Madeley College History

I would like to thank Andrew Finney, Kevin Clarke, & Philip Shaw of the Madeley Village website for agreeing to include the College History details and donating their technical expertise. Thanks also to Sam Heafield, Alan Hargreaves, Derek Benning, Shane Kent, Allan Gentleman, Dave Lacy, Andrew Yiannakis, Ian Haslam and Barry Jenkins for their support and supplying invaluable historical information & photos.

The future
I hope that the information on this site will provide all former graduates of Madeley College a reference point for their various memories. A facility for ex-students who wish to make contact with one another is currently being considered.

John Stewart Anderson
John Stewart Anderson (Madeley College – 1972 – 1975)

The History of Madeley College,

North Staffordshire Polytechnic, Staffordshire Polytechnic and

Staffordshire University’s Sports Departments

1960 to 2000


Shane Kent


In March 2001 I paid a long overdue visit to Sam Heafield and Alan Hargreaves. Although I knew that both the Madeley College and Nelson Hall sites had become housing estates I was curious to discover just how this had come about. I believe that Shane Kent’s account gives a good overview of how events developed over the years, although as with any retrospective historical account there are bound to be some debatable areas.

My main reason for creating this site was to ensure that a record exists of the former Madeley College as there can be little doubt that the physical education & sports graduates have over the years made a significant contribution to the development of the teaching and coaching of sport at all levels. It is equally important to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of the department’s lecturers whose enthusiasm and commitment will have inspired so many to further develop their sporting and academic aspirations.


I would like to thank Andrew Finney, Kevin Clarke, & Philip Shaw of the Madeley Village website for agreeing to include the College History details and donating their technical expertise. Thanks also to Sam Heafield, Alan Hargreaves, Derek Benning, Shane Kent, Allan Gentleman, Dave Lacy, Andrew Yiannakis, Ian Haslam and Barry Jenkins for their support and supplying invaluable historical information & photos.

The future

I hope that the information on this site will provide all former graduates of Madeley College a reference point for their various memories. A facility for ex-students who wish to make contact with one another is currently being considered.

John Stewart Anderson. (1972 – 1975)



Setting the scene

During and after the Second World War United States of America soldiers occupied buildings in a small village by the name of Cotes Heath. Little did they know that this tiny residential area would become the building block for one of the leading training colleges for male physical education teachers in the country. Additionally, the small residential area,

located in pleasant countryside, seven miles from Newcastle-under-Lyme and twelve miles from Stafford became the residence of workers of Swinnerton Ordinance factory. But Cotes Heath did not hold this status for many years. The story begins.

Pre 1960 the higher education system in the U.K. was divided into three distinct sectors: 1, Universities, 2, Training Colleges (re-named Colleges of Education in 1963) and 3, Further Education Colleges (Thompson, 1986). Universities were self-governing and independent institutes who were generally concerned with knowledge for its own sake. Normally admission was restricted to full time students from the upper social echelon of society. On the other hand further education colleges offered a huge variety of courses, normally focusing on vocational training. In these establishments little, if any amenities were provided and academic development was disjointed. Lying in between the two entities were the training colleges. A key feature of the McNair Committee, (Thompson, 1986) appointed in 1942 was to consider the future of these establishments, specifically the supply and training of teachers. The McNair Report cumulated in the 1944 Education Act. This act stipulated that education would be free for all and the school leaving age would be raised to fifteen in 1947, thus a need for teachers was envisaged. Therefore the training colleges were to work in closer conjunction with the universities. They were to be financially and administratively run by the universities, but the day to day running of the institutes was to be given to the local authorities.

So, as more teachers were needed training colleges became more prevalent within the U.K., hence a small residential area in rural Staffordshire was about to change. The County of Stafford Training College was founded in 1949 at Nelson Hall as a women’s only College. It offered permanent, full time teacher training in general courses, as well as offering domestic subjects. It held this status for a number of years, with only female students being admitted. However, in 1958 the first male students arrived and it was envisaged that by 1962 there would be a total of 450 students studying at the College, with a third of scholars being male. One of the reasons for this perceived increase in male attendance was the decision to teach an entirely new academic subject. A high-level physical education course was to be administered, enabling the College to offer specialist training in the subject, along with general education. Furthermore, a new gymnasium, amongst other requirements was in the planning stage. The course would be designed for prospective secondary school teachers.

