Winslow Pupil Teachers' Centre (1904-7)

By Ed Grimsdale

At the start of the 20th century, the government felt it was necessary to standardise the education of teachers across England. In 1903, it decided to issue guidance that the minimum of age for putative pupil teachers must be 16, that they should be "apprenticed" for two years, and that only half of their learning should be at the "chalkface", the rest of their time must be spent at a denoted "pupil teachers’ centre", either attached to a Secondary School, or elsewhere. Bucks needed about 100 new (replacement) teachers per year but in 1904 there were only 23 boys and 112 girls in situ, and these, being in the main young, would not come on stream immediately, would need educating until they were 16, and thereafter would require both financial support and new pupil teachers’ centres. Bucks County Council faced a crisis, particularly as the maintenance grants offered by the Board of Education were deemed to be insufficient. For the first time in its history B.C.C. sanctioned a rate for "higher education". There were only two girls’ secondary schools in Bucks under public control, and these were considered inadequately housed, so it was considered impossible to arrange for female pupil teachers to be admitted to them. The "County" decided to establish Pupil Teachers’ Centres at five locations:

  1. Aylesbury: Co-operative Hall
  2. Chesham: Zion Baptist Schoolroom
  3. High Wycombe: Wesley Schoolroom
  4. Newport Pagnell: Town Hall

They were created, in the first instance, for two years with the pupil teachers alternating: 1 week in school, & 1 week at their “Centre”.

What do we know of Winslow’s Centre?

From the Bucks Herald, 17 Sep 1904

The Higher Education Sub-Committee reported that pupil teacher centres were opened on the 5th September at … Winslow, Odd-Fellows’ Hall … [to which it had] appointed Miss Ethel A. Aveyard, B.Sc. at a salary of £150 per annum.

Miss Aveyard was given £10 to spend on "science equipment".

From the Bucks Herald, 14 Oct 1905

The students of the Pupil Teachers’ Centre at Winslow held a tea party and conversazione in the Odd Fellows’ Hall on Saturday afternoon and evening, a most enjoyable time being spent.

That same year a threat to the future of the Winslow Centre arose: a new mixed senior school for North Bucks. The County Council initially favoured building a new, mixed school for the decrepit Royal Latin (Boys’) School in Buckingham, the Verney family and others were backing a fresh school – one suggestion was that it should be built in verdant countryside at Verney Junction. The arguments were long and bitter ones. Eventually, it was decided that the Royal Latin School would be rebuilt in Chandos Road, Buckingham and would be given an annual support grant of £250 to be the Pupil Teachers’ Centre for putative teachers of both sexes in North Bucks. A condition was attached by the Bucks Higher Education Committee: "that the teacher who should be the mistress of that centre [at Winslow] at the time of such transference, should also be transferred, and should receive a salary of not less than £150 per annum".

(In 1906, the WINSLOW GUARDIANS sent a resolution to the County’s Education Committee protesting against the payment of railway fares and the allowance of £4 towards the bicycle hire of pupils attending the various pupil teachers’ centres around the County.)

The Royal Latin School moved into its new buildings in September 1907. Amongst its enhanced staffing was Miss Ethel Aveyard. She taught English French, Domestic Science and Needlework, as well as looking after the pupil teachers. Miss Aveyard left the Latin School in 1912 to get married. The Winslow Pupil Teachers’ Centre had lasted just three years.