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Stow and the development of teacher training

 (Stow) came to see how absurd it was to commit the education of the rising generation to those who have never been taught how to exercise their profession, and how to impart their own knowledge to the minds of their pupils. He saw that it was not enough that the teacher be possessed of the learning needful for his office – he must also be well instructed in the best mode or system of communicating it, ere he can become an efficient teacher; in other words, he felt that what to teach and how to teach were distinct and separate things – the one being the science or theory, and the other the art or practice.  In this he only sought to assimilate the office of a teacher to all other professions in the land, to none of which inexperienced, untaught, undisciplined individuals are at all admissible; and, beyond all doubt, this is entitled to rank, and will rank, as one of the most important eras in the annals of British education.1

Notwithstanding national and even municipal pride, there is probably little value in arguing who, and which institution, first trained teachers in Great Britain. Stow asserted that on April 23rd, 1828, the day that the Drygate School opened, two students were enrolled making this date the beginning of teacher-training in Scotland 2a view which has persisted in articles on his life and work (Fraser 1857, Leitch 1876, Morrison 1884, Thomson 1893, Pratt Insh, 1938, Mechie 1960). 3

However, the Sessional School of the Tron Parish in Edinburgh, opened in 1813, used Lancaster’s monitorial and later Bell’s ‘Madras’ system, both of which involved the training of young monitors. Indeed, in 1824, under the direction of John Wood, the school moved to Market Street and became, in 1826, a model school for the training of Gaelic teachers for the Highlands and Islands under the Education Committee of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. HMI John Gordon considered, with justification, that it was this school which was the ‘germ of the Normal School system in Scotland’.4 In 1835, Wilderspin informed the Select Committee that ‘the Edinburgh Model School was the best he had visited anywhere’.5 And since all these initiatives amounted to little more than observation of successful practice ‘for the purpose of getting hints and an example’6

others could claim that they were similarly ‘trained’. When the Glasgow Infant School Society appointed David Caughie as their first teacher, for example, he had already accumulated ten years’ experience in Stranraer. 7 Robert Owen would maintain that James Buchanan, an untrained weaver in 1816, became a successful teacher of some renown under his tutelage.8

James Buchanan was the first master of Brewers’ Green Infant School, opened under the jurisdiction of Lord Brougham early in 1819. And there were many examples of teacher-training attached to model schools in England. In 1805 Lancaster added a residential annexe to his London school for monitors and adults who wished to become ‘Superintendents’ of his schools on the ‘British’ plan.9 By 1810, Bell instigated the idea of teacher-training based on a ‘model’ or ‘demonstration’ school and the National Society trained teachers in the ‘monitorial system’ at Baldwin’s Gardens. Even the use of the term ‘Great Britain’10 should alert us to the Kildare Place Society of Ireland which had trained sixteen schoolmasters by 1814.11

And, widening the picture, despite Stow’s later denials that his ‘system’ owed nothing to the more advanced provision in Europe, as we have noted, James McCrie, the first college principal, spent nine months abroad on a study tour, and David Welsh’s first lecture to the Glasgow Educational Society in 1834 was on ‘Prussian Education’. There were successful teachers long before Stow.12 Nevertheless, perhaps none of these British initiatives constituted a ‘college’ where the business, as Rich (1933)13 notes, was the principles and skills of teaching rather than the mechanical preparation of monitors or the patchy provision provided in the model schools. Fraser, that unwavering champion of Stow, thus attempts to decide the argument:

‘As priority of institution has been denied to Glasgow, I may state, that while teachers long attended the Glasgow Seminary, as they did others in London and Edinburgh, and while it is difficult to decide as to where first the rudimentary forms of normal teaching appear, there can be no dispute as to Glasgow having the first systematic, publicly-recognized Normal School in Britain. The Edinburgh Sessional School became systematically normal in 1838. – See Wood’s’ Account of Edinburgh Sessional School’, fifth edition, 1840, p. 322. The first established in England was Battersea, in 1840. I have before me a finely executed lithograph of the Glasgow Institution, headed, ‘Normal Seminary for Glasgow and the West of Scotland,’ and enriched with elegantly arranged devices, in a Certificate given then to the students. It is signed, ‘David Stow, George Lewis, Secretaries;’ and is of date, Session 1832-3. The dispute is of little importance, but this settles it.’14

Or, to a non-Glaswegian, perhaps not. But it is at least arguable that Stow should be credited as the first to put explicit emphasis on the quality of the teacher and the craft of her/his profession at the heart of teacher-training. With the opening of the Glasgow Normal Seminary in October 1837,15a formal process and pattern of teacher-training was established which is still recognisable today, and which might be claimed to be the first of its kind in ‘Great Britain’.16

Students’ qualifications on entry

The explicit aim of the Glasgow Seminary was to train students in Stow’s ‘System’. In an obvious response to Lancaster’s use of the word ‘System’ for training the child-monitors he abhorred, Stow wrote in 1840 ‘The NORMA of the Glasgow Seminary is the Training System’.17

This seemingly innocuous statement has continued to vex colleges and faculties of education ever since: the Normal Seminary did not exist to give teachers an education but to train them. Stow initially argued that, on enrolment, students should already possess a level of education and knowledge which would enable them to teach the curriculum required for their chosen stage/age-group.18

Thereafter, the college was responsible for training students in the craft or art of teaching. Thus, on application, candidates were interviewed by a Board of four made up from the Rector and the Principal Masters of the three Departments.19

The panel adjudged the candidate’s prior qualifications which had to be sufficient to teach arithmetic, to a level which included algebra and geometry, and elementary history, geography, nature study, music and drawing (in addition to the obvious reading, writing, Scripture and the Westminster Shorter Catechism). If found ‘very imperfect’ the applicant was immediately rejected. Rejected candidates were not allowed to re-apply for at least six months.20

If ‘imperfect only in a few points’ the candidate was enrolled in the preparatory classes but was subject to a later special examination by the Board. If acceptable, the applicant was enrolled as a regular student. Stow claimed that, all else being equal, preference was given to candidates who had passed a course of Latin, Greek and higher mathematics and that this accounted for three quarters of the male students.  That this was a vain contention, initially at least, quickly became obvious. John Gibson, Her Majesty’s first Inspector, reporting on the Seminary in 1841,21raised the poor qualifications of the students as a major issue. Gibson, of course, was used to the traditional entry into teaching via the Universities and, to be fair to Stow, his first ‘students’ in the Model Schools were experienced, university-educated teachers who came to observe this new ‘System’ more out of curiosity, and stayed for a week, a month, or a couple of months, as they could afford. Many came (and gratifyingly returned) in their vacations – the first examples of inservice training.22The object of the Seminary however, as indeed it is for teacher-training now,23 was to turn out trained teachers as quickly as possible on the grounds that they already possessed the relevant curricular knowledge, were urgently required, and that this was the cheapest arrangement for student and Government alike.

Gibson immediately and devastatingly saw the flaw in this approach. After corroborating the arrangement for interviewing prospective candidates, his Report first notes that the level of requirement in fact tended to focus on ‘evidences of Christianity, the doctrines of Scripture, Bible history, such a knowledge of grammar as to enable them to parse with tolerable correctness and facility, a general acquaintance with geography, and a knowledge of arithmetic as far as vulgar and decimal fractions’.24

This was obviously insufficient to teach the curriculum of the senior Juveniles as described in Chapter 8. While some candidates, Gibson reported, had ‘enjoyed the advantages of a regular collegiate education’ many had attended only burgh and parochial schools. Of the current seventy-one applicants he comments, encouragingly, that seventeen (12%) had been rejected outright. Of those accepted, one had been a preacher in the Church of Scotland, twenty-one were teachers from small Adventure schools, one was a teacher of dancing and five were currently at another college (20% in total). We might presume that these had something to offer on arrival. However, the previous occupation of seven men and of the fourteen women could not be ascertained and the remaining five had been a baker, a portrait-painter and three had worked in a shop (68% in total).25

Gibson did not consider this level of education to be sufficient and his first recommendation was to extend the length of training by at least two months to allow time for the acquisition of the necessary curriculum. Currently, he acidly observed, the college curriculum  ‘does not include anything of which any boy of thirteen or fourteen years of age, in the highest class of a well-taught primary school, should be ignorant’.26

Stow was forced to recognise that even six months was inadequate to learn not only how to teach but what to teach and resorted to the age-old but inefficient process whereby the teacher covered the curriculum simultaneously with the children. Apparatus and books were purchased, ostensibly for the pupils, but in practice to improve the teachers’ own education.27

Many pictorial charts and drawings had notes for the teacher on the reverse; and the almost universal use of books published by the Irish National Education Society, recommended by Gibson, was aimed at supporting teachers as much as the children. The entry for 15th February, 1848, in the Guardians’ Minutes of Southwell Union Workhouse, to which at least two of Stow’s teachers were appointed, reads:

‘That the following books be procured for the use of the Schools, published by the Irish National Education Society: 2 dozen First Lesson Books; 1½ Second Lesson Books; 1½ supplements to the Second Lesson Books; 1½ dozen of the Third Book of Lessons; 10 Books of the Fourth; 10 Supplements to the Fourth; 10 of the Fifth’.28

 Indeed, teachers in Union Workhouses would already have been issued with, at the direction of the Committee on Education of the Privy Council, a series of books for teachers, some of which contained curricular lessons to support their own education.29

‘The schoolmaster and schoolmistress have been furnished with approved works on the art of teaching, describing the methods of instruction which have been most successfully adopted. Among the books have been comprised ‘Wood’s Account of the Edinburgh Sessional School,’ Stow’s ‘Moral Training, Abbott’s ‘Teacher,’ Dunn’s ‘Normal School Manual,’ Wilson’s ‘Manual of Instruction for Infant Schools’, Wilderspin’s ‘Infant System, ‘Chambers’ ‘Infant Education,’ Brigham ‘On the Influence of Mental Cultivation upon Health,’ &c., books on gardening, frugal cookery, &c.’

Stow explicitly refers to the use of textbooks to create an appropriately sequential, developmental series of lessons which would sustain a course of instruction over several years.30

Students were required to explain how their single, specific lesson fitted into the overall structure. In acknowledging the place of textbooks in the students’ own education he emphasised that ‘trainers ought to consult larger works on each of the points to be brought out in the daily lessons’.31

‘The master’, he wrote, ‘who does not know ten times as much as he actually communicates to his infant auditory, must sink into the scale of a mere teacher; his mind has not grasp enough to conduct his pupils to the broad well-defined outlines of every subject’.32

Therein lay the rub. Helpful though all these approaches proved, teaching students to master the content of the curriculum, in addition to the craft of teaching, during their time at the Seminary became increasingly necessary. In turn, this required the appointment of additional Masters on the basis of their specialist knowledge rather than their teaching ability or experience. Stow was still resisting this as late as 1850, on the grounds that the college’s raison d’être was to train teachers in their craft, not to instruct them.33

By that time tutors in English, music, elocution (1840), Classics, mathematics, modern languages (1846) and drawing (1848) had been appointed. Rich (1933) suggests that the college lost its vocational distinctiveness when it thus parted company with the ‘intentions of its founder’.34

The course of training

The course of training followed by the students was governed by two factors: firstly their subsistence costs and, secondly, their intended destinations. As we have seen, prior to the opening of the Normal Seminary, the period of training might last only two to three weeks. There was no compulsion for prospective teachers to undertake such preparation, which pre-1837 they did at their own expense, and the temptation to take up teaching posts as soon as possible proved irresistible. To counteract this, the course was gradually extended to three months and a deposit of three guineas required, which was returned on a satisfactory conclusion. By 1837, however, all students were required to pay a fee of three guineas (irrespective of the length of their stay). If they were lucky enough to live in Glasgow, they would almost certainly be maintained by their parents. Cost, therefore, determined the Scottish tradition of studying from home. Students from further afield were found lodging with suitable landlords.35

Stow constantly bemoans the fact that the Seminary had no funds, and particularly no endowments, to support students.

