The Society came to Newcastle in December 1903 in answer to the Bishop’s request for a Pupil-teacher centre, where girls could be trained to teach in Catholic elementary schools, much needed at that time.
The Society’s first house was in Elmfield Rd. Gosforth where a Pupil-Teacher Centre and a small school were established. By 1904, Mother Janet Stuart saw the need for a Training college where the pupil-teachers could complete their training in Catholic surroundings. Permission was given for this, which began in the house in Gosforth with two students, alongside the Pupil-teacher Centre and the rapidly growing secondary school.
It was obvious that much more space was needed so in 1905, the Community and the schools moved to Fenham Hall where the following developments took place:
THE PUPIL-TEACHER CENTRE had closed by 1913, its pupils being absorbed by the Secondary school before proceeding to the Training college at the age of 18.
THE TRAINING COLLEGE grew in size between 1905 and 1960, numbers increasing from 25 to over 200. In 1960, the 2 year course was re-placed by a 3 year course and students were able to take a B.Ed. degree. Numbers continued to rise until 1971 when, as a result of Government policy, teacher training was re-organised and student numbers began to fall. The closure of the College, threatened in 1977, ultimately happened in 1985. The property eventually became part of the University of Newcastle.
THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL was built in 1906, for mixed infants and girls to 14 years to provide training facilities for the Training college students. In 1930 the school was re-organised and divided into 2 sections:-
1. The PRIMARY SCHOOL which accommodated 2-11 year olds (mixed) and
2. The SENIOR GIRLS’ DEPT. which became the SECONDARY MODERN SCHOOL in 1954, until 1977, when it was absorbed by the Comprehensive School.
The SECONDARY SCHOOL, which began in a small way in 1903, became a Government recognised boarding and day school in 1905, taking both ex pupil-teachers, and scholarship pupils, as well as fee-payers until 1913. It went through other changes until 1926 when it obtained Direct Grant status, which lasted until 1977 when it became the Sacred Heart COMPREHENSIVE School, taking girls from 11 – 18 years. In 1998 it was re-named the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic High School.
Currently there is a flourishing girls’ Comprehensive School and a mixed Primary School on the site which has been a centre of Sacred Heart education since 1905. Both schools belong to our Schools & College Network. The Society still maintains a presence nearby, through the community at Wingrove Road.