Chapter 12 Developments in the 1950s and 1960s



The 1950s continued to witness a series of Education Acts and pieces of legislation that impacted on technical and commercial education. Many of these Acts and reports would help shape and determine the future development of the Further and Higher Education sectors.

As will be seen after 1945, successive governments at last began to see that technical and commercial education was a key factor in the country’s future economic success. The first priority was technical education that resulted in a slower pace to improve commercial and art education. However, initially the majority of the money understandably was spent on schools particularly on capital projects e.g. suitable buildings but eventually in the 1950s more investment was made available to begin to tackle the poor state of colleges both in terms of accommodation and facilities. 1951 saw the introduction of the General Certificates of Education  (GCEs) at ‘O’ and ‘A’ level. These awards replaced the School Certificates (SCs) that had been offered since 1917. They were mainly aimed at students in Grammar and Secondary Technical Schools although increasingly Secondary Modern Schools students were taking them. Initially very few subjects were offered in commercial and practical subjects at ‘O’ and ‘A’ level. Also Colleges of Technology and Further Education offered these qualifications to students leaving Secondary Modern Schools.

In 1954 the Central Advisory Council for Education (England) published a report entitled ‘Early Leaving’. The committee was chaired by Samuel Gurney-Dixon and its terms of reference were: ‘To consider what factors influence the age at which boys and girls leave secondary school which provide courses beyond the minimum school-leaving age; to what extent it is desirable to increase the proportion of those who remain at school, in particular the proportion of those who remain at school roughly to the age of 18; and what steps should be taken to secure such an increase’.
The committee had access to hitherto unavailable data on social class information and as a result came up with a number of important proposals. It recommended improving the maintenance allowances for needy children staying on at school beyond 15. In addition it called for legislation to be introduced to pay family allowance for children still at school and favoured an increase in numbers attending grammar schools. Clearly these were important recommendations as it would increase the number of students progressing to colleges after leaving school.

The White Paper on Technical Education 1956.

This is a seminal publication and followed a speech by Winston Churchill in 1955. He was concerned about advances by the Russians in science and technology so it was very much a political issue and not necessarily one based on sound educational need. However it precipitated a major programme of investment in building up facilities for technology and technical education. Expenditure of £100 million was proposed to expand technical colleges and this reinforced the expansion plans for university technology departments announced in 1953. There was already evidence of the growth in science and technology numbers at universities as the number of students studying these subjects had doubled between 1939 and 1955. Also improvements to schools and colleges were gradually having a positive impact on enrolments and more teachers were being recruited. Employers and parents were also showing a growing interest in science and technology subjects,

The White Paper advocated an expansion of technical education at all levels i.e. further and higher. Up until 1956 the colleges evolved slowly into a heterogeneous group of institutions depending on their respective histories, courses offered and their student catchment areas. Basically one could identify three tiers namely regional, area and local colleges. They varied greatly in size and the range of courses offered and this determined their titles. The higher education element of the report recommended an expansion of full-time student numbers by the extension of sandwich courses. In addition the White Paper advocated the establishment of a new category of college namely the College of Advanced Technology (CATs) where the majority of the advanced courses outside the university sector would reside. Therefore the White Paper created a fourth category of colleges. This proposal eventually picked up one of the main proposals of the Percy Report published in 1945 that was described earlier.

Following the publication of the White Paper ‘Technical Education’ technical education experienced a number of changes including the eventual designation of ten Colleges of Advanced Technology (CATs), which were to be the apex of technical education. The lower levels of work were shifted to local colleges. A number of Regional Colleges were made CATs. CATs were eventually removed from local authority control and following the Robbins Report in 1963 were designated universities and not surprisingly many pleasingly used the word technology in their title. The main qualification studied was the degree equivalent Diploma of Technology (Dip. Tech.). The Diploma in Technology (Dip. Tech.) was created as a result of a committee established in 1956 and chaired by Hives. It was to be a degree equivalent qualification based on a full-time course of two or three year’s duration or a sandwich course consisting of six-monthly periods in industry that could last up to four years in duration. It is interesting to note that CATs were established a decade after Percy and well over a century after similar institutions were established in Germany. A parallel expansion occurred in the FE sector with a period of sustained capital investment to begin to improve accommodation and equipment in colleges. There were some interesting transitions in the attendance modes of students with fewer evening part-time numbers and an increasing number of day part-time students. Also many school leavers particularly those from secondary moderns, (I was one of them) went to their local colleges to take a variety of examinations by full-time study including CGLIs, O and A levels.

The ten CATs established were:
Birmingham College of Technology, Bradford Technical College, Bristol College of Technology, London: Battersea Polytechnic and Chelsea Polytechnic, Northampton, Loughborough College of Technology, Newcastle-on-Tyne Technical College, Salford Royal Technical College and Welsh College of Advanced Technology.

The CATs enrolled by far the most students studying the Dip. Tech qualification and table 1 shows the distribution of Dip. Tech programmes offered by the CATs.

Table 1. Dip. Tech Programmes in the CATs 1959/60.

CAT  Full-Time Sandwich
Birmingham 9
Bradford 2 5
Bristol 5
Battersea 8 6
Chelsea 2 1
Northampton 8
Loughborough 2 4
Salford 7
Wales 3
Totals: 14 48


Interesting to see the relative popularity of sandwich programmes that combined theory with actual work experience. The popularity of sandwich courses sadly has progressively declined over the recent decades. One of the main reasons for the decline was associated with student finances and the perceived need of students to complete the course as quickly as possible. Also related to the decline of sandwich programmes was the need by universities to reduce their costs. Recent research however shows that students who have undertaken sandwich courses and a significant period of relevant work experience stand a better chance of employment after graduating and gain at least a half better classification in their degree. They get paid during their work placement and often are offered employment by the work placement companies even before graduating. Currently the CGLI Senior Awards are used by a number of accredited universities and other organisations to recognise the work placement element of the sandwich programme.

The following table shows the gradual growth in science and engineering courses in colleges between 1950 and 1955 for students taking National Awards.

Table 2.Ordinary and Higher Certificates and Diplomas Awarded Between 1950 and 1955 in Science and Engineering.

1950 10,581 337 4,961  293
1951 10,617 299 5,564 351
1952 11,302 253 6,226 250
1953 10,898 214 6,452 312
1954 11,957 361 6,827 248
1955 13,458 412 7,371 229

In 1959 the Crowther Report was published simply entitled ‘15 to 18’. It proved to be an important report and had implications for technical education. Its terms of reference were ‘the education of boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 18’. One of the recommendations was that provision of Further Education for 15 – 18 year olds, especially for school leavers should be made available on a free basis. It also raised some important questions about the value of day-release provision for apprenticeships. As I mentioned in chapter 1 the level of day release has always raised concerns about the commitment by employers to support this mode of attendance. The report pointed out that only 40% of 15-17 year-olds were involved in some sort of day release programme. The report identified the tendency in this country to treat education and training as separate entities and argued strongly they should become more closely related and integrated. It pointed out that technical education and vocational training in other countries was much better coordinated and integrated and this issue is still as valid and alive today! The philosophy of voluntarism has persisted to a large extent for much of the time covered by this history where successive governments remained distant from direct involvement in technical education and training that allowed employers, if they wished, to take decisions unhindered by any government policy. The Crowther Report had noted that ‘more and more people are coming to believe that it is wrong to label children for all time at 11.’ This quote is referring to the 11+ plus examination. As a result many local authorities ceased the 11+ plus examinations and created comprehensive schools. Technical High and Secondary Modern Schools then formed part of the comprehensive system. The comprehensive schools/sector did not develop a meaningful technical and vocational curriculum basically continuing the elements from the secondary modern schools namely domestic science metalwork and woodwork. sadly another opportunity missed!