There were two categories of students, those supported by their Church, particularly the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and the Wesleyan Connexion, and those of independent means. Reasonably enough, candidates supported by the Church of Scotland (and presumably other denominations) were required to be members. These students could only be admitted at one of three dates in the year: the second Tuesday of August, the third Tuesday of November, and the third Tuesday of March. This additional complication for course structure is confirmed by student registers as late as the early 1860s. Inevitably, the cost to the sponsors controlled the number entrants. A maximum of twenty candidates, for example, who were receiving subsistence from the Church of Scotland could be accepted at any one diet but it was acknowledged that this created an additional pressure for places for such applicants whose circumstances, in the judgment of the Committee, entitle them to receive pecuniary assistance to the extent of not more than 8s a week, from the funds of the General Assembly’. Those who were self-funded had an easier ride, as this request from George Combe, the phrenologist, suggests:

‘(My brother’s) eldest son, my namesake, now 34 years of age, has inherited from (his mother’s) stock a small brain of a feeble nature. In consequence, he has been unfortunate in trade, into which he entered 14 years ago, against my earnest remonstrances, and has tried many things since, & with no success ………. my impression is that he is better qualified to become a teacher than any thing else, and I am anxious to give him an opportunity of trying whether he is fit for this vocation.’36Stow accepted George Combe junior.37However, independent students were expected to stay as long as they could afford38and eventually many remained for up to two years. Initially, however, the minimum attendance which could be required was six months.

Coupled with the second factor, that of varying student destinations, it must have been difficult to organise a systematic course. New entrants might intend spending their careers in Juvenile schools (at one or both of two stages about 6-9 and about 10-14) or, as options were added, in schools for the wealthy, Commercial Schools, Industrial Schools or in rural locations. Women applied as teachers for the Female Industrial schools although many were sought as governesses. (Stow later complained bitterly that female teachers were always expected to cost less: I think I have had 5 or 6 orders for Governesses from or near Cheltenham but they all expect them to go cheap’.39

In addition to observing and subsequently practising the art of teaching, which is dealt with more fully below, a third of the 40-hour week was devoted to three specialised areas. Firstly, they studied teaching theory, as described in Chapter 9, and aspects of school organisation, as described in Chapter 10. William McIsaac’s first report, dated 30th November, 1864, indicated that ‘he had studied and passed School Management, the principles and processes of Education generally, and specially the subjects of School Registration, Classification, Examination, Discipline and Method’.40They had also to submit a weekly essay to the Rector on some aspect of education or teaching. ‘An Essay on Stow’s Training System’ by Jesse Gostick’ 41written during the Christmas vacation of 1846, may well be a surviving example. Gibson also refers to the students ‘being enjoined to keep a journal in which to record his observations and which must be submitted weekly to the rector for his perusal and criticism’, a habit currently revived in many current forms of professional training. Secondly, students attended, perhaps individually, elocution lessons and ‘Improved articulation and expression in Reading’.42

And thirdly, inevitably, the students had to bring their personal education up to the required standard. The course of study included Scriptural and secular history and geography, physics, all aspects of written and oral language, mathematics, physical exercises, music and singing. The influence of the timetable and curriculum of the infant and juvenile model schools is obvious.

Observation of students’ teaching

If current students were aware that Stow was the originator of the hated ‘crit’ lesson they might vandalise his bust more frequently.[43]43 Wood claims that Stow was naïve in stating that ‘No bad feelings have arisen which were not promptly and easily repressed’44and even Leitch refers to it as a ‘trying time’.45

Stow was mindful that chairing the ensuing discussions required tact and sensitivity46and in suggesting that one advantage of the process was the development of character he is, in effect, admitting that students were often hurt and discouraged by a process Stow, almost onomatopoeically, alluded to as ‘pulverisation’.47

Yet a unique and most moving tribute in the Minutes of the Committee of the Privy Council recollects his handling of nervous students:

‘As long as (Stow) was able he attended the public criticisms, and added not a little to the value of that exercise by his pertinent remarks on the teaching of the students, and the kindly counsels and words of encouragement, which no one knew better to apply to the wounded sensibility of some raw lad who had failed from his over-anxiety to do well.’48

Stow himself was at some pains to defend the approach, suggesting that he was conscious of the students’ censure: indeed, his continual use of the word ‘ordeal’ in the succeeding editions of ‘The Training System’ suggests that he was well aware of the students’ views. Nevertheless, it is difficult to see how new entrants to any profession can be assessed without observing them at work and the practice has continued with little alteration. Forty years after Stow David Ross, the Principal of the Church of Scotland Training College, published a most instructive pamphlet for students and staff alike on ‘How to profit from a model lesson’,49exemplifying the teacher’s manner, the tone of the class, discipline, language, the selection and organisation of the subject matter, the use of verbal illustrations and teaching materials, and assessment.

Furthermore, teaching is a public activity and embryonic pedagogues must learn to accept this with appropriate humility.  By the seventh edition of ‘The Training System’ Stow was arguing that the principle of the ‘sympathy of numbers’ underlay the communal comments about a particular student’s work: ‘all, however, train the students, and as mind operates upon mind, and manner upon manner, so the variety of the natural capacity of the students renders it impossible for any one person to officiate so powerfully as a number may’.50

He suggests, as an example of the approach, that a highly imaginative student would feel himself ‘utterly collapsed, were his studies and attention exclusively confined to the course that might be prescribed by a mere matter-of-fact trainer’.51 This is an important insight into Stow’s recognition that students brought their own talents and personalities to bear on what was often regarded as an overly rigid ‘system’.

The process of the ‘public criticism’ began gently enough with the observations of the head-trainer at work in each department. Thereafter, students had an hour and a half each day to practise their lessons with small groups of children in the multiple side-classrooms of the Seminary. The head-trainer of the appropriate school was available to give advice while the assistant master taught the remainder of the children. This point is often missed in disparagement of the ‘crit’ lessons mainly, perhaps, because the popular illustrations depict the large, and unquestionably awesome, Gallery. Women students, in particular, were not exposed to the demands of public criticism, partly because it was assumed that the majority (interestingly, not all) were supposed to be too frail to carry their voice; and partly because this was not usually a requirement of their final appointments.

The time came, however, when the men were required to give their lessons publicly in each of the four model schools in turn. Four students, who had been in the Seminary for at least three months, were selected to teach for twelve minutes each. With interspersing hymns, prayers, marching or exercises, this amounted to a total period of an hour. The condensed timescale compelled students to keep to the point, taking account of the age and capacity of the children. Students taught from a wide range of single ‘object lessons’ which, being complete in themselves, did not require the deep and broad knowledge required for a series or course. One was from Scripture (an emblem, a story or a point of doctrine) and the other three could be from history, science, geography, or even a discussion of a playground incident.

At the end of the hour, the four students retired to another room 52 where their colleagues, according to the order in which they were seated, evaluated their performance. Neither the students involved, nor the women, could comment, the latter presumably because they were exempted from the ordeal. Nor could students remark upon each other’s criticism. This simple rule belies a wealth of experience: allowing discussion of a contribution quickly detracts from the matter in hand. The process normally took a further hour and a half and covered, in addition to the content of the lesson and didactic skills, the manner, tone of voice, grammatical errors, mispronunciations and any ‘want of success in securing and riveting the attention’.53 When the discussion closed with prayer, the universal sigh of relief must have breezed down Sauchiehall Street. Nevertheless, these episodes made a lasting impression:

‘No-one who has listened to the lessons and the subsequent criticisms can have forgotten the frank, off-hand, hearty commendation, the gentle rebukes, the sometimes subtle and sometimes broad humour of the more experienced critics, and the timid, half-hesitating remarks of beginners. Sometimes the lessons were analysed, and discussion sustained in such a way as to show how deeply some of the teachers were enquiring into the philosophy of education and making the human mind their study.’54

Most sources from the period (Fraser 1864, Leitch 1876, Wilson 1865) recall that Stow himself chaired these student discussions on two afternoons per week. Helpfully, most editions of the Training System contain a ‘Memoranda for Students and Trainers’ written explicitly at a time when the state of the author’s health prevented him from enforcing the same points during the weekly public and private criticisms’ and repeated verbatim in all the following editions.55

We thus have a glimpse of the comments which he might have made: among 148 pithy statements of advice56are the following gems:

If a child does a thing improperly, or neglects to do a thing it has been bid to do, the simplest way to check such impropriety is to cause the child to do the thing. He may have thrown his cap on the floor, instead of hanging it on a peg; simply call him back, and see that he hangs it properly. You may have told him to walk softly up stairs – you hear him beating or shuffling with his feet as he ascends; call him back, and see that he walks up every step in the way you wish him. This method repeated will produce the habit, when a threat, or a scold, or a cuff, without the doing, may be instantly forgotten. The certainty of being obliged to do, is better for the memory than the longest speech.

 Do not forget that most important practical axiom, A LESSON IS NOT GIVEN UNTIL IT IS RECEIVED. It is only offered. You may speak, and your pupils may hear, but your lesson is lost unless they understand.

SIMPLICITY. – Do not imagine that you lower your dignity by being simple, you cannot be too simple – the most cultivated minds are always simple – they use simple terms, but they grasp noble ideas. The most complex machine is simple in its parts. One is simple, and a thousand is simply a thousand ones.

An alternative approach to the public criticism lesson entailed men and women to teach each other for about twenty minutes. The students sat in the Gallery and responded as children of a given age-group, with the proviso that if an ‘improper’ question was put they were not expected to answer or complete the ellipsis. The reasoning behind this injunction may be left to the imagination. Under this arrangement, the chairman might interrupt to elucidate the theory, correct an error, or involve the other students. It was an artificial arrangement, however, which Leitch subsequently abandoned.57

Despite the polish which must have resulted from a year (later two years) of this intensive training, Gibson expressed the same serious misgivings which might be made today. His report on the public criticisms is a model of illustrative detail, methodically compiled, and remarkably consistent with Stow’s own account.  He accepted that students were given ample opportunities to enhance the range and depth of their teaching skills and strategies: indeed his list, a more detailed analysis than Stow’s, might grace a contemporary student’s practical guide to teaching. Overall, he was of the opinion that ‘the methods adopted and practised for the purpose of giving the students the power of performing this difficult duty are highly successful, and entitled to unqualified approbation’. He also commended the number and length of opportunities which the staff were given for evaluating student performance which, again, might be noted in the current reductionist climate:

The rector and the various masters have thus more frequent opportunities of judging with what success they have availed themselves of their opportunities of observation, and of their trials of skill in the art of teaching; and of testing the efficacy of the revision and re-arrangement of their previously acquired knowledge, in rendering it available for the purposes of instruction (and in thus giving to it a practical value), and of witnessing with what effect the general views of education to which in the previous months their attention had been directed are brought to bear upon the ordinary processes of instruction.’58

Nevertheless, he raised several pertinent misgivings. The first, already noted, concerned the lack of depth and breadth in the students’ lessons. Unable to select, as appropriate to age and capacity, from an extensive knowledge, or to maintain interest through ample illustrations, or to answer questions, probe responses or spontaneously develop aspects which excited interest – the students resorted to teaching all they knew of the given topic. Gibson suggested that until the students’ own grasp of the curriculum improved, lesson content should be limited to what they fully understood. Equally germane to the subsequent practice of the ‘crit’ lessons, he considered, prophetically, that the students gave too much of their ‘industry and powers’ to their preparation and were ‘led to attach an undue prominence and value’ to this one aspect of their training.