1960 – 1978

As the County of Stafford training college was to offer a high-level physical education course for men, it needed a focal figure to lead the planning and co-ordination of the course. This individual was to be Sam Heafield. He was educated at Rugby school between 1931 and 1935 and went onto further his education at Borough Road College in between 1935 and 1937. His love for physical education was firmly established in these institutions, and he progressed onto Loughborough College in 1938, for his specialist training in physical education. After successfully completing his education Heafield was appointed at Kingswinford secondary school in Staffordshire in 1939 to teach Physical Education, though the Second World War cut this vocation short. In his own words Sam Heafield ‘enjoyed a good war’ and quickly gained rank and responsibility. He ended the war in India as a Lieutenant Colonel, which would stand him in good stead for the remainder of his teaching career.

Returning from the war Heafield was re-connected with Kingswinford School and proceeded to teach physical education there until 1949. In 1949 he moved posts and was employed as an Organiser of Physical Education for the County of Stafford. Following the 1918 Education Act ‘exceptionally good teachers’ could be employed to advise rank and file teachers of acceptable practice. Heafield became one of these ‘exceptional teachers’ and visited schools within the area, advising other teachers how to practice the art of good physical education teaching. He continued to enjoy immensely this experience, until he was made an offer he could not refuse.

He was appointed head of department of Physical Education (men) at the County of Stafford Training College in 1960. One of his main lines of duty within this post was to help plan and structure new facilities for the department. These new facilities were not to be erected at Nelson Hall, but at a new site near Crewe, named Madeley. Heafield continued to construct plans for the new facilities in solitary fashion (he probably worked in tandem with other authorities, but was the only member of the Physical Education Department) until 1961. In this year he employed his first member of staff, Alan Hargreaves.

Hargreaves was educated at Manchester Central high school during the late 1940’s, where he enjoyed a variety of sports, and captained numerous teams. His second love was art and handicrafts, and this route was followed through sixth form. He applied to Loughborough College’s Handicraft and Physical Education teaching courses and initially was only accepted for handicrafts. He held out for physical education and was finally submitted to this field of study. But before he could train to be a physical education teacher at Loughborough College, national service beckoned in 1950. He applied his qualities admirably during national service and was rewarded via a National Service Commission. Subsequently he became an officer and in his own words his ‘standing in society swelled’. After national service Hargreaves commenced his teacher training qualification at Loughborough College in 1952. Hence, completing the two years basic course and a third supplementary year, in order to receive a Diploma in Physical Education. He became a qualified Physical Education teacher. His first teaching appointment was at Kings School Pontefract in 1955, but unfortunately the Suez campaign halted the commencement of this post. He started teaching in January 1956 and spent six successful years there. In 1961 he looked for promotion, so applied and subsequently gained the post of lecturer in physical education at the Nelson Hall establishment, under Sam Heafield.

The physical education teacher training college to be set up at Madeley was not the only teaching establishment to be formed in this time period. The Robins Report in 1963 (Bayman, 1986), instigated by the Conservative government of Harold Macmillan, recommended an enormous expansion of full time student places. With regards to the training colleges it was decided that expansion should continue. 80,000 places were to be made available initially, rising to 110,000 in 1973 and a proposed 131,000 in 1980. The training colleges were to be renamed Colleges of Education and in some cases provide a four-year course, leading to a new degree of Bachelor of Education. However less good news for training colleges was that Robins wanted most of the growth of education to take place within the university sector. But, how could a government look that far into the future and make proposals twenty years ahead. Changes would surely occur to governments and to the education system during this time frame. This happened to be the case and when the Labour government of Harold Wilson was elected later the same year, the proposals of the Robins Report were changed somewhat.

The new Labour government rejected the expansion of teacher training within the university sector and opted for growth through the newly named Colleges of Education and another form of establishment, named polytechnics. The universities were seen to be not sufficiently ‘socially responsive’ to the needs of all of society (Fowler, 1984), as only the highest social echelon studied at these institutions. So the Labour government proposed a binary system of education, where developments in the public sector would be alongside that of the universities. Arguments stemmed from this recommendation. Fowler, (1984) expressed that this motion would provide ‘higher education on the cheap’. Others (Layard & King, 1968, cited in Thompson, 1986) believed that the expansion should have been concentrated within the university sector, as that was where the majority of educating occurred. But, after all the arguments the policy continued and around thirty polytechnics were founded, as well as the number of universities being increased from twenty-two in 1960 to forty six in 1968 (Thompson, 1986).

