A list of the number of Wesleyan schools scholars 1837-1873 can be downloaded here:an be downloaded here : Number of Wesleyan schools and scholars 1837
A list of the Wesleyan schools with teachers trained at the GNS can be downloaded here:an be downloaded here : List of Wesleyan schools with GNS trained teachers
Documents relating to Stow’s relationship with the Wesleyans can be downloaded from the drop-down menu to the right.
Church of Scotland and Free Church Normal Seminaries
|Year of the Report||Report No.||Number of applicants||Number of students accepted for training||Number rejected for lack of funds||Number rejected for insufficient qualifications||Number under consideration||Number withdrawn||Number appointed to schools4|
1 One student was preparing at Glasgow for St Mary’s in the Gambia at the expense of the Missionary Committee.
2 As with all Committees who are trying to demonstrate hard work and success some numbers encapsulate previous candidates. Ten of this number, who are named, are first mentioned in the previous two reports.
3 The number of applicants in Sixth Report must be a summary of the numbers so far
4 The schools to which students were sent are detailed below.
5 These numbers do not tally. It is probable that the number of applicants should be 86 and 57 respectively.
The Manuscript Register of Teachers[footnote]The numbers are pencilled on each page of the Register and totalled as above on p.43.[/footnote]at Westminster gives the number of Wesleyan Glasgow trained students as 248 men and 90 women, total 338 or less 4 doubtful = 334. It is from this source that the statement was obtained which now appears on the tablet in the entrance porch to the college, namely,
“July 1837, Wesleyan Education Committee formed. 1839. Two students sent for training to Glasgow, two to Borough Road.
1839-1851, 248 men students and 90 women students were trained at Stow’s Normal Seminary, Glasgow.”
From subsequent reports and inspections we know something of the first three students. James Ford, the very first teacher trained by the Wesleyan Education Committee, spent six months in Glasgow. Thereafter he was sent to Brunswick Chapel in Sheffield where he operated the ‘Glasgow System’ with 200 children. Shortly afterwards it was reported that the school[footnote]WEC Fourth Annual Report, 1842.[/footnote]was ‘in perfect order and efficiency according to the plans pursued at the Normal Seminary at Glasgow.’ It was also noted that other schools in Sheffield were adopting the same system after witnessing the effects of Mr. Ford’s school which was attended by over 200 children. In a letter dated May, 20, 1840[footnote]Contained in the Report of the Wesleyan Committee of Education 1842-3, p.28.[/footnote]Mr. Ford stated how with ‘much fear and trembling’ he made the attempt to introduce the Glasgow system into Sheffield for the first time. A public examination was held at the Brunswick Chapel School which gave evidence both of the ‘excellence of the plans and the ability of the master’ and two further Wesleyan schools were established[footnote] Unimaginatively and inaccurately known as Sheffield First and Sheffield Second. To these two can be added Park School and Park School for Girls in East Sheffield, Bridgehouses in Sheffield West, and Red Hill Infant School.[/footnote]
Ford died in Sheffield in 1897, presumably having taught there for many years. The second student, Edmund J. West came from Portsmouth and after training went to Burslem Wesleyan School. The Education Committee minutes note that ‘At Burslem, Mr. West (our second Teacher in order of time) is settled also in a most encouraging field of labour. Mr. West was sent for three months to try if he could raise the School, which had fallen into great decay, into something like efficiency; and he has succeeded so well, that he is now himself comfortably established over a very flourishing School, and receives from its proceeds about £80 a year.’[footnote]Fourth Annual Report, Wesleyan Education Committee Minutes, 1842.[/footnote]
As noted later, he spent the bulk of his career, from 1850 to 1880, in the Practising Schools at Westminster College.[footnote]M.S. Register of Teachers Westminster College, p.1, quoted Houseman[/footnote]
Mr. Bowker the third student to be trained at Glasgow did equally well in a school at Chesterfield where he introduced a gallery, maps, and other apparatus on the Glasgow model. The Committee Report reads ‘Mr. Bowker, the third young man sent from the Glasgow Seminary for us, is settled under very encouraging auspices at Chesterfield; where his labours among the rising generation appear to be gratefully appreciated’.[footnote]Wesleyan Education Committee, Fourth Report, 1842.[/footnote]
At the same time that the Committee sent these three (that is Ford, West and Bowker), three other men who had ‘come under (the Committee’s) care and partial support during the year’[footnote]Ibid[/footnote]also undertook their training in Glasgow. They may have been Mr Swaine who settled at St Albans; Mr Henry Rogers, who after a stint at Derby (1842) and Selby (1846) became a teacher in the model school at Westminster College when it opened in 1851; and Mr J. Peachy who settled at Ipswich and is known to have trained at Glasgow at the same time.[footnote]The Register of Students is currently mislaid. However, the 1842 Report refers to Mr Swaine and Mr Rogers; and Mr Peachy is known to have trained at Glasgow in 1841.[/footnote]
Thus, with the first woman, Mrs Gordon, the widow of a missionary, the Committee was able to report that:
‘Of the seven candidate Teachers now at Glasgow, the Committee continue to receive the best accounts from Mr. Stow and the other Officers of the Seminary, as to their character, conduct, abilities, and studies. The Committee are pleased to be able to state their conviction that these Teachers would do credit to any Society.’[footnote]WEC Fourth Report 1842.[/footnote]
‘The Wesleyan Conference Committee have not only sent a large number of students of both sexes to be trained for private schools throughout England, but lately they have sent back several of their most accomplished trainers to acquire the system more fully, preparatory to the establishment of a large institution of their own in the metropolis, to be conducted on the complete training system.’[footnote]The Training System, 6th Edition (1845), p. 391.[/footnote]
In the main square of Westminster Institute of Education,[footnote]Westminster Institute of Education, formerly Westminster College, was founded in 1851 on a very restricted site in Horseferry Road, London. The college had been planning to move out of London since the 1920s and when the site was severely damaged by an incendiary bomb during the blitz of early World War II, rebuilding became essential. The college was relocated to Oxford in 1959. Oxford Brookes University’ School of Education, merged with Westminster College in 2000 founding Oxford Brookes University, Westminster Institute of Education.[/footnote]now part of Oxford Brookes University, stands a statue of Christ leading a young child.[footnote]This is a replica of the actual statue, by John F. Matthews (1920 -1995), which stands in the nearby garden.[/footnote]
Underneath are words from Proverbs, immortalised by Stow, ‘Train up a child in the way he should go’. Outside the college staff room, still known as ‘The Glasgow Room’, a plaque reads ‘This name celebrates the inception in 1840 of the training of teachers by the Methodist Church at David Stow’s Normal Seminary in Glasgow’.
