School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences




The School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences (ECLS) has a proud history. Here we chronicle the innovations that have made the School what it is today.

During our history, academics from Newcastle University have pioneered new approaches in these fields. We can celebrate several groundbreaking developments and play a leading role in policy and practice.

We have a rich history of developing both teachers and the fields of education, communication and language sciences. Photo by Jim McAdam
We have a rich history of developing both teachers and the fields of education, communication and language sciences.

More than 100 years of teacher training

In 1990, Newcastle University celebrated 100 years of teacher education. The first 20 'pupil teachers' enrolled at Newcastle's College of Science in 1890.

The aim was to improve the quality and status of elementary teaching by attaching training to institutions of university rank. The training centre created in 1890 became a college department in 1905.

In 1972, our services combined into the School of Education. This included a sub-department of Speech and the Centre for Physical Education and Sport.

UK’s first Chair in Education

The original training centre was among the first six established in England.

Its principal (and 'Master of Method'), Mark Wright, was a former head of a Gateshead school. He became the country's first holder of an established Chair in Education in 1895.

His department took a lead in challenging assumptions that subject knowledge made training unnecessary.

Championing the region

Mark Wright's successor in 1920, Godfrey Thomson, developed the country's first group intelligence tests in Northumberland. The purpose was 'helping children of intelligence' from humble backgrounds to not be 'overlooked'.

International focus since 1960

Commonwealth Bursars recruited in 1960 began a national centre for 'overseas' teachers. Administrators over the years have come from some 50 countries.

The year-long course for Norwegian teachers of English began as far back as 1962. Chosen by their Ministry, students undertake a year's study of this country's:

  • language
  • literature
  • institutions

Steering national policy making

A Centre for Evaluation and Management started early in the 1980s. Its title reflected major policy preoccupations.

Carol FitzGibbon developed a system for enabling schools and colleges to assess examination performance. It was adopted across the UK.

Pioneering research

Strong emphasis on applied research produced a wide range of policy and practice-based investigations. In the first national reviews of research performance in 1992, we were highly rated.

Linking university study to the world of work

The School as we know it today emerged from the University's restructuring in 2002. Communication is the obvious common ground. The strength of language sciences is clear.

Non-vocational undergraduate teaching complements the traditional commitment to teacher education.


The information here is taken from:

  • a 1971 departmental publication by Colin Tyson and Professor John Tuck
  • an essay collection edited by Gordon Hogg as part of the centenary celebrations
  • updates in 2006 by Professor Bruce Carrington

Speech Department

The Speech Department at Newcastle began its life on 22 June 1959.

The Speech Department was a sub-department of the teaching hospitals of King’s College. This was within the Newcastle division of the University of Durham.

It settled into its current home when Newcastle University became independent in August 1963.

It was the first programme in the UK to offer a professional degree in speech and language therapy. The first students graduated in 1967.

Pioneering work

The pioneer of the Newcastle Sub-Department of Speech was Muriel Morley. A speech therapist, she was also a key figure in the development of the profession in the UK.

Working with children with speech disorders, she advocated the personal and social importance of speech. She was passionate about promoting its academic study.

Our mission

Muriel Morley had a three-stranded mission for the sub-department, which included:

  • providing high-quality therapy to people with communication disorders directly and through encouraging best practice
  • providing training for a professional qualification in speech therapy to degree level
  • promoting research into the nature of communication and its disorders

Subsequent heads of department have promoted this mission. This is true of Professor Ruth Lesser, who steered the department for 18 years until 1995.

Newcastle was the first in the UK to use a case-based problem solving approach in teaching. Professor Barbara Dodd instigated this.

Campus clinics

Integral to student training and our clinical research are the campus clinics:

Our vision

Our vision has been the cornerstone of the programme for 50 years on. We aim for:

  • high quality teaching
  • excellent research
  • working with the profession to impact on practice

This has contributed to our continued high standing in health and education.

Our speech and language students conduct research within one of our dedicated labs. Photo by Jim McAdam
Our speech and language students conduct research within one of our dedicated labs.