‘Better Opportunities in Technical Education’ (1961).

Another seminal White Paper ‘Better Opportunities in Technical Education’ (1961) placed a greater emphasis on provision for technicians, craftspeople and operatives.
The White Paper had four primary aims namely:

  • To broaden the education received by students and provide continuity between school and college
  • Provision at colleges to be better matched to the needs of industry and to urgently improve facilities for technicians
  • Increase the range of courses to suit the needs and ability of the students
  • Tackle the high failure and wastage rates experienced by students.

Some of the chief proposals were:

  • Preliminary courses in evening institutes be discontinued and students should start at a college immediately after leaving school
  • Improvement in selection procedures and colleges should PILOT induction courses and tutorial methods (where have we heard that before!)
  • ONC courses should last two years instead of three
  • Courses for technicians, craftspeople and operatives should be reformed and extended in range and scope
  • New courses known as General courses (designated by G and the year of study e.g. G1, G2 etc.) that allowed progression on to Technician course (T courses)
  • Development of more day release courses and students should not have to rely wholly on evening study
  • Sandwich and block release courses should be increasingly developed.

G courses were designed for school leavers who had potential to qualify as technicians by studying part-time or by block release study. Successful completion of a G course would allow progression onto an ONC or to the second year of a T course. G courses were externally administered by the CGLI and the six Regional Examining Bodies (REBs). Courses were offered in a number of subjects including construction, engineering, mining, printing, science, and textiles. Table 3 shows the enrolments for G courses in 1963 and 1968.

Table 3. G Courses: No. of Candidates and No. and % Qualifying for ONC and T2.

Construction 1,950  722 (37%) 756
Engineering 15,454 3,942 (26%) 6,080 (39%) 11,423 4,216
Mining 503 211
Printing 236 55
Science 1,501 595
Shipbuilding 63 11
Textiles 18 2
116 57
Totals 15,472 3,944
15,792 5,867
% Pass rate:

Table 4 illustrates the state of the Ordinary  Certificates and Diplomas again for the years 1963 and 1968

Table 4. Number of Candidates and Number and % Pass Rates for ONC /Ds.

Subjects 1963 1968 1963 1968
Building (e) 3,771
(p) 2,292
(e) 2,630
(p) 1,632
(e) 341
(p) 224
(e) 499
(p) 365
Mechanical Engineering (e) 19,017
(p) 9,082
None (e) 491
Electrical Engineering (e) 9,523
(p) 5,260
None (e) 31
(p) 19
Engineering None (e) 15,261
(p) 9,452
(e) 318
(p) 218
(e) 1,637
(p) 1,107
Metallurgy (e) 761
(p) 424
None None None
Mining and
(e) 832
(p) 493
(e) 191
(p) 128
None None
Grand totals all subjects (e) 38,702
(p) 20,067
(e) 22,731
(p) 14,136
(e) 1,181
(p) 745
(e) 2,444
(p) 1,683
% Pass rate: 51.8% 62.2% 63% 68.9%

Key: e – entered
p – passed

Table 5 below shows same data for Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNC/HNDs):

Table 5. Number of Candidates and Number and % Pass Rates for HNCs/HNDs.

Subject 1963 1968 1963 1968
Building (e) 1,740
(p) 1,335
(e) 3,275
(p) 2,784
(e) 144
(f) 122
(e) 377
(p) 337
(e) 6,241
(p) 4,040
(e) 5,174
(p) 3,416
(e) 675
(p) 586
(e) 1,241
(p) 1,035
(e) 4,461
(p) 2,833
(e) 5,250
(p) 3,024
(e) 278
(p) 209
(e) 756
(p) 603
(e) 761
(p) 608
(e) 1,034
(p) 845
(e) 34
(p) 32
(e) 152
(p) 141
(e) 811
(p) 572
(e) 680
(p) 518
None None
Metallurgy (e) 379
(p) 298
(e) 303
(p) 243
(e) 33
(p) 31
(e) 76
(p) 65
Textiles (e) 75
(p) 69
(e) 31
(p) 27
None (e) 18
(p) 18
Grand totals all
(e) 17,462
(p) 11,574
(e) 19,551
(p) 13,496
(e) 1,398
(p) 1,165
(e) 3,243
(p) 2,670
% pass rate 66.3% 69% 83.3% 82.3%

Key: e–entered

Technician-Courses (TCs)

There were two types of T-courses namely; “End-on” and “Ab Initio”. In 1961 there were 23 ab initio and 26 end-on courses running in such subjects as building, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, the utilities and furniture. These courses had no age restriction for study and special arrangements were made for mature entrants e.g. they could study single subjects depending on work and career aspirations.

Ab Initio courses were designed for particular occupations and required two years full time study or part-time study over four years and opportunities existed for progression onto higher qualifications. There were just two such courses in 1961 but by 1968 this had grown to 90 involving thirteen occupational areas. The range of subjects approved by CGLI was remarkable spanning such areas as: mining/quarrying, food technology, metal manufacturing, engineering specialisms, automotive, building, textiles and even programmes in photography, computing and technical illustration. In 1967 there were 105,734 candidates registered with CGLI and the REBs with a pass rate of 66.1% (69,874).

I have presented this rather detailed set of data and brief analysis to illustrate the overall state of technical education by the 1960s. The tables reflect the decline of traditional industries such as textiles and shipbuilding and the relatively slow growth in the new technologies. The decline in ONCs can be identified with the introduction of the T-courses. But in spite of these worthy developments the overall picture was somewhat depressing. One aspect of these concerns was picked up by The Dainton Committee (1968) addressing the declining numbers of students entering HE in science and technology.

Another depressing fact was that the overall participation and pass rates remained stubbornly low. It was a critical time for this country, two decades after the war with the continuing decline of our traditional industries and the slow response to recognise the importance of new manufacturing and managements techniques. Overseas competition was increasing from such countries as Germany and Japan. England still lacked the necessary critical mass of a well-trained, skilled and adaptable workforce at all levels of industry. Real evidence was emerging of our continuing low levels of productivity, declining industrial competitiveness, skill shortages and industrial poaching within the small stock of competent, experienced and qualified workers. To further complicate the assessment of the needs of industry and labour market intelligence there were increasing numbers of school leavers trying to enter the labour market. After the 1944 Act the main responsibility for technical education had fallen almost by default on colleges. In hindsight they never received the level of sustained investment that was necessary in order to compensate for decades of neglect. Little evidence exists to show that employers offered in – company training programmes and normally they recruited directly from universities, colleges and schools. The majority of school leavers still opted for the narrow academic curriculum personified by ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels which contributed to the low participation levels in technical subjects and the low value placed on technical education and the associated examinations by parents and young people.

To be fair other factors contributed to this low participation level: poor careers advice in schools, lack of maintenance grants for college students and the supposed high status of the academic sixth form. The majority of school leavers still entered jobs, which offered no formal training, and those who did receive training embarked on apprenticeship programmes. In 1964 240,000 school leavers undertook apprenticeship training but these programmes were increasingly becoming outmoded and inappropriate for the latter half of the 20th century. Weaknesses included questionable age and gender criteria for entry, often the absence of proper off-job training but the main criticism was the rigidity of the programmes which required long periods of training before qualifications could be gained. The negative effects of this time serving regime have only recently been highlighted. Likewise, it has only recently been accepted that apprenticeships must be governed by effective national standards of competence and proficiency that they must recognise the different abilities of trainees, and ensure that this flexibility is part of the training framework.