 Although phrased with some delicacy, Stow also acknowledged that the children’s education could suffer through student practice. ‘Every time a student teaches or trains a class’, he admitted, ‘the children to a certain extent are injured’.59

This was partly to do with the variety of accents – students came from at least thirty-three named counties in England, from Ireland and from different areas of Scotland – but also from the ‘risable qualities’ of the children. The students prepared their lessons so thoroughly, but the children had heard it all before. They obviously took as much delight in poking fun at students as they do today. Their antics, remarked Stow sardonically, provided good moral training for scholars and students alike.

Despite the criticisms, few changes were made even when the student body transferred to the Free Church Training College.60

Students began to spend a day a week in what was now called the ‘Initiatory’ department, rather than beginning and ending their course there. The ‘Juvenile’ department was divided into ‘Junior’ and ‘Senior’. The Rector looked for two essays a week – including a comment on a lesson given the previous week.61

This practice of commenting on work undertaken, rather than on preparation of future lessons, continued until the 1970s as enshrined in the term ‘record-of-work’.

The public criticism period was extended to an hour and a half and the women’s opinions were finally acknowledged, albeit after the male students had left the room or in writing afterwards. Cruikshank (1970) notes that this was partly to do with class: while the men were mainly less articulate labourers, female students were often the more-confident daughters of the lower middle classes who could afford to support them and for whom teaching provided a means of independent living. 62

The Assistant Commissioners, in their Report on the State of Education in Glasgow (1866) confirm this view:

‘The families of the female students are commonly more able than those of the other sex to maintain them at the seminary, and they, unlike the males, having scarcely the choice of any other occupation so suitable as that of teaching, there is, perhaps, on their part, the greater and more willing effort to prepare for it.’63

The impact of the Committee of Council orders of 1846: finances

While the Church of Scotland, following the Disruption, continued to face considerable difficulties in training teachers, the Free Church College thrived. As described in Chapter 8, the establishment of the Free Church generated an enthusiasm, generosity and sense of purpose which translated into action not least in the provision of schools and teacher-training. Despite the inconveniences of moving ‘up the hill’ from Dundas Vale to Cowcaddens, the business of training teachers continued.

A year later, however, the Free Church College Committee was faced with the enforced changes introduced by the Committee of the Privy Council on Education. In an attempt to improve the quantity and quality of recruits a system was introduced whereby promising students were selected at the age of 13 and upwards and apprenticed for a total of five years to a local schoolmaster.64 During that time, they received annual payments with incremental increases. The indenture signed by Mr William McIsaac,65for example, offered £10 at the end of the first year and, by annual increments, £30 at the end of 5th year, although he was apprenticed for only the last two years before enrolling at the college. The class teacher also gained financially, receiving £5 for one pupil-teacher, £9 for two, £12 for three and £3 for each subsequent pupil. In exchange for this arrangement, the pupil-teachers were to teach during normal school hours and were to be taught for 7½ hours a week. They were inspected by an HMI at the end of each year, and at the end of their apprenticeship they entered a competitive examination for a bursary66(a Queen’s Scholarship) to attend a Normal College for two or three years, during which they were also examined by an HMI. This arrangement undoubtedly benefitted the colleges in terms of student numbers, entry qualifications and financial support.67

In 1866, The Free Church Training College had an intake of 138 students, only 32 of whom were self-supporting and of them, only four were men.Students in receipt of bursaries 68were required to give an undertaking in writing that they would follow the profession of teaching in elementary schools for ‘the labouring classes’ – an interesting stipulation that those in receipt of state support should repay in kind.69

However, the level of certificate acquired entitled them to an ‘augmentation’ of £15 to £30 to their salary also paid by the Government. It is also worth noting that examination success was not the only criterion for acceptance. The school authorities ‘if there was no room for the admission of all may reject some and prefer others, who, it may be, are lower on the list’ – a reflection that the best teachers are not always the most academically able.

It has been supposed (Monroe 1912, Gunn 1921, Cruikshank 1970, Wood 1987) that Stow, in company with other Scots who saw the scheme as an English imposition, was strongly opposed to the changes introduced by the Committee of Council on Education in 1846. In fact, he was generally in favour, being astute enough both to acknowledge the financial advantages and to recognise that he was unlikely to achieve much more:

‘Whatever may be said against any portion of these Minutes, or the expenditure, we must say, we believe that in no other way could an equal amount of good have been done to general education at a less expenditure. They, practically, have made one mighty step in progress, greater than has been done by any nation, or proposed by any politician.’70

Fraser wholeheartedly agreed: ‘Immense advantages have been secured through the action of the Committee of Council on Education. The arrangements are made on the most liberal scale, and with an enlightened regard to the thorough training of teachers’.71

It is true that Stow was unhappy with the pupil-teacher system itself, always arguing that children should be taught by trained teachers. But Stow’s own system of Model Schools attached to the college specifically to provide a ‘laboratory’ for student practice meant that children were taught by inexperienced students. He could hardly object if the arrangement was now writ large on a national scale. And even teenage teachers were preferable to Lancaster’s juvenile monitors, especially when their presence in sufficient numbers led to reductions in class-size which, in turn, allowed classification by age and, to some extent, ability. Indeed, Robson (1874) suggests that Stow, in condemning the use of monitors and insisting on teacher-training was ‘the author’ of the pupil-teacher system.72

It is also true that the erstwhile problem concerning the vocational purpose of the college was raised again as Scottish antagonists protested that their students from the burgh and parochial schools did not require the detailed syllabus of personal education laid down by the Committee of Education. The evidence for Stow’s objections can be seen in the absence of restrictions applied to applicants for bursaries in the FCTC. All male and three-quarters of the female candidates in the Church of Scotland College had to have experience as pupil-teachers. Whereas the assistant-commissioners reporting on the state of education in Glasgow (1866) noted:

‘In the Free Church Normal school there are no such restrictions, except as to age; and 190 students, other than pupil teachers, have gained scholarships since its opening up to the present time. Of these, 91 were males and 99 females. ‘Some of these,’ the rector informs us, ‘have occupied high places in the examination, and, as a whole, they have taken a good position.’ He is of opinion that students who have not been pupil-teachers, but have gained their scholarships by open competition, come to their work with fresher minds, and without that feeling of caste, which, from their early training, marks strongly both the male and female pupil-teachers.73

Nevertheless, Stow was pragmatic enough to recognise the advantages of the pupil-teacher system. Firstly, there was now a steady supply of students with up to five years’ experience of teaching, who had been subject to an annual examination and a final competition for bursaries. This had to be an improvement on the previous process of application for admission. On a surprisingly contemporary note, improved qualifications were also a means of controlling student numbers:

The overstocking of the market with teachers trained and qualified for their work, was an evil sure to follow had the old system continued longer in operation. The check given in this direction is a useful one, and will ultimately tell favourably on the position of the teachers themselves. They will command a higher place and a better remuneration than was likely soon to have been the case under the old system’. 74

During the five years in school, pupil-teachers also had time to assimilate the content of the elementary school curriculum – a major difficulty, as argued above, for both Stow and Gibson. University lecturers, particularly in Scotland, might sneer at the applicants’ lack of a coherent secondary education,75but at least they were familiar with the material they had to teach. Moreover, the moral conditions of the Indenture were strict. William McIsaac 76 had to ‘conduct himself with honesty, sobriety, and temperance, and not be guilty of any profane or lewd conversation or conduct, or of gambling or any other immorality’ and go to ‘Divine Service’ on Sundays.

Furthermore, while the Church of Scotland fumed, 77

Stow was not uncomfortable with the change in the mode of Government financial support. 78 Under the Minutes of the CCE for August and December 1846, the Normal Colleges were to receive for each student, £20, £25, and £30 respectively at the end of the first, second and third (if valid) years in ‘repayment for the expense of training students’. This arrangement superseded the annual grants. It helped, of course, that the Free Church buildings in both Glasgow and Edinburgh were almost paid for and therefore the annual block grants were less essential. Stow was also sharp enough to note the initial requirement of the Privy Council that in order to receive the annual grant the colleges must appoint a Rector.79

‘The annual grant of £5000 to each Normal School was made on condition that £1000 should be every year expended besides the income from fees; that if the schools, or either of them, were not satisfactorily maintained and conducted, the annual payments to each of them might be discontinued whole or in part; and that a rector approved by the Committee of Council should be appointed to each school.’ Letter from Kay-Shuttleworth to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, February 2nd 1848 in Minutes of the Committee of Council, 1847-48, p. 68.  While poor Mr Forbes,80formerly a teacher in the Glasgow Normal Seminary model school,81continued to manage the Church of Scotland Training College for four years (1845-1849) without the status of the title of ‘Rector’, Stow was quick to remedy Mr Hislop’s position in the Free Church College:

‘Mr Stow stated that it had been suggested that it might add to Mr Hislop’s influence if he was allowed to design himself as Rector of the Institution, and as the Committee approve of the suggestion, he is authorised accordingly.’82

On the one hand, Mr Hislop enjoyed an enhanced personal status; on the other, the Privy Council paid the annual grant to the institution.

Teacher-training in the FCTC was now founded on a sound fiscal footing. It could well be argued that the constant financial strain of the previous twenty-five years had damaged both Stow’s health and his pocket. Now there were grants for pupils, their supervising teachers, students, and through their fees the colleges, and additional salaries for certificated teachers and certificated college lectures. By 1852 the Free Church Colleges were in receipt of Government monies of £3,000 per annum,83three times more per college than the original maintenance grant of £500 each, and by 1860 the Glasgow FCTC was £500-£600 in surplus.84

The impact of the Committee of Council of 1846: length of training

The second outcome from the Committee of Council which would delight Stow was the increasing length of the college course. With the change in funding, most students received bursaries and Stow’s vision of a two-year course could become a reality with a commensurate increase in teachers’ salaries. Stow was a businessman and had always argued that it was the quality of the goods that determined their economic value:

‘Some years ago, we were frequently urged, by friends, to direct our efforts to the obtaining of higher salaries for teachers in the first instance, and to train them afterwards; but we preferred the true mercantile principle, to provide a superior article, and then claim a higher price. This has been the uniform and successful mode of procedure.’85

Initially, although proposed by the Committee of Council, students could not be persuaded to remain beyond a year. John Gordon’s inspection of the Church of Scotland College noted that young men would not continue in study while ‘employments of another kind were open to them on all hands’.86

The promotion of a second year’s attendance by the Supplementary Minute of August 1853 and 1854, was more effective and the surviving register of the Free Church College shows the increasing length of the students’ attendance at the college.

The Minutes of the Free Church Training College reflect these desires and difficulties.  In October 4th, 1847,  ‘they further resolved that the minimum period for training students shall be one year’.87

By 4th March 1850 ‘Mr. Stow requested that a small Committee be appointed to consider the following points affecting the Institution and to report to the next monthly meeting of Directors in April: – the effect of adding the direct teaching of Mathematics and the Classics upon our Students during the limited course of twelve months training’. By September 1st 1851 the candidate ‘Wm. Bowie (was) to be received but not for a course of training less than two years’. On September 3rd, 1854 ‘The Committee thereafter proceeded to take into consideration the recent changes as adopted in the Minutes of Council regarding the course of study pursued in Training Schools. The Committee approved in general of these changes…..’  And by 1855, the extension of the College course entailed changes in staffing responsibilities and consequent remuneration:

Taking into consideration the increase in the number of Students, the extension of the period of training from one to two years and the desireableness (sic) of maintaining the (industrial?) Department in a state of the greatest efficiency possible, the Committee resolve to nominate the Rev. David Smith, at present Classical Tutor in the Seminary, and Mr. Peter McKay at present Mathematical Tutor, as Lecturers in terms of the minute dated 20th August 1853 on condition of their being sustained after examination by the Committee of Council and in order to meet the requirements of the Committee of Council the Committee agreed to recommend to the Education Committee to approve of this nomination and to grant the Rev. David Smith and Mr. Peter McKay an additional sum of Forty Six Pounds 1/- each, making their salaries respectively One Hundred and Fifty Pounds Sterling and to authorize that this arrangement shall commence from the 15th. Day of Aug: pressing.88 Stow’s ideal of a two-year course, with a commensurate salary, had been achieved.