In fact, Stow’s relationship with the Methodist Church dates from early 1832, when the model school in the Drygate transferred to the ground floor of a Wesleyan Chapel in Steel Street, off the Saltmarket. The Chapel was substantially adapted to house both the required gallery and playground. ‘The locality of this School is admirable’ commented Stow, recognising the generosity of the Chapel Directors. ‘Infants who are now allowed to run wild in crowded streets, or filthy closes, will have the benefit of a spacious school room, and enclosed play ground, under the protection of affectionate teachers’.[footnote]Article on ‘Infant Schools’ contributed by Stow to Cleland’s Enumeration of the Inhabitants of the City of Glasgow and County of Lanark, 2nd ed., 1832. The ‘affectionate teachers’ were Mr and Mrs David Caughie.[/footnote]
Given the Methodists’ attitude to the English denominations but a few years later it was an interesting ecumenical gesture.
The background to Methodist educational provision
The Wesleyans’ many motives for setting-up schools ranged from self-interest to political guile laced with a good measure of compassion. Wesley had sensibly pointed out that unless the Society taught their converts not only how to read but the practice of reading, the movement would die out.[footnote]In the 1740s, Wesley opened a school in the Foundry, London, where the first meeting of the Methodist Society was held. This was followed by Kingswood, near Bath, opened in 1748 and designed for the children of John Wesley’s friends, both boys and girls. It was a small school catering for about fifty children, and was soon restricted to boys only, initially the sons of Methodist preachers and leaders. The Orphan House in Northumberland Street, Newcastle served as an important early Methodist Centre and school and Philip Doddridge’s Dissenter’s Academy in Northampton was active for the latter part of the century but mainly for the training of ministers. Such provision was obviously meagre and a Report presented to the Methodist Conference of 1837 acknowledged that ‘some plan should be devised about retaining and educating children born [/footnote]And even those who disliked [footnote]Rack, Henry D. (2004-2008) ‘John Wesley (1703-1791) Church of England clergyman and founder of Methodism’ in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004-2008.[/footnote]him acknowledged that he had a care for the poor and it was no accident that the Wesleyan College, with its five schools, eventually came to be built in one of the poorest areas of London.
