In 1943 the Board of Education foresaw an acute post-war shortage of teachers. It was uncertain how many former teachers would return to the job from war service, and there was a firm intention to raise the leaving age to 15 as soon as possible. It was reckoned that about 70,000 extra teachers would be needed over and above the normal rate of recruitment.
The board proposed, a one-year training scheme, and a pilot was run at Goldsmiths' College in 1944. In 1945, applications began in earnest, and the colleges began to open. Tutors were recruited straight from headships and classrooms. A range of buildings was pressed into action - former wartime hospitals, hostels, country houses, boarding schools.
All costs were borne by central government either directly or through reinbursement to local authorities.
There were no student fees - indeed, there were generous allowances for students and their dependants.
At the peak of the scheme, in 1948, there were 55 emergency training colleges, and by the end, in 1950, nearly 20,000 men and 8,000 women had been trained.
Although they had to do two years instead of one as probationers, there was an early fear that one-year trained teachers would be professionally disadvantaged. In fact, the hard-pressed schools welcomed the newcomers, and students reported no noticeable effect on either their professional relationships or their careers.
Their work done, most of the colleges closed in 1950 although some 20 or so survived for some years as part of the ordinary two-year training provision.
The official account of the Emergency Training Scheme is Ministry of Education Pamphlet Number 17, Challenge and Response, published by HMSO in 1950. Straightforwardly written it serves as a nostalgic reminder of a relatively jargon-free age.