Pupil Teachers and Their Professional Training in Pupil-Teacher Centres in England and Wales, 1870-1914

Author: Robinson, Wendy
Based on new detailed archive and documentary analysis and upon the results of an extensive national survey, this study recovers the phenomenon of the late 19th- and early 20th-century pupil-teacher centre from neglect or misrepresentation. Traditionally, the decline of pupil-teaching and the corresponding rise of an exclusively college-based system has been celebrated as a progressive move. This study contends that this straightforward dichotomous picture is misleading. A fundamental re-evaluation of the later phase of the pupil-teacher era, when preparation was largely given in specialized pupil-teacher centres, helps rectify this distortion.


“. . . clearly and confidently organized, vigorously argued and written in an exemplary style, at once incisive, unpretentious and powerful. . . . the range and extent of her documentary and archive investigations were formidable and exhaustive. . . . This is a historical endeavour of major academic significance, representing a contribution to scholarly knowledge which demands that our existing understanding of the pupil-teacher center be entirely re-worked. . . . . a very important and highly influential book which will ultimately change the way in which we perceive the history of teacher training at a key moment in its history.” – Philip W. Gardner, University of Cambridge

“. . . Robinson. . . is fast becoming one of the really significant historians of education in Britain with much to say that is of relevance for contemporary debates on education. . . . The issues she raises . . . are worthy of much wider dissemination, since they inform our present unease concerning the form which teacher education should take in future.” – Roy Lowe, University of Wales, Swansea

“This is a gem of a book, scholarly and well-written…. Where this book makes such a contribution is in creating databases of pupil-teachers and of pupil-teacher centers both of which will be of immense value to future researchers. (The range and quantity of references is impressive.) For this alone Wendy Robinson should be congratulated. However, there is a great deal more than this. There are balanced accounts of the academic and professional practice education of pupil-teachers as this developed over time, and of the changing circumstances which saw the rapid and deliberate dismantling of a form of education which had proved valuable in the social mobility of working class pupils, girls in particular….Robinson teases out the multifaceted issues of social class, gender and the sometimes contradictory concurrent status of pupil and teacher. Here, better than anywhere else in the book, the voice of the pupil-teachers themselves and of their teachers comes through most clearly. The book is very readable - its audience could encompass historians of education as well as those interested in the current debates about how best to educate our teachers today.” – Mary I. Fuller, University of Gloucestershire

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings):
Preface; Introduction
1. Pupil-Teacher Centres in their Historical Context
2. Pupil-Teacher Centres at Work
3. Teachers in the Pupil-Teacher Centres: Careers and Professional Development
4. Professional Training under the Pupil-Teacher Centre Model
5. Pupil-Teacher Centres and their Academic Contribution
6. Pupil Teachers and Professional Identity: Conflict, Duality and Coherence
7. Independent Pupil-Teacher Centres: Defence and Decline 1900-1910
Appendices: Centre Locations in England and Wales Identified in this Study; Parental Occupations of Pupil-Teachers
Bibliography; Index