The Methodists, like Stow, argued that religious observance and instruction, encapsulating faith, belief and practice, should be fundamental to education rather than a curricular add-on. From their point of view this was a defensible stance. Less acceptable at this distance in time were the ‘incomprehensible switches from Church to Dissent’ summed up so acerbically by Hempton (1979): ‘From the modern perspective their position seems extraordinarily sectarian but in the nineteenth-century evangelical mind a principle was a principle and compromise an anathema. However, it should have been clear to the Methodists that politicians were not made of such stuff’.[footnote]Hempton, David N. (1979) ‘Wesleyan Methodism and Educational Politics in Early Nineteenth-Century England’ in History of Education, vol. 8, No. 3, pps. 207-221.[/footnote]
At this distance it seems inexplicable that, politically, Methodists did not wholeheartedly throw in their lot with the Dissenting/Nonconformist denominations with whom they shared so many of their beliefs and practices both in religion and education. This seemed obtuse even to their own congregations who, at chapel level, worked amicably with Baptists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and the occasional Independent in opposition to the Church of England.[footnote]The strident anti-Catholicism must be seen against a background of Irish immigration which, in exacerbating the rapid population increase, triggered urban and unemployment problems and contributed to the anti-Irish/Catholic antagonism among the indigenous Scots and English. It was an inevitable upshot of industrialization that Methodism generally expanded in the very areas which also attracted the Irish workers. And it is a feature of nonconformity that those who wish the support, not least financially, of their congregations should not upset them.[/footnote]
‘We want an efficient master and, if possible, on the Glasgow system’ requested one congregation of the Methodist Education Committee, ‘The Vicar and Curate here are refusing interment to children baptized by Non-conformists, and if the children of our people are obliged to seek instruction from the National Schools, the parents and children must attend Church’.[footnote]Helstone, February 17th 1844, quoted in the Wesleyan Education Committee minutes, Sixth Annual Report, 1844.[/footnote]
Henry Brougham’s ‘Bill for the Education of the Poor’ (1820) which attempted to systematize and extend the schools provided by the National, and British and Foreign School Societies, created consternation for Dissenters. Although Dissenters[footnote]Excluding, at this stage, Methodists, who concluded that ‘party interests and petty considerations should not hinder so great an object’ By 1839, however, they were objecting to state-aid if it meant that Roman Catholics and Protestant ‘heretics’ were included. Quoted Hempton, (1979) op cit.[/footnote]did not (indeed morally could not) demur against the spirit of the Bill they objected to the privileged position given to the Established Church. It was a delicate tightrope. All the denominations involved in the issue, including Catholics, approved of basing education on Biblical instruction, but they were jointly appalled at State opposition to proselytism by all but the National Church. That, from their point of view, is what churches are for. It was this issue which dominated the Wesleyan Conference’s educational provision for the first half of the nineteenth century and the combined weight of the non-conformists overcame the proposals of the fledgling Committee of the Privy Council for state training in a normal school, state inspection and even state financial support if it meant that their opponents benefitted as well as themselves.
Politics and blatant self-interest apart, what was clear at chapel-level was the quite desperate need for education and Christian charity demanded some action. As elsewhere, the initial provision was through the Sunday School movement. Hempton (1979)[footnote]Ibid.[/footnote]notes that a survey undertaken in 1834 by the Manchester Statistical Society covering the towns of Manchester, Salford, Liverpool, Bury, and York found that the Methodists provided 32% of the total number of Sunday Schools available – greater than the other non-state denominations put together and only slightly less than those provided by the Church of England. Three years later, the Report to Conference (1837), referred to above, itemised 341,442 scholars in the Sunday Schools, taught by an army of 59,277 teachers at an annual expense of £17,800. In a intelligent list of recommendations, the writers of the Report[footnote]William Atherton, Samuel Jackson and Richard Treffry.[/footnote]considered that an enquiry should be undertaken into those Chapels and Societies which had not established Sunday Schools; that it would be helpful to know what was actually taught in the schools; and particularly so where provision was shared with other denominations. But, echoing Stow’s concerns, the same Report argued that a weekly hour was not enough. ‘There can be no wisdom in leaving children and youth to themselves until they are confirmed in habits of irreligion and vice, and then seeking by the use of extraordinary means to instruct and convert them’. There were only nine Wesleyan infant schools and twenty-two weekly schools for older children. Expansion, particularly in densely populated urban areas, was proposed along with the creation of a Committee for the purpose.
Over the next ten years the Methodists justly earned their methodical reputation. In 1838, under the jurisdiction of the Wesleyan Conference, the General Committee of Education was duly set up. The Conference recommended that a proportion of the Methodists’ Centenary Fund should be allocated to the new Education Committee, a request that was refused by the Fund Committee, who did, however, make an initial sum of £5,000 available with a conciliatory note that the Education Committee could ask for more if events proved this necessary. Conference asked for a survey to be undertaken of the total provision of Methodists’ schools across the United Kingdom. Members of the London Circuits, anyone with a particular interest in the issues and those who lived nearby were formed into ‘United Committees’[footnote]The Methodist Committee of Privileges, set up in 1803, already existed to protect Methodist political rights.[/footnote]to note and actively respond to Government proposals regarding a national system of education. And, significantly, the Wesleyan Education Committee (WEC) was asked to consider the training of teachers, the certification of their ability for office, and the best and most effectual methods of maintaining the efficiency and connection between all the schools of the Society.
The training of teachers at the Glasgow Normal Seminaries
It is perhaps remarkable that during the following decade of both infighting with the Wesleyan Conference over the allocation of funds from the Centenary Fund, and of delicate and dangerous skirmishes with the Government over the role of the Privy Council and the intention to provide national education, the provision of actual schools and trained teachers to staff them steadily continued. Hempton argues that ‘the Wesleyans knew that they had been a spanner in the works’[footnote]Hempton, (1979) op cit. p. 212.[/footnote]and the Home Secretary, Sir James Graham, noted with exasperation that ‘religion, the keystone of education is, in this country, the bar to its progress’.[footnote]Graham to Brougham (24 October 1841), in C. S. Parker. (1907) Life and Letters of Sir James Graham London: John Murray, quoted Hempton, (1979) op cit.[/footnote]
Perhaps acknowledging these views, the First Annual Report of the Education Committee, presented to the Conference of 1839, reiterated that the ‘time is now fully come when the Wesleyan Methodists should have their own system of ‘infant, day and Sunday Schools’ to give children ‘a sound and thoroughly religious education’. The Second Annual Report (1840) excused the lack of practical progress on the grounds that both a proposed plan of action and the requested survey were extensive and would take considerable time. However, the Report also:
‘Recommended that ‘at least three young men should be immediately sought out by advertisement, and otherwise be educated at Glasgow or Borough Road School; who, when prepared shall be employed in instructing other masters, or travelling about the schools already in existence, in order to perfect them in systematic modes of teaching and finally to be fixed in any important sphere of usefulness which might require such well instructed agents’.