The news that the public sector was to be developed along with the university sector was certainly good news for Madeley College. Many transformations to the U.K. education system were being made during the early 1960’s, Madeley too, was going through a revolutionary period in its history. In 1961 the foundation stone was laid at Madeley College by A. G. B. Owen, the well-known benefactor of the BRM racing car, and was officially opened by Princess Margaret. In September 1962 the very first intake of students arrived at Nelson Hall to undertake the high-level physical education course for men. The scholars held residence at Nelson Hall, but travelled every day to Madeley to use the facilities as they were being erected around them. Thirty students were accepted on the course, as it was suggested that student numbers should total ninety over the three-year course. An attempt was made to recruit well-known names within the world of sport, to increase Madeley’s kudos. This strategy proved to be very successful as Madeley went on to recruit an Olympic medallist, Olympic & Great Britain international swimmers, international track & field athletes, rugby union internationals and county cricketers, amongst others.

Madeley College had a very firm base to build from. The staff of Sam Heafield and Alan Hargreaves provided an extremely qualified and experienced work force. Both had excelled in the forces and had held reputed teaching positions in differing areas of physical education. Additionally, the facilities Madeley offered for physical education teaching was commendable. There were two gymnasia, a flood lit red-gra pitch, a swimming pool, a grass athletics track, numerous pitches for team sports, plus the facilities available at Keele University. The Nelson Hall site retained a gymnasium and grass pitches. These factors, along with the teaching staff assisted the Ministry of Education in a decision that was to change the status of Madeley College’s Physical Education department.

Although the growth of the four-year Bachelor of education degree was imminent within many institutions, the Ministry of Education held other plans for physical education teacher training. Three different types of course provision evolved for physical education (Bayman, 1986). Firstly, Colleges of education offering ‘specialist’ courses in Physical Education for students intending to teach the subject in secondary schools were established. Secondly, Colleges of Education offering ‘wing’ courses in Physical Education to students intending to teach were newly designated. Thirdly, Colleges of Education offering courses in which physical education could be a joint main or subsidiary area of study came into being. Madeley was given the prestigious status of one of the ten ‘wing’ colleges in 1963, only one-year after recruiting its first students. It was to offer a three-year specialist physical education course, which was to be validated by the nearby Keele University. This course was proposed for prospective secondary school teachers and there was a major emphasis on practical study. By 1968 this qualification could be transferred into a Bachelor of Education degree through a one year bridging course, affiliated with Keele University, but only the top graded scholars progressed onto this year. The other specialist ‘Wing’ colleges that offered similar courses were St. Luke’s (Exeter), Borough Road (London), St. Mary’s (Twickenham), Cardiff,

St. Johns (York), Loughborough, Carnegie (Leeds), Chester and St. Paul’s (Cheltenham). The heads of these ten ‘Wing’ colleges formed a committee and met frequently to discuss curriculum and syllabus matters. Additionally these colleges competed against each other in sporting events. As the ‘Wing’ colleges possessed many top international athletes, the competition was of the highest calibre, particularly in swimming, rugby, athletics and soccer. Madeley dominated several sports and held its own with the rest.

Given the prestigious title of a ‘Wing’ college, and the introduction of many more students to the college, Madeley needed to increase the number of staff employed. Joining Sam Heafield and Alan Hargreaves in April 1963 was Basil Ashford. Ashford qualified to become a physical education teacher, first through Carnegie College, Leeds, and then completed his teacher training at St. Lukes College, Exeter. Before commencing at Madeley, he had taught at both primary and secondary level, so was an experienced teacher when he arrived. These three physical educationists were to form the backbone of Madeley College’s Physical Education Department, but they could not perform the teaching alone. In 1964 Bob Davis arrived, followed by Ian Ward, Eddie Robinson and assistant lecturer Bob Pengelly, to augment the teaching staff.

As a ‘Wing’ college the specialist Physical Education course ran very successfully throughout the 1960’s. It produced an extremely high standard of student and boasted that no Madeley scholar left without being offered employment. Madeley was proud of its students, and an ethos was instilled via Madeley’s distinctive blue tracksuits, ties, scarves and the Madeley emblem, of an ancient Greek Warrior carrying a javelin (Leonides, or Leonidas according to Heafield), which is still used to the present day. Unfortunately the status of ‘Wing’ college was not to last forever. The newly elected Conservative government of 1970 instigated the James Committee to carry out an examination of teacher training within higher education (Thompson, 1986). This committee proposed that the Bachelor of Education degrees that existed in many institutions should be replaced by a two-year course, leading to a Diploma in Higher Education. This should be followed by a one year Bachelor of Education course. This system of training teachers would have suited Madeley College, as it was relatively similar to their procedure. But this proposal was rejected and a White Paper, ‘Education: A Framework of Expansion’ was introduced in 1972 (Thompson, 1986). This made it clear that the Bachelor of Education would remain, and this degree would be awarded after a three-year course and an Honours Bachelor of Education after a further year’s study. This move towards the Bachelor of Education reiterated the decision of the last Conservative government in 1963. The Robins Report (1963) had expressed that teacher training should occur within the university sector of education, and this format was to be followed once again, now the Conservatives were in power. The Conservatives this time had enough time to put into place their plans for teacher training, and this effectively destroyed teacher training as a separate sector of higher education (Thompson, 1986).

