The Teacher is 140
Happy birthday!This year The Teacher celebrates its 140th birthday. NUT Information Officers Janet Friedlander and Kate Burry take us back to the beginning.
In 1871, the second NUT annual conference resolved to publish a weekly newspaper in which matters could be “raised and discussed”. The Schoolmaster: Educational Newspaper and Review was established in 1872.
Despite the many changes to the teaching profession over the last 140 years, the same issues crop up time and again – salaries, security of tenure, comprehensive education and pensions.
Articles on school curriculum subjects featured regularly, as well as pieces on the British Empire, China and the USA. We also published Teachers’ Certificate and Queen’s Scholarship results.
The very first issue in January 1872 concerned itself with the need for a pension scheme. Its front cover, however, focused on advertising educational books such as Elementary Astronomy and A Complete Manual of Spelling.
In 1925 the newspaper became The Schoolmaster and Women Teacher’s Chronicle until 1962 when The Teacher was born.
Local Associations contributed regularly. A report of the 1890 annual meeting of the Grimsby Association describes how it ended with songs, readings, recitations, a short play and dancing. Teachers wrote about their holidays, including one teacher’s first trip to Chicago in 1893.
As a weekly publication, it was possible to report news. In January 1901, The Schoolmaster – The Organ of the NUT, price 1d, marked the death of Queen Victoria with a front page wreathed in black and the headline ‘The Life and Times of Victoria the good’.
In August 1939 we reported how “nearly 100,000 London mothers and fathers responded to the Ministry of Health’s appeal by visiting schools during the week-end to secure advice concerning the evacuation rehearsal. Headmasters with their entire staffs remained on duty from 8.30am to 6pm”.
Throughout WWII we advised readers on growing food in school gardens, though by 1945 writer CH Copley was able to write about growing roses instead. Articles on school gardens continued until the early 1960s, including one in 1962 on keeping goats at school.
When Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon in July 1969, we noted “it was necessary to persuade oneself intellectually that the shadowy figures peculiarly putting one foot before the other were indeed men, and the scene was indeed the surface of the moon”.
Though never much concerned with celebrity, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were front cover stars in 1969, attending an exhibition of paintings by sacked staff at Guildford School of Art.
The NUT has long used its publications to lobby politicians, yet in 1972 one Education Secretary managed to say something positive about The Teacher. Attending its 100th birthday dinner as guest of honour, Margaret Thatcher endorsed it as a “pioneer of educational journalism. Since the beginnings of our public education system it has provided a forum for teachers and others involved in education”.