Podcast - Syndics


23 Nov 2020 (3:19)

Download this podcast (mp3, 2.3mb)

Syndics - an extract from from Chapter 1 of 'Examining the World: A History of the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate', by Elisabeth Leedham Green.

As part of a special series of short podcasts, Cambridge Assessment's Group Archivist Gillian Cooke shares a unique insight into the history of exams.

Find out more about our Archives & Heritage

Podcast transcript

Alana Walden: [00:00:07.34]

Hello. Welcome to the Cambridge Assessment Podcast. I'm Alana Walden, and I'm here to introduce a special series from Cambridge Assessment's Archives and Heritage. In each episode, our group archivist Gillian Cooke shares short extracts from Examining the World: A History of the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, our publication that shares a unique insight into the history of exams.

Gillian Cooke: [00:00:36.64]

Syndics from Chapter 1 of Examining the World by Elisabeth Leedham Green 

Gillian Cooke: [00:00:41.64]

'Attention was called to the omission of any reference to the making of paper patterns in the new Needlework schedule.'

Gillian Cooke: [00:00:47.54]

Clearly a trivial question for a sub-sub-sub-syndicate committee way back in the 1880s.  

Gillian Cooke: [00:00:52.88]

Wrong.  In fact a matter considered by the full Syndicate on 27 February 1930, a time when steps had recently been taken to extend membership of the Syndicate to external members, but when individuals actively engaged in teaching and research in the University were strongly represented.

Gillian Cooke: [00:01:10.82]

How much, we may wonder, did how many of them understand the not inconsiderable mysteries of the making of paper patterns?

Gillian Cooke: [00:01:17.84]

Syndicates, in Cambridge parlance, are committees established to manage or oversee particular aspects of the University's business.

Gillian Cooke: [00:01:25.44]

Members are, typically, appointed by the University to serve for a set number of years and are known as Syndics

Gillian Cooke: [00:01:32.74]

The great majority of Syndics [for the Local Examinations] either examined or conducted examinations or both.

Gillian Cooke: [00:01:39.54]

Several of them had been members of the University’s Council of the Senate when it accepted the original proposals in November 1857 and set up the first permanent syndicate in the following month.

Gillian Cooke: [00:01:50.84]

It was very much a 'hands-on' operation.

Gillian Cooke: [00:01:53.71]

The involvement of so many distinguished members of the University indicates the importance the University attached to the standard of teaching in schools, naturally enough, as it hoped to attract its share of the cream of the school leavers.

Gillian Cooke: [00:02:07.64]

At the same time the association of the University lent them a status likely to commend them to schools.

Gillian Cooke: [00:02:15.84]

The Syndicate originally comprised twelve resident members of the University holding university or college posts, under the chairmanship of the Vice-Chancellor.

Gillian Cooke: [00:02:25.54]

George Liveing served intermittently as a Syndic for thirteen years between 1863 and 1894.

Gillian Cooke: [00:02:33.58]

He was Professor of Chemistry and, allegedly, the first teacher of experimental science in the University.   

Gillian Cooke: [00:02:39.87]

Liveing's commitment to the local examinations was remarkable.  

Gillian Cooke: [00:02:44.63]

He was an examiner for the first examinations in chemistry, electricity and magnetism, and also conducted the examinations at Liverpool; he also cheerfully examined the preliminary subjects and English.

Alana Walden: [00:02:57.64]

Thank you for listening to the Cambridge Assessment Podcast. You can find more of our podcasts on our website, just search for Podcast Gallery. Or you can find us on YouTube, Spotify and Apple podcasts.

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