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History of Education Seminar Programme 2018/2019

The ‘History of Education Seminar’ at IHR (Institute of Historical Research) is convened by ICHRE (International Centre for Historical Research in Education) members. The seminar attracts speakers from around the world, providing a forum for established historians as well as early-career researchers to present their work. For further information please contact Gary McCulloch or Georgina Brewis at ioe.ichre@ucl.ac.uk

All welcome, no registration required. Unless otherwise stated these seminars are held in the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), Senate House.


Thursday 4 October 2018, 5.30pm, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way (Room 739)

Professor Pam Meecham and Dr Claire Robins  (UCL Institute of Education)

Looking again at Modern Art 

Pam Meecham, Professor of Museum Studies and editor and author of A Companion to Modern Art (2018) and Claire Robins, Reader in Art and Education and author of the Companion’s  ‘A Modern Art Education’, both lecturers and researchers in CCM’s Art, Design and Museology group at the IOE will co-present a session on researching and writing about aspects of Modern Art, c. 1848-1968.

Using the recent publication of Wiley Blackwell’s A Companion to Modern Art, this IHR session will include discussions of the cross-disciplinary approaches taken to writing Modern Art’s contested histories and its legacies in the 21st century. The publication contains 26 chapters in which 28 authors redefine relationships with modernism’s cultural traditions and narrate its diverse contemporary legacies that sometimes invert established assumptions, often reading against the grain of canonical modernism. Looking specifically at Part V, ‘The Modern Artist, the Modern Child, and a Modern Art Education’ we will look at a cross-section of commentaries that re-examine modern art’s historiography to offer stratified narratives that problematize evolutionary developments establishing more pluralistic, geographically wide-ranging readings of the past. Claire Robins will focus of some of the legacies of modern art and modernism for contemporary art education.


Thursday 1 November 2018, Institute of Historical Research,  Peter Marshall Room (N204), 5.30pm

Dr Sian Edwards (University of Winchester)

The rural idyll refashioned: Modernity, citizenship and the English countryside and the mid-twentieth century youth movements

This paper explores the centrality of the English countryside in the citizen training of mid-century youth organisations. Working within a popular discourse that celebrated the English countryside as an idyllic symbol of a shared national past, throughout the period from 1930-1960 numerous organisations envisioned the rural landscape as the space in which the battle for the citizenship of young people could be fought and ultimately won. Be it rolling fields or farmland, the rural sphere was a space in which youth movements projected gendered and class-based understandings of good citizenry. However, this was far from an anti-modern sentiment. This was a rural idyll for a new generation; one in which modern ideas of fitness and leisure were transferred onto the rural landscape and presented as a path to modern citizenship, an ideal which included traditional notions of service alongside a growing emphasis on the rights of the individual.


Thursday 13 December 2018, Institute of Historical Research, Peter Marshall Room (N204), 5.30pm 

Dr Claudia Soares (Queen Mary, University of London)

Teaching children how to feel: Emotional education and children’s experiences in institutional children’s homes in Britain, Australia and Canada, 1850-1914

Emotional dislocation and disruption were common features in the lives of some of the poorest children who moved in and out of residential care in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries across Britain, Australia, and Canada. As other historians have demonstrated, institutional regimes centred on children’s reformation and child rescue discourses focused on institutional successes of transforming children from ‘undomesticated savages’ into ‘industrious, moral citizens’. While recent research has demonstrated how space, material culture and architecture played vital roles in the emotional construction of childhood in a range of settings, scholarship has yet to explore the emotional education and experiences of children growing up in institutional care that formed part of these systems of reform and transformation. This paper draws on a new research project that brings a ‘history of emotions’ perspective to the history of children’s residential care in several major institutions in Britain, Australia, and Canada during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The paper explores the emotional construction of childhood in the institution and examines the ways in which emotional education shaped childhood experiences of and responses to care.  Children’s responses and attitudes – difficult sources to come by – are privileged in this paper. By placing emotional responses at the centre of this research, this paper will highlight how attending to different elements of institutional experience, and using different approaches to institutional sources can generate new understandings of institutional care and childhood experience more broadly.


