the idea. In the face of such scepticism, Catherine Dodd, a firm believer in such schools, had been forced to establish her own school in Brunswick St. in the vicinity of the College to provide such training.
By the early twentieth century the day training colleges were an established part of Owens College. In 1899 Harry Livingston Withers had been appointed professor of education.2 In 1901, this chair was endowed by a major benefaction from Sarah Fielden, a noted educational philanthropist (the chair being known as the Sarah Fielden professor of education). After Withers died suddenly in 1902, he was succeeded by Joseph John Findlay, who was to prove a key figure in the development of the Department. 3 Findlay was an energetic figure, an enthusiast for "progressive education", and keen to develop the research profile of the Department. Findlay was joined by a second professor of education in 1903, with the appointment of Michael Sadler to a personal chair in the history and administration of education. 4 Sadler had previously been a civil servant in the Education Department, and was an expert in comparative education systems with a particular interest in continuation and technical education.
Findlay's main achievement was to establish the Fielden Demonstration Schools, which have been described as "one of the few genuinely creative developments in teacher training this century". 5 The Schools (primary and secondary) were set up in 1906 at Lime Grove, close to the University, but moved to a much better location in Victoria Park in 1908, following another benefaction by Sarah Fielden (after whom they were named). Students teaching at the Schools worked to a very carefully devised programme, and were encouraged to provide detailed feedback of their experiences in seminars of teachers and fellow students. Research was undertaken into new pedagogical techniques, based on controlled experiments, and pupils experienced an innovative curriculum which included nature studies (originally devised by Dodd), teaching by gramophone records, eurhythmic exercises and parent-teacher evenings. Findlay, who believed that teachers and children benefited from learning outdoors, also established the Uplands Farm Association at a farm at Werneth Low, Cheshire, to teach children about rural life.
Teacher training at the University slowly evolved to include students training to be secondary school teachers (a postgraduate diploma had been introduced in 1894 for such students). In 1909, important changes were made to the diploma, with a four year course being introduced, based on a three year degree course, followed by a one year diploma. A postgraduate masters degree was also introduced, and Findlay encouraged his postgraduate students to publish their findings (Manchester University Press published a series of these studies). The growing sophistication of these arrangements was recognized when a faculty of education was established in 1914, the first such body in the U.K. In the 1913/4 academic session, there were 280 students taking courses in the Department of Education, comprising 147 male and 133 female students; these made up about one-tenth of total male students and over one-third of female students within the University of Manchester.
During the inter-war period there was more limited innovation in the Department, partly due to a more difficult financial situation. The Fielden Schools ran into financial difficulties and had to be closed in 1926. Findlay had retired in the same year, leaving Henry Bompas Smith, who had succeeded Sadler in 1912 as the second professor, as the sole professor of education. Bompas Smith, whose background was in educational psychology, built up important links with local education authorities and teacher training colleges, and worked with the Joint Matriculation Board on the introduction of new school leaving examinations; initiatives which had long term importance for the Department. However, some of the most important research in education was in the field of education of the deaf, a separate department established by Alexander and Irene Ewing, which became part of the Faculty of Education in 1933. In 1932, Smith retired from his chair to be replaced by James Duff, a classicist, who stayed a relatively short time before going to the University of Durham in 1937. Duff in turn was succeeded by R.A.C. Oliver, who was Sarah Fielden professor until retirement in 1970. 6 Oliver was as significant a figure in the Department's history as Findlay; he oversaw a major expansion of the Department, including the development of a significant research profile, and he helped develop the School of Education in the post-war period, to coordinate teacher training education in the region.
Oliver's background was in educational psychology, having undertaken extensive research into in intelligence tests for children at home and abroad. This subject was to become a major specialism of the Department in the post-war period. Oliver was also concerned with improving the educational standards of trainee teachers, particularly those in local training colleges (who took a teacher's certificate rather than a degree). During the Second World War, Oliver had set out his ideas for post-war teacher training in evidence to the McNair Committee, which was investigating this problem, and which published its report Teachers and youth leaders in 1944. McNair had set out two options for post-war teacher training: universities might establish schools of education which would directly oversee the academic work of the training colleges and provide appropriate support, or there could be a looser arrangement by which colleges, universities and local education authorities cooperated to maintain standards (this latter system had operated in Manchester since the late 1920s). Oliver firmly favoured the first option, and managed to persuade the University to develop its own school of education. This opened in 1949, with Oliver as the first director, and four local colleges as affiliates. The School was responsible for overseeing the admissions, curricula and examining procedures of the colleges to ensure they met Ministry of Education standards for qualified teachers (in the case of the colleges through the award of the non-degree certificate of education, and for University students through the award of the teacher's diploma). The School also undertook research in areas such as curriculum development and testing, and provided in-service training courses for teachers. These arrangements substantially shaped teacher training in the Manchester area until the mid-1970s.