The decision to change the structure of teaching training, and specifically physical education teacher training could have been partly due to changes in society. Throughout the twentieth Century physical education was utilised as a form of ‘military training on the cheap’ (Musgrove, 1975), as well as for health and fitness reasons. This philosophy was now changing and physical education was to be more a function of aesthetic pleasure (Musgrove, 1975), than training for war. Additionally, due to the falling birth rate student places in teacher training were to fall from 81,000 in 1973 to 35,000 in 1977 (Thompson, 1986), more than a 50% cut in allocated teaching provision. This led to the Government proposing that Colleges of Education, of which Madeley was one, should merge with neighbouring polytechnics or other colleges, or in some cases even close. This was a bitter pill for Madeley. In addition, the Bachelor of Education was to be introduced to Madeley and its ‘Wing’ college status was to cease.

The Bachelor of Education was introduced gradually to Madeley, and first appeared during the mid 1970’s. The specialist certificate in Physical Education course was slowly replaced with the Bachelor of Education course for physical education students. By 1975 the three year Bachelor of Education course, validated by the Council for National Academic Awards (C. N. A. A). existed as the undergraduate course for Madeley College. Along with this introduction, a postgraduate Certificate in Education emerged. This proved to a very successful one-year course for graduate students from any discipline and institute, who acquired commendable grades at undergraduate level. This course ran from 1975 to 1982. Although the postgraduate Certificate in Education and the Bachelor of Education appeared to be running smoothly, changes were soon to come upon Madeley, as a college institution.

Due to the reduction in the need for teachers, the introduction of the Bachelor of Education and the government push for teacher training to occur in universities, Madeley College needed to change. This coincided with the retirement of the figurehead of Madeley College, Sam Heafield. In 1978 Sam Heafield was sixty-one years of age. He had always wished to retire at sixty, but his exuberance for physical education had led him to fulfill his duties for one more year. He was offered a Crombie scheme, which was a generous retirement fund and chose to accept. Furthermore his beloved Madeley College, which he helped to plan and made a successful establishment for 18 years appeared to be nearing the end of it’s existence. It was to be a sad loss to the village of Madeley, but as is often the case change creates opportunity.

1978 – 1984

Due to the loss of Heafield, Madeley College needed a new head of department. This was to be Alan Hargreaves. Since joining Madeley College in 1961 Hargreaves had not stood still in his development as a teacher, practitioner and academic. He had risen up the ranks as a lecturer, to senior lecturer and eventually to principal lecturer. He had taken a years’ secondment to Leeds University in 1970, where he acquired a Masters qualification. He became a prominent soccer coach, coaching Stoke City and Crewe Alexander. Supplementary, he had a spell in charge of the British Olympic hockey team, and was to prove a very creditable successor to Sam Heafield.

So what was to become of the physical education department at Madeley College? It was decided a merger with North Staffordshire Polytechnic would be the best option. This settlement was not taken kindly by the staff at Madeley. Before leaving Heafield stated that he wished to move to Keele University. The halls of residence were close by and the sports facilities were far superior to that of North Staffordshire polytechnic. Additionally Keele was of university status, which appealed more to Madeley, as it was one of the leading colleges of physical education teacher training in the country. But as universities controlled their own budgets, if Madeley were passed over to Keele, Staffordshire County Council would lose control of monetary matters. The County Council still held a decision-making role within the Polytechnic set up, thus the decision to move to North Staffordshire Polytechnic was forced upon Madeley, against their wishes. It was a ‘political/financial decision’, according to Hargreaves (1999). This resolution to merge with the polytechnic meant a decision had to be made as to the residence of the department. As Madeley was a relatively small institution, expensive to run and inconveniently located for development, North Staffordshire polytechnic decided to close the college down. The May 17th, 1980 Evening Sentinel headline read ‘Axe to fall on Madeley’. This was a sad time for all the staff and students at Madeley, as so many fond memories were held there, but they were not the only institute to fall by the way side.