The White Paper ‘Better Opportunities in Technical Education’ stands out as a seminal piece of legislation that made a number of positive recommendations which added impetus to the development of technical education but as usual it was too little too late. One positive consequence during this time was the recognition by the professional bodies and the Council of Education Institutions (CEI) of the need to classify the skills needed by industry. In addition the CEI clarified progression routes for professional status for engineers. The examinations staged by the CEI have continued and are now jointly managed by the Engineering Council (EC/UK) and CGLI and offer recognition for the three grades of the engineering team namely the Engineering Technicians, Incorporated Engineers and Chartered Engineers. The Haslegrave Report (1969), see later, on Technician Courses and Examinations advocated amongst other proposals a greater coherence between the technician, the technician engineer and the chartered engineer. In addition the Haslegrave Report recommended a rationalisation of examinations for people employed as technicians in technical areas and also in business and commerce. Following the implementation of the Haslegrave proposals Ordinary and Higher certificates and diplomas, G and T courses were replaced by Technician Education Council (TEC), Business Education Council (BEC) and Design and Art Education Council (DATEC).

Industrial Training.

By 1953 approximately 70 industries had established nationally agreed industrial training schemes for their respective industries but the implementation locally and the understanding of them was patchy and overall ineffective. The trade unions continued to be suspicious and obstructive over the entry requirements for apprenticeships preferring to concentrate on the importance of time serving rather than the quality and relevance of the apprenticeship programmes. The issue of time serving was always a contentious matter with apprenticeships, an issue that persists today. The important issue is to recognise the differences between the ability and motivation of the apprentices and not assume they are all the same and to configure the programmes that recognise this diversity. i.e. ‘programmes that are flexible and fit for purpose’.

The continuing concern about the provision and its quality led to the establishment of the ‘Industrial Training Act’ in 1964 which created the Industrial Training Boards (ITBs). Prior to the Act there had been a number of half baked attempts to improve industrial training. One such attempt was in 1959 when a report entitled ‘Training for Skill’ which had tried to differentiate education and training and exclude any government involvement in training. This was a classic example of fudge and mudge with the government attempting to establish a very weak compromise between the employers and the trade unions and it was not helped by weak leadership from the then Ministry of Labour.

The inadequate situation of industrial training continued to cause concern and in 1962 a White Paper revisited the issue reflecting these concerns and fortunately showed a major shift in the attitudes to training by employers. The White Paper proposed a more central control of industrial training and that it could not be just left to employers to manage. Following the White Paper the Industrial Training Act in 1963 implemented its proposals, greatly assisted by, a strengthened Ministry of Labour which received more informed advice from the Central Advisory Council. It proposed bring training into central control including the way apprenticeships were operated and provided new opportunities to bring about significant changes to all levels of industrial and technical training. The Bill had a direct link with the developments in Wales (see below). However the devil was in the detail as the legislation as always depended on the attitudes and commitment of successive governments. I will consider the consequences of the Act in later chapters.

Wales also considered the issue of Industrial Training in 1961 in a report of the Central Advisory Council for Education (Wales) on Technical Education in Wales. The committee was chaired by Oldfield Davies and its terms of reference were: ‘In the light of contemporary changes in the industrial pattern of Wales, to consider what educational provision should be made to serve the best interest of industry and those employed in it’. The recommendations including a significant proposal to reform apprenticeships and to establish a national craft apprenticeship scheme managed by the Ministry of Education. Devolution was a long way off so inevitably these proposals were not implemented and had to wait until the various developments in England. The Industrial Training Act 1964 finally led to the general adoption of first-year full-time courses for apprentices. In some ways this delay made sense as what was urgently required was a standardised approach to industrial training across the whole country but it did highlight the frustrations that the home countries must have experienced over many decades /centuries having to wait for England to catch up.

The primary functions of the Act were:

  • To enable decisions on the scale of training to be better related to economic needs and technological developments;
  • To improve the overall quality of industrial training and to establish minimum standards; and
  • To enable the cost to be more easily spread between government and the employers.
  • The Minister of Labour would be given statuary powers to create Industrial Training Boards (ITBs) which would be responsible for specific industries. These ITBs would have the following operating functions:
  • Establishing policy for training in the industry, including such questions as the admission to training including apprenticeships, length of training, registration and the provision for the appropriate attendance at college.
  • Establishing standards of training and syllabuses for different occupations in the industry, taking into account the associated technical education required.
  • Providing advice and assistance about training to firms in the industry.
  • Devising tests to be taken by apprentices and other trainees on completion of training and, if necessary, at intermediate stages e.g. at the end of the first year.
  • Establishing qualifications and tests for the instructors.
  • Establishing and running training courses in its own training centres.
  • Paying grants to firms to reimburse them all or part of the costs incurred in the provision of approved training.
  • Paying allowances to trainees not taken on by companies while being trained in public, or the Board’s own training centres.
  • Collecting money from companies in the specific industry by means of a levy/grant.
  • Borrowing money as required.

As a result of the Act a Central Training Council (CTC) was created to advise the Minister and the creation of 29 ITBs able to operate the levy/grant system. The Act was initially welcomed by all the key parties e.g. employers, trade unions and training providers but by the 1970s major weaknesses were beginning to be identified. For example the ITBs only represented about half of the industries and the levy system was considered too complex and bureaucratic. Other major concerns included the difficulty of judging the quality of training and the subsequent decisions about levy imposition or exemption and also equality factors where the larger companies were more able to release employees compared with the small companies. One continuing concerns has always been how small and medium sized companies i.e. SMEs can be supported and represented by national organisations. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) possess very different problems from the larger companies particularly in terms of releasing employees for training and the costs associated with CPD. The Act however provided a distinct improvement in the quality and quantity of industrial training and established stronger working relationships between employers and colleges. Further reforms to industrial training occurred in 1973 with the ‘Employment and Training Act’ see chapter 13.

Regional Advisory Councils, Inspection Methods and other Organisations Associated with Technical and Commercial Education.

After the 1944 Act a number of Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) were established in 1947/8 – nine in England and one in Wales to co-ordinate the provision of further education in different areas of the country. They were established and funded by local education authorities. Their remit was to advise LEAs and their constituent colleges on the further education needs required in their regions and to encourage cooperation between colleges to reduce duplication of provision. The Councils would regularly review provision to identify gaps in their areas and would consider and approve higher level course applications from colleges. They also were required to create advisory committees and other forums to exchange ideas among colleges, employers and universities as well as staging conferences, seminars and staff development programmes. A number organised and made provision for examinations in conjunction with the REBs. Inevitably the bureaucratic course approval structure attracted a great deal of criticism and generated friction between the colleges and LEAs because of mismatches between local/ individual interests and educational judgements. Polytechnics argued quite rightly that they were serving a national catchment and should not be subjected to regional criteria. Having worked with three different RACs I experienced first hand the frustrations in getting approval for new technician and HE programmes. Looking back the influence of these Councils was very mixed with a number of positive benefits but at times they manifested great inertia. The role of the RACs was to change significantly during the following decades particularly following the Oakes Report (1978) and the creation of other national management funding bodies e.g. FEFC and LSCs.

The colleges’ work was inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate (HMI) and comprised both subject specialist and generalist inspectors supported by a General College Inspector and a Regional Staff Inspector. I remember with great pleasure the supportive and professional attitude these people possessed, a far cry from their successors e.g. FEFC, ALI and OfSTED.

The CBI have never really played an effective role in influencing national training policy as it lacked the power to compel employers to improve their investment in training. Its stance was very much based on non-intervention and has supported voluntary and free-market philosophies. Indeed a senior member of their Education Directorate in 1986 openly stated, “That any legislation to compel changes in training policy was perceived as constituting an intolerable financial burden on industry.”