The impact of the Committee of Council: external evaluation

The concomitant of external support was, justly, external evaluation. The college was now subject to inspection and comparison. In 1857, the year after the inspection of the Church of Scotland Training College ‘A correspondence with the Committee of Council in reference to the Minute of 24th. April 1857’ was laid on the table and it was unanimously agreed to request their Lordships to instruct Her Majesty’s Inspector to examine the Training School with special reference to that Minute’.89

The inspection was carried out by HMI Mr Charles Wilson MA at the end of 1858, and the report appeared in January 1859. While the accommodation was generally considered excellent, two of the halls were ill-ventilated, there was no space sufficiently large to accommodate all the students, and the examinations had therefore been held in a nearby hall.90

The lack of a suitable hall for examinations was noted in the minutes of the FCTC for 8th November 1858 and ‘Messrs Brown and Stow’ were requested to look for a possible venue. On December 6th Colin Brown reported that Arcade Place had been ‘engaged for the examination of students for Certificates of Merit at a rent of five pounds per week’. Even in 1858, those inspected tended to direct the outcome the inspection.

The report lists the staffing and commends ‘their untiring zeal and singular aptitude’. Two pages are taken up with the detail of the curriculum which was ‘strictly adhered’ to. The description of the ‘crit’ lessons is as given above, with the recommendation that all students should have the opportunity to observe practice in the model village school. The report concludes that ‘the institution is in admirable working order in all its departments’.91

Comparisons with others can be both uncomfortable and unjust. On an astonishingly contemporary note, two years after the inspection:

‘The Rector called the attention of the Committee to the practice which was being largely followed in Normal Schools, of keeping back from the Government Examination for Certificate of Merit all Students about whose passing there was any doubt. He stated that …..  it was unfair to those schools which presented all their students, inasmuch as a false standard of success was established, and the public were thus misled as regarding the real efficiency of a Training School. The public judge of the efficiency of a Training School by the proportion subsisting between the number of students presented and the number who pass; but it is evident that, if all doubtful cases are kept back, the proportion is no fair witness of the efficiency of a Training School.’92

There were also difficulties in measuring cost-effectiveness. A CCE minute of 1851 on the cost of college salaries comments that ‘The Glasgow Training School owes so much to the gratuitous supervision of Mr Stow, that, however successfully it might enter into the competition with others as to the efficiency of its course of tuition, it would be unfair to them to establish this comparison in regard to the cost of it’.93

The proposals of the Privy Council must have seemed to be too good to be true – and of course they were. By 1860 the Government abolished the building grants, Queen’s Scholarships (reinstated 1867) and the payment by the Committee of Council of pupil-teachers’ salaries and head teachers’ fees. Nevertheless, the college’s foundation was secure and Stow was spared the effects of the implementation of the Revised Code of 1861. Although he was elected, in absentia on 30th September 1861, to a sub-committee to consider the implications of the Revised Code, his last attendance at the full committee was on 11th November of the same year.94

Until then, however, Stow continued making a substantial contribution to the college. He was appointed Honorary Secretary in 184795 a time-honoured way of recognising those who have made an outstanding contribution. He continued to be ‘authorized to arrange the system & superintend the practical working of the Institution’.96

His later years were spent as a revered member of the College Committee often carrying out practical tasks. He was commissioned, for example to advertise for replacements for college teaching staff,97 and to investigate the proposed extension of the Juvenile Department,98, the provision of an additional water closet to be created in the northern end of playground,99‘having a door made from the Lobby Stair to the playground of the Industrial Department,’100and ‘additions made to the Janitor’s house’101 He continued to argue for increasing the length of training,102 evaluated the necessity for offering Drawing 103Mathematics and Classics104within the college curriculum, pursued the application for the Government grant,105 and was given the unhappy task of explaining to the Education Committee of the Free Church of Scotland why unsanctioned repairs had been carried out.106He was always the first to recommend increases in staff salary 107 and it was he who had the presence of mind to suggest the formation of a sub-committee, of which he was a member, to calculate the effect on the college of the proposed establishment of the Wesleyan Westminster College.108 He signed the student diplomas 109 and spoke vigorously at the College Examination of 1854. And until increasing ill-health and the untimely deaths of his two elder sons prevented his attendance, he was always present even when some committees were barely quorate, sometimes chairing the meeting and sometimes taking the prayer. Indeed, the newspaper report of the Scottish Guardian of 31st March, 1854, acknowledged this in its ‘Mr Chips-like’ 110 tribute:

We were delighted to see the father of this noble institution, Mr. Stow, once more in the midst of his numerous and intelligent family of children. Every visitor responded to the sentiment of one of the examiners, that, in the sight of such schools as these, Mr. Stow must feel that God had not left him without many consolations amidst the bereavements of His providence; and that, in cherishing these, he had still work worth living for.

Wood (1987) argues that Stow’s principal legacy to Scottish education was the establishment of a ‘pattern of teacher training in Scotland, the non-residential, co-educational colleges with the main emphasis on the professional requirements of intending teachers’.111 It was a pattern that was to last and expand considerably over the next 150 years.112


[1]           ‘David Stow: A sketch by one who knew him’ in The Sabbath School Magazine (1866), p. 242. My emphasis.

[2]           ‘Two teachers on the same day were enrolled as normal students, with a view to two schools in Glasgow, in the process of being erected in the neighbouring parishes, to be conducted on the same system’, Stow. (1860) Granny and Leezy op cit.

[3]           Cf. also Reports of the Committee of Council on Education (1863), p. 322 and (1865), p. 109

[4]           Report on the Glasgow Established Church Normal College by Her majesty’s Inspector of Schools, John Gordon, Esq. for the year 1856 in MCCE, 1856-57, p. 806. Gordon continues ‘It was the only manner in which the preparation of schoolmasters specially for their calling was pursued in Scotland from 1826-1834’ suggesting either ignorance or disregard of developments in Glasgow thirty years earlier. Gibson later argues, however, that, unlike the General Assembly, the Glasgow Normal College trained teachers for ‘indiscriminate’ destinations and was the ‘first regular seminary of the Normal kind established in Scotland’ – a very careful choice of words.

[5]           Quoted Roberts, A.F.B. (1972)  ‘Scotland and Infant Education in the Nineteenth Century’ in Scottish Educational Studies vol. 4, no. 1, 4 May 1972. p. 40.

[6]           Fraser. (1857) The State of our Educational Enterprises: A Report of an Examination into the Working, Results and Tendencies of the chief Public Educational Experiments in Great Britain and Ireland Glasgow, Blackie and Son, 1857, p. 98.

[7]           Since Caughie celebrated his Jubilee in teaching in 1868 he must have begun his career in 1818 at the age of sixteen.  He was therefore a mature and experienced teacher when he was appointed to the Drygate School in 1828.

[8]           James Buchanan was the first master of Brewers’ Green Infant School, opened under the jurisdiction of Lord Brougham early in 1819.

[9]           In 1805 there were ‘eight lads and several men’ and by 1810 possibly three times as many, cf. Hewett, S. (1971). The training of teachers, a factual survey. London, University of London Press. This is the origin of the Borough Road Training College.

[10]         Great Britain being England, Scotland and Wales.

[11]         ‘By 1814 the Kildare Place Society had 16 trained masters and it opened its first school in the following year. By 1831 it had 1,621 schools with 1,908 teachers and 137,000 pupils. Women teachers had been trained from 1824 onwards and by 1831 they numbered 482.’

[12]         Stow. (1840) The Training System’ op cit 4th ed., p. 91: ‘Many teachers work out and arrive at a good system, it is true.’

[13]         Rich, R. (1933). The training of teachers in England and Wales during the nineteenth century. London, p. 4.

[14]         Fraser. (1857) p. 98.

[15]         Although most authorities, even Stow, refer to the opening in November, it was Ian McKellar who spotted that it was actually 31st October, cf. ‘Schoolmaisters to be taught? Never!’ in The Times Educational Supplement, April 1978. The Scottish Guardian’s account of 2nd November, 1837 refers to ‘last Tuesday’, which was, in fact, 31st October.

[16]         Greig and Harvey, (1866) Assistant Commissioners appointed by the Royal Commission of Education in Scotland, state: ‘Glasgow claims (we believe justly) to have been the first Normal school in Britain for the systematic training of teachers’, p. 71. Seaborne, M. (1974). ‘Early theories of teacher education’ in British Journal of Educational Studies also adopts this view, p. 328.

[17]         Stow. The Training System, op cit, 4th ed., p. 91, my italics but not capitals; cf. the Monitorial ‘system’ taught at Borough Road.

[18]         Unlike the monitorial training schools, where some of the applicants could scarcely read and write and whose lessons, therefore, were aimed at teaching them simultaneously with the method of teaching others.

[19]          As noted in Chapters 9 and 10 , Infant, Juvenile and Female School of Industry.

[20]         This followed a long tradition by which the National Church (the Church of Scotland) controlled the moral quality of its teachers. An Act of the Scottish Parliament, ‘For settling the Quiet and Peace of the Church’, 12th June 1693 stated ‘All Schoolmasters and Teachers of Youth in schools are and shall be liable to the tryall (sic), judgement and censure of the Presbyteries of the Bounds for their sufficiency, qualifications and deportment in the said Office’.

[21]         It should be noted that 1841 was a very difficult year in the history of the college.

[22]         ‘From fifty to sixty parochial and other teachers, from various districts of the country, have spent part of their vacation in (the Model Schools) – some from two or three months, others for a week or ten days’. The Glasgow Herald, 9th October 1835.

[23]         In 2008, 70% of primary and 81% of secondary teachers received only 36 weeks training (on the PGDE course): Teachers in Scotland 2008, Table 12.1: Students graduating from teacher training, 2000-2008 available at (as at May 2010).

[24]         Gibson, John. (1841) Report on the Glasgow Normal Seminary, Edinburgh, July 3rd, 1841 in MCCE 1841-42, pps. 14-27.

[25]         Happily, Gibson’s arithmetic is accurate.

[26]         Gibson, (1841) op cit.

[27]         As in New Lanark, for example, where historical charts, detailed botanical and natural history illustrations and geographical maps, obviously too advanced for the children, were in use.

[28]         Board of Guardians’ Minute Books, Southwell Union Workhouse, Nottinghamshire.

[29]         Kay-Shuttleworth: On the Training of Pauper Children 1839, p. 41, 42.

‘The schoolmaster and schoolmistress have been furnished with approved works on the art of teaching, describing the methods of instruction which have been most successfully adopted. Among the books have been comprised ‘Wood’s Account of the Edinburgh Sessional School,’ Stow’s ‘Moral Training, Abbott’s ‘Teacher,’ Dunn’s ‘Normal School Manual,’ Wilson’s ‘Manual of Instruction for Infant Schools’, Wilderspin’s ‘Infant System, ‘Chambers’ ‘Infant Education,’ Brigham ‘On the Influence of Mental Cultivation upon Health,’ &c., books on gardening, frugal cookery, &c.’

[30]         Stow. The Training System, op cit, 4th ed., p. 101.

[31]         Ibid, p. 102.

[32]         Stow. The Training System, op cit, 7th ed. p. 496.

[33]         Minutes of the Free Church Training College, 4th, March 1850.

[34]         Rich, R. W. (1933). The training of teachers in England and Wales during the nineteenth century. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, p. 36.

[35]         It is interesting to note, for example, that David Caughie, the head infant-trainer, boarded students in Hope Place and we may speculate that his second-eldest daughter, Margaret, married one of them. Scottish Census 1841 and GROS Register of Marriages 10th March, 1864, Margaret Caughie and John Rebanks, a teacher. See also Appendix 7/4: ‘David Caughie 1802-1874’.