In between 1972, when the government first published the White Paper, regarding changes to teacher training and 1982, the colleges of education changed markedly. Twenty five colleges closed, thirty seven were amalgamated into polytechnics, twelve to universities, fifty went into merges with each other and only twenty eight remained as single colleges of education (Thompson, 1986). Of the original ‘Wing’ colleges only two merged with universities, Loughborough and St. Lukes, Exeter, which merged with their respective name sakes (Thompson, 1986). By 1980 there were only nine Bachelor of Education courses available in Physical Education (Thompson, 1986).

As the colleges of education contracted diversified degrees appeared in many institutions across the U.K., validated by the C. N. A. A. Bachelor of Art degrees in physical education, sport studies, dance, human movement studies and leisure and recreation studies began to be appear (Bayman, 1986). It was a case of diversify or die for many institutions. The C. N. A. A. assisted the development of these new type degrees, and was heavily inundated with proposals. But only ten institutions between 1975 and 1980 received approval to offer initial degrees in the area of sport and/or recreation (Bayman, 1986).

As Madeley was to close the department had to move to a new environment. North Staffordshire polytechnic was based in Stoke-on-Trent, so the Madeley physical education department was to move to the Stoke site of North Staffordshire polytechnic. Lack of demand and the facilities at the Stoke site meant that the Bachelor of Education degree, along with the postgraduate Certificate in Education were to be discontinued. In order for the department to stay intact, and for the lecturers to keep their positions a new degree had to be developed. The opportunity had been seen to blend sport, with other areas within the polytechnic, specifically geography, economics, sociology and politics. As physical education was a good recruiter of students, the polytechnic appeared excited by the prospect of the amalgamation of sport to other academic fields. Basil Ashford engineered a new diversified degree, validated by the C.N.N.A. The three-year BA (Hons) Sport and Recreation degree began in 1980, and Madeley was still at the forefront of physical education academia, all be it under another guise.

Trevor Barter arrived as a member of staff at Madeley College in September 1981. His first degree was a Bachelor of Education from Carnegie College Leeds, and later he progressed onto the University of Massachusetts in America, to acquire a Masters in Science. He was one of the new breed of staff with Masters degrees and was to be an influential figure in the later years of development. When Barter arrived the Bachelor of Education course was still being taught, but not recruited, as was the postgraduate Certificate in Education. The BA Sport and Recreation degree had recruited a small number of students, through the clearing process in its inaugural year of 1980 and had given Madeley a new lease of life. But this led to some staffing factors that needed to be resolved. Only six staff were to remain in post when the department moved to the polytechnic site. This made the move doubly difficult. Many members of staff were bitter with the move to start with, but then to be told that not all members were to keep their jobs, was a bitter pill to swallow for many involved. Subsequently highly regarded members of staff ceased to be employed at the polytechnic.

The transition from Madeley to North Staffordshire polytechnic occurred in time for the 1982/1983 academic year. The six lecturers were in place and the start of a new era beckoned. The final entry year on the Bachelor of Education also transferred to the Stoke site and completed their studies during 1982/1983, hence the connection with Keele University ceased to be. Supplementary, the postgraduate Certificate in Education discontinued. The BA Sport and Recreation degree entered its third year of recruitment. Although this degree had enabled some members of staff to maintain their posts as lecturers, there was no longer a Department of Physical Education. The Department of Geography and Recreation studies governed the new degree, with Professor George Kay as head of department. So Hargreaves title became head of the BA Sport and Recreation degree. Disillusioned by the occurrences of the last few years Hargreaves decided to retire. He had many good years ahead of him, and during the winding down period of the Bachelor of Education degree had kept himself busy. He applied his knowledge to accountancy, acquired a Diploma in management studies and wrote the highly regarded ‘Skills and Strategies for Coaching Soccer’. Hargreaves left North Staffordshire polytechnic in 1984 after 23 years of service.

1984 – 1993

The BA Sport and Recreation degree needed a new leader. There was only one man for the job, Dr. Basil Ashford. Ashford had remained loyal to the institution for twenty-one years and was finally rewarded by receiving the title of head of the BA Sport and Recreation degree. He too had furthered his education throughout his years at Madeley. In 1967 he acquired a Diploma in Advanced Study in Education, in 1972 a Masters in Education and in 1981 received his PhD, all through the University of Keele. On the practical side, he had coached the Madeley swimming team to great success. He produced many Olympic and international swimmers, his finest coaching moment being the Olympic silver medal won by Martyn Woodroffe in Mexico in 1968 (Biddle, 1999).

