LEAVER The Holly Leaf (April 1919)

Mr Arthur J. Arnold (Principal) - Left 1919

The history of Mr. Arnold for the last twenty years is the history of the Pupil Teacher Centre in Holly Street, for Mr. Arnold became principal of the Centre on April 25th, 1899, and the "new" Centre was opened by the Duke of Devonshire on October 9th, 1899.  With all the many changes which the Centre has undergone since that time, Mr. Arnold has been intimately associated, guiding and organising those imposed by the alterations in the policy of the Board of Education, and initiating and controlling many other scarcely less vital.

In the early days of the Centre the Annual Queen's Scholarship list gave the names of pupil teachers finishing their apprenticeship and seeking entrance into a training college in order to merit, and Mr. Arnold's ambitions, expressed soon after he became principal, were two, that one of his students should be at the head of the Q.S. List, and that one of them should become Senior Prefect at Mr. Arnold's own old College, Borough Road.  It was not long before both these ambitions were attained.  On the Q.S. List for December, 1900, the last one on which the students were placed in order of merit, W. W. S. Legge was the top man in all England;  and two years later the same student was the Senior Prefect at Borough Road.  In December, 1902, the centre again gained great distinction in this examination.  At this time the Scholarship list was published with the names of the successful students in small groups.  The first group of the first class this year contained 19 names, and of these now fewer than four were from the Sheffield P. T. Centre.

In the early days of 1900, Mr. Arnold assembled the first Matriculation class.  Before this time an ambitious student had occasionally taken the examination, but the School Board had not staffed the Centre generously enough for regular tuition to be provided.  Since that time 277 students have matriculated at London, or in the Northern Universities Joint Board examination, of these 14 have graduated at London, 112 at Sheffield, and 3 at other universities.  In 1904 the first Intermediate Arts class was formed, and later, with the equipping of a laboratory, an Intermediate Science class.  From these classes 42 have gained open scholarships, chiefly tenable at the Sheffield University.

During the first few years, pupil teachers in their last two years of apprenticeship only attended the Centre one afternoon, two evenings, and Saturday morning, teaching in the schools for nine half days per week.  With the change to a two year apprenticeship and half time at the Centre, the number of P.T.'s was reduced, and their duties, which before had been very arduous, became less exacting.  Under the new conditions it became possible to do more to enlarge their outlook, and to take a more individual interest in them and their work.  This was a change of which Mr. Arnold was glad to take advantage.  Since then he has over and over again devised plans for extending the interests of the boys and girls, and so better fitting them in their turn to become useful teachers.

About the time of the above change of system, Mr. Arnold persuaded the Governors to allow the students Wednesday afternoon for recreation.  Let all succeeding generations of P.T.'s speak of the boon that has been.  It has been reflected in increased energy and better health.  With the acquisition of the playing field at High Storrs, the Wednesday afternoon became more and more highly appreciated.

Mr. Arnold almost at once began to coach a hockey team of girls, and he was closely associated with this sport until the commencement of the war, when his abundant energies were transferred to other more urgent needs.  He was very proud of his hockey team.  It has throughout been one of the most successful teams in the district;  indeed, three times it has passed through an entire season undefeated.  In the summer Mr. Arnold took a great interest in the boys' cricket.  The annual match against Mr. Arnold's team (chiefly composed of old boys) was one of the events of the season.

In 1906 at Mr. Arnold's suggestion, the Education Committee made a grant to certain students to enable them to spend their summer vacation at a holiday course in France.  Mr. Arnold himself accompanied the boys to Besancon in 1908 and attended the course with them, and so was able to speak of the value of it from first-hand knowledge.  Parties were sent to various continental university towns each summer until 1914.

A further widening of the interests of the Centre was shown by the publication of the first number of the school magazine, in December, 1907.  The Holly Leaf has from the first issue ranked high among school magazines, and it would be difficult to estimate how much of this is due to Mr. Arnold.  Editor after editor has had cause to congratulate himself upon the fact that he has had the principal to fall back upon when short of copy.  Often it has been the last minute when he has been called on, but the quality of his contributions has never suffered.  The pages of the Holly Leaf are adorned with many interesting articles from his pen, and also with short poems of very high merit.  In particular, the little character sketches of the boys who have fallen in the war, all from Mr. Arnold's pen, have been recognised by those who knew the boys, as little masterpieces.

After the Cockerton judgement was pronounced it seemed uncertain for a time whether the Centre could legally be carried on by the School Board.  That menace was removed, but since then on more than one occasion when the policy of the Board of Education has been in the direction of closing Pupil Teacher Centres the existence of the Sheffield Centre has been threatened, but owing to the advocacy of Mr. Arnold, and the recognition by the Education Committee of the excellence of the work being done under his leadership, the Centre has succeeded in weathering all storms until now.  Mr. Arnold has never failed to assert his belief in the Pupil Teacher system and certainly under him the Sheffield Centre has been very successful, and its former students have done, or are doing, excellent service in all grades of schools.

