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NewsDesk: Teaching a new generation the art of Pottery

Clay College, Stoke, offers a skills-based, full-time ceramics course taught by potters who make a living through ceramics, something unique in the UK. We are proposing that from September 2017, a two-year full-time course will be run for 14 students, with each year consisting of three 15-week terms.

The emphasis will be on core skills and the use of materials. Students will be taught all aspects of design, throwing, glazing, kiln building and firing, alongside traditional hand building and decoration techniques. This will be augmented by modules focusing on business and marketing which will offer students the opportunity to become self-sufficient, developing their own business model to suit their work and sufficiently skilled to join a work force in a production pottery…

To Read More Visit Clay College – Teaching a new generation the art of Pottery

Stoke-on-Trent is proud of its heritage

A Mark IX Spitfire

People from Stoke-on-Trent are proud of their city’s heritage.

History records the achievements of men and women from our city and tells us the role they played on the world stage.

Stoke-on-Trent’s city council was one of the pioneers of comprehensive education. It defied both Conservative and Labour governments and replaced grammar and secondary modern schools with neighbourhood comprehensive schools and a sixth form college.

Local art schools, technical schools and colleges of further education were progressive centres of excellence. Reginald Mitchell, who designed the Spitfire, turned down a place at Birmingham University. He wanted to serve an apprenticeship with a firm in Fenton and to study engineering at technical schools in the city.

By the beginning of the 1930s, the North Staffordshire Technical College was a university in everything but name. The college had an international reputation and attracted overseas students. It possessed the world’s leading ceramic research centre and had Europe’s best mining school.

There are those who say the past is dead. They are wrong. The past lives in our collective memory. It makes us what we are today. Stoke-on-Trent has a proud heritage – a heritage which must not be forgotten. A city that forgets its past is a city without a future.

(Photograph of the Spitfire taken by Chowells, Edited by Fir0002)

Stoke-on-Trent’s First Art Schools

Great Exhibition Crystal_Palace_interior (640x436)

Stoke-on-Trent’s first art school, The Potteries School of Design, was opened on January 25th, 1847. It held evening classes in Hanley, Stoke and Longton. Students were taught elementary drawing, basic design, freehand painting and modelling.

The school’s first headmaster, John Murdock, and his successor, John Charles Robinson, made it a centre of excellence. Students won national prizes and were awarded scholarships enabling them to continue their studies at the Government School of Design in London.

During 1851, pottery designed by students from North Staffordshire was exhibited at the Great Exhibition, held at the Crystal Palace* in Hyde Park. Their designs impressed Prince Albert who had helped to organise the exhibition. He persuaded the government to devise a scheme to build a regional College of Art and Technology in Hanley which would have university status and branch schools in Tunstall, Burslem, Longton and Newcastle-under-Lyme.

The government’s proposal to build a regional college in Hanley was made public at a meeting held at the Wesleyan School in Burslem on January 19th, 1853.

During the meeting, Smith Child, who was North Staffordshire’s most generous philanthropist, and leading pottery manufacturer Herbert Minton offered to help finance the college. The scheme was rejected by civic leaders and pottery manufacturers who wanted each town to have its own art school. Prince Albert’s attempt to bring higher education to The Potteries had failed.

Shortly afterwards, small design schools were established in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Burslem.

Monthly fees for students attending classes at the Burslem school were 1/9d (9p) for men and 1/6d (7.5p) for women. The school’s headmaster was William Jabez Mückley, an artist whose work had been exhibited at the Royal Academy. It held classes in the assembly room at the Legs of Man, an old coaching inn frequented by thieves and prostitutes. Despite the venue, William was a popular teacher who attracted and retained students. Although the school gave Burslem well-trained pottery designers and skilled crafts persons, local firms refused to help it find more suitable premises.

The school closed when William left Burslem in 1858.

*The illustration shows The Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust, September 2010

DM/BC 2017

Teacher training in the 19th century

Until school boards were established by the Education Act 1870, no state provision was made for the education of working-class children.

What little education they received had to be paid for, although there were a few free places reserved for them in the grammar schools at Leek, Newchapel, Stafford, Stone and Uttoxeter.

At the end of the 17th century, Newcastle-under-Lyme had a grammar school, where 39 boys were educated free of charge, and a municipal dame school with free places for up to 20 girls.

Joseph_Lancaster_by_John_Hazlitt

Joseph Lancaster

In 1808, nonconformist educationalist Joseph Lancaster founded the British and Foreign Schools Society to give financial help to free churches who were building day schools at home and missionary schools overseas. Fearing that the British Schools would monopolise elementary education in the new industrial towns, the Church of England set up the National Society for the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church throughout England and Wales.

During 1814, the National Society opened its first school in North Staffordshire at Chesterton, and the first British School in The Potteries was erected in Burslem by the Wesleyans. The parish church, St. John’s, opened a National School there in 1817 and by 1822 the Roman Catholic Church had built a school at Cobridge.

Many teachers were not well educated or properly trained. Pupils who wanted to become teachers stayed at school until their early teens and became apprentice teachers. Called monitors, the apprentices were trained by the headteacher and allowed to teach younger pupils. After a few years, monitors who had successfully completed their training and could maintain discipline were employed as assistant teachers at the school where they had been trained.

During 1846, the government made regulations governing teacher training. Under these rules, boys and girls who had stayed at school until they were 13 could be appointed pupil teachers. Each school was allowed to employ one pupil teacher for every 25 scholars.

Pupil teachers were apprenticed to the headteacher for five years. Every year they were examined by the school inspectors. When their apprenticeship ended, pupil teachers took the Queen’s Scholarship examination.

Those who passed with the highest marks were given a grant which enabled them to go to a teacher training college and become fully qualified certificated teachers. Other pupils who passed were offered employment as assistant teachers. Only certificated teachers could obtain headships. The others remained assistant teachers throughout their careers. Many stayed at the schools where they had been educated, teaching there until they retired.

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2013

PH/BC

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