The CBI did not have many members representing small and medium sized companies who were often unable to fund training and prone to poaching other companies’ employees and the real power anyway still resided with individual employers to develop effective training practices. The TUC like the CBI was limited in its ability to influence government policy and to enforce centrally negotiated policies on member unions. The unions were pre-occupied with overseeing the multitudinous complex of confusing and un-coordinated collective bargaining arrangements for whole industrial sectors down to small elements within companies. The Chambers of Commerce also manifestly failed to create a particularly effective local employer network lacking as they did the powers given to their counterparts in Germany. Many employers I have worked with in a number of different areas of the country have viewed the contributions made by the Chambers as being ineffective and irrelevant to their needs.

Some important developments:
In 1952 Imperial College raised to university status.
In 1955 the National Council for Technical Awards (NCTA) established and eventually became the Council for National Academic Awards in 1964.
In 1959 Lord Hailsham appointed Minister of Science.
In 1960 the Beloe Report recommended the creation of the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE).
In 1963 the Colleges of Advanced of Technology (CATs) become universities after the recommendations of the Robbins Report.
In 1964 Department of Education and Science (DES) replaced Ministry of Education (MoE).
In 1964 Industrial Training Act.
In 1964 the Schools Council for Curriculum and Examinations (SCCE) established following Lockwood Report.
In 1965 Science and Technology Act created a number of Research Councils to advise the Department of Education and Science (DES). Advisory Council on Technology also created to advise the Ministry of Technology.
In 1966 the Central Council for Science and Technology created to advise Cabinet Office.
In 1966 the White Paper ‘ A Plan for Polytechnics and Other Colleges’ – created the foundations of the binary system for polytechnics and universities and 30 new Polytechnics in England and Wales were created from regional and the larger area colleges.
In 1968 the Science and Technology in Higher Education Report (Dainton) – attempted to address the reduction of students studying science and technology.
In 1968 the Education Act – proposed comprehensive schools.
In 1969 the Report of the Committee on Technician Courses and Examinations (Haselgrave) published – recommended the establishment of TEC and BEC (see chapter 13).

Part 13 will further consider the developments in the late 1960s including the creation of the Polytechnics and the Haselgrave Review into qualifications associated with technician and business education and the developments and the initiatives in the 1970s following on from the developments in the 1950/60s.

Aldrich. R. (Editor). ‘A Century of Education’. Falmer Press. ISBN 0-415-24323-8. 2002.
Summerfield. P and Evans. E. J. ‘Technical Education and the state since 1850’. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-2967-8. 1990.
Plus others cited in earlier chapters.

A very comprehensive book list is provided in a separate section of this website.

In addition a comprehensive chronology and glossary are provided in separate section of this website.

Chapter 11 – Developments in the 1940s and 1950s

The 1940s, 1950s and 1960s witnessed innumerable parliamentary reports and Acts many of which related to technical and commercial education. To do justice to this period chapters 11, 12 and 13 will focus on this critical time not only for the country but also for technical education. I will describe a number of topics and attempt to capture the essence and chronology [see chronology] of these reforms and subsequent developments. It was a period of rapid change financially, politically and socially as the country attempted to come to terms with the aftermath of the war and its changing role in the world. As always the period is littered with missed opportunities, weak political leadership and lack of real understanding of industry and technical and commercial education.

Because of the depressions during the 1920s/30s and the subsequent limitations on public expenditure little development of technical education occurred. The local authority budgets were severely curtailed which had a negative impact on their spending on education and this was further exacerbated by the permissive and voluntary nature of the existing legislation for the provision of technical education. As has been said the heyday of the growth of technical education was witnessed in the last two decades of the 19th century when colleges were established in most major cities and the larger towns. During the next half-century stagnation set in and a depressing period of national neglect was apparent. Only after the recommendations of the 1944 Education Act, which was strongly influenced by the Hadow (1926) and Spens Reports (1938), were enacted was there some evidence of progress.

The Second World War provided many harsh lessons for this country and most certainly identified its limitations as a world power. Once the workshop of the world it was made to realise in very stark terms that it was massively dependent on the US through the Lend-Lease programme. Churchill’s call  ‘Give us the tools and we will finish the job!’ was only realised by the vast amount equipment and other hardware that America provided throughout the conflict. This included the essential electrical components for radar which had been discovered by our own few brilliant scientists. Even the plentiful initial supply of penicillin during the war was hampered by the failure to exploit its potential. The process to gain robust patents for the products was inadequate and slow even though it had been discovered in this country by Alexander Fleming. We had to depend on the Americans for the initial supplies. Barnet (1) brilliantly describes the fundamental problems associated with British industry and the war effort. Industry was ill prepared for the challenge that mass production presented. Lack of investment meant that the antiquated machines available were unable to quickly manufacture quality products. Britain was unable to build modern machinery and machine tools and this led to a major dependence on the US. The workforce was largely unqualified and massive shortages were highlighted across craftspeople, scientists, technicians and technologists.

It is often said that the Second World War was a conflict in which physics figured significantly whereas the First World War exploited chemistry so it was inevitable that the future was about science and its application. The Second War had shown the need for more highly qualified engineers, scientists and technologists as well as skilled craftspeople and operatives in the future. In addition the need to train more and better managers and administrators was only too evident. It was finally recognised that the country needed an organised and more efficient system of technical and commercial education in order to realise this aspiration. There was an urgent need to improve productivity and begin to tackle issues associated with our international competitiveness. Skill levels of the existing workforce had to improve and had to increase the flow of highly qualified people into industry and commerce. The painful lessons learnt during the war were addressed by a succession of committees, reports and parliament acts.

1944 Education Act

This major Education Act mainly dealt with schools with a great deal of parliamentary time was spent on the place of religion the curriculum. However Sections 41 to 47 dealt with Further Education and placed a duty on Local Education Authorities to ‘secure the provision of adequate facilities for further education, for:

  • Full-time and part-time education for persons over compulsory school age
  • Leisure-time occupations, in such organised, cultural, training and recreative activities as are suited to their requirements, for any person over compulsory school age who are able and willing to profit by the facilities provided for that purpose’.

Therefore the Act attempted to address the concerns highlighted during the war namely the inadequacy of:

  • Provision of training for craftspeople, technicians and technologists
  • Financial, human and physical resources for colleges
  • Provision for adult education.

The Act created a blue print for the development of a national network of technical institutions.

Because of the continuing concern about technological education two committees were established chaired by Eustace Percy (1945) and Alan Barlow (1946) respectively both of which focussed on higher education particularly of technological education and scientific manpower. Percy was a visionary, passionate about the importance of technology and recommended amongst other things the creation of a few highly specialised technology institutions. This and other recommendations were only to be implemented much later. The Barlow Committee dealt with the supply of a scientific workforce and it is interesting that it supported pure science rather than technical and technological prowess (academic drift again!). Although to be fair to Barlow he argued that a national system should be developed integrating schools, technical and technology colleges, universities and industry –an aspiration still to be realised.

These two Reports occupy an important part in the history of technical education so it would be helpful to describe more fully their remits and recommendations.
The Percy Report was entitled ‘Higher Technological Education’ and reported to the Minister of Education and its terms of reference were:

‘Having regard to the requirements of industry, to consider the needs of higher technical education in England and Wales, and the respective contributions made thereto by Universities and Technical Colleges; and to make recommendations, amongst other things, as to the means for maintaining appropriate collaboration between Universities and Technical Colleges in this field’.

Among the recommendations was the creation of a number of Colleges of Technology that should be allowed to offer full-time programmes at degree standard. These Colleges should remain under the control of the LEA who would receive additional funding from central government. The committee however disagreed about whether these awards should be degree (B. Tech.) or a State Diploma in Technology (Dip. Tech.). Percy also advocated a number of ‘Royal’ institutions that could award Associateships and Fellowships. The Committee also recommended the establishment of Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) [see history of technical and commercial examinations] to coordinate the higher education programmes across the 147 education authorities. Sadly and inevitably very few of the recommendations were adopted by the government except for the creation of the REBs. Percy and his committee were remarkably farsighted and it was only in 1956 ten years later that Colleges of Advanced Technology (CATs)  were established realising the concept of Colleges of Technology. Another example of a missed opportunity!

