8 – First Register of women students at Borough Road College, 1806

Discovery Trail 8 (Eastern Gateway Building Display Cabinets, University Archives)

8 Archives 4A

This register was the very first register of the female “trainee teachers” at Borough Road College (Brunel’s former Osterley campus), one of the first teacher training colleges in the UK. It shows that women were being trained alongside men from the very start.

The male and female trainee teachers were taught together at Borough Road until 1814 when a separate Women’s Section was formed under Ann Springman, who herself had been trained under Joseph Lancaster, and who appears as the very first entry in this register. Teacher training was brief, only 3 to 6 months on average.

Even in these early days, a few students each year came from overseas. This register contains entries showing female students from Sierra Leone and New York. It also shows the first two teaching positions of the successful students, revealing overseas destinations for some young women, such as Haiti, Antigua, Barbados, Cape of Good Hope and New South Wales. It also shows that Brunel’s predecessor colleges were welcoming international students 200 years ago. Plenty has been written about the early days of Borough Road College when men came from overseas to study at Borough Road and take “the system” back to their own countries, but this register proves that women were also doing so.

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