The creation of the School, and the addition of new departments to the Faculty (adult education and physical education in 1949) caused the Faculty to move to new premises in Dover St. in the former Manchester High School for Girls building; in 1962 the Faculty moved to new purpose built accommodation in the Lime Grove area of campus. During the 1950s and 1960s there were a number of changes to the Department's curriculum. In 1951, the four year degree-diploma course was abolished, and replaced by a postgraduate certificate in education. A number of special diplomas were introduced, beginning with educational psychology in the late 1940s. A new postgraduate diploma was introduced, and there were changes to the M.Ed. degree, allowing it to be taken by a mixture of taught courses and dissertation, rather than by thesis alone (the quality of M.Ed. theses had been a long-standing concern of the Department). Advanced degrees were opened to non-graduates, and these degrees proved to be highly popular with teachers wishing to enter senior administrative positions and for those who taught at the training colleges. During the 1960s, there was a major debate on whether teaching should become an all graduate profession. This saw the development of the B.Ed. degree which replaced the teacher's certificate for students in the teacher training colleges. The Department of Education did not offer the B.Ed., but the University did eventually become responsible for a General Board of Studies which oversaw arrangements for this degree in the local training colleges.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Oliver's strategy for building a major research reputation for the Department proved successful. Particularly important figures were Stephen Wiseman, an educational psychologist, who carried out influential work on testing and helped develop the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) examination.7 Thomas Fitzpatrick of the School of Education became a noted figure in educational testing with his work on the British Intelligence Scale. Eric Lunzer (1923-2005) won international renown with his three volume study of child development, Development in learning (1968-9), (written with J.F. Morris). New areas of research were developed including the sociology of education, with important work by D H Hargreaves, and special needs education by Peter Mittler, later professor of special education and Director of the Hester Adrian Research Centre.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the Faculty and its departments were significantly reorganized. One major change was the abolition of the School of Education (renamed the Colleges of Education Division in 1973), which lost its status as the Area Training Organisation in 1975, whereafter the University began to withdraw from supervising regional teacher training. Increasingly, local training colleges merged with Manchester Polytechnic (now Manchester Metropolitan University), which took an increasingly influential role in the undergraduate teaching of education, with academic supervision of these degrees passing to the Council for National Academic Awards [CNAA]. In the late 1980s, the Faculty's departmental organization was replaced by a unitary School of Education (not to be confused with the earlier School) made up of specialist centres such as the Centre for Ethnic Studies, Centre for Youth Studies, Centre for Educational Guidance, Centre for In-Service Educational Teaching and the Centre for Continuing Professional Development. In 1993 a Research and Graduate School was established with Professor Gajendra Verma as Dean. The Department of Education developed a very broad range of specialised postgraduate diplomas and masters degrees. Increasing numbers of foreign students trained at the Department, with the teaching of English as foreign language becoming something of a specialism.
The 1980s and 1990s saw great changes in national education policy with the development of the National Curriculum and changes to the processes of teacher training. The Department saw a decline in the number of teachers attending in-service training courses. Changes to initial training saw more emphasis on classroom training, with more flexibility regarding admission to such training. However at the time of the centenary of the Department in 1990 it had continued to enjoy success in attracting funding for major projects such as Tom Christie's STAIR project which devised tests for the new National Curriculum (Standard Tests and Implementation Research), and for work on ethnic relations in schools and the economic education of secondary school children. In 2004, the School of Education became part of the Faculty of Humanities of the new University of Manchester, and in 2013, it merged with the School of Environment and Development to form the School of Education, Environment and Development.
1. Catherine Isabella Dodd, 1860-1932. Educated at Swansea Teacher's College, taught at schools in Wales, the Midlands and Hull, before becoming head of a board school in Reading. Appointed Mistress of Method at Owens in 1892. Much influenced by the German educationists J.F. Herbart (1776-1841) and Wilhelm Rein (1847-1929), annually attending the latter's seminars at the University of Jena. Wrote Introduction to Herbartian principles of teaching(1898), and Fairy tales for infant schools and infant classes (1904). Founder of the Child Study and Teachers' Guild movement. From 1905 principal of Cherwell Hall Training College in Oxford. Novelist in later life.
2. Harry Livingston Withers, 1863-1902, experienced school administrator, probably owed appointment to Samuel Alexander, Adamson's successor as professor of logic (philosophy) and an equally ardent support of the academic status of education. The first chair of education in England had been established at the University of Durham (Newcastle) in 1893.
3. Joseph John Findlay, 1860-1940. Son of a Wesleyan minister, educated at Wadham College, Oxford and the universities of Jena and Leipzig, (Ph.D. Leipzig). Wrote a study of J.F. Herbart's philosophy and taught at several schools before coming to Manchester. Author of the textbook, Principles of Class Teaching ( 1902), and the two-volume Foundations of Education (1925-7). Retired in 1925. Labour Party candidate for the Combined English Universities in 1923 and 1924 general elections.
4. Sir Michael Sadler, 1861-1943, educated at Rugby and Oxford, influenced by T.H.Green, Arnold Toynbee and Ruskin. Worked in University Extension (Oxford) before joining the Board of Education Office of Special Enquiries and Reports (1895-1902). Professor of education at Manchester 1903-1911. Vice-chancellor of the University of Leeds 1911-1923, master of University College, Oxford, 1923-1934.
5. Alex Robertson "'Between the devil and the deep blue sea'": ambiguities in the development of professorships of education 1899-1939", British Journal of Educational Studies 38.2 May 1990, p. 147.
6. Richard Alexander Cavaye Oliver, 1904-1998, educated at the University of Edinburgh, postgraduate work at Stanford University, worked on intelligence tests in British East Africa, local education authorities before chair at Manchester. Sarah Fielden professor of Education, University of Manchester, 1938-1970. Author of The training of teachers in universities (London 1942) and Research in education (London 1946).For further biographical information, see a volume of his writing The psychologist as educator (School of Education, University of Manchester 1989).
7. Stephen Wiseman, 1907-1971, science graduate of the University of Durham, senior lecturer in the Department 1946-1957, Director of the School of Education 1957-1968 and professor of education 1961-1968. Director of the National Foundation for Educational Research 1968-1971.