College of Preceptors

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The College of Preceptors, also known as Society of Teachers, was an examining body and learned society of teachers, professors and associated professionals who worked in education in the United Kingdom from 1846 to 1923. It is not to be confused with an organisation called College of Teachers, which currently operates in the UK.

The college was founded as the Society of Teachers in 1846 and incorporated by royal charter as the College of Preceptors in 1849. The college published The Educational Times from 1847 to 1923. The College published the quarterly academic journal Education Today up until its closure. It was based in the Institute of Education of the University of London.


The college was founded in 1846 by a group of private schoolmasters from Brighton who were concerned about standards within their profession. A provisional committee was set up in early 1846 under the chairmanship of Henry Stein Turrell (1815–1863), principal of the Montpelier House School in Brighton. After meetings in London and Brighton a general meeting was called for 20 June 1846 at the Freemason's Tavern in Great Queen Street. Some 300 schoolmasters attended, some 60 members enrolled and founding resolutions passed, including:

That in the opinion of this meeting, it is desirable for the protection of the interests of both the scholastic profession and the public, that some proof of qualification, both as to the amount of knowledge and the art of conveying it to others, should be required, from and after a certain time to be hereinafter specified, of all persons who may be desirous of entering the profession; and that the test, in the first instance, should be applied to Assistant Masters only.
That in the opinion of this meeting, the test of qualification should be referred to a legally authorised or corporate body, or college, consisting of persons engaged in tuition.
That for the purpose of effecting this object – viz., the formation of a corporate body – the members of the profession who enrol their names at this meeting, do resolve themselves, and are hereby resolved, into the College of Preceptors; and that those persons now enrolled, shall incur no liability beyond the amount of their respective annual subscriptions.
That a Council, consisting of the members of the Provisional Committee, with power to add to their number, be now appointed for the purpose of conducting the business of the institution, and that Mr Turrell be appointed President of the Council.[1][2][3]

The college created a system for the formal examination and qualification of secondary school teachers. It was also one of the first bodies to examine and provide certificates for secondary school pupils of both sexes, from all over England and Wales, in a wide variety of subjects.[4]

During the 1870s, the college helped to establish education as a subject worthy of study at university level, resulting in the appointment of Joseph Payne as the first Professor of Education. Frances Buss (1827–1894) and Sir John Adams (1857–1934) were also connected to the College. During the 1950s the college pioneered management training schemes for teachers (at the time these were known as school administration courses).


  • The Educational Times published 1847–1923


  • College of Preceptors (1896). Fifty years of progress in education : a review of the work of the College of Preceptors from its foundation in 1846 to its jubilee in 1896. London: College of Preceptors. 

Primary sources

The archives of the College of Preceptors/College of Teachers are held in the archives of the Institute of Education, University of London and the full catalogue can be found online here.

Other sources

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science. 1887. The London College of Preceptors. Moses King, v.9:471.
  • Balfour, Graham. 1903. The Educational Systems of Great Britain and Ireland. Clarendon Press, 185.
  • Eve. H.W. 1899. Secondary Education and the Primary Examinations. British Medical Journal. Published by British Medical Association. vol.1:123.
  • Chapman, J. Vincent. 1985, Professional Roots: The College of Preceptors in British Society. Theydon Bois Epping.
  • College of Preceptors. 1847. The Mechanics' Magazine. Original from Oxford University, 443-46, 485–90.
  • College of Preceptors. 1908. Journal of the Royal Society of Arts. Royal Society of Arts (Great Britain), published for the Society by George Bell, v.57 1908–09, 432.
  • College of Preceptors. 1895. Report of the Commissioners ... Great Britain Royal Commission on Secondary Education. Great Britain:H.M. Stationery Off., by Eyre and Spottiswoode, 58.
  • Montgomery, Robert John. 1967. College of Preceptors. Examinations: An Account of Their Evolution as Administrative Devices in England. University of Pittsburgh Press, 303.
  • Monroe, Paul. 1913. Preceptors, The College of. A Cyclopedia of Education. Gale Research Co., v.5:26.
  • The Teacher's Registration Bill. 1891. Hansard's Parliamentary Debates. Great Britain Parliament, Thomas Curson Hansard. v.350 1891 Feb–Mar, 1003.
  • Winnipeg Science Fiction Society, Royal Society of Arts (Great Britain). 1873. The College of Preceptors. Winnipeg, v. 21:893.


  1. ^ Aldrich, Richard (16 May 2012). School and Society in Victorian Britain: Joseph Payne and the New World of Education. Routledge. pp. 96–98. ISBN 978-0415686532. 
  2. ^ "College of Preceptors". UCL Bloomsbury Project. UCL. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Ashton, Rosemary (2012). Victorian Bloomsbury. Yale University Press. pp. 454–46. ISBN 978-0300154474. 
  4. ^ "Institute of Education Archives: DC/COP Records of the College of Preceptors". Institute of Education. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 

External links

  • The College of Preceptors collection at the Institute of Education archives
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