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International Centre for Historical Research in Education


International Centre for Historical Research in Education (ICHRE) at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) is a leading centre for historical research into education



ICHRE Summer Conference

15 June 2023, 10-5pm

Object Based Learning Lab (Old Refectory), Wilkins Building, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

ICHRE is delighted to invite you to hear about the latest research in the history of education at our 9th summer conference. The conference is organised by Professor Gary McCulloch and Professor Tom Woodin and supported by IOE’s Department of Education, Practice and Society.

To attend in person (recommended) please register for a free ticket here ICHRE 2023 Summer Conference Tickets, Thu 15 Jun 2023 at 10:00 | Eventbrite

If you would like to follow the talks online, please register for a free online ticket here: ONLINE: ICHRE 2023 Tickets, Wed 28 Jun 2023 at 10:00 | Eventbrite


Provisional Programme

(please note this may be subject to last minute changes)

10.00: Registration (tea and coffee will be served in the North Cloisters, outside the Object Based Learning Lab)

Delegates are invited to view student projects from The Worlds of UCL module in the Object Based Learning Lab from 10-10.30am. You can read more about this module here The Worlds of UCL: teaching, learning and institutional histories – UCL Press (scienceopen.com)

10.30: Introduction: Professor Gary McCulloch

10.40: Panel – Exploring diverse student histories across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Chair: Dr Sam Blaxland (UCL)

This panel brings together a series of papers that all explore aspects of the social and political organisation of university students in London and the wider UK during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The panel is intended to showcase new research by scholars at different career stages, and to focus a diverse range of student identities in the past.

1. UCL’s role in expanding education and accessibility in the 19th Century, Dr Felicity Griffiths

In the early 1820s only wealthy, male Anglicans could attend an English university. UCL changed all that.

Felicity Griffiths completed her PhD in UCL’s Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies in 2019. She was called to the bar in 1978 and worked as a legal advisor in consumer affairs, until giving up in 1983 to have a family, returning to study in 2000.

2. Chinese students in the UK and associational culture, c. 1911–1935, Dr Jenny Bond and Professor Georgina Brewis (UCL)

Drawing on previously neglected student-produced journals and other sources, this paper discusses the rich associational culture formed by Chinese students in the UK in the early twentieth century.

Jenny Bond is Lecturer at UCL and Georgina Brewis is Professor of Social History at UCL, both based in the International Centre for Historical Research in Education.

3. Queer student political and social organization at UCL and LSE in the 1970s, Molly Edwards (UCL)

This paper explores the varied ways in which queer students organised politically and socially at LSE and UCL in the 1970s, examining university reactions to this activism and advocacy and exploring what impact such activism had on the university experiences of individual students.

Molly Edwards has just completed their BA Education Studies at UCL and takes up a 1+3 ESRC scholarship at the University of Oxford from October. This paper draws on research for their undergraduate dissertation comparing Queer students at UCL and LSE.

11.50am Short break

12.00pm Panel: International texts and literacies

1. History of Education as Digital History: the use of Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technologies in the study of the Normal School of Lleida during the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1936), Meritxell Simon-Martin (Lleida University, Spain)

This paper explores the potential of incorporating Digital Humanities methods and approaches into a History of Education investigation. The historical examination focuses on the progressive Teacher Education public examinations the Spanish Republican Government devised in the early 1930s: the so-called “cursillos de selección profesional” (“cursillos” hereafter). The paper describes the use of Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technologies as applied to the manuscripts we examine in our Lleida-city case study: the autobiographical assessment essays written by teachers-in-training (named “cursillistas”) at the Lleida Normal School in 1932. The goal is to show the extent to which computational tools can turn a History of Education enquiry into a work-in-progress Digital History project. To do so, this paper focuses on describing our experience using Transkribus – a European Commission-funded platform for the automated recognition of historical documents. Our engagement with this machine learning software reveals the advantages (and difficulties) of incorporating this Digital Humanities tool for the study of (1) how the Normal School of Lleida implemented, and (2) how its “cursillistas” experienced, the “cursillos” decreed by the Republican Government from 1931 onwards. Based on the work-in-progress conclusions derived from our current conversion of scanned images of our manuscripts into machine-encoded text, this paper identifies the potentialities (and pitfalls) of HTR for a “history of e-education” (Ruyskensvelde 2014).