A subsequent sub-committee, noticing that three people did not fit easily into two Colleges, suggested that the number of candidates should be increased to four. In the event, however, the number was academic since although there were thirteen applicants, none was appropriately qualified[footnote]There is a discrepancy in the records in that the Report for 1840 states that there were no appropriate candidates; and that for 1841, that the first six candidates had been sent to the Glasgow Normal Seminary. However, according to Houseman (1938), a tablet in the college in Horseferry Road recorded ‘July 1837, Wesleyan Education Committee formed. 1839. Two students sent for training to Glasgow, two to Borough Road.’ If these students were eventually accepted for training in 1839, the Reports do not record them.[/footnote]– a situation which was to be repeated over subsequent years. The Education Committee got on with drafting ‘the plan’.
A model of its kind, the subsequent ‘Plan’ detailed the constitution of the Committee itself and its extensive remit. Most pertinently to this account, the Committee also assumed responsibility for the selection, training, certification and accountability of teachers. To fulfil the first part, the religious and moral character of candidates was to be attested by the preachers of the Circuits. In time, the Committee was to appoint its own inspector to maintain accreditation and quality, thus meeting the terms of the latter. The problem lay in the middle part of this process – the training of teachers.
Thus by the Third Annual Report of 1841, along with a draft of the Plan itself and the results of the Survey, the Committee was ‘exceedingly glad to report, that they have been, as they believe, providentially directed to an engagement with several individuals for training in the Normal Seminary at Glasgow, peculiarly fitted for the important work of Education’. Three young men, who had already received the required testimonials from the preachers in the London Circuit[footnote]This is an assumption. The Report actually states ‘all passed under previous examination in London’ but since the system was that candidates should be attested as to their moral and religious suitability by the preachers in the circuit this is probably what is referred to.[/footnote]as to ‘their religious and moral character, their ability for the work of teaching, and literary capacity and attainments’ had been sent to Glasgow and already both Stow and the Rector, Robert Cunningham, had confirmed their progress. ‘Your friends with us’, observed Mr Stow, under the date of April 16th, ‘are conducting themselves with the utmost propriety and attention’.[footnote]Wesleyan Education Committee (WEC) Third Annual Report (1841). For information about the first students see the appropriate drop-down menu.[/footnote]
From then on, until the Westminster College was opened in 1851, a steady stream of candidates applied to the Education Committee and were sent, as funds and suitability allowed, to Glasgow. The attached Appendix summarises student numbers as listed in the Reports although the records of the total numbers of students trained at the Glasgow Normal Seminary vary considerably. The most accurate source is the manuscript Register of Teachers, now mislaid, but consulted by Houseman (1938) who also refers to a ‘tablet in the entrance porch’ of the pre-war college in Horseferry Road which read: ‘1839-1851, 248 men students and 90 women students were trained at Stow’s Normal Seminary, Glasgow.[footnote]Houseman, op cit, Chapter 15, p. 263.[/footnote]
One reason for the discrepancies might be the number of teachers trained for the mission field (particularly the West Indies) both prior to, and parallel with, the training of students for England and Wales. These students would be trained at the request and expense of the Missionary Committee and would not be recorded by the Education Committee. The Committee’s Fifth Report also refers to Wesleyan students in training at their own expense who subsequently offered their service to the Society.[footnote]WEC Fifth Report (1842) ‘To gain for the service of the Committee several able Teachers belonging to our Society, who were completing their studies at their own expense, though needing partial aid; and for whose valuable labours providential openings immediately appeared.[/footnote]
Stow’s figures of 265,[footnote]‘During the last few years the number trained belonging to this denomination is 265, nearly all of whom are actively employed as trainers throughout England. Stow. (1847) National Education, op cit, p. 55; digitised version, p. 31.[/footnote]384,[footnote]The Training System, 8thedition, 1850, p. 349.[/footnote]424[footnote]Stow’s response to his presentation, Scottish Guardian, 6th May 1851.[/footnote]and 442[footnote]‘During the eight or nine years previous to the opening of (The Wesleyan Normal Seminary), WEC supported students male and female – in all 442; Stow. (1859) The Training System 11th ed., p. 540.[/footnote]will undoubtedly include these, and individuals sent by the local Wesleyan Circuits, with the knowledge of the Education Committee but not under their direct jurisdiction. His total numbers also include (see below) those who attended in preparation for their work as an Agent and as senior staff of the Wesleyan Normal Seminary who were not, strictly speaking, in training as teachers and would not be included in the Education Committee Reports.
