Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Why ?


I came across this little sampler coming up for AUCTION and wondered "WHY" her mother thought it necessary to certify the work of her daughter Alice Kate Duncum when she was aged 21.


"I hereby certify that the entire working of this Sampler is the sole, unaided work of Alice Kate Duncum, and that her age and address are correctly stated"

The note pinned to the back made me curious and a search of Ancestry revealed that in 1881 a year before the note was written Anna, the mother, was living at School House in Highfield, Southampton (as per note) and Kate was a resident teacher less than a mile away in a workhouse in South Stoneham.

I wonder if this small sampler was worked by Kate as a requirement to obtain a teaching qualification?


Note the little buttonholes and neat pleating worked all around it.


Another needlework item coming up for AUCTION is a Glasgow Provincial Committee needlework sample book belonging to Isabella Kerr, dated 1911.


Now this being a case of "WHAT" not "WHY" a search of google revealed that Glasgow Provincial Committe was a Teacher Training College.


The sampler book would have been compiled by Miss Kerr as part of her teacher training course. The examples shown are dated the month of July, the traditional final exam month. It would be very interesting to find out more.


Under the Education (Scotland) Act 1872 the control of schools in Scotland passed from heritors and kirk sessions to local School Boards, but the churches continued to be responsible for teacher training colleges. By the early 20th century there was a need to increase student numbers to train teachers for secondary schools and resposibility for  the Training Colleges passed to secular control. Four Provincial Committees, of which the Glasgow Provincial Training Colllege was one, were formed in January 1905.

The 1872 Education Act resulted in a huge demand for teachers, opening up a respectable means of becoming self-supporting in a key male profession for the daughters of skilled workers and the lower middle-class. In 1851, 65 per cent of Scottish teachers were male, 35 per cent female; but by 1911, the positions were reversed, with 30 per cent male and 70 per cent female. This feminisation of the teaching profession did not bring equality, reflected in shocking salary differentials. In the early 1900's the average female salary was scarcely half that of the male.

Male teachers used the argument that as women were not the main breadwinners in the family they did not deserve to be paid the same as men. Indeed, women teachers were forced to give up the profession on marriage; something not remedied until after the 2nd World War.


Teachers in the elementary schools worked extremely hard for their salaries. With class sizes in poorer areas of around seventy, the problem of maintaining discipline was immense and led to the extensive use of the tawse - a heavy leather strap.


The 'tawse' was often hung on the classroom wall or on the teacher's desk, as a clear visual reminder to pupils. Lochgelly, in Fife, produced about three-quarters of all the tawses used and the belt was often simply referred to as 'The Lochgelly.'

Classrooms were often cold and the learning regime tended to inhibit self-expression in favour of repeating the received wisdom of the teacher. In schools it was written that there 'should be sustained quietness and instantaneous obedience'.

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