The BA Sport and Recreation degree was a success (Barter, 1999), although the structure of the degree was far different to that of the old type Bachelor of Education degrees. The major emphasis on the practical aspects of the degree was now replaced by a more academic approach. Students undertook eight compulsory components at levels one and two, and then chose their main area of interest during the final year. Although the academic content may have increased, a similar team spirit in the sports field appeared to follow in the Madeley tradition. During this period in time the rivalry between the years was often fierce, but fair, as sporting rigour was carried out in good jest.

As Sam Heafield and Alan Hargreaves had noted, the facilities at North Staffordshire Polytechnic were insufficient for a top quality sports department. It possessed only a sports hall and playing fields on the site. In Hanley, Northwood Stadium was utilised by athletes and football pitches at Nelson Hall were still at the polytechnics disposal. The sports hall was opened at the Leek Road site in April 1982, along with some small Astroturf pitches. This coincided with the move from Madeley, so it appeared lucky that these facilities were available. These were the only facilities at the Stoke site until 1991. In this year a large synthetic pitch was constructed and still provides a good surface for many ball sports within the curriculum. The sport centre was also renamed in this year, to Sir Stanley Matthews Sports Centre, which provided the polytechnic with a little more prestige.

The BA Sport and Recreation degree ran smoothly up until 1993. But this was not the case for many degrees in the U.K. There were huge cuts in funding for higher education made by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. £460 million of vital resources were lost between 1981 and 1985 (Thompson, 1986). A White Paper in 1985 stressed it was to push more money into science and technology, rather than the traditional disciplines of the arts and social sciences. Many Universities discussed mergers with local polytechnics, including Keele (Thompson, 1986). Presumably this merger was to be with North Staffordshire polytechnic, so the sports department and Keele could well have been reunited. But this union never materialised. With regards teacher training for physical education in the United Kingdom, by 1986 eighteen universities offered Bachelor of Education courses, but this number was to diminish into the 1990’s. The one-year postgraduate Certificate in Education was to become more popular, with students’ predominately undertaking three-year Bachelor of Science or Arts degrees before deciding whether to progress on to teacher training.

As government cuts to higher education establishments were occurring, it was to North Staffordshire polytechnic’s credit that the BA Sport and Recreation course continued to grow steadily. One factor that initiated this growth was the changing of the polytechnic’s status. In 1988 North Staffordshire polytechnic became Staffordshire Polytechnic and in 1993 the institution became known as Staffordshire University. The latter change coincided with a huge increase of numbers onto the course. Being a university meant that when a student was offered a place, and received the entry grades they had a right to that place. The student entry numbers increased from 70 to 120 in 1988, which although excellent for the department led Barter having to quickly restructure seminar and lecture groups. This was the only major change that occurred to the BA Sport and Recreation degree during this time frame. It was an era of stability and controlled growth.

1993 – 2000

In September 1992 the last intake of BA Sport and Recreation students arrived. The degree instigated by Dr. Basil Ashford was to run no longer. Earlier that year, in April, a Division of Sport, Health and Exercise was created within the School of Sciences. This conception led to 5 new degrees being validated in 1993:

Fig 1: Sports related Degrees offered by Staffordshire University in September 1993

1, BSc (Hons) Sport Studies
2, BSc (Hons) Exercise and Health
3, BA (Hons) Sport and Leisure Management
4, BA (Hons) Sport and Leisure Studies
5, BA (Hons) Sport Recreation and Tourism

The validation of these degrees was not undertaken by the C. N. A. A, but by Staffordshire University itself. The C. N. A. A. had been a great help during the 1980’s, when validating degrees for the old colleges of education and polytechnics. But with the change of status from the polytechnic to the university there was no longer a need for the C. N. A. A. within Staffordshire University. Validation of degrees could occur within the university itself.

So, why did Staffordshire University decide to diversify its degree program? There were certainly enough prospective students to recruit. As the sports industry increased so did jobs, and so did the number of students wishing to be employed in a sports environment. Additionally there was an academic justification and a political need for the venture. As sport could entice many more students than other academic areas, the university whole heartily advised sport, as a field of knowledge, to diversify, thus increasing student numbers and revenue to the university. Supplementary, the Government to science degrees, compared with Art degrees awarded more money, so a move into sports science would be financially rewarding for the Sport, Heath and Exercise department, as an entity. Although there was still a market, in sport, for Bachelor of Art degrees.