It will be seen from the relevant Appendix that, in the early years at least, 34 suitable candidates had to be deferred because of the lack of funding. In 1842, only seven of the 29 applicants could be accepted because of the cost and the following year, although thirty were offered places, twelve more had to be rejected until more funds were made available. Given the negotiations with the Government over school provision, the Education Committee cannily decided to invest in staff training rather than buildings but was only empowered to use the interest on the £5,000 allocated by Conference. Even when Conference proposed that £20,000 should be raised for the purpose of building or adapting schools, Circuits were slow to forward collections to London on the understandable premise that they best knew what was required at local level. The thirteen relevant education committee reports, while generally positive, echo Stow’s despairing cry ‘But ever and anon the question is ‘Where is the money?’.[footnote]WEC Third Report, op cit, 1836 p.7[/footnote]And the Committee, like Stow, also had to watch good people go elsewhere for want of funds to keep them.
By 1844, the Committee were also lamenting the poor or unsuitable qualifications of some of the candidates. As we have seen, Stow argued that students should have received an adequate education, appropriate to the curriculum which it would be their responsibility to teach before preparing to train as teachers. Teachers should attend the Normal Seminary to undertake training in the art and skills of teaching, not to acquire a personal education. As Pritchard notes, Stow was reluctant to turn the college into a secondary school although he found that ‘theory was one thing and practical demand another when students arrived at college not knowing the essentials on which the college syllabus was based’.[footnote]Pritchard, F. C. (1951) The story of the Westminster College 1851 -1951, London, the Epworth Press.[/footnote]
Given the relevance of the Committee’s statement to Stow’s argument it is worth quoting:
The proportion of the number of those who have been declined to the number of those who have been accepted will appear to be large, but the fact is, that in many cases due attention has not been paid, by parties applying and parties recommending, to the nature and amount of the qualifications which Candidates should possess previous to their being subject to Normal Training, and some would appear to have fallen into an entire mistake as to the specific purpose for which training is intended. The Committee therefore take this opportunity of reminding all those to whom it may concern, that the candidates whom they accept are sent to a Normal Seminary, not to acquire general knowledge, but to acquire right methods of communicating it, and especially, right methods of making it available to the moral and religious, as well as to the intellectual, improvement of young persons. The attention which is required to be given to that specific object during the six months of a Candidate’s continuance at the Normal Seminary, leaves little opportunity for any other study or employment; and even that object cannot be secured to any adequate degree, unless the Candidate be tolerable adept beforehand in those elementary branches of knowledge which in the Schools in question form the usual routine of instruction.[footnote]WEC Sixth Annual Report, (1844).[/footnote]
The exasperation of the Committee is palpable: the youth and inexperience of the child required a higher, not lower, standard of general education of the teacher. The Committee was prepared to reject 297 or about 35% of the candidates in order to maintain this standard. By 1842, ‘A set of questions for the regular examination of the candidates, and another for the superintendents of circuits, to be used in the case of persons applying from a distance’ had been adopted ‘as a means of preventing unnecessary expense, trouble, and disappointment on both sides’.[footnote]WEC Fourth Annual Report, (1842).[/footnote]
Nevertheless, the figures for rejected candidates given in Appendix 14/2 indicate that the problem persisted.
By 1844 three other significant decisions had been taken. The first was to commit the Wesleyan Conference to the voluntary provision of 700 schools in seven years. The second, concomitant on the first, was to give serious consideration to the provision of a Normal Seminary for Wesleyan Methodists to avoid the expense and inconvenience of sending candidates to Glasgow, much though they approved of the quality of the training given. And the third was to appoint Mr H. Armstrong as an ‘Agent’ whose remit came to include inspection and recommendation, in addition to establishing an association to aid communication among the mushrooming schools. Armstrong had already served with the Wesleyans in an educational capacity in the West Indies. He was to play a considerable role in the shaping of policy not only among the English Methodists but of the Glasgow Free Church Training College where he spent some time in 1844-45 acquainting himself with the ‘System’.
In 1845 the impact of the Disruption and the consequent establishment of the Free Church Normal Seminary is briefly recorded by the Committee:
‘Under the present circumstances of the case, and after the uncertainty which for some time existed on that subject, it will be satisfactory to the friends of Wesleyan Education in general, to be informed that the Committee have had the opportunity of training all their candidates during the past year in the same way as in former years, and that in the building, (fully equal if not superior to the former), now in the course of erection under the auspices of the Free Church of Scotland, facilities are offered and arrangements have been made, for the training of any number of candidates likely to be soon presented, under the care of Mr Stow and the same masters who have heretofore so successfully conducted the Glasgow Seminary.’[footnote]WEC Seventh Annual Report, (1845).[/footnote]
Interestingly, no special mention is made of the financial and moral support offered by the Committee to ensure the smooth continuation in training during the transference of the Church of Scotland Seminary to the Free Church College. The numbers of students trained during the difficult years of transition tell the story of the support[footnote]146 over the relevant period of 1844-6.[/footnote]
as the Minutes of the Free Church Training College for 1845-1861 illustrate. In August 1845, at a most crucial time in the college’s finances, fees of £150 were paid indicating as much moral as financial support. By December, 23 of the total student body of 36 (64%) were Wesleyans.