The Barlow Report in 1946 continued the battle to create a more scientifically qualified workforce. The Report was entitled ‘Scientific Manpower’ and its terms of reference were:

‘To consider the policies which should govern the use and development of our scientific manpower and resources during the next 10 years, and to submit a report on very broad lines at an early date so as to facilitate forward planning in those fields which are dependent on the use of scientific manpower’.

(Sorry about the wording obviously women were regarded as not capable of becoming scientists!)

The committee strongly restated the urgent need to produce more scientists and technologists and fortunately this time the government accepted most of the recommendations. The report recommended that universities and colleges should greatly expand the numbers studying higher science and technology subjects BUT not at the expense of the humanities. This recommendation contributed to the growth of university numbers which in 1938/39 were 50,000 and by 1958/9 had increased to 100,000. The two reports provided blue prints for higher scientific and technical education for the years to follow. It was only in 1956 that the White Paper ‘Technical Education’ picked up some aspects of the blue prints and some of Percy’s and Barlow’s recommendations implemented. The then Secretary of State of Education, David Eccles, was an exceptional Minister with vision and fought hard to create a coherent properly funded system of technical education.

Technical Colleges

During the fallow period from 1900 up to the mid-1940s colleges existed in inappropriate accommodation, with inadequate equipment, facilities and funding coupled with poor human resource strategies. As a result the colleges in particular too often struggled to satisfy local industrial and commercial needs. Following the 1944 Education Act more precise definitions for tertiary, technical and further education were established with a basic structure that can still be recognised today. One positive aspect of this development was the wide-ranging consultations that occurred with the Federation of British Industries (FBI) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). A period of rapid development then occurred with the opening of new technical and further education colleges.

As a result of these developments the number of employees released for part-time training had risen to 417,000 by 1957 – a ten-fold increase when compared with 1938 – but there was still a real lack of effective employer involvement in vocational training. However employers did begin to be more committed to day release as evidenced by the increased participation between 1938 and 1963 which went from 51,000 to 644,000. The Crowther Report 1959 (see chapter 12) considered the level of day release in detail and made a number of important recommendations. The 1944 Education Act reinforced the fact that the English education system was a ‘national system, locally administered’ with all the resultant problems that implied and which would continue to impact especially for technical education and its constitute colleges. Although many elements of the Act produced lasting benefit others continued to fail to fundamentally address critical shortages of technically trained people in industry. One of the main problems was the way different LEAs interpreted the duties placed on them in regard to technical education.

Between 1944 and the mid 1950s the college started to become more differentiated and carried a range of titles including: technical college, college of technology, municipal college and colleges of further education etc. During this time these 460 or so colleges offered mainly work at ONC/OND level with qualifications offered by CGLI, RSA, and GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ boards [see history of technical and commercial education].

It might be helpful to provide some detail of students attending colleges on day and evening courses. Table 1 shows the growth of numbers between 1911 and 1951.

Table 1. Enrolments at Colleges on Day and Evening Classes Aged Between 15 and 24 (England and Wales) Between 1911 and 1951 (in 000s).

Year Day-Time Evening-Time Total Population of Age Group Participation Rate in Day-Time Study Participation Rate in Evening Study
1911  14.7 765 6,512 0.23% 11.7%
1921  22.0 867 6,654 0.33% 13.0%
1931 35.8 906 6,929 0.52% 13.1%
1937 40.1 1,049 6,640 0.60% 15.8%
1947 209.5 1,377 6,036 3.37% 22.8%
1951 318.5 1,901 5,612 5.68% 33.7%

Table 2 shows the dominance of part-time evening study, the very low participation rates and the increases after the war. The low participation rates have been a continuing problem for this country and in spite of innumerable attempts to increase the rates most initiatives have failed. This country has always compared badly with other countries particularly after a year of leaving school e.g. when the school leaving age was raised to 16 the participation was well below that at 16.

Table 2. Shows the Rate of Expansion in Student Numbers between 1931 and 1955

Mode of Attendance 1931 1937 1947 1951 1955
Full-time 100 149 i.e. (49%) 422 471 618
Part-time 100 100 634 983 1,510
Total day 100 112 584 888 1,140
Total evening 100 116 141 210 191

For convenience of the presentation the index is normalised at 100 for 1931. This allows the percentage to be calculated more easily.
To continue this statistical detail table 3 shows the proportion of students studying vocational courses during the evenings between 1931 and 1955.

Table 3 shows that the proportions remained relatively constant during this period either side of the war.

Table 3. Proportion of Vocational Evening Subjects Between 1931 and 1955.

Mode of Attendance 1931 1937 1947 1951 1955
Industrial 13.0% 14.7% 15.0% 15.3% 16.5%
Professional and Commercial 21.1% 20.1% 16.0% 15.2% 15.8%
Total 34.1% 34.8% 31.0% 30.5% 32.3%


Table 4 shows the index of expansion in evening class entries between 1931 and 1955.

Table 4. Expansion Index of Evening Class Entries from1931 to 1955.
Note 1931 taken as base line index of 100.

Vocational Area 1931 1937 1947 1951 1955
Industrial 100 119 124 165 166
Professional and Commercial 100 104 83 103 100

Interesting to note that the increases occurred in the industrial sectors whilst professional and commerce experienced very modest increases and in 1955 returned to its value of 1931.
The table 5 shows the proportion of evening class entries in vocational subjects by institution type.

Table 5. Proportion of Vocational Evening Class Entries By Institution Attended in Between 1937 and 1950.

Type of Course Year Evening Institutes Colleges Totals*
Vocational 1937 27.0  57.3 34.8
Vocational 1947 17.1 50.8 31.0
Vocational 1950 14.6 54.1 30.3

Key * Proportion against the total student numbers in all the types of institutions.

Table 6 shows enrolments as a % of the age cohort in 1931 and 1951.

Table 6. Enrolments as Percentage of 14-25 Age Cohort in 1931 and 1951 (in 000s).

Year Day students Evening students Total cohort population  Full-time participation
1931 35.8 906 6,929 0.52 13.1
1951 318.5 1,901 5,612 5.68 33.7

Table 7 shows the index of expansion in student numbers for 1931, 1947 and 1951. To make comparisons easier I have assigned an index of 100 for 1931. The expansion indices speak for themselves but remember the figures indicate total enrolments and do not differentiate between technical, academic and recreational classes. Data is difficult to analyse but the table attempts to show enrolments across these categories for the same years.

Table 7. Index of Expansion in Student Numbers for 1931, 1947 and 1951.

Year 1931 1947 1951
Full-time day 100 422 471
Part-time day 100 634 983
Total day 100 584 888
Total evening 100 141 210

Table 8 explores again from a different perspective the proportions studying on vocational, academic and recreational subjects.

Table 8. Proportions on Evening Vocational, Academic and Recreational Subjects in 1931/47/51.

Subject 1931 1947 1951
Vocational  13.0 15.0 15.3
Professional/ Commercial 21.1 16.0 15.2
Total V/P/C 34.1  31.0 30.5
Academic total 34.5 26.3 20.9
Recreational 28.6  42.7 48.6
Total 100 100 100

Notice that the proportion for vocational subjects remained fairly static at around 15% and about 33% if you factor in Professional and Commercial subjects. As can be seen most of the expansion in evening classes was in non-vocational provision.