The five new Degrees not only attracted more money but also offered more flexibility for the student, as a modular system was introduced. One hundred and twenty credits for one academic year needed to be acquired by scholars. Each subject usually contained ten credits (with the exception of double modules), thus twelve disciplines were generally studied per year. During all three years certain core modules needed to be studied, but these dwindled in number as each year passed. By the third year the predominant structure of the degree was individually chosen, thus providing increased flexibility for the student. The credits received, through this modular type of study, could be transferred into other organisations, who delivered similar programmes, and vice versa. This pattern of study was to be the way of the future, and brought Staffordshire University into line with the rest of the United Kingdom’s sports academia.

With the introduction of these five degrees physical education, under the premise of Sport, Health and Exercise again boasted to have its own department. This development coincided with the first female members of staff being appointed within the department (though a few females taught on the BA Sport and Recreation under other schools, such as politics and economics). In 1993 Dr. Jayne Mitchell and Dr. Lorraine Cale were appointed. In September of that year Dr. Bruce Hale was also appointed, an American, the first overseas lecturer. The number of overseas lecturers, as well as female lecturers steadily increased over this period, adding a more balanced environment to the division. With its own department, Sport, Health and Exercise could access new avenues of academic study. John Wyse, Helen Piggott and Kim Buxton became the first researchers/assistant lecturers at the university. This research ethic continued via a postgraduate qualification returning to Staffordshire University in 1996, through a Masters of Science: Sport, Health and Exercise programme. Additionally Masters of Philosophy and Doctorates in Philosophy courses are also available in a variety of academic areas.

Though the introduction of the modular system, and new degrees has undoubtedly led to an expansion of the department there has been a price to pay. As five degrees were introduced the famous team spirit of the BA Sport and Recreation degree students appeared to disappear. Annual sporting events, such as swimming galas and rounders competitions have dispersed, and the commitment towards sporting societies is diminishing, as the pressure to succeed in academic life increases (Kent, A, 1999). The introduction of the Athletics Union for the 1994/95 Academic year was initiated to assist the students in the running of sport societies. But this venture has led to a reliance on this service and students, in general, are not as devoted to sport as in previous years (Kent, A, 1999).

The degree awards were to change again in 1997, leading to more diversity. Nine new degrees were to be offered for prospectus students enrolling in September 1997, making fourteen in all:

Fig 2: Additional sports-related Degrees offered by Staffordshire University in 1997

1, BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Sciences
2, BSc (Hons) Sport Sciences and Biology
3, BSc (Hons) Sport Sciences and Geography
4, BSc (Hons) Sport Sciences and Chemistry
5, BSc (Hons) Sport Sciences and Geology
6, BSc (Hons) Sport Sciences and Physics
7, BSc (Hons) Sport Sciences and Electronics
8, BSc (Hons) Sport Sciences and Applied Statistics
9, BSc (Hons) Sport Sciences and Information Systems

The BSc Sport and Exercise Science award was the brainchild of Nigel Gleeson (later Dr. Nigel Gleeson) and has been a continuing success with numbers increasing every year. The politics behind the introduction of the sports science scheme was that, sciences within the university were not recruiting a huge number of students. So a link with sport was introduced in order to add appeal to the science discipline. But some degrees did not even recruit one student. Electronics, applied statistics, physics and geology were therefore deleted as appropriate degrees under the Sport, Health and Exercise banner. Chemistry has since fallen by the wayside as only one second-year student currently exists on this degree award. Further restructuring occurred in 1998, but not in the form of whole new degrees. A restructuring of the first year of all degrees took place, making them more succinct with each other. In September 2000 Sport, Health and Exercise will offer nine degrees, the original five plus BSc sport and exercise science, and BSc sports sciences with biology, geography and information systems.

During this period of diversity, Staffordshire University was to lose Dr. Basil Ashford. By the end of the 1997/98 academic year Dr. Basil Ashford was Associate Dean of Sport, Health and Exercise within the School of Health (changed to School of Health from School of Science in 1997). He had spent the majority of his working life nurturing the different departments of Madeley, North Staffordshire Polytechnic and Staffordshire University through various changes in identity and status, not to mention the knowledge he passed on to numerous staff and students. He was a true pioneer of his time. He retired after 35 years of service, and was replaced as Associate Dean by Professor Roger Bartlett from Manchester Metropolitan University. But Professor Bartlett only stayed a few months in the job, and left Barter and Mitchell, both now principal lecturers in joint charge. Sadder news was to follow. After enjoying only 3 months of retirement Dr. Basil Ashford died of a heart attack. His passing marked a watershed in the history of the institution.

Barter and Mitchell ran Sport, Health and Exercise until the arrival of Professor Tom Cochrane, from Sheffield Hallam University in 1999, who became the new Associate Dean. Hopefully he will lead Staffordshire University’s Division of Sport, Health and Exercise into a new era of prosperity with the same exuberance as the distinguished leaders of the past.