2. Historicising ‘Long-Term Absentees’ in Japan: A Sociological Reflection on the Dominant Discourses of Absenteeism in Post-War Compulsory Education, Dr Jiro Morita, Affiliate Academic, UCL IOE, Chukyo University, Japan

As the number of long-term school absentees has increased in Japan since the 1990s, guaranteeing their rights to education has become a key policy issue from the perspective of social inclusion and social justice. The dominant trend in Japan has long been to stigmatise non-attendance at school as ‘problematic behaviour’ and to regard its causes as deriving from individual character and mental shortcomings. This poses a number of challenges for researchers. Looking back at Japan’s post-war history, the representations of long-term absence from school reveal great diversity according to the period and the narrator’s perspective. This presentation will examine the transformation of the discourse regarding long-term absentees in post-war compulsory education in Japan from a historical sociological perspective. Specifically, I will analyse the changes in dominant and counter-discourses on ‘children who do not or cannot go to school’, based on the long-term absence rates recorded by the national government in surveys since the 1950s (currently more than 30 days per year and more than 50 days before 1990) and in the light of findings from previous literature. In doing so, I examine how the images of these children differ depending on the position of stakeholders such as the Ministry of Education, doctors, social workers, parents, alternative school teachers (‘truancy’, ‘school phobia’, ‘school refusal’, ‘school non-attendance’, and ‘school non-attendance elites’), as well as changes in socio-economic conditions.

3. From Right to Read to Access for All: exploring the sgnificant factors in the relationship between adult literacy education and the development of education for people with learning difficulties in England 1970-2010, Judith Rose (research student, UCL).

My study investigates the historical relationship between adult literacy education and education for people with learning difficulties in England between1970 and 2010. My findings reveal a close but tense relationship. Documentary evidence and personal accounts agree that many people with learning difficulties attended adult literacy education during the period and that it was a concern for practitioners involved. No previous academic study has focused on the subject. My research methods included interviews and documentary and archive research. In summary I suggest that an opportunity for people with learning difficulties to challenge social stereotypes and to take some control of their learning and identities was lost as adult literacy education increasingly focused on the aim of employability. I therefore challenge the convention that people with learning difficulties should follow a ‘special’ curriculum based on their ‘needs’ rather than their own interests.

13.00 Lunch

(Vouchers also for delegates to have lunch in UCL Wilkins Refectory; local market stalls also open for purchase where preferred)

14.00 Lecture: The Philip and Tacey 1930 Catalogue of the Montessori Didactic Material and new directions in Montessori historiography, Dr Maria Williams

This paper will focus on a gem from the Montessori collection in the Institute of Education library store, indicating the potential of the collection to contribute to new directions in Montessori historiography. The 44-page 1930 catalogue, annotated by Claude A. Claremont, was produced by Philip and Tacey. The first principle of Montessori’s Method was that children learn initially through the senses and then the intellect. Equipment that she designed for this process, was patented. Philip and Tacey were the sole manufacturers for Britain and the British Empire. The paper will consider how the catalogue facilitated implementation of the Method; the early adopters of the Method it identifies, and the role of Philip and Tacey in the global mobilisation of the Method. The catalogue will be cross-referenced with other primary sources from the library store and findings of recent Italian-language scholarship.

14.35 Panel: Short papers and discussion led by current international research students in the history of education

1. Bernard Crick and education for citizenship, Xiaoyu Wang (UCL)

Bernard Crick (1929-2008) was a British political theorist and public intellectual who was actively engaged in British politics from the second half of the 20th century. In 1997, Crick was nominated by his former student David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, to chair an Advisory Group to provide advice on teaching citizenship and democracy in schools. A year later, following the publication of the Crick Report, citizenship education was incorporated into the national curriculum as a compulsory subject for secondary schools in England. As a landmark in the history of promoting citizenship education in British society, this project seeks to undertake a qualitative case study with a mixed approach of archives and interviews to explore how Crick’s democratic ideals influenced his contributions to citizenship education and evaluate the emergence, development, and outcome of the Crick Report and its impacts on citizenship education in England.

2. A new approach to the origins of female education in East Asia (1814-1850), Min You (UCL)

In the course of gathering data for my study of female education in East Asia, the sources themselves provided evidence of three distinct phases. Previous studies have disregarded this development. This approach involved close reading of texts and analysis. The first phase was “experimental” in that individuals – mostly missionary wives (1814-1834)– tried a variety of approaches to teach girls in a haphazard manner. The second phase (1827-1835) was guided by the Lancastrian “British System” following a more structured plan. The third phase (1833-onward) was the most structured and relatively well-funded involving institutions such as boarding schools following more advanced pedagogical models, such as that devised by Pestalozzi. At each phase, the perceived failings of the previous approach tended to guide development of a later phase.