Thursday 7 February 2019, Institute of Historical Research, Peter Marshall Room (N204), 5.30pm

Dr Lottie Hoare (University of Cambridge)

John Scupham: The written word, the broadcast word and the recorded

John Scupham (1904-1990) is usually best known to historians of  education as Controller of Educational Broadcasting at the BBC and as a  contributor to the Newsom Report of 1963. This talk explores his wider  interest in education from the 1940s to the 1970s. It investigates his concerns over how education was represented in the postwar years by the BBC in programmes aimed at an adult audience. It does not address schools broadcasting but instead it explores the overlap and contradictions between Scupham’s letters and memos held in archives;  oral history transcripts of interviews with John Scupham and the perspective expressed in interviews by his son, the poet, Peter Scupham.


Thursday 7 March 2019, 5.30pm

Dr Deborah Sabric (University of Roehampton)

The Very Recent History of English Free Schools:  Discourse and the Coalition Government’s Education Policy

Free schools, launched in 2011 as part of the rapid expansion of academies, were key components of the Coalition Government’s broader Big Society reform agenda. Noting the decline in educational outcomes on global league tables and the poor state of English education generally, Michael Gove (2010) argued stridently for free schools as an e ducation innovation that could address the pressing issues faced in English schools. This seminar paper will consider the discourses surrounding the development of free school policy, the impact of transnationalist impulses in the discourse and the challenges for historians in researching very recent education history.


Thursday 23 May 2019, 5.30pm

Dr Jodi Burkett (University of Portsmouth)

How the other half protest: Student activism in Polytechnics c. 1969-1992

Discussion of student activism in post-war Britain is dominated by discussions of University students. While University students were certainly active, they were not alone. What is often left out of these accounts were the students at the UK’s nearly thirty Polytechnics. That is, nearly half of the students in UK HE in this period. Underpinning this oversight are some common assumptions about Poly students – that they were more focussed on their careers and therefore less political, and that they were selfish and self-interested. Neither of these assumptions are borne out by the historical evidence.

This paper aims to begin to fill this gap by exploring some of the activities that students at Polytechnics were involved in between the late 1960s and early 1990s. Using student newspapers, oral histories and archival collections this paper will argue that Polytechnic students were much more political active and engaged then they have been given credit for. Students at Polytechnics were members of the National Union of Students and were involved in a number of key activities including local and national demonstrations, and occupations on a range of issues. Exploring the actions and activities of Polytechnic students will not only give us a better picture of UK HE in this period, but also adds to our understanding of changes in post-war British society and culture.  Students at Polytechnics tended to come from a wider range of backgrounds than University students. When their activities and experiences are included in our histories of students, student activity, and student activism, we get a much more nuanced picture of the significant impact of the massification of UK HE in this period on British society and culture.


ICHRE Seminars 2018/2019

ICHRE’s occasional seminars aim to provide a forum for established historians as well as early career researchers and postgraduate students to present and discuss their work. The seminar seeks to foster a culture of collegiality among those – at UCL Institute of Education and elsewhere – exploring education and learning from a historical perspective. Contact m.freeman@ucl.ac.uk for more information.


Thursday 27 September, 5.15 pm, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way (Room 739)

Professor Peter Kallaway, University of Cape Town

Samuel Krune Mqhayi : Xhosa patriot, poet and historian, and the Education of the Xhosa : 1900 to 1945

Mqhayi was perhaps the foremost Xhosa poet and historian in the first half of the twentieth century who provides a wonderful case study of a man located within the complex dynamics of the traditional and the modern, a Xhosa man, and a Christian; a rural man deeply concerned about the welfare of his people and a journalist who was commentator on national and international politics; a defender of his “national identity” but a subject of the British Empire. Because he only wrote in isiXhosa, as an imiBongi (praise poet), novelist and historian, this rich source of our historical heritage has only come to light in English recently through the amazing work of Patricia Scott, Jeff Opland, Luvo Mabinza, Koliswa Moropa, Nonsisi Mpolweni, Abner Nyamende and Peter Mtuze.

Mqhayi early recognised that his views of Xhosa history and tradition did not accord with the view of the missionaries at Lovedale and were part of the reasons he gives in his autobiography for his departure from the institution as a student and as a teacher. But as a result of the major orthographic changes to the Xhosa language introduced in the 1930s in accordance with international standards for languages and printing for school in Africa, he was controversially involved in the crafting and implementation of the new orthography under the influence of Diedrich Westermann (Berlin University and the International Institute of African Languages and Culture, London) and the South African Orthographical Committee under the guidance of Prof. C.M. Doke of Wits University and W.G. Bennie, Inspector of Native Education in the Cape in the 1920s.


Monday 17 December

Termly symposia ‘Merit and Education’. Follow link for full details. 


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