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It took more than 50 years after the province was founded for New Brunswick to set up institutions designed to train teachers. In the early years, education was poorly organized, and anyone who wanted to teach could easily do so without any official training. Although the government tried to solve the problem on several occasions, these attempts were generally fruitless or had little impact. And so in 1847, the provincial government passed a law to set up a provincial teacher training college and a system of three different certificates to be awarded on graduation.
The first training school opened in Fredericton on February 10, 1848. The first principal, Marshall d'Avray, had returned from Mauritius, where he had founded a similar school, to take the position. Later the same year, another similar school opened in Saint John. Student teachers at the training schools were required to do a 10-week practice teaching rotation at a salary of 10 shillings per week. The length of the rotation was later extended to 12 weeks and later still to five months. The Fredericton school closed in 1850 owing to low enrolment, forcing students to transfer to the school in Saint John. In March 1867, a third training school opened in Chatham, but the number of students enrolled at the training schools remained fairly low in the early years. Students who preferred not to travel to take their training course and teachers who had received their certificates prior to 1847 refused to hand in their certificates and take the training course.
In 1870, the principal of the Saint John training school resigned and the school was closed. A decision was made to close the Chatham school at the same time and open a new school in Fredericton. On May 2, 1870, a training school called the Normal School was again set up in Fredericton. The Common Schools Act of 1871, which governed the public school system, meant increased funding for the Normal School. In 1877, the Normal School moved into a new, more comfortable building at the corner of Queen and York Streets.
The opening of the Normal School was a great advance for the citizens of New Brunswick, but Francophones in the province did not reap the benefits until later. In the beginning, classes were offered in English only and many Francophone teachers did not enrol because they were unable to follow the courses in English. In 1878, the Normal School formed a preparatory department for French-speaking student teachers. The department was actually a prep school that gave French-speaking student teachers training in French so that they could take the regular course in English the following year.
In 1884, changes were made to the French-language preparatory department so that Francophone student teachers could now take their teacher training in French and English. Students who completed the course in the preparatory department received a third-class certificate, the lowest level. Alphée Belliveau, the principal, was the only professor in the French department from 1880 to 1920. The French teacher also taught French to English-speaking student teachers. The French department continued to work this way until 1940-1941, when it was forced to change its mandate due to low enrolment.
In the early 20th century, the Normal School was the only institution that awarded certificates to graduating students. However, licensed teachers who wanted to round off their education could do so by attending summer school at one of the colleges or universities in New Brunswick. Université Saint-Joseph started to give summer courses in 1936, but the courses were not recognized by the government until 1948; the Université du Sacré-Cour de Bathurst had offered summer courses since 1938, but they were not recognized until 1968.
In 1947, the Normal School became the Teachers' College, and from 1949 on, teachers could get their permanent certificates after taking two summer sessions. Student teachers who completed the regular course received a conditional certificate, and were required to continue their education to receive their permanent certificate. That same year, the Board of Education announced other changes in the system. Those who already held a bachelor's degree in arts or science could take a one-year teacher training course at a Board-approved university and earn a bachelor's degree in education. In 1948, it was decided that some summer courses given by Mount Allison University, the University of New Brunswick and Université Saint-Joseph would earn credits towards a teacher's certificate. These changes led to the opening of a faculty of education at Université Saint-Joseph. From 1950 on, the faculty offered a bachelor's degree in education, adding a master's in education a little later.
Some schools affiliated with the Teachers' College were run by religious orders. The universities, including those in Bathurst and Edmundston, played a major role in providing training and continuing education for teachers in the province. It was also during this period that the Teachers' College was divided into two sectors, Anglophone and Francophone, so that student teachers could take education courses in their mother tongue. In 1957, further changes were made to the teachers' certificate system. Teachers would now receive licenses and permanent certificates coded from I to IV, according to how many years of university they had completed.
In 1968, after the Deutsch Commission presented its report, a French-language Normal School was opened on the Université de Moncton campus in Moncton, offering five-year programs.
In 1973, following the release of a report on teacher training programs in New Brunswick, the decision was made to close the Normal School in Fredericton and transfer its programs to the University of New Brunswick, where would-be teachers would take a four-year program. Courses at the Normal School in Moncton were taken over by the Université de Moncton, which offered a five-year program. The faculty of education at the Université de Moncton offered a master's degree in education, with an honours in school administration as an elective.