From a humble beginning of temporary buildings at Nelson Hall, Madeley College became one of the finest Physical Education teacher training colleges in the country. Through government policies and the diminishing birth rate, Madeley unfortunately was forced to close. Housing estates have now taken the place of a once prosperous college at both the Nelson Hall and Madeley sites. The many families living there will probably be oblivious of how they have come about their residency.

The move to North Staffordshire polytechnic was filled with bitterness. Many staff lost their jobs, others decided to retire. Although sad, in hindsight a rationale choice was made. At North Staffordshire polytechnic the old Madeley Department soon established itself under a new guise of the Department of Geography and Recreation. The BA Sport and Recreation degree blossomed, but finally made way for a new approach to learning. The modular system provided a flexible approach, and enabled students to decide how to structure their degree. It is still utilised, under the many different forms of degree now available.

The past has provided many influential figures, too many to mention. The course itself has changed dramatically, from Physical Education teacher training, to a Bachelor of Arts degree, to the present array of Bachelor of Science and Art degrees. What will happen in the future is an unknown quantity, but one thing is for certain, the history of the origins of this division should never be forgotten.

Shane Kent. 24/01/00

Historical & Comparative Perspectives on Sport

Master of Science

Sport Health & Exercise Science

Staffordshire University


Barter, T. J. (1999). The history of Madeley College, North Staffordshire Polytechnic and Staffordshire University’s sports department. (Cassette Recording).

Bayman, D. (1986). Undergraduate degrees, postgraduate courses and higher education provision in physical education and sport. In Proceedings of the VIII Commonwealth and International Conference on Sport, Physical Education, Dance, Recreation and Health. Conference. Glasgow. Trends and developments in Physical Education. E. & F. N. Spon: London.

Biddle, S. (1999) Obituary: Dr. Basil Ashford. BASES Newsletter.

Fowler, G. (1984). Policy formulation and administration: A Critique in R. J. Alexander., M. Craft, & J. Lynch. (Ed.). Change in teacher education. Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Hargreaves, A. (1999). The history of Madeley College and North Staffordshire Polytechnic’s sports department. (Cassette recording).

Heafield, S. (1999). The history of Madeley College and North Staffordshire Polytechnic’s sports department. (Cassette recording).

Kent, A. (1999). The history of Staffordshire Universities sports department. (Cassette recording).

Musgrove, F. (1975) Education and Physical Education in the 1980’s. In. Hargreaves, A (Ed.). Teaching Physical Education today and tomorrow: Conference report 1975. Madeley, Nr. Crewe.

Thompson, I. (1986). Professional training in Physical Education and sport within a binary system of higher and further education in England 1944-1985. In Proceedings of the VIII Commonwealth and International Conference on Sport, Physical Education, Dance, Recreation and Health. Conference. Glasgow. Trends and developments in Physical Education. E. & F. N. Spon: London.

Main figures who changed the face of Madeley College

Ian Ward, surely the brightest and most positive actor and thinker at Madeley. It was Ian, the first senior lecturer to be appointed and the man who initiated academic studies at the college. He came with national reputation, as an athlete and with a background, which included an experience of American society. It was only really after Ian left for Liverpool University that Basil had a basis of experience to continue the progress made. Sadly, Ian is dead. A great guy, capable of destroying anyone showing too many ‘jock characteristics’, while impressing students with original thinking and wild experiences in his home in Cheswardine.

If Basil ran the Psychology. Bob Davis was left to teach the History and Contemporary aspects. Yep, he was at Madeley, too, for all the 21 years of Madeley’s short life and the transition into the forced marriage with North Staffs. Poly. Some will remember the ‘alternative’ programmes of educational gymnastics and expressive movement; the development of hockey and the sailing experiences at Betley Lake. None of this world shattering, but part of the Madeley experience.

Nor should we forget the outdoor education guys, who gave part of their lives to give students a wider experience. Pengelly was the first, but Fred Smith should not be forgotten. For me he was best of the bunch, but he came back to England after huge experiences in Australia and New Zealand, only to die unexpectedly. I wouldn’t wish to miss out John Potter who played his part after Fred left.

Now I’ve lived to bury my third and greatest colleague and friend. Sam Heafield, Head of Madeley Physical Education Department has died at 92. Someone we owe everything to, he built our department and appointed a great staff to help him.


Bob Davis
Former Physical Education Lecturer
Madeley College

July 2010

%d bloggers like this: