Excerpts with reference to History of Kirkby College


In 1951 the Government of the Federation of Malaya established the Malayan Teachers’ Training College at Kirkby, Lancashire for the training of Malayan teachers. In the words of the pioneer Principal of the College, Mr Robert Williams “By any standard, it was unique in the history of Education. For the first time, the Government of a country had established in a far-off land a teachers’ college for its own students. Never before had any Government in the world set up its own College in Britain…. The Board of Governors was appointed in Autumn 1951 with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool as the Chairman…. The University of Liverpool Institute of Education undertook the examination of Kirkby students thus ensuring that the professional standards of the College should be equivalent to those of its member colleges. At the same time the Institute allowed freedom for the Malayan College to develop in the way best suited for training for teaching in Malaya.


In November of the same year, Mr G J Gurney, an experienced Malayan Education Officer was appointed Vice-Principal. He later became Principal, affectionately known as ‘Papa Gurney’.


An extract from the Annual Report of Education in the Federation of Malaya 1951 described the establishment of Kirkby College with the following exciting words “This unique educational experiment aroused world-wide interest and revealed the existence in the United Kingdom of an enormous fund of goodwill towards the teachers and pupils of this country. One can think of few things more beneficial for Malayan Primary Schools than the regular periodic blood transfusion of a group of teachers whose spirit and minds have been expanded by travel and whose professional skill has been developed and disciplined in the first class Training College.