3. Internationalisation at home: Exploring students’ individual experience in an international branch campus, Wanwei Nie (UCL)

A vast network of transnational higher education (TNHE) that has extended over a long-time span and a vast geographical area. This research examines the extent to which, and in what ways, practices and daily experiences at the international branch campus (IBC) have shaped the transnational experience for individuals. Based on a historical case study of a UK TNHE institution in China, this study incorporates archives and interview to reveal students’ perceptions and understanding of learning in IBC based on their own experiences. Specifically, attempting to understand how the implementation of TNHE at home affects the educational experience of individuals, when the higher education institution is geologically ‘local’ but inherently a ‘foreign’ elite university. Concomitantly, the students’ experience as a microhistory of university could be seen as ‘a lens’ for studying the age and environment of a university, in which contribute to the inclusiveness of university history from a microhistory perspective by using students’ viewpoints.

4., Social Technocracy: Labour Party Intellectuals and Social Science in 20th Century Britain, Yuehanjiang (Azure) Bao (UCL)

This paper seeks to reveal changes in a facet of the intellectual outlook of the British Labour Party from Inter-War to Post-War contexts. I will look at three intellectuals, namely Hugh Gaitskell, Evan Durbin and Mark Abrams, whose epistemic outlooks represent shared, yet different, endeavours to understand society ‘scientifically’. All being proteges of Christian socialist R. H. Tawney, Gaitskell, Durbin and Abrams see social sciences as instrumental in understanding and solving social problems. Yet the epistemic sources that they use appeared to be different. Gaitskell and Durbin’s use of knowledge from Anthropology and Psychology to understand society in the Inter-War years will be compared with Abrams’ emphasis of using quantitative surveys to ‘solve’ social problems in Post-War context. Through critically engaging with primary sources and archival materials, I explicate how the Labour Party intellectuals fulfil their moral and political pursuits in their construction of social science knowledge.

15.40 Refreshments

16.00 Film screening: Restaging the past: the story of historical pageants introduced by Professor Mark Freeman

‘Redressing the Past’ is a 40-minute output from the follow-on phase AHRC-funded project ‘The Redress of the Past: Historical Pageants in Britain 1905-2016’ (https://historicalpageants.ac.uk). This is a partnership between UCL, King’s College London and the University of Edinburgh. The film tells the story of an important but often overlooked element of popular engagement with the past during the twentieth century, some traces of which linger today. The film has been produced in association with one of our project partners, the Windrose Rural Media Trust, and involves contributions from several other project partners, including the Axbridge Pageant Association, St Albans Museums and Trestle Theatre Company. It uses interviews, archive film and recent pageant footage to weave a story of how communities have shaped the ways in which they tell their histories.

16.50 Book launch: Changing Pedagogies for Children in Eighteenth-Century England, Professor Michèle Cohen

Using pedagogy as a lens through which to explore issues of gender, social class, power and hegemony, Cohen’s study makes a major new contribution to the study of education in eighteenth-century England. Through a detailed examination of contemporary methodologies, curricula, and practices this book brings together topics often treated separately: the education of boys and girls of the middling and the upper classes. Further, this study widens the scope of our definition of education to include the often-under-valued field of “accomplishments”. Indeed, Cohen shows that accomplishments were a formal part of male and female education, with carefully theorised pedagogies, challenging the enduring perception that these subjects were superficial. Subject specific chapters on Latin and geography pedagogies examine the relations between these subjects and the competitions which shaped and produced them. While Latin pedagogy dominated eighteenth-century education, geography, as a modern subject, had to develop a new normative pedagogy. Cohen shows that girls were not excluded from learning a science like geography, and that the contemporary perception of the inferiority of their education as opposed to that of boys was constructed as part of the classic vs. modern debate. Further, chapters on debates surrounding public and private education, the Grand Tour, and conversation show that pedagogy is the thread linking education, gender, social class and politics. This book will be essential reading for historians of education, childhood and gender.

Michèle Cohen is emeritus Professor of Humanities, Richmond, American International University in London, UK.

To order this book visit Changing Pedagogies for Children in Eighteenth-Century England (boydellandbrewer.com)

A drinks reception will take place in the North Cloisters