Nevertheless, the Wesleyan Education Committee made painful progress in the provision of schools and the training of teachers to staff them. In 1847 there were still only 395 schools, far short of the hoped-for 700.[footnote]Indeed, the figure was not finally achieved until 1870 when the Wesleyans had 743 schools, see Smith (1998) op cit. A list of the schools where teachers trained at the Glasgow and Free Church Normal Seminaries were appointed, as recorded in the Wesleyan Education Committee reports; i and the names, currently known, of the teachers are included in the appropriate drop-down menus.[/footnote]
However, in that year, the Methodists finally negotiated the provision of state aid for ‘Wesleyan Connexional Schools or schools not antithetic to Methodist doctrines’.[footnote](1979) op cit, p. 220.[/footnote]
The agreement, in substantially increasing the number of schools and adaptations to buildings, exacerbated the need for suitably trained teachers. The Wesleyans required a college of their own.
‘The Committee very cordially renew the acknowledgement which they have made in former years, of the valuable service rendered to their candidates, and through them to the Connexion at large, by the Glasgow Normal Seminary, now under the direction of the Free Church of Scotland. But the arrangement to which they have hitherto adhered, in the Training of their Teachers at that Seminary, although in their judgement the best which their circumstances, has not been without its disadvantages, both to themselves and to their candidates… They have, therefore, from the beginning, had recourse to it, simply as an expedient pro tempore, and with a constantly augmenting desire and hope that, at some early period, they would find themselves in circumstances to establish and support a Training Institution of their own.’[footnote]WEC Ninth Report, 1847[/footnote]
Stow’s influence on the Committee’s thinking, both directly through visits and letters and indirectly through students, was considerable. In 1842, the senior Secretary of the Committee had visited Glasgow ‘in order to gain a more comprehensive and complete view of the working of the institution’.[footnote]WEC Fifth Report, 1842.[/footnote]
On July 8th, 1850 the first of five model schools was opened. Mr William Sugden [footnote]For a list of staff who were trained at Glasgow see the appropriate drop-down menu.[/footnote]
was temporarily put in charge until his appointment as head master the following year. On September 2nd, the Infant Practising School (note the change in terminology) was opened under Mr John Langler and Miss Sarah Goble, and the Junior Practising school, under Mr West. The following year the remaining two schools, the Senior Practising School (under Mr Kinton) and the Industrial School for Females, (under Mrs Rodgers) were opened on July 14th and October 6th respectively. With the five schools functioning, the Committee was ready to inaugurate the Westminster Training College with ten students – eight men and two women – on 6th October 1851. Almost all the staff had been trained at the Glasgow and/or the Free Church Normal Seminary. So dependent was the Free Church College on the Wesleyan students that, with typical astuteness, on 4th March 1850, Stow suggested that a sub-committee should be set up to ‘consider the effect upon our Seminary of the establishment of the Wesleyan Normal College at Westminster’ the following year. He need not have worried. The college report for 1861 notes that the total number of students in the college was 168 of which the Wesleyans, with 27 students, comprised 16%. After the Free Church United Presbyterians, the Wesleyans remained the next largest group.[footnote]FCTC Minutes, 7th January 1861.[/footnote]
The continuing influence of ‘The Training System’
While 1851 marks the parting of the ways between the Glasgow and Westminster Colleges, the influence of Stow’s ‘Training System’ was to continue. The Wesleyans adopted the system in their college and, of course, trained teachers continued to follow its methods in the schools already established. Many became models for others in the same town: in 1844, for example, the Committee recorded that in Retford ‘it was resolved to admit, under certain regulations, persons of religious character as Students for the purpose of being qualified for becoming Trainers in other schools; since then 15 persons have been trained, twelve of whom are now filling situations in respectable and important Wesleyan day Schools’.[footnote]Letter from Retford to WEC, 21st March, 1844.[/footnote]
Teachers also moved, taking their pedagogical preferences with them. The teacher at the school at Avebury, for example, once taught at Penkridge.[footnote]Wiltshire Archive Service, record of Avebury School.[/footnote]
Letters from the schools were included as appendices to the Committee minutes: references to playgrounds and galleries are a helpful indication that the teacher was trained in ‘The System’.[footnote]schools at Barton-upon-Humber, Hull, Walsall, Nantwich, Penkridge. WEC Report 1844.[/footnote]The letters selected for inclusion by the Committee are, predictably, effusive in their praise: ‘unbounded satisfaction’; ‘the plan is so certain’, ‘excellent arrangements of the school’, ‘a very efficient teacher’, ‘the highest encomiums from visitors’.[footnote]Report on Leeds First School, WEC, 1843.[/footnote]
Initially, however, the Gallery attracted criticism as a ‘peculiarly odd system’ partly on grounds of cost but also methodology.[footnote]Letter from Hull to the WEC, 1844.[/footnote]
The Agent, Mr Armstrong, also sent in regular reports of the schools visited. He was a hard-working, efficient and perceptive inspector, not averse to giving either detailed praise or criticism. On observing provision for the Infant and Juvenile schools in Bilston (Wolverhampton), for example, he writes succinctly ‘The arrangement is bad and decidedly injurious to both schools’. As was to be expected, he supported the Biblical basis of instruction and practice. On the whole, he approved of ‘the practical and well-adapted methods of address and explanation, by which, according to the principles of the system, instruction is made interesting, as well as easily intelligible, to all classes of the children.[footnote]WEC Tenth Annual Report 1848.[/footnote]