These tables begin to show important shifts in the functions of colleges and evening institutions. Evening institutions began to shift to leisure and recreational subjects whilst the technical colleges still continued to still have a substantial proportion of their work associated with general and recreational subjects. Increasingly students preferred to attend colleges after the compulsory school leaving age seeing colleges as more mature environments when compared with 6th forms. Many of these students pursued general subjects e.g. GCEs. To honour their local responsibilities many colleges maintained provision in leisure and recreational subjects. This pattern continued throughout the 20th century and continues today so one must always carefully consider the relative and absolute proportions across the various categories of provision for any given college. This commitment to a range of specialist, general and recreational provision offered at a number of levels is what defines the mixed economy nature of many colleges then and now.

Colleges catered for both full and part-time students and around 160 offered advanced level programmes e.g. HNC/HNDs and even some degree programmes. The range of students and provision was beginning to become very heterogeneous and this would present problems and challenges to future governments and LEAs when reforms were introduced. In addition there were twenty regional colleges with over 50% of their students pursuing advanced level work involving part and full time study for HNCs/HNDs, professional qualifications and degrees – good examples of comprehensive and mixed economy institutions. These colleges recruited students from their particular region often offering specialised programmes only offered at the college. A number of national colleges offered advanced programmes in such subjects as foundry, food, rubber, refrigeration and fan technology, heating and ventilation. These were eventually merged with other HE institutions whilst Cranfield Aeronautics College only provided post-graduate technology education and went on to become a world class university. Finally there were 135 art colleges, 4 agricultural colleges and 41 farm institutes many of which went on to become colleges or were later merged with universities.

The National Colleges represent an interesting development in higher technological education and table 9 lists them for the period 1946 to 1951. Interesting in the sense that they represent first the first an attempt to create specialist higher education monotechnics.

Table 9. National Colleges, 1946 – 1951.

National College Location Date of designation as a national college
College of Aeronautics Cranfield (now Cranfield University 1946
Royal College of Art Founded 1837 as school of industrial design 1949
National College of Food Technology  Formerly the Smithfield College of Food Technology 1951
National Foundry College Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College 1947
National College of Heating, Ventilation, Refrigeration and Fan Engineering Borough Polytechnic, London 1948
National College of Horology and Instrument Technology Northern Polytechnic, London 1947
National Leathersellers’ College Formerly Leathersellers’ Technical College (established in 1909) 1951
National College of Rubber Technology Northern Polytechnic, London 1948

Source: Payne, G. (1960) ‘Britain’s Scientific and Technological Manpower’.

The national colleges provided a wide range of courses including higher degrees. Although the numbers of students were small the colleges produced highly specialised and competent technologists for the relevant industries. Some also conducted research activities supported and funded by government and their parent industries. Courses and the related examinations were designed for their particular industry and were dependent on entry requirements. They included college diplomas, higher nationals, degrees and postgraduate awards. The national colleges progressively underwent a number of title changes including Colleges of Advanced Technology (CATs) and eventually became universities or were absorbed into the university sector.
Definitions of levels of technical education were used to describe both qualifications and names of institutions, these being ranked: for technologists, technicians and craftspeople (sometimes referred to as operatives). Such a hierarchy inevitably has limitations and inherent dangers and mirrors the way this country likes to segregate organisations and people e.g. academic/ vocational qualifications, state /public schools etc.
(In some ways the education and training in of this country over many years has operated an apartheid system, i.e. any system of segregation, separating and dividing students on the basis of their social class).

Vocational Secondary Education

Following the implementation of the 1944 Act the main providers of secondary technical education were in local education authorities that had adopted the recommendations of the Spens (1938) and Norwood Reports (1943) and established a tripartite system of schools i.e. Grammar, Secondary Technical and Secondary Modern Schools. Many of these enlightened authorities had over the previous three to four decades operated systems involving local technical colleges which incorporated a junior technical and commercial school and in some cases a junior trade school. After 1944 these were designated secondary technical schools and took successful 11+ pupils and offered them a vocationally biased curriculum. The Ministry of Education, which had been established following the 1944 Act, identified these schools as being for a minority of able pupils who would benefit from a technical or commercial curriculum. I was never clear how the students were selected for the Technical Secondary School after they had passed the 11+ examination and could have gone to a Grammar School. However very few Secondary Technical Schools were created. The numbers of secondary technical schools between 1946 and 1958 is shown in table 10.

Table 10. Number of Secondary Technical Schools.

Year Number of Secondary Technical Schools
1946/47 317
1948 319
1949 310
1950 301
1951 296
1952 291
1953 292
1954 300
1955 302
1956 298
1957 290
1958 279

During the period 1947 to 1958 the number of students in secondary technical schools in England and Wales and technical schools in bi-lateral and multilateral schools increased from 66,454 to 97,485. Some authorities operated secondary technical schools on the same site as grammar and/or secondary modern schools i.e. a single campus for the different schools. In addition to taking GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels examinations the secondary technical schools entered students for a range of technical and commercial qualifications offered by a number of awarding bodies. Table 11 shows the external examinations taken other than GCEs.

Table 11. External Examinations taken by Secondary Technical Schools.

Examination Board Number of Centres Taking the Board Examinations
Royal Society of Arts (1) 47
Welsh Joint Board (2) 12
City and Guilds of London Institute (3) 11
Union of Lancs. and Cheshire (4) 10
General Nursing Council (5) 8
Pitman’s 6
Union of Educational Institutes (6) 3
London Chamber of Commerce 2

Source: Edwards. R. The Secondary Technical School (2).

(1) Included the Commercial Certificate, the Technical Certificate, Single Subject Certificates in Commercial Subjects and Senior Certificates.
(2)The third year leaving certificate and first year ONC examinations.
(3)Including a range of subjects in craft, handicraft and needlework.
(4)Secondary School Certificate and Single Subject Certificates
(5)Preliminary examinations.
(6)Including Commercial Subjects examinations, Craft Apprentices examinations and first year ONC examinations.

As one can see the number of technical and commercial subjects and examinations taken were relatively small and quite quickly the curriculum mirrored that of the grammar schools – another classic example of academic drift! In the third arm of the tripartite system namely the Secondary Modern Schools were given a fair degree of freedom to develop their own curriculum and examinations. Very often various examinations were offered. Examples included the RSA Technical Grouped Course Certificate in Elementary Subjects namely English, Mathematics, Trade Calculations and Science and the Preliminary Technical Certificate offered by the LEA with subjects such as English, Arithmetic, Mathematics, Science and Technical Drawing. I still am the proud owner of these certificates. In addition some students would take entrance examinations, say, for the local dockyard apprenticeship school or for large local company schemes. Eventually at the end of the 1950s academic drift set in and more and more secondary modern schools prepared students for GCE ‘O’ levels.

A Personal Observation

I was a pupil at a secondary modern school having failed the 11+ twice – the curriculum was not examination led but I experienced a rich range of provision including the crafts taught by great teachers many of whom had been emergency trained after the Second World War. The Crowther Report in 1959 stated that the country did not have a tripartite system but in reality a two-sided system, grammar and secondary technical schools being predominately academic and secondary modern schools being vocational. Crowther was particularly interested in those pupils for whom a more vocational and practically focused curriculum would be more appropriate.

Industrial Training

Despite the emphasis on reforms of further and higher education, vocational training was still left very much in the hands of industry and the benevolence and support of a number of committed employers. Increasing concern was expressed about this situation throughout the immediate post-war years and the establishment of National Apprenticeship and Training Councils serving individual industries was advocated. Interesting to note this meant a re-adoption after 16 years of the conclusions of the Balfour and Malcolm Committees! These calls were finally supported by two pieces of legislation namely The Industrial Organisation and Development Act (1947) and The Employment and Training Act (1948). Inevitably neither Act had much impact on vocational training in industry, and by the end of the 1940s the continuing concern about leaving industrial training to employers was gaining momentum. However successive governments failed to recognise the fundamental weaknesses in the voluntary arrangements and continued to adhere to the policies formulated in 1945. During the early 1950s the concerns grew about the poor state of the skill levels in the workforce and culminated in 1958 with the report ‘Training for Skill’ chaired by Robert Carr the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour. The central theme of his report concerned apprenticeships for craftspeople and recommended that the government expand and improve facilities for technical education BUT that the responsibility for industrial training remain with employers. The report called for a non executive Council that endeavours to ‘help, encourage and if necessary exhort employers to improve industrial training’.