[36]         Letter from George Combe, Edinburgh, 10th October, 1847. This letter was written under the auspices of the Free Church Normal College, but reflects the need, in both colleges, to accept students who could pay their own fees.

[37]         This would be something of a triumph for Stow since Combe was a prominent Secularist.

[38]         Even at this stage it was hoped that the course of training would last three years but lack of financial assistance inhibited this: GES Third Report, p. 9.

[39]         Letter to Miss Clark, dated Glasgow, 2nd July 1852, in response to a request for staff. Although this refers to the Free Church College, the context had not changed.

[40]         See Appendix 12/5 William McIsaac’, which includes his three college reports and timetable.

[41]         Gostick, Jesse. (1847) An Essay on Stow’s Training System. London, John Mason. See ‘A review of the literature’ in the Appendices.

[42]         William McIsaac’s report, op cit.

[43]         The bust of David Stow, which stands in the entrance of the David Stow Building, Jordanhill Campus, University of Strathclyde, was vandalised during the writing of this thesis.

[44]         Wood, Sir H. P., Speech given at the celebration dinner, 27th October 1978 at the City Chambers, Glasgow.

[45]         Leitch. (1876) Practical educationists and their systems of teaching. Glasgow: James MacLehose. p. 194.

[46]         Stow. (1840) The Training System, op cit. 4th ed., p. 109: ‘It requires considerable prudence on the part of the Chairman to keep all in good humour’.

[47]         Stow. (1840) The Training System, op cit, 4th ed., p. 106.

[48]         Minutes of the Committee of the Privy Council on Education in the Report of HMI C.E. Wilson MA, March 1865,

[49]         Ross, D. How to profit from a model lesson. (c1880).

[50]         Stow. (1846) The Training System, 7th  ed., p. 480.

[51]         Ibid, p. 481.

[52]         Leitch (1876) recalled that no comments could be made in the presence of the children, ‘Practical Educationists and their systems of teaching’ op cit p. 195.

[53]         Robert Gibson’s report, op cit.

[54]         Leitch. (1876) op cit, p. 195.

[55]         Stow, The Training System’, op cit, 4th edition (p. 368); 5th edition (p. 368); 6th edition (p. 408); 7th edition (p. 410); 8th edition (p. 418); 9th edition (p. 306); 10th edition (p. 323); 11th edition (p. 331). These ‘Memoranda for Students’ were available for purchase as a separate pamphlet for 4d.

[56]         See digitised resources: ‘Memoranda for students’ 8th and 9th Editions.

[57]         Leitch. (1876) op cit. p. 196.

[58]         Ibid.

[59]         The Training System, 7th Edition 1846, p. 501.

[60]         The fifth Edition of ‘The Training System’ (1841, the date of Gibson’s report) repeats verbatim, albeit in a different chapter order, the arrangements described above. The sixth edition (1845) is reworked but essentially describes the same process. The seventh edition (1846) includes the minor changes described here.

[61]         This practice of commenting on work undertaken, rather than on preparation of future lessons, continued until the 1970s as enshrined in the term ‘record-of-work’.

[62]         Cruikshank, Marjorie. History of the training of teachers in Scotland. London, University of London Press, 1970, p. 61.

[63]         Greig, James and Harvey, Thomas. (1866) Report on the State of Education in Glasgow. Edinburgh. p. 71.

[64]         For personal recollections of the pupil-teacher/Queen’s Scholarship  system see ‘Some recollections and reflections of David Street School, Glasgow (1870-1884) and the Glasgow Free Church Training College (1885-1886) by Minnie (née Craig) Blair (1865-1956); transcribed by her grand-daughter Sheila Craik from her notebook.

[65]         See Appendix 12/5.

[66]         £20-£24 for men and £15-£18 for women.

[67]         In 1866, The Free Church Training College had an intake of 138 students, only 32 of whom were self-supporting and of them, only four were men.

[68]         Enclosed within a copy of Stow’s ‘The Training System’ 11th ed. (1859), purchased from a bookseller in New York was a letter from J. Robertson, of Dundee, dated 11th April, 1867, enquiring about the progress of a ‘Bursar’, Mr Goodwin.

[69]         The Rector’s report on student destinations, included as Appendix 13/4 indicates that almost all students in fact found suitable posts.

[70]         Stow. (1859) The Training System, op cit, 11th ed. p. 560.

[71]         Fraser, Rev William. (1857) The state of our educational enterprises: A report of an examination into the working, results and tendencies of the chief public educational experiments in Great Britain and Ireland. Glasgow: Blackie and Son, p. 106.

[72]         Robson, E. R. (1874) School architecture. Leicester, Leicester University Press, p. 13.

[73]         Greig and Harvey. (1866). p. 72.

[74]         Ibid, p. 71

[75]         Pupil teachers remained in the elementary schools receiving only 7½ hours per week of personal education.

[76]         Appendix 12/5, William McIsaac’s indenture.

[77]         ‘Two subjects of your letter have caused much anxiety to the Assembly’s Committee.; 1st, The refusal, on the part of the Privy Council Committee, to give any aid to the Glasgow Normal School, ‘on account’, as you say of the appointment of a rector……. and 2nd, The unexpected withdrawal of the permanent grants from both of the Institutions of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and the substitution of a plan of reimbursement, by means of yearly payments, to students in these institutions who have remained a certain time in them, and who are able to pass certain examinations laid down by the Privy Council’.  Reply by the Education Committee to Mr Kay-Shuttleworth’s Letter, dated 18th January 1848, p. 59.

[78]         MCCE. Letter from J.P. Kay-Shuttleworth proposing change in mode of applying aid to the Education Committee dated 18th June 1847.

[79]         ‘The annual grant of £5000 to each Normal School was made on condition that £1000 should be every year expended besides the income from fees; that if the schools, or either of them, were not satisfactorily maintained and conducted, the annual payments to each of them might be discontinued whole or in part; and that a rector approved by the Committee of Council should be appointed to each school.’ Letter from Kay-Shuttleworth to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, February 2nd 1848 in Minutes of the Committee of Council, 1847-48, p. 68.

[80]         One of ‘the inferior masters of the former Model Schools’, MCCE 1847-48, op cit, p. 69.

[81]         And possibly the one member of staff who did not join the general exodus when the staff and students left the Normal Seminary in Cowcaddens to march up the hill to the new Free Church College site. This member of staff has never been named in any of the accounts.

[82]         Minutes of the Free Church Training College, Glasgow, Meeting of the 2nd November, 1845, p. 23.

[83]         Cruikshank, (1970) p. 58. Mason, D. M. (1985) ‘The Expenditure of the Committee of Council on Education, 1839-52’ in Journal of Educational Administration and History, Volume 17, Issue 1, records £2,739 for 1852, p. 30.

[84]         Minutes of the Glasgow Free Church Training College, March, 1857.

[85]         Stow: The Training System 7th ed. p. 442; 11th ed, p. 527.

[86]         MCCE (1856), Mr Gordon’s Report on Glasgow Normal College, p. 807.

[87]         MCCE (1856) Op cit, October 4th, 1847.

[88]         FCTC Minutes, June 11th, 1855. The increase in salary to £150 enabled the lecturers to apply for the augmentation of their salary by a further £100 from the Privy Council ‘after examination’.

[89]         Minutes of the Free Church Training College, November 7th, 1857.

[90]         The lack of a suitable hall for examinations was noted in the minutes of the FCTC for 8th November 1858 and ‘Messrs Brown and Stow’ were requested to look for a possible venue. On December 6th Colin Brown reported that Arcade Place had been ‘engaged for the examination of students for Certificates of Merit at a rent of five pounds per week’. Even in 1858, those inspected tended to direct the outcome the inspection.

[91]         A further inspection was carried out by HMI Mr Charles Wilson in 1862.

[92]         Minutes of the Free Church Training College, November 7th, 1859.

[93]         MCCE Minutes 1851, p. 128.

[94]         Almost three years to the day before his death on 6th November, 1864.

[95]         Minutes of the Free Church Training College, April 5th, 1847.

[96]         Op cit, 15th August, 1851,

[97]         Minutes, FCTC 5th April, 1847, 5th June, 1848, 13th November, 1848 (appointment of William Fraser), 7th December 1848 and 21st June 1852, when Miss Caughie was required to resign on account of her impending marriage. He recommended the appointment of Margaret Caughie, another of David Caughie’s daughters. Also 4th April, 1853, 9th August, 1853, 6th November 1854, 5th February, 1855, 11th June, 1855.

[98]         Op cit, 4th October, 1847.

[99]         Op cit, 3rdApril, 1848. Significantly, the 11th edition (1859) of ‘The Training System’ includes an illustration and details of an improved water closet, compared with that depicted in the previous 10 editions, presumably as a result of his investigations and recommendation.

[100]        Op cit, 5th June 1854.

[101]        Op cit, 3rd November, 1856.

[102]        Op cit, 6th September, 1847.

[103]        Op cit, 5th June, 1848.

[104]        Op cit, 9th April, 1849.

[105]        Op cit, 4th September, 1848.

[106]        Op cit, 6th December 1852. The previous two Committee Meetings had been abandoned for lack of a quorum.

[107]        Op cit, 9th April, 1849, 5th December, 1853, 7th August, 1854, 5th November, 1855, 3rd November, 1856, 12th January, 1857.

[108]        Op cit, 4th March, 1850.

[109]        Op cit, 13th September 1850.

[110]        Hilton, James. ‘Goodbye Mr Chips’. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1934.  When questioned about having no children of his own, Mr Chips replied that he had had many children – all boys.

[111]        Wood. (1987) op cit, p. 60.

[112]        In addition to the four Church of Scotland and Free Church Colleges in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Aberdeen (1874); Jordanhill (Glasgow Church of Scotland and Free Church of Scotland combined) (1904); Dundee (1959, formerly a Centre of St Andrews under a common Director of Studies); Craiglockhart (1959); Dunfermline College of Physical education (1959); Callendar Park (1964); Craigie (1964); Hamilton (1966); and Notre Dame in Bearsden (1967).

William Stow 1823-1852: Stow’s eldest son

William was born on 12th September 1823. His baptism and the registration of his birth was witnessed by William Buchanan, who was a member of the Glasgow Educational Society GES); and by James Playfair who, in addition to being a member of GES was also a member of the Glasgow Infant School Society (GISS).113He nearly died in infancy through ‘active inflammation of the lungs’,2causing his parents great emotional and spiritual distress. ‘We have been visited’, Stow wrote, ‘with a fatherly correction in the near prospect of the loss of our dear and only child, William’.3

‘In the family (William) was kind and affectionate – to his parents very strongly attached. As a boy at school, he displayed much energy and activity both of body and of mind. He had great facility in his studies, and variety did not perplex him. In his hours of relaxation, he engaged in games and amusements with all his heart; and on such occasions his ardent and conciliating spirit generally secured for him the place of leader among his companions. His principle of action was to do nothing ‘by halves’.4

He was a student at Glasgow University from 1837-41:5his name, along with those of his two brothers, is recorded in the Matriculation Albums of the University 1728-1858. In the Census of 18416he was living at home in Sauchyhall (sic) Street with his parents: his age is given as 18 with a date of birth in 1823. It is not clear what he studied at Glasgow but on December 14th 1841, he was enrolled as a Pensioner in Peterhouse College, Cambridge, with the intention of studying for the bar, becoming a scholar in 1842.  Wagner states that he was at the top of the list in his first examination and might have distinguished himself in law had he felt not felt it right to devote his energy to studies which bore more directly on the work of the ministry. In 1846, at the age of 23, he graduated from Cambridge University with a Bachelor of Arts to which he added, in 1851, a Master of Arts.7

He was ordained in December 1846, and in January, aged 47, was appointed to the first of two curateships at Sherborne, Dorset, by the Rev John Parsons, vicar of the parish.