He comments on the use of eye contact and facial and body gestures, of tact and skill, of communication strategies, of securing attention and satisfying understanding, all of which may be summed up in his phrase ‘aptness to teach’. He was also impressed by Stow’s co-educational theories: ‘So far as schools of this kind have fallen under my observation, the advantages contended for by Mr Stow are very apparent, where full and unprejudiced application of the principle has been made’.[footnote]Ibid[/footnote]
Inevitably, some provision for girls was provided by the teacher’s wife or sister, or a committee of ladies or a ‘worthy matron’. Where this limited provision to needlework, he comments ‘Valuable as is the art of the needle, and indeed essential to the poor in its applications for the mending and making of garments, it can never compensate for the loss of some of the necessary branches of instruction, preceding even the elements of arithmetic; from which, for want of better arrangement, the girls are practically debarred. It cannot be regarded otherwise than with regret, that so much time should be wasted in some schools on the mere amusements of ‘Fancy Work’’.[footnote]Inspector’s Report appended to the WEC Tenth Annual Report, 1848.[/footnote]
Teachers who still claimed that Stow’s ‘sympathy of numbers’ was an inadequate strategy for controlling large numbers of children provoked a moving comment ‘The time, I trust, is at hand, when every teacher will believe, and act on the belief, that singing in a School is better than crying, and that to win the heart is a far readier and more effectual mode of securing instruction than to wheal the skin of the children’.[footnote]WEC Seventh Annual Report, 1845.[/footnote]
He delights in hard work, good intentions and eagerness: ‘the master is an enthusiast in his work, and heartily loves the system he has learned’.[footnote]Report on Nantwich, 1846.[/footnote]
He clearly enjoys recording that the children respect the playground apparatus, flowers and flower borders and even the odd pear tree ‘much to the wonder and admiration of the neighbourhood’. He condemns the practice of providing a wider curriculum for children whose parents can afford it.
However amendments were suggested as early as 1846. One was to raise the standard of teachers by doubling the length of the course. This was a bold move, since the cost was also doubled, but by 1848 the Committee were able to report that ‘in accordance with the conviction so expressed, the Directors of the Glasgow Normal Seminary have, in the course of the last year, passed a Resolution, to the effect that no student shall in future be admitted to the Institution except on the condition of his being engaged to continue under training for a period of at least twelve months’.[footnote]ibid. Interestingly, the Eleventh Annual Report records that ‘During the prevalence of the late terrible epidemic, much illness prevailed among the students in the Seminary – and the course of their training was so seriously interrupted by this visitation, that the Committee were obliged in several cases, to extend the period of training beyond the prescribed term of twelve months.’[/footnote]
One upshot was the award of Certificates of Merit, by the Scottish Inspector John Gibson, a development encouraged by the Committee. Of the forty-three students trained that year, fifteen passed with Credit. Another suggestion was that prospective students should gain experience in schools prior to training, partly to discard unsuitable candidates and partly to give them a deeper understanding of their future studies.[footnote]WEC Eighth Report, 1846 and Letter from Burslem to WEC, June 25th, 1844.
The standard of teaching – and particularly of discipline – remained a problem. Although Armstrong had reservations about the monitorial system, he accepted that teaching very large numbers of children militated against effective differentiated provision and good relationships. In view of the introduction of the Pupil-teacher system by the Privy Council in 1846, it is interesting that the first mention of pupil teachers in his Reports is at Audley School, Newcastle-under-line, where three pupil teachers had been appointed.[footnote]WEC Tenth Report, 1848.[/footnote]
There is an affectionate footnote to Stow’s relationship with the Wesleyan Church. When the staff and students of the Free Church Training College gathered to present him with a bust to commemorate his achievement, H. Armstrong, the inspector of the Wesleyan Schools in England was asked to make the presentation and travelled from London for this express purpose. It was a fitting recognition of their mutual regard.
- The Training System, 6th Edition (1845), p. 391.
- Westminster Institute of Education, formerly Westminster College, was founded in 1851 on a very restricted site in Horseferry Road, London. The college had been planning to move out of London since the 1920s and when the site was severely damaged by an incendiary bomb during the blitz of early World War II, rebuilding became essential. The college was relocated to Oxford in 1959. Oxford Brookes University’ School of Education, merged with Westminster College in 2000 founding Oxford Brookes University, Westminster Institute of Education.
- This is a replica of the actual statue, by John F. Matthews (1920 -1995), which stands in the nearby garden.
- Article on ‘Infant Schools’ contributed by Stow to Cleland’s Enumeration of the Inhabitants of the City of Glasgow and County of Lanark, 2nd ed., 1832. The ‘affectionate teachers’ were Mr and Mrs David Caughie.
- In the 1740s, Wesley opened a school in the Foundry, London, where the first meeting of the Methodist Society was held. This was followed by Kingswood, near Bath, opened in 1748 and designed for the children of John Wesley’s friends, both boys and girls. It was a small school catering for about fifty children, and was soon restricted to boys only, initially the sons of Methodist preachers and leaders. The Orphan House in Northumberland Street, Newcastle served as an important early Methodist Centre and school and Philip Doddridge’s Dissenter’s Academy in Northampton was active for the latter part of the century but mainly for the training of ministers. Such provision was obviously meagre and a Report presented to the Methodist Conference of 1837 acknowledged that ‘some plan should be devised about retaining and educating children born into Methodism’.
