Improving educational opportunity

Ethel Wormald College of Education

Though short lived, Ethel Wormald College attracted some outstanding students and staff, and advanced innovative approaches to teacher training.

Post-war demand for additional teachers meant that existing colleges of education expanded. In the 1960s, new teacher-training institutions, known as day colleges, were established to attract mature students into the profession. Located in urban environments, these were unlike many of the residential colleges that recruited students straight from sixth-form studies. Liverpool’s Education Committee felt there was the need for such a college in Liverpool, especially its Chair, Councillor Ethel Wormald, who had a considerable impact on education agendas nationally as well as locally; she was later to become Dame Ethel Wormald and also Lord Mayor of Liverpool.

The Liverpool Day College, later renamed in Wormald’s honour, was housed in a former hospital building on Mount Pleasant. Its first intake was in January 1966, and it received 800 applications for its three-year teaching certificate course for primary schools; there were only 80 places. The College’s subject portfolio was quite broad; its main courses being in art and craft, drama, English literature, geography, history, mathematics, religious education and music. All students also took education and professional studies courses, and underwent teaching practice too. The College saw its last certificate course intake in 1976. It merged with C.F. Mott College forming the City of Liverpool College of Higher Education (COLCHE) in 1978, which joined Liverpool Polytechnic in 1983.

Today, the University remains committed to enhancing the educational experiences of individuals, families and communities and works in collaboration with schools and early, further and higher education providers, as well as voluntary, public and private sector organisations. Dame Ethel would no doubt approve of the development of new courses to meet the national teacher shortages in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

Dame Ethel Wormald (1901-1993)

Ethel Wormald studied at the University of Leeds, then married Stan Wormald, who became Head of French at the Liverpool Institute Boys’ School. Owing to her married status, she was unable at that time to follow a teaching career. Instead, she became involved in adult education and worked tirelessly to improve educational opportunity. She became a Labour Councillor in 1953, twice chairing the city’s Education Committee between 1955 and 1967. She served as Liverpool’s second woman Lord Mayor in 1967 and 1968, and was awarded a DBE in 1968. It is fitting that the woman who was denied the opportunity to serve as a teacher became the figurehead of education in Liverpool in the 1950s and 1960s, providing greater opportunities for married women, among others, to enter teaching.