As one can imagine the report attracted a great deal of criticism both for its concentration on craft training and the lost opportunity to introduce a compulsory instrument. Many argued, including the British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education, that what was needed was a national strategy for workforce planning for all training programmes and that a compulsory levy be imposed on employers.

Only in 1964 did the government finally accept the failure of the voluntary approach and this brought about a reversal of a policy that had been obstinately upheld for over 17 years. The White Paper Industrial Training – Government Proposals was published. The White Paper was supported by all political parties and both sides of industry and became law and resulted in the creation of the Industrial Training Boards (ITB) representing particular industries (see chapter 12 for more detail on the Industrial training Act). Each Board would approve courses/qualifications including those run in colleges that would receive training grants and a Central Training Council would be established to oversee the adequacy of provision. However as will be seen later in this levy/grant regime imposed on employers was to cause problems particularly for small and medium size companies/enterprises. Employers would only receive a grant if their companies provided approved training programmes for their employees. ITBs were the precursors of a multitude of employer lead organisations that would be created over the next four decades with the responsibility to set occupational standards and maintain employer involvement in industrial training and qualifications. These have included Industrial Lead Bodies (ILBs), Lead Bodies (LBs), National Training Organisations (NTOs) and the latest attempt the Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) all of which have largely failed to improve the situation.

Technical Examinations.

In some ways the examination system mirrored the heterogeneous nature of the college sector with a large number of boards offering examinations in technical subjects as the following list attempts to illustrate:

  • Technical College Diplomas – certain technical colleges awarded their own diplomas or associateships after advanced study
  • National Diplomas and Certificates at Ordinary and Higher grades. HNDs were being recognised as providing exemptions from examinations of professional institutions
  • CGLI was the major player awarding final and full technological certificates in a wide range of technical and vocational areas. These were the highest level of recognition in craft subjects. CGLI also offered intermediate certificates as well as technician awards.
  • The Regional Examining Unions in co-operation with CGLI offered examinations at intermediate and higher levels. Successful students could then progress to the final examinations of the CGLI.
  • Professional and Trade Certificates were offered by the many professional and trade organisations.

(Note: For a more detailed account of the history of technical and commercial examinations see separate publication on this website).

As can been seen the examination system was both complex and confusing to the employees, employers, parents and students. It was only with later reviews that the qualifications landscape was begun to be rationalised e.g. the review of vocational qualifications in 1986 [see history of technical and commercial examinations] which led to the creation of NVQs but concerns still remain even today about the plethora of awards and qualifications – successive reforms have failed to provide a tidy system.

To reinforce some of these facts about the examinations in the technical colleges I provide three more tables with information taken from the Ministry of Education annual surveys. Table 12 shows the progress of entries to ONC/OND/HNC/HNDs between 1945 and 1949.

Table 12. Entries for National Ordinary and Higher Certificates and Diplomas Between 1945 and 1949 I Science and Engineering.

1945  5,135 116 1,844 60
1946 5,544 130  2,069 80
1947 5,805 110  2,479 61
1948 7,997 Not available 4,509 Not available
1949 9,483   348 4,147 287

Table 13. University Degrees Awarded in Science and Technology between 1947 and 1949.

Year  Pure Science Technology
1947 12,516  8,767
1948 14,544 10,146
1949 16,099 10,884


Table 14. Number of Degrees, HNCs and HNDs Awarded in Technical Colleges in 1949.

Award Science Engineering Other Technologies
Internal External 296 413
External 155 308
Totals: 451 721
HNC 203 3,851 525
HND 144 143
Totals: 203 3,995 668
Grand Totals: 654 4,716 668

Table 15. Percentage of Technical College Students Taking Science and Engineering Courses Compared with those in Universities in 1949.

Award  Pure Science Engineering
Degrees 2.9% 7.1%
HNC and HND 4.7% 34.6%


Other Relevant Developments in the 1940s:

  • In 1943 White Paper on Educational Reconstruction published.
  • In 1943 Secondary School Examinations Council on Curriculum and Examinations in Schools Report (Norwood) published that supported tripartite structure for schools.
  • In 1944 Education Act (Butler) published.
  • In 1945 ‘Higher Technological Education’ Report (Percy) published that recommended upgrading of a number of technical colleges to colleges of advanced technology.
  • In 1946 Committee on ‘Scientific Manpower’ Report (Barlow) published that advocated a doubling of scientists in universities over a ten year period.
  • In 1947 ‘Industrial Organisation and Development’ Act established a number of Councils in certain industries with functions to “promote the training of persons engaged or proposing engagement in the industry.
  • In 1947 School leaving age raised to 15.
  • In 1948 ‘Employment and Training Act’published largely focussed on issues to do with youth employment.

Chapter 12 will continue to describe the developments in the 1950s.


  1. Barnet, C. ‘The Audit of War’ Papermac. ISBN 0-333-43458-7. 1986.
  2. Edwards. R. ‘The Secondary Technical School’. University of London Press. 1960.

Other Useful References:

Argles. M. ‘South Kensington to Robbins’. Longmans. 1964.
Cotgrove. S.F. ‘Technical Education and Social Change’. George Allen and Unwin. 1958.
Dent.H. C. ‘The 1944 Education Act’. University of London Press. 1968.
Maclure. J. S. ‘Educational Documents England and Wales 1816-1967’. Chapman and Hall. SBN 412 07960 7. 1967.
Venables. P. F. R. ‘Technical Education’. Bell. 1955.

Comprehensive book lists, a chronology and a glossary are provided in separate sections of this website which hopefully will be helpful to readers.


About the Author

Attended Portsmouth College of Technology after leaving Hilsea Secondary Modern School (failed 11+ twice!). It was a great institution amazing staff who encouraged me to continue my studies from GCE ‘O’ Level – obtained GCE ‘A’ levels in Mathematics and Physics. Portsmouth was accredited to offer honours external degrees of the University of London and was brave enough to enrol – gained a good 2.1 and went to Essex University to study for PhD in Physics – another great institution brand new with committed staff. After a few stints in post doc research, science lab technician and supply teacher in London entered the FE section and made a career reaching position of Principal of  very large college in the NW until I fell foul to the Blair Government for amongst things being too passionate and out spoken about technical education. Took early retirement and enjoy writing, developing this website, learning Mandarin and doing the odd spot of voluntary work in technical education.


Richard Evans PhD. BSc (Hons). PGCE. MEd. DMS. FInstPhy. FInstLM. FCGI. Companion CIPHE

Welcome to the website

I have created this site covering a range of topics that will hopefully convey the history and the current importance of technical and vocational education from a number of different perspectives. I hope it will prove of interest and value to students, researchers and people who are associated with this important sector of education and training.

The website is a free resource. All I ask is that the source is referenced if used. Some of the material is written from a personal viewpoint reflecting my experiences gained as a student in Further Education and a long career working in the FE sector.