‘His field of labour consisted of 2600 souls, being half of the whole population. He had generally three services on Sunday, there being three churches to serve; and he added two cottage lectures during the week. He also gave religious instruction to the factory young women; and had a class for preparing the Sunday School teachers to conduct Bible lessons, on the natural and efficient principle developed by his father in ‘The Training System;’ thus leaving only one evening in the week disengaged. At the same time, systematic visiting from house to house made him intimately acquainted with all his parishioners. He continued these abundant labours two years and a quarter, and on his leaving Sherborne, was presented with several public and private testimonials; one from the inhabitants of Sherborne and Castleton, another from the factory girls, who had attended his weekly class, a third from the use of the public Grammar School, and a fourth from the Sunday school teachers, who had attended his ‘Bible training’ class; to which may be added, one to his daughter by the children of the National School.

 He became Parish Curate of Dilton Marsh, Wiltshire from 1848-50.

‘The Manor of Daleton, or Dylton, was formerly a place of note for the manufacture of Broad and Woollen cloths; but is now reduced to a small village. It is situated in the Hundred and Parish of Westbury. Many who read the History of the Church will be in doubt as to the reason why it was built in such a thinly populated district. But when we find that Dilton was formerly, with so many more houses, as well as the large Cloth or Woollen Mills, and a Grist Mill, in full employ, it seems to have been a much more populous place than it now is; and remembering, too, that Dilton Marsh Church was not built till a comparatively recent date, we shall better understand why this church was built; the villagers of Marsh being in the habit of attending the old Church until the erection of the new one in their own village. ‘In connection with Dilton Church there was a well attended Sunday School for the children of Dilton and the district round.8

 Wagner wrote ‘In March, 1849, (William) entered upon the incumbency of Dilton’s Marsh, Wiltshire, a widely-extended and neglected parish, to which he had been presented by Bishop of Salisbury. In the morning of the day, on which he entered on his public duties, 15 persons only attended Divine worship; at the evening service 40 were present; and, in the course of two or three months, the church, which holds 700, became well filled. Here, also, he added a third service, re-established the Sunday schools on an improved basis, and organised two day schools at great expense and labour, on the ‘Moral Training System,’ which he in general visited daily; and gave two evening lectures during the week, one in the church, and one in a small hamlet, 3 miles distant from his house. His cottage and Sunday evening lectures were generally delivered from notes. The morning sermons were uniformly written and read, except on one occasion, which may be deemed worthy of notice’.9

William introduced the Training System into the local school at Dilton’s Marsh which received good evaluations in two Reports. Rev E. D. Tinling writes:

‘Dilton’s marsh, Mixed. A mixed (juvenile) school under a master aided by two pupil teachers. Discipline was very good, the Glasgow Training System being tried. The master was trained at Glasgow. He has not yet been long enough in the school to bring his system into full operation. The Rev. W. Stow has lately reorganised his school and introduced the Glasgow training system. No expense or trouble is spared to give the system a fair trial.’10

Rev H. Mosely, inspecting the schools in the counties of Wiltshire and Berkshire, refers to a school at Dilton’s Marsh which was taught by a master from Glasgow and where Stow’s son, William, was incumbent of the parish:

‘It is impossible not to be favourably impressed with the moral aspect of schools conducted on this plan. Children placed under influences so calm, and so humanising as these, for six hours a day, of three or four years of the most impressionable period of their lives, cannot become the same men and women as they would have been under other and less favourable circumstances.’11

Stow’s pride in his son is reflected in a letter to Kay-Shuttleworth, dated Glasgow, December 26th, 1843, where he discusses the idea of ‘my son’s writing or inspecting schools under the Church of England or Government’ (as a way of filling in time until he was old enough to obtain a curacy).

‘As to the idea of my son’s visiting or inspecting Schools under the Church of England or Government, it is chiefly to get employment in a way suited to his task. The fact is he cannot occupy the office of Curate in a parish for two years being only 21 years of age & he wishes to be employed not so much for support for he has some property of his own & I am willing to assist farther, but I think his being actively employed professionally might be of service to himself and to the public. Although young he is very mature in judgment, prudence & management as much so as most young men of 26 or 27 years of age. Even a year ago when at home during his University vacation & I ill at home he took my place as Superintendent in the Normal Seminary & while he pleased & maintained a good feeling with the Masters he kept all in order conducting the Strangers & explaining the System.’12

William eventually succeeded to the vicarage of Avebury with Winterbourne-Monkton in September 1851, through the offices of the Marquis of Lansdowne, a friend of his father. 13 A Fire Insurance policy of 1783 shows that there was a Charity School in Avebury at that time.14 A School Inspection Report 15of April 27th, 1877, states that the National School was built in 1844-49. It was a Church of England School attached to a school house but without internal communications. It was also used as a Sunday School but without any alteration of the desks or other furniture. The teacher was Henrietta Higgins, born January 19th, 1843. She was appointed to the school on September 30th, 1876. She was previously a pupil-teacher at the Girls’ School, Penkridge, Staffordshire. The original teacher at the Wesleyan School at Penkridge was trained at the Glasgow Normal Seminary. The report of the 6th August, 1877 states that ‘The Certificate awarded to Mrs Higgins under Article 59 will shortly be issued.’

The common interest in education shared by father and son must have deepened the sorrow caused by William’s illness and then death on April 23rd, 1852 at the age of twenty-eight. Wagner writes: ‘In February, 1850, he was seized with pleurisy whilst conducting the morning service, and was confined to his bed several weeks. He has weakened frame required a long rest, and he therefore secured the services of a curate the 12 months, and retired to Scotland. In the following winter another illness ensued, which led him to Brighton. In September, 1851, he left Brighton, and entered upon his duties as vicar (of Avebury) early in December last, and was only permitted to preach twice in each church, and to call upon some of his parishioners, when it please God completely and finally to lay him aside by congestion of the lungs. In March, 1851, he resigned his incumbency, and took leave of his parishioners in an earnest and affectionate printed address’16

Stow wrote to his son from Glasgow on March 11th, 1852, the day of the baptism of ‘dear little Charles George’, referring to Charles’ brother and sister. His final letters to his son, written daily, and recorded verbatim by Fraser, are deeply religious in emotion and Biblical detail.

A few hours before his departure, William calmly delivered at Bible to each of his three children, making a pencil mark by way of distinction, and requesting his father to write their names in them, as a ‘gift from a dying father with his blessing’.

William died at 13, Hans Place Chelsea, on 22nd April, 1852 at the age of 28.17 He is buried in Avebury Churchyard.18 The gravestone is to the left of the church door and reads:

Rev William Stow
Vicar of Avebury
Died 22nd April 1852
In his 29th year.

The remainder of the inscription is indecipherable but appears to mention that he was the husband of Catherine, his children, and that he was the son of David Stow. A text, including the words ‘who believe that’ is at the bottom of the stone.

William married Catherine Bannister19 and had three children: William David, Charles George (as above) and Marion. (Stow’s first wife was ‘Marion’.) A ‘Catherine Stow’ was staying with the Bannister family on the night of the 1851 Census.20

William and Catherine had three children:

  • Marion Catherine Stow (1846-1876)
  • David William Stow ((1850 – 1880)
  • Charles George Stow (1852-1852)

Marion and David received £4,000 between them from Stow’s will plus £1,000 already paid to William and Catherine, plus the share of the property from Elizabeth MacArthur. The interest from this was payable as required for their education and clothing.

Marion Catherine Stow married James Chancellor (1830-1889), a clergyman, and they had one child, Wilfred George Chancellor who was born in 1876 and died in 1935. He married Jessie Elizabeth (b. 1878) in 1909 and they had a son, Alexander Chancellor in 1909. On 22nd September 1924, Alexander sailed to Southampton from Buenos Aires, Argentina. On 15th May 1951 he arrived at Liverpool from Bombay, India. No other information has been traced.

William Stow officiated at the weddings of:

    • his brother David George Stow and Jessie Smith, 25th June, 1850
    • his cousin John Wilson Wilson (sic) and Mary Wilson Boyce on 4th September 1849 in St Peter’s Church, Dublin

As a footnote, after William’s death, Catherine remarried a William Burnley and settled in Edinburgh. He was thirteen years older than Catherine, and a West India Merchant. A ‘Marion Stow’, his stepdaughter, and William D. Stow, his stepson, are with them in the Scottish Census for 1861. Emily and Georgina Bannister are also shown as Sisters-in-Law. Catherine died of peritonitis in Dunoon on 23rd October 1866 aged 42. Since William Burnley lived to 1903 it is tempting to suppose that Stow offered her his Lodge in  Dunoon when she became ill.

The Mico Charity

In a complicated will, Lady Mico, the wife of Sir Samuel Mico bequeathed £1000 ‘to Redeeme poor slaves’ which ‘at this date certainly meant Christians enslaved by the pirates of Tangier’.21She died in 1710, and by 1827 the sum amounted with interest (and possibly a second bequest) to more than £110,000.

The situation having changed by 1834, following the abolition of slavery and Sir T. F. Buxton 2conceived that the interest on the money might be legitimately applied to the Christian instruction of the emancipated slaves in the West Indies. This was acceded to, and to the interest the Government added a temporary grant of £20,000 per annum,

The Mico Charity became an important educational trust which established schools in the British Caribbean. The Rev. J. M. Trew (Archdeacon of the Bahamas) who had won Buxton’s regard through efforts he had made on behalf of slaves during his long residence in Jamaica, was appointed superintendent. Teachers were sought and appointed all, about 21 in number, trained in the Glasgow Normal Seminary.3

Given the size of the task in the Caribbean, the aim was for these teachers to train the freed slaves themselves. Eventually, two normal schools were established, and in the course of a few years, upwards of 100 indigenous teachers had been trained.

In The Training System, 10th Edition, Stow sums up the work of Mico Charity and the involvement of students trained at the Normal Seminary:

‘During the year 1837 the venerable Archdeacon Trew, of the Bahamas (then Rev. Mr Trew), took out eighteen or twenty students who had been trained in this Seminary, to occupy situations as trainers of schools in the different West India Islands, under the Mico Charity. At the same time he established a Normal Seminar in Antigua under one of the students, Mr John Miller, for the training of native teachers. This has been a most successful enterprise, and a large number of intelligent well-trained native students have left that institution, and are now following their Christian calling among the negro population.

 The effect of all these movements has been the adoption of the Training System by the Danish Government in their islands, and by the German missionaries of the Moravian Brethren one of whom has translated ‘The Training System’ into German, and it is now on sale in his mother country – Prussia. Mr Miller’s duty as rector of the Normal Institution at Antigua, and superintendent of the moral training schools in the different islands, was found to be greatly beyond the strength of one man. His Christian and unquenchable ardour, however, impelled him to persevere in the work till his constitution became so enfeebled that be was obliged to return to his native land, and he is now the devoted pastor of a congregation in England.