In 1904 an association of old students, the Holly Guild was formed under the guidance and presidency of Mr. Arnold.  Until the last two or three years during which its activities have been suspended owing to war conditions, it has enjoyed a flourishing existence.

The greatest change in the Centre during the last twenty years has already been hinted at, it is the change in spirit of the place.  During the first few years owing to the short time available, nearly all attention has necessarily to be devoted to success in the all important professional examination.  There was very little time or opportunity for principal and staff to become personally acquainted with the boys and girls.  Now there is a genuine spirit of camaraderie amongst all, and this is very largely due to Mr. Arnold's personality.

Every student feels himself at liberty to consult the principal upon any subject, personal or general;  and the way in which the old boys home on leave during the last four years have hastened to the Centre speaks volumes for the spirit which animates the place.

Mr. Arnold's all-round capacity has been of the greatest value to the Centre.  His Wednesday morning lessons on a wide range of topics have been stimulating to the highest degree, retaining a place in the students' memory years after they were given, and opening their minds to interests they have afterwards made their own.  In their formal studies, Mr. Arnold has always set a high standard of attainment for his students.  It has been common knowledge that if a student has been successful in an examination set by Mr. Arnold he need fear no outside examiner.

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It is difficult to imagine the Centre without Mr. Arnold, but we are sure that for many days to come Centre, staff and students will retain the imprint of his personality.  He carries with him the cordial good-will of all who have been associated with him at any time during the past twenty years, and our best wishes that he may be as happy and successful in his new work as he has been in his old.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 16th, an unusual gathering of Centre Students and Staff had met to bid farewell to Mr. Arnold.  There were no outsiders present, only Mr. And Mrs. Arnold, Mrs. Wild, Mr. Jack Arnold and ourselves.  It was a solemn occasion and the laughter which broke out at times quickly died away.  The programme was a simple one.  Of course, there were songs.  We sang together our old favourites, The Recessional, Admirals All, The Prayer for Peace, songs all rich with Centre association.

At one point Mrs. Arnold presented the Hockey Colours to two girls and after this May Richardson came forward with a pretty bouquet of roses which she gave to Mrs. Arnold after a graceful and clearly spoken little speech.  Three girls, Connie Stockil, Vera Hunt and Muriel Douthwaite sang solos which were much applauded, but all were awaiting the great event of the afternoon.  At last Connie Allcard stepped from her place and with admirable self-control and dignity addressed Mr. Arnold, presenting him with a handsome travelling case, the offering of the present students.  Connie expressed well what all were feeling.  She spoke with appreciation of Mr. Arnold's work and of his influence and particularly of those Wednesday morning talks which have stimulated the interest of many generations of students in art and literature.  Reynolds then spoke for the boys, laying stress on the kindly feeling between Mr. Arnold and the students lately returned to the Centre after a period of active service.  They would certainly miss, but they would never forget, their old Principal.

After this, Mr. Dudley presented Mr. Arnold with an armchair, the gift of the staff, clerk and caretaker, and spoke feelingly of the loss which Mr. Arnold's departure would mean to the Centre.  Mr. Head followed with the same note of regret, and his hearers realised that ties between Staff and Principal lasting through long years cannot lightly be severed.

When Mr. Arnold rose to reply he was very warmly applauded by his audience and then listened to with marked attention.  We were not sorry when the seriousness of the moment was turned to laughter by Mr. Arnold who humorously referred to other difficult occasions in his career.

Amongst other things Mr. Arnold spoke with enthusiasm of the pending appointment of a Director of Education for Sheffield whose coming, if he were a man of high ideals, imagination and vision, would mean to much for the City.  But his words to the students were of paramount interest.  They must, he said, cultivate courtesy and good manners;  they must keep bright ideals and cherish a sober discontent lest they should live in a fool's paradise of complacency.  They must not work for rewards;  they must give themselves to their work.  He spoke too of reading, of friendships and of religion.  It is not easy now to recall the actual words, but as we listened we came under the spell.  We saw life as a grand and noble thing and the future was ours.  We would strive, we would succeed, we would "follow the Gleam!"

It was in this mood that we all joined in our favourite hymn "Fight the good fight."  Then came the final goodbyes and handshakings.  All was over and one important chapter in the history of the school had been closed.  Reluctantly the students left the Centre and in the little room with the red Persian rug there now reigns a silence which can be felt.

Alan Lomax - NOTES :- Mr. Arnold died on 29th. July 1940 in London