8 Nov 1877

Univ College - Cambridge

Dear Mr. Vice Chancellor,

Will you do me the favor of looking at the enclosed prospects of the Teachers Training & Registration Society, of which I am chairman?

We are now on the point of electing a Principal (I believe the election will take place tomorrow), and even though we have not yet received from the University a promise to examine and give diplomas attesting, the qualifications of teachers, yet we already have several applications for admission to our proposed college. As soon as the University takes up the matter, we shall have numerous applications.

I need scarcely point out how pressing is the need for teachers just now. More than twenty High Schools for girls have sprung into existence during the last three or four years; and they are now crowded with pupils. One near my house in St. John's Wood began Easter 1876; and now it is already over-crowded, having I believe nearly 200 pupils; and another similar school in the same district is already being started.

But the ladies who came forward to fill the many vacant this created, having had positively no training for the work of teaching -- not even that indirect training which a boy gets at a Public School, where from his work as monitor he gains some notions about ruling, and from his work in the VIth form he often gets some notions about teaching. Many, perhaps most, of our new teachers, have never been trained in a large school; nor has their intellectual training and testing been so thorough -- as that of their brothers. For new reasons it seems very desirable to afford to intending teachers in girls schools, some opportunity of being trained for their work. Most school masters believe that this is imperatively wanted for men; but all agree that it is far more needful for women.

May I therefore be pardoned for offering a suggestion? Some months ago our Society sent you a Memorial which received from you a courteous reply. But it has occurred to me that these might perhaps cut the many resident members of the University who would have such an experience of the training of teachers as what make it a matter of ease to draw out such a scheme for the examination of teachers, of such a nature as would justify the University in giving diplomas on examinations. Now we have on our Council an old Cambridge man, well known, I dare say, both to you and to most others in the Council for his distinguished degree at Cambridge as well as for his picture as Her Majesty's Inspector of Training Colleges -- Might the Council feel itself justified in asking Mr. T. W. Sharpe to draw out a scheme for their considerations? In this way, the Council would commit itself to nothing; yet the matter would be matured for their consideration and they would have before them something definite to reject or to modify, or to approve. If the Council preferred (instead of mentioning Mr. Sharpe by name) to request our Council to draw up the scheme, Mr. Sharpe has kindly promised to do it -- so that the result would be the same.

I am, Dear Mr. Vice Chancellor,

Very faithfully yours,

Edwin A. Abbott