 He is succeeded as superintendent of the Normal Seminary at Antigua by Mr Sydney Stead, also a former student at Glasgow, a man of experience as a trainer, truly Christian and energetic. We doubt not he will be as highly successful in Antigua as he has been at home. He is now assisted by another trained student, lately chosen and sent out by the directors of the Mico Charity.4The Fourth GES Report of 1837 quotes the names of some of the students:

 ‘The Government Mico Charity, of which the Rev J. M. Trew is Secretary, and whose sphere of operation is amongst the West India Negro population, had 16 teachers, with their wives, trained in the Seminary: some of these were selected from the students of the Society, others were sent from London, and several from Ireland. Each had guaranteed to him £150 sterling per and, and half that sum during their course of training in the Seminary. The following are their destinations, Antigua St John’s, Mr and Mrs Miller — St Lucia, Castins, Mr and Mrs Whitton and Mr Johnstone — Tobago, Scarbro (sic), Mr and Mrs Ross-  Grenada, St Georges, Mr and Mrs Loune — St Vincent, Kingston, Mr and Mrs Ramsay, and Mr and Mrs Smyth — Trinidad, Port-of-Spain, Mr Woods, Mr and Mrs Thomson, and Mr Mrs Kerr — Jamaica, Mr Malcolm — Mauritius, Mr Barrit and Mr Gray.5

In a letter by Mr. Buxton, to one of his friends in 1839, he mentions Mr Miller, who, since 1838, had been appointed superintendent of the schools in the various West Indian islands belonging to this charity, and rector of the Normal Seminary, established on the Training System in Antigua :-

‘I send you Mr Miller’s letter from Antigua, telling me that he has already ten good Christian blacks ready to be located on the Niger.’ The writer continues, ‘I am more and more impressed with the importance of normal schools. It is not only that there will be a great demand for schoolmasters in the West Indies, but I have a strong confidence that Africa will ere long be opened to commerce, civilisation, and Christianity, and then will there be need indeed of educated and religious black schoolmasters. The idea of compensation to Africa through the medium of the West Indies is a great favourite with me, and I think we shall see the day when we shall be called to pour a flood of light and truth upon miserable Africa. Pray, therefore, bear in mind that we ought to do a great deal as to normal schools.’

Stow and the national context

‘Politicians, of course, desire the good order, peace, and happiness of society. To them the most important of all questions must be, How can the community be best and most economically governed? How can crime and vice be diminished? Moral Training appears to us to be the very machine so much desiderated, whether as regards its efficiency or economy; and without which our town population must continue to sink in crime and profligacy.’6

The political context

Stow lived through the reign of four monarchs. He was probably barely aware of the first, George III,2since by 1811, when Stow was 18 and starting work in Glasgow, the king was suffering from another bout of porphyria. This resulted in the regency and reign of his son, George IV3 whom Stow almost certainly despised. Neither would he have had much time for William IV 4not least because of his illicit relationship with the actress Dorothy Jordan. Besides, Stow would not have approved of William’s political ineptitude nor his opposition to the Reform Bill which generally benefitted the merchant classes.5

But it was the fourth, the young Queen Victoria, who probably intrigued if not enchanted him, and who provides an interesting point of reference, since in the year Queen Victoria came to the throne, the Normal Seminary in Dundas Vale was opened and Stow was persuaded to follow the family tradition and stand for election as a Councillor. The editor of The Scottish Guardian of 2nd November, 1837 noted:

Mr. Stow’s enlightened and philanthropic exertions in the cause of sound education for the people, to which he has devoted for many years his time, talents and money, have gained him the esteem and admiration not merely of his fellow citizens, but of the best friends of the people throughout the country at large. To which Stow responded: ‘From the highly respectable and numerously signed Requisition presented to me, I have been induced to accede to your request and to offer myself as a candidate at the ensuing election of Councillors for the First District. Should I be returned, I trust I may be enabled in some measure to fulfil the important trust confided in me. I am etc. David Stow, 3rd. Nov. 1837’.[/footnote]

While his friends may well have lauded the man, it is more likely that it was the Conservative Party they wished to see succeed. Indeed, the same newspaper urged: ‘We entreat the friends of the Conservative Reforms to be early and persevering in their exertions at the poll’. 6 They had good reason to be concerned: Stow stood as a Conservative and came in third. 7

No further evidence of his political persuasions is currently available but it is difficult to believe that he remained a ‘Conservative Tory’. In any case, alliances were more fluid following the Reform Act of 1832 and splits in each party make any assumptions about complex allegiances somewhat dubious. Both parties were dominated by Anglican land-owning classes but Stow, an ecumenist, surely sympathised with urban Nonconformists, particularly Wesleyan Methodists and English Presbyterians. In addition, Whigs 8 increasingly came from industrial or commercial backgrounds and introduced economic and social reform both of which might have appealed to Stow. Betchaku (2006) has undertaken useful work on the voting patterns of the office bearers of the GISS and GES.9

At the General Election of 1832, Ewing, the GISS president and GES vice-president, and Oswald, a GISS benefactor,10 were both in favour of parliamentary reform presumably notwithstanding the fact that it was implemented under a Whig Government. Perhaps most, including Stow, could be described as Liberal (as opposed to Conservative) Tories.11

Despite his early failure, Stow went on to become an astute political player. In that same year (1837), Kay-Shuttleworth 12paid what turned out to be a momentous visit to the Normal Seminary. Kay-Shuttleworth, who uniquely combined his medical knowledge and skill with thoughtful compassion and a talent for administration, had graduated as a doctor from Edinburgh University in 1827. He spent the next ten years practising in Edinburgh, Dublin and Manchester and his meticulous observations on the conditions of the poor underpinned his subsequent specifications about their treatment – particularly of children and more particularly of their education. As we shall see, Stow and Kay-Shuttleworth had much in common beyond an understanding of trade,13 a knowledge of the work of Thomas Chalmers and a taste for religious piety. Kay-Shuttleworth’s subsequent appointment as secretary to the Committee on Education of the Privy Council gave Stow crucial access to the heart of the Government’s attempts at educational reform. On 8th March, 1838 Kay-Shuttleworth made his celebrated statement to the Select Committee: ‘The most perfect school of this description with which I am acquainted, is a school recently established in Glasgow, by the Glasgow Educational Society, denominated the Glasgow Normal Seminary’.14

This detailed and exceptionally favourable account of Stow’s work complements his views expressed elsewhere. ‘The public establishments of Glasgow and Edinburgh are proceeding on a system and are conceived upon a scale which surpasses anything that we are acquainted with in England’ 15he wrote to Rt. Hon. Thomas Frankland Lewis, the first chairman of the Poor Law Commission of England and Wales.

Stow’s growing friendship with Kay-Shuttleworth can been seen in the several requests for Government grants for the Glasgow Educational Society which are dealt with more fully in Chapter 7. ‘Agreeably to the hint you gave me some time ago’ he writes on 24th January 1840, before reporting that he had, on that advice, approached the Committee of Education and ending with a jocular comment on the state of his kidneys. He opens his letter on 30th March, 1841 with ‘you may justly say that I presume too much on your friendship, but when a person has a certain amount of esteem & confidence fear is shut out’. Nor was Stow above a little flattery: The present Liberal Government with the Poor Law Commissioners and an MD of (authority?) 16 at their head or foundation rather has done more for real education alias Mental & Moral Training than has been done for two centuries past’.17

Kay-Shuttleworth had the ear of the home secretary which Stow was quick to turn to his advantage: 18

‘We are poor but I always trusted to your influence and the favorable (sic) regard of Sir J. Graham that you would help us and we have not been disappointed’.19

But even more significantly, the chair of the Committee of Education was the Marquis of Lansdowne. We have already noted in the previous chapter that Stow apparently had few misgivings about using this acquaintanceship to secure a living for his son. It was Lansdowne who asked Stow to become the first Scottish school inspector. And it was Lansdowne who eventually sanctioned the substantial government grants to the Normal Seminary and, indeed, to schools operating ‘The Training System’.

But no money could be paid without the permission of the Comptroller of the Exchequer 20

In 1780 Commissioners for Auditing the Public Accounts were appointed by statute but from 1834, the Commissioners worked in tandem with the Comptroller of the Exchequer, who was charged with controlling the issue of funds to the government. Cf. History of the National Audit Office, He had been Chancellor of the Exchequer (1835-39) but was ‘widely regarded as not up to the job both by his contemporaries and later historians and admitted his own ‘inadequacies’ Cf. Wasson, Ellis Archer, (ODNB, 2010) ‘Thomas Spring Rice.

who, from 1835 to 1839, was Lord Monteagle or Thomas Spring Rice, 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon. In an almost illegible letter to Chalmers dated 5th January 1841, Stow regrets being unable to speak with Chalmers because, he states, ‘the following day it being Monteagle’s last opportunity of going to the Seminary I (..ats?) propose to go with him’. We may surmise that whatever happened at the Port Eglinton Spinning Company that day, Stow was determined to attend the Seminary to meet with the Comptroller of the Exchequer. He appears to have received short shrift from Monteagle, however, for two months later he wrote caustically to Kay-Shuttleworth ‘I wish I had the purse Strings of our Noble friend Monteagle for 5 Minutes without control or observation & I would lay in or pullout what would do more for the weal of the Commonwealth than public speeches & printed rules could ever effect’.21

Although Monteagle was known to be a supporter of moral and religious education he had a reputation for being ‘niggardly’ in the allocation of funds to support innovation.22In the pursuit of funding, Stow visited Sir James Graham, by then Home Secretary, in Downing Street.23 Stow refers to Graham as ‘a friend to the training system established in the Glasgow 
Normal seminary’. The letter, for Stow, is exceptionally clearly written 24 and persuasive:

‘We have had several deputations from the Church of England, in 
consequence of which the diocesan training schools were established; the improvements in the Church of England model 
school were copied from this institution; all the late improvements in the Borough-road school gallery, etc., were professedly 
taken from us; the gallery system at Norwood and Battersea, and 
throughout England, was taken from this institution.’25

Although additional funding was not immediately forthcoming, in 1843 Graham appointed two students from the Seminary, Messrs Craig and Barlow,26to Parkhurst Prison with well-documented results.27 The Prison was also visited by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.28

In addition to the above-mentioned, Stow does seem to have had a genius for making friends in high places whom he referred to as ‘the Powers that be’.29

William Fox Maule 30 joined the Free Church of Scotland and was present, with Stow, at the Signing of the Deed of Commission. He became MP for Perthshire, was a member of the Privy Council and, as Secretary at War from 1846-1852, was instrumental in setting up a Normal College with Model Schools for the training of teachers for the army in the Royal Military Asylum at Chelsea. One of Stow’s pupils, Walter McLeod,31 became the headmaster and thus introduced ‘The Training System’ into army schools. McLeod revolutionised the practice of using 12-14 year-old monitors to promote education at home and abroad.32 A trained, experienced, university man, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, McLeod achieved renown, not least as of the author of several books for teachers.33

Sir Thomas Fowel Buxton, a Quaker, was involved in charitable educational activities in Spitalfields, visited by Stow in 1820. Buxton was vice-president of the Anti-Slavery Society and it was he who untangled Lady Mico’s will to create The Mico Charity. 34 This charity arranged for twenty 35 students from the Glasgow Normal Seminary, with their wives, to set up schools in Antigua for the children of emancipated slaves.  Two of Stow’s students, Mr Miller and Mr Sydney Stead, in turn became rectors of the Antiguan Normal Seminary for training freed slaves as teachers. And Stow unashamedly used his contacts for self-publicity. On January 31st, 1835, in the context of the Government reform of the Church of England and the new emphasis given to urban parishes, he wrote to Sir Robert Peel, the Prime Minister:

‘I therefore take the liberty of sending you a plan of Moral Training which has been proven to be a mighty engine in elevating the poor of towns’ …….. ‘may I be allowed to recommend to your perusal Chapters 1st. 2nd. & 8th. as also the parents’ letters in the appendix as proofs of the efficiency of the system therein recommended. Chapters 3rd. 4th. 5th. 6th. & 7th. relate more particularly to the practical working of the system.36 Adding a cavalier P.S. ‘I have taken the liberty of making the same communication to His Grace the Duke Wellington’. As outlined in succeeding chapters, one result of all these recommendations, letters and meetings was that Stow’s name eventually became sufficiently well-known in political circles to secure considerable financial advantages for the two Normal Colleges with which he is associated.

