Higher Education Postcard: De Montfort University, Scraptoft campus

This week Hugh Jones’ postbag takes us to Leicestershire, and a place special to one of Team Wonkhe's own

Hugh Jones is a freelance HE consultant. You’ll find a daily #HigherEducationPostcard if you follow him on Twitter.

Scraptoft Hall was built in 1713 – it is in the village of Scraptoft, which is just outside Leicester.

It has a Grade II listed boundary wall and iron gates. But before you start thinking you’ve accidentally clicked through to the National Trust website, let us remind ourselves that in 1954 the Leicester Corporation bought the hall and it became a site, for just over four decades, for higher education.

Some history will give context. The 1944 Education Act committed to all children having an education; an obvious question was who would teach the expanded school rolls. In response, emergency teacher training colleges were established, some of which went on to become universities in their own right – others of which were eventually merged with other institutions, often the local polytechnic.

Leicester City Council, being ambitious, planned a two-year training college, and in 1945 the first students were admitted to the City of Leicester Training College for Teachers. The College had no buildings – the first cohort observed classes in schools, and then studied at home. That all puts today’s Covid-caused-study-from-home into perspective.

The college found temporary accommodation, but in 1954 the council bought Scraptoft Hall as a location for the college, and in1960 it moved in. The hall contained the offices for the college – new buildings were constructed including an assembly hall, a dining hall, a library, a kitchen, teaching rooms, an arts and crafts block, a music pavilion, a gymnasium, and halls of residence.

In the 1960s the college became the City of Leicester College of Education, awarding degrees through its partnership with the University of Leicester. And in the 1970’s, prompted by a circular from the Department for Education and Sciences, the local authority’s education committee resolved that the college should merge with the then Leicester Polytechnic, as its School of Education.

Leicester Polytechnic became De Montfort University in 1992. Initially it pursued a policy of expansion, and opened additional campuses across the East Midlands. This policy was reversed in the new millennium, and the university closed its Scraptoft Campus. The house is now luxury flats, and the other campus buildings have been demolished.

In the 1980s and 1990s the campus was home to halls of residences, and it is there that we find our special connection, in the person of David Kernohan, resident of Room 8, Thurnby Hall, which is block A, circled, on the map. Clearly this was the best block – near the lake and, very importantly, located 15 seconds from the bus stop into town. The campus also provided opportunities to learn many musical instruments, principally those left in the various practice rooms on campus.

So, if ever you have enjoyed David’s data analysis, insight and commentary on Wonkhe, join me in raising a glass to Scraptoft Hall.

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