I have always believed that the Further Education (FE) Sector is the closest example of a truly comprehensive sector of education. Technical Education is a strategically important part of the education system especially at a time of massive transformations occurring globally. The history and commentary on various aspects of technical and vocational education attempt to identify why it is still perceived in a negative way in spite of innumerable initiatives and government pronouncements over many decades. The FE sector has been referred to as the Cinderella sector often with good cause. The material on this site attempts to record and reflect on a number of issues that have influenced and shaped technical and vocational education. Much of the material catalogues a series of misguided political initiatives, false dawns and missed opportunities which sadly continue even today. It also highlights initiatives through the centuries which have been pivotal in putting technical education in this country on the map at all. I strongly believe that one must understand history and attempt to learn from the lessons if one is to improve the situation in the future. Sadly generations of politicians have consistently ignored these lessons preferring to recreate the mistakes of the past – this is most certainly true where technical and vocational education and training are concerned. Some of the content will be controversial and I hope it will provoke constructive argument and debate.

Some of the materials in earlier versions (2003+) have appeared in  ‘t’ magazine and on their website ( ( Sadly ‘t’ magazine no longer exists). In addition to the histories, biographies and pen portraits, glossaries, chronologies I have included a number of articles and viewpoints on technical, commercial and vocational education and training. Also a series of statistical information on the topic and its institutions is included.
The site will be constantly expanded and updated.

Feedback would be welcome, email any comments to:

Dr Richard Evans FInst.P. FCGI. FInstLM  CompCIPHE

May 2009+

Last updated November 2013.


Recent Additions:
‘An Equation I Cannot Balance’
‘To learn or not to learn’
> ‘Youth Matters’
>The Challenges of Introducing Environmental Issues into the Skills Agenda
>Functional Skills and Apprenticeships
>Why No Licence to Practice. An Historical Perspective
Biographies and Pen Portraits:
>Harriet Martineau 
>Great Engineers and Pioneers and their Education’
> Polytechnic Institutions of London
>Trade Schools in England
Academic vs. Vocational Debate Revisited
>The Importance of WRL for All
>The Richard Review of Apprenticeships
>The TechBacc-What Chance of Success?
>Inhibitors to Implementation of the Skills Agenda
August 2013

technical education matters

Welcome to the website

I have created this site covering a range of topics that will hopefully convey the history and the current importance of technical and vocational education from a number of different perspectives. I hope it will prove of interest and value to students, researchers and people who are associated with this important sector of education and training.

The website is a free resource. All I ask is that the source is referenced if used. Some of the material is written from a personal viewpoint reflecting my experiences gained as a student in Further Education and a long career working in the FE sector.

I have always believed that the FE sector is the closest example of a truly comprehensive sector of education. Technical Education is a strategically important part of the education system especially at a time of massive transformations occurring globally. The history and commentary on various aspects of technical and vocational education attempt to identify why it is still perceived in a negative way in spite of innumerable initiatives and government pronouncements over many decades. The FE sector has been referred to as the Cinderella sector often with good cause. The material on this site attempts to record and reflect on a number of issues that have influenced and shaped technical and vocational education. Much of the material catalogues a series of misguided political initiatives, false dawns and missed opportunities which sadly continue even today. It also highlights initiatives through the centuries which have been pivotal in putting technical education in this country on the map at all. I strongly believe that one must understand history and attempt to learn from the lessons if one is to improve the situation in the future. Sadly generations of politicians have consistently ignored these lessons preferring to recreate the mistakes of the past – this is most certainly true where technical and vocational education and training are concerned. Some of the content will be controversial and I hope it will provoke constructive argument and debate.
Some of the materials in earlier versions (2003+) have appeared in  ‘t’ magazine and on their website ( ( Sadly ‘t’ magazine no longer exists). In addition to the histories, biographies and pen portraits, glossaries, chronologies I have included a number of articles and viewpoints on technical, commercial and vocational education and training. Also a series of statistical information on the topic and its institutions is included.
The site will be constantly expanded and updated.

The latest addition to the website is ‘Counterpoint’ a series of articles from other writers I am grateful to them for their interest in the site and their valuable contributions.

Feedback would be welcome.

Dr Richard Evans FInst.P. FCGI.  FInstLM. Companion CIPHE

The History of Technical and Commercial Examinations –Chronology

To complement the history of technical and commercial examinations a comprehensive chronology is included to assist the reader. In addition at the end of the glossary are a few definitions of terms and expressions commonly used in examining and examinations.

Updated April 2016.


Important Dates in regard to the development of examinations. The detail.
 1750  Workers and Mutual Improvement Societies founded.
1754 Society of Arts Society (SoA) founded offering medals, prizes and money for useful inventions and outstanding, worthwhile achievements.
1833 Government makes grants available to church schools
1835  Edinburgh School of Arts – Awarded  ‘Attestations of Proficiency certificates. – this was adopted later by other bodies e.g. the Union of Institutions/Institutes. ‘Report from the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures.’- Parliamentary Papers.
1836 University of London incorporated as an examining body .1838 Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) established a prize scheme to recognise performance in examinations of relevance to farmers e.g. mathematics, mechanics, chemistry, zoology, botany and geology.
1839 Union of Lancashire and Cheshire Institutes (ULCI) formed – established examinations in 1847 – Union covered Caernarvonshire, Cheshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Isle of Man and Lancashire. Education Department (ED) established.
 1840 London University matriculation examinations introduced pass and honours awards – 69 students obtained passes and 7 obtained honours.
1841/2 Pharmaceutical Society of GB examinations started.
1844 Formation of the Ragged School Union.
1845 Royal College of Chemistry. Students leaving the College were awarded Certificates of Attendance or Testimonials.
1846 College of Preceptors founded and incorporated in 1849.
1847 ‘Examination the Province of the State, or the outlines of a Practical System for the extension of National Education.’ By James Booth. Parker. Lancashire and Cheshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutions founded. Midlands Union of Mechanics’ Institutions founded. Kent Union of Mechanics’ Institutions founded. College of Preceptors starts examinations – grades awarded: Licentiate, Associate and Fellows for teachers.
1848 Northern Union of Mechanics’ Institutions (NUMI) founded.
1850 Board of Trade examinations for Masters and Mates of Merchantman. College of Preceptors started piloting examinations for pupils and these examinations were firmly established by 1854. Devon and Cornwall Union of Mechanics’ Institutions founded. Oxford University Examination Statute. Oxford Honours Schools in Mathematics and Natural Sciences established
1851 Cambridge Tripos examinations in Moral and Natural Sciences established. Great Exhibition highlighted weaknesses in technical education.
1852 Department of Science and Art established created under the Board of Trade. Society of Arts (SoA) created a Union of Mechanics’ Institutions- see above the separate unions that existed prior to the SoA action.
1853 Department of Science and Art of the Board of Trade established – transferred to the Education Department – finally abolished when the Board of Education (BoE) created in 1899. Society of Arts (SoA) proposed system of examinations in the Union of Institutions comprising a scheme for examining and granting certificates to the class students of Institutes in Union with the Society. Indian Civil Service Examinations instigated. Leicestershire Union of Mechanics’ Institutions founded. College of Preceptors began to examine boys and girls in school subjects.
1854 College of Preceptors introduced full-scale examinations after trials in1850. Organisation of the Permanent Civil Service. C. 1713. Indian Civil Service examinations opened to competition. The Northcote and Trevelyan Report. SoA examinations inaugurated.
1855 First SoA examinations staged only one candidate -a chimney sweep William Medcraft – in 1856 42 candidates. The first shorthand certificates issued by the Phonetic Institute in Bath (Pitman) – Pitman Shorthand become the first ever subject taught by correspondence. Royal Military College Woolwich entrance examinations started.
1856 Society of Arts – examinations remodelled to include such subjects as mathematics, science, modern languages. On this occasion 42 candidates presented themselves.  Highland Society of Edinburgh introduced examinations leading to a diploma in scientific and practical agriculture.
1857 Department of Science and Art – established examinations in