The Scottish context

Despite, or perhaps because of, his English heritage, Stow appreciated both the merits and otherwise of the Scottish educational context in which he was brought up and which he sought to extend but not, initially, replace. His historical sweep is so useful that it bears repeating at length:

‘It all is to be kept in mind that, after the Reformation in Scotland, although provision was made for one parochial school in every small parish, no provision was made for their extension in towns. None but Grammar Schools were ever established in the larger towns of Scotland. For example, there is one parish school for the original Barony Parish of Glasgow, now comprehending 90,000 souls; and not even one for the remainder of the city of Glasgow, comprehending 160,000 souls. All the others, called Parish Schools, are unendowed and merely subscription schools, supported by the different kirk sessions of the Established Church, leaving the remainder of our educational wants to be provided by private teachers; and both the quality and quantity of it are supplied according to the demand, and not what are best fitted for the improvement of the rising generation. What is true of Glasgow, is also true of the other royal burgh towns in Scotland; there is a Grammar School in each, but not Parish Elementary Schools. That important part of the Parochial System of Scotland, in fact, has yet to be established in towns, namely – a Parish School’.37

 Stow was referring to the ‘national’ system established under Knox for a ‘school in every parish’ and which, even when and where implemented, took little cognisance of boundaries, size or geographical terrain. A subsequent series of education acts required land-owners, or heritors, to provide for a school, and a school-house and salary for the teacher. At its best, the Scottish system provided for children to attend the parish school; at the age of about nine, or when they could read and write, those in the towns could progress to the Burgh schools which were often better endowed, had more teachers and benefitted from a developmental curriculum. The fortunate continued at the Grammar school. However, the quality varied considerably. Rusk argues that, in addition to the problems associated with difficult terrain, small populations, and the failure to recognise the need for teacher-training, the parish system was fundamentally unsuited to large industrialised towns.38

Chalmers delightfully explains why: not only were there insufficient parishes, and therefore schools, in the cities – there were no historical loyalties:

‘Perhaps there is most of all the tie which binds the locality itself to the parochial seminary, that has long stood as the place of repair, for the successive young belonging to the parish; for it is true that one family borrows its practice from another – and the example spreads from house to house, till it embraces the whole of the assigned neighbourhood – and the act of sending their children to the school, passes at length into one of tacit, but well understood properties of the vicinage – and new families just fall, as if by infection, into the habit of the old ones – so as, in fact, to give a kind of firm, mechanical certainty to the operation of a habit, from which it were violence and singularity to depart. 39

In response to the deficiencies of the parish system, exacerbated by the increase in population, groups of parents had collaborated to set up ‘Subscription’ schools, while independent teachers ran their own ‘Adventure’ schools as a commercial business, and private tuition and ‘Academies’ were available for the middle classes. By 1824 the Church of Scotland had begun to provide ‘Assembly’ and, in the Highlands and Islands, Gaelic-speaking schools.40

The denominational churches set up ‘Voluntary Schools’41 and all denominations extensively provided Sabbath Schools during the evening and on Sunday afternoons. ‘Factory’ schools, provided by philanthropic owners as at New Lanark, usually referred to collieries or cotton mills.42

Indeed voluntary provision versus state was to become a major issue. The bitter controversies which accompanied attempts to formalise educational provision in England are picked up in chapter 13 but it is useful to reiterate that Stow’s ecumenicity, at least until 1843, was not just a personal preference but a useful position. He stood outside the struggles between the National Society (Anglican) and the British and Foreign School Society (Dissenting) to outwit each other if not the Committee of Council on Education.  Nevertheless, Stow’s efforts were eventually to founder on the problem of ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune’.  The initial difficulty concerned those within the Church of Scotland who were not used to giving: We have grown up so much in habit of having our Church and our ministers maintained for us, almost without perceptible cost, that we are now unaccustomed, and correspondingly unwilling, to make anything amounting to sacrifices for them’ contended McNeile (sic)43 to the GES on the eve of the foundation of the Normal Seminary. And sacrificial giving, McNeile continued, was essential if GES was to retain control of the selection of candidates and the curriculum. Referring to the unallocated £10,000 in the Treasury budget, supposedly intended for ‘the education of the children of the poorer classes in certain great towns in Scotland – and for the erection of Model Schools in Scotland’ he questions:

‘To what is the money to be applied? Is it to establish a Government Board or Government Trustees, who shall take the superintendence of the Normal Seminaries out of its connexion with the National Church and thus prepare a set of masters more liberal, as the phrase is, than those whom the Church can sanction? It is a vital question. For if masters of that description gain admittance to your national nurseries, in vain will your ministers toil afterwards to alter, or modify, or counter-act the bias thus given to your rising generation…….. you have reason to apprehend that your Christian system will be superseded by a Government system, not Christian, unless by your prompt and overflowing contributions you tell the Government you want no help at all.

Within a year, with insufficient ‘prompt and overflowing contributions’ that bid for financial independence seemed a vain hope; and by 1845 the fiscal decision to hand over the Normal College to the Church of Scotland had resulted in the loss of the College altogether. Nevertheless, as the ordinances of the Committee of Council gathered momentum, Stow, a proficient pragmatist, learned to work within the confines of Government control, to focus on what was becoming a pressing need, not just for improved teaching in the parish schools, but for a national system of education. While acknowledging ‘the serious difficulties with which the Government has had to contend, in settling this momentous question’ he persuades the Voluntaryists to bend their principles: ‘The earnest friends of religious education in the Church of England, the Wesleyans and other Protestant Dissenters, will surely make some appropriate personal sacrifice, to raise their countrymen from their present degraded state of ignorance’44

Quite simply, the size and cost of the task was beyond voluntary provision. The State must ‘interfere’.

Stow and a national system of education

Paradoxically, both in the minutiae of his localised efforts and the extensive body of his literature, it is easy to miss the point that Stow’s growing concern was for educational provision in large towns. His books, so often referred to as simply ‘The Training System’, from the second edition (1834) onwards include references to ‘Moral Training, Infant and Juvenile, as applicable to the condition of the population of Large Towns’ in the title or preface. Brought up in a weaving town, Stow understood from observation that the practice of education at home, which had suited a rural economy, was no longer appropriate when parents went out to work in the factory, mill and mine. ‘In the country’, he wrote in 1837, ‘Moral Training by the parents is practicable where the child, nearly free from companionship, follows his father at the plough, or his mother in the dairy; but it is widely different in towns with the father at the work-shop or the factory’.45 A double gap existed in the moral training of the children – not only did they lack the guidance of their parents, but they were free to find their own companions among the depravity of the city wynds and vennels.

And Stow, merchant and factory-owner, also recognised that, no matter how appalling were the conditions created by what came to be known as ‘the industrial revolution’, the future lay with these rapidly expanding urban conurbations. There was no going back as Chalmers had attempted in the St John’s experiment, re-creating the rural parish in the town. Stow was involved in business in Glasgow and Leeds; he visited London; he sent students to Manchester, Liverpool, Stockton, Bolton, Blackburn, Halifax and Wolverhampton to name but a few.  The burgeoning ‘new’ towns required new solutions to new problems.

But he was only too well aware that education was regarded in some quarters as a positive encouragement to revolution. Some of his earliest memories were of listening into conversations between his father and respected members of the religious and legal community on the dangers of Sunday Schools:

‘No sooner had Mr. Stow’s father, then one of the magistrates of Paisley, along with Baillie Carlile, Mr. McGavin, the well-known author of ‘The Protestant’, and some of the most influential clergymen in the community, formed themselves into a society to institute and conduct Sabbath-Schools, than the Sheriff of Renfrewshire ordered them to send an exact account of the number of their schools and of the nature and design of the Society ………He requested the teachers of the Sabbath evening schools to attend at the Fiscal’s office as soon as convenient, with an offer to take the oath of allegiance, that their various names and houses might be registered.’46

From the rumours of the excesses of the French revolution at the beginning of the century, through a succession of riots across the country in the first few decades, to the demands for social, economic and political reform from the Chartists 47 further claims for the education of the working class could only be regarded with suspicion. A literate population 48 was open to radical ideas and developing political awareness as exemplified, for instance, in the agitation for parliamentary and electoral reform. To those who considered that ‘knowledge is power’, even non-political knowledge was dangerous in that it gave the labouring classes a confidence, facility in argument and the possibility of achieving aims which were unnerving in an unstable society. Even some of the well disposed objected on pedagogical and/or paediatric grounds:

‘Great and mighty objections were felt and expressed by many of the most philanthropic of our citizens in regard to the introduction of such a system, some of them apparently extremely plausible, such as fear of withdrawing the affections of children from their parents – overloading the minds of infants at such a tender age – injuring their health by too much confinement, &c. &c.’ 49

Stow marshalled several arguments to convince the wealthy to contribute to working class education. As we have seen, he played down the supposed levelling effect of education, and emphasised instead the advantages of keeping children off the streets; of training them to be responsible members of the community with a respect for personal and state property; 50 of preparing a generation of factory workers conditioned to habits of punctuality, regular attendance, hard work and honesty; of producing a literate electorate necessary for enlightened democracy; of politically controlling the population through moral training; and of releasing the mothers to work in the mills and factories without anxiety over their children.

To caricature this emphasis on the controlling aspects of education as motivated only by the avaricious and materialistic requirements of a wealthy mill-owner is over-simplistic. It is true that a docile workforce combined with the opportunism of the industrial revolution could create great wealth. But in the (current) absence of any information about Stow’s treatment of his own workers we can only, literally, take his word on the importance of good industrial relations. In a scathing attack on industrial employers Stow condemns their indifference to the situation of their employees:

‘In a period like that in which we live, the possession of riches involves a responsibility of the most solemn nature – to employ a portion of them for the best interests of those through whose labour their riches have accumulated. The maxim of a cold hearted political economy has obtained much acceptance in these latter days, that the only tie between masters and servants, between operatives and those who employ them, is, that a certain portion of work is to be performed on the one hand, and a certain pecuniary compensation is to be given on the other …… The spirit of a wise philosophy rejects a principle, which, while it may prove advantageous for the accumulation of wealth, is destructive of all that makes wealth valuable.’ 51

But charitable contributions from philanthropic employers alone could not cope with the disaster of the cities. The state must interfere. He thus gives a cautious but approving endorsement of the momentous minutes of the Committee of Education of 1846:

‘I have no intention of either condemning, or of giving unqualified approbation to, the educational measure of the Committee of Council, which has now received the sanction of Parliament. But we think that every individual who approves of the State lending its paternal aid towards the moral and intellectual improvement of the poor and working classes, will naturally hail with delight the opportunity presented by this legislative measure for putting forth his utmost energies to render it available.’52

After pointed references to the cost of prisons, bridewells, penitentiaries and houses of refuge; to the twenty millions spent on the emancipation of slaves abroad (while the slavery of mind and morals continued at home);53 to the half a million sterling spent on the establishment of Millbank prison in Westminster 54 and to the forty millions squandered at the Battle of Waterloo, he concludes on an ironically contemporary note:

‘We must, however strange, talk as familiarly of millions for education as we were wont to do for war …….55 Our legislators propose thousands, when millions are needed, as if a city on fire could be extinguished by a few buckets of water. 56

If the industrial revolution was producing the wealth of the nation, then the wealth of the nation must be used to counteract the social effects of that revolution.

Stow did not, of course, live to see the provision of universal, compulsory education by the state. Nevertheless, the political and religious deliberations which were a major part of the struggle for national education over-shadowed most of his life and affected all the achievements which will be described in the next few chapters. While, as we shall see, the work of the Glasgow Infant School Society and the Glasgow Educational Society was inevitably limited in scope, the expectation that children should attend school regularly and for many years was part of the gradual move 57

Eloquently summed up by Philip Gardiner as a change which was achieved ‘incrementally, inch by inch, the cumulative result of thousands of unmarked daily confrontations between parents, teachers, children, policemen and school-attendance officers at street corners, front doors and school gates.’ Gardener, (2004), in Williams, Chris. A companion to nineteenth century Britain. Oxford: Blackwell, p. 364.  towards state schooling as a normal experience of childhood.