- Rack, Henry D. (2004-2008) ‘John Wesley (1703-1791) Church of England clergyman and founder of Methodism’ in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004-2008.
- Hempton, David N. (1979) ‘Wesleyan Methodism and Educational Politics in Early Nineteenth-Century England’ in History of Education, vol. 8, No. 3, pps. 207-221.
- The strident anti-Catholicism must be seen against a background of Irish immigration which, in exacerbating the rapid population increase, triggered urban and unemployment problems and contributed to the anti-Irish/Catholic antagonism among the indigenous Scots and English. It was an inevitable upshot of industrialization that Methodism generally expanded in the very areas which also attracted the Irish workers. And it is a feature of nonconformity that those who wish the support, not least financially, of their congregations should not upset them.
- Helstone, February 17th 1844, quoted in the Wesleyan Education Committee minutes, Sixth Annual Report, 1844.
- Excluding, at this stage, Methodists, who concluded that ‘party interests and petty considerations should not hinder so great an object’ By 1839, however, they were objecting to state-aid if it meant that Roman Catholics and Protestant ‘heretics’ were included. Quoted Hempton, (1979) op cit.
- William Atherton, Samuel Jackson and Richard Treffry.
- The Methodist Committee of Privileges, set up in 1803, already existed to protect Methodist political rights.
- Hempton, (1979) op cit. p. 212.
- Graham to Brougham (24 October 1841), in C. S. Parker. (1907) Life and Letters of Sir James Graham London: John Murray, quoted Hempton, (1979) op cit.
- There is a discrepancy in the records in that the Report for 1840 states that there were no appropriate candidates; and that for 1841, that the first six candidates had been sent to the Glasgow Normal Seminary. However, according to Houseman (1938), a tablet in the college in Horseferry Road recorded ‘July 1837, Wesleyan Education Committee formed. 1839. Two students sent for training to Glasgow, two to Borough Road.’ If these students were eventually accepted for training in 1839, the Reports do not record them.
- This is an assumption. The Report actually states ‘all passed under previous examination in London’ but since the system was that candidates should be attested as to their moral and religious suitability by the preachers in the circuit this is probably what is referred to.
- Wesleyan Education Committee (WEC) Third Annual Report (1841). For information about the first students see Appendix 14/1.
- Houseman, op cit, Chapter 15, p. 263.
- WEC Fifth Report (1842) ‘To gain for the service of the Committee several able Teachers belonging to our Society, who were completing their studies at their own expense, though needing partial aid; and for whose valuable labours providential openings immediately appeared.
- ‘During the last few years the number trained belonging to this denomination is 265, nearly all of whom are actively employed as trainers throughout England. Stow. (1847) National Education, op cit, p. 55; digitised version, p. 31.
- The Training System, 8thedition, 1850, p. 349.
- Stow’s response to his presentation, Scottish Guardian, 6th May 1851.
- ‘During the eight or nine years previous to the opening of (The Wesleyan Normal Seminary), WEC supported students male and female – in all 442; Stow. (1859) The Training System 11th ed., p. 540.
- WEC Third Report, op cit, 1836 p.7
- Pritchard, F. C. (1951) The story of the Westminster College 1851 -1951, London, the Epworth Press.
- WEC Sixth Annual Report, (1844).
- WEC Fourth Annual Report, (1842).
- WEC Seventh Annual Report, (1845).
- 146 over the relevant period of 1844-6.
- Indeed, the figure was not finally achieved until 1870 when the Wesleyans had 743 schools, see Smith (1998) op cit, Appendix A. A list of the schools where teachers trained at the Glasgow and Free Church Normal Seminaries were appointed, as recorded in the Wesleyan Education Committee reports, is included at Appendix 14/3 and the names, currently known, of the teachers at Appendix 14/5.
- Hempton. (1979) op cit, p. 220.
- WEC Ninth Report, 1847
- WEC Fifth Report, 1842.
- For a list of staff who were trained at Glasgow see Appendix 14/9.
- FCTC Minutes, 7th January 1861.
- Letter from Retford to WEC, 21st March, 1844.
- Wiltshire Archive Service, record of Avebury School.
- Cf. schools at Barton-upon-Humber, Hull, Walsall, Nantwich, Penkridge. WEC Report 1844.
- Report on Leeds First School, WEC, 1843.
- Letter from Hull to the WEC, 1844.
- WEC Tenth Annual Report 1848.
- Inspector’s Report appended to the WEC Tenth Annual Report, 1848.
- WEC Seventh Annual Report, 1845.
- Report on Nantwich, 1846.
- ibid. Interestingly, the Eleventh Annual Report records that ‘During the prevalence of the late terrible epidemic, much illness prevailed among the students in the Seminary – and the course of their training was so seriously interrupted by this visitation, that the Committee were obliged in several cases, to extend the period of training beyond the prescribed term of twelve months.’
- WEC Eighth Report, 1846 and Letter from Burslem to WEC, June 25th, 1844.
- WEC Tenth Report, 1848.