Mary Dawson and Newton Park Training College: education, teacher training and expressions of citizenship in the long 1950s

James, K.E (2019) Mary Dawson and Newton Park Training College: education, teacher training and expressions of citizenship in the long 1950s. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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Following the Second World War, revolutionary changes to national education resulted in a huge demand for teachers. It was women who stepped into this void, taking advantage of a profession which combined present opportunity and future flexibility. This thesis provides a case study of one establishment which trained such teachers. Newton Park Training College was founded in 1946, under the leadership of Mary Dawson, who served as Principal until her retirement in 1968. Dawson, as a university-educated woman herself, is part of a significant network of women who led the training colleges over this period, and she used the rhetoric and ethos of citizenship to validate the development of women’s participation throughout the teaching profession. This study argues that, as part of a widely expanding educational sector in an era of post-war reconstruction, women teachers were integral to public life and were able to demonstrate their personal agency and conduct their own lives in ways not possible for previous generations. This led to a new confidence for many women, who in turn served as conduits for change for those who followed. The period of the long 1950s presented women with a number of contrasting choices, of which the media image of the ‘lipsticked and aproned’ woman at home remains dominant. Such imagery presents much of the period as offering limited opportunity to women, yet this assumption is belied by the increasing visibility of married women engaged in public life, and the expectation of the women themselves that their contributions as active and responsible citizens were vital to national life. The thesis focuses on just one woman, one college, and a small group of students. But in doing so it unpacks the changing nature of a period of history in which women were able to exploit a public life through teaching. It adds to the knowledge of women teachers in the period and makes an original contribution through the in-depth analysis of one institution and its leader, and makes further contributions to scholarship in several areas. Specifically, these feature country house history in the post-war period, biographical and institutional history, and the contribution made by women like Dawson and her students through education in the twentieth century. The story of Newton Park College provides an assessment of the longer-term impact of women’s education and forces a reconsideration of the significance of this era. It also reinforces and complements recent scholarship which establishes the long 1950s as part of the continuity of progress towards women’s equality over the course of the twentieth century.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

Thesis supervised by Dr. Alison Hems.

Keywords: teacher training, 1950s, UK, national education, Newton Park Training College, Bath Spa University, Mary Dawson, women teachers, country houses, biography, institutional history, women's equality
Divisions: School of Education
School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
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Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2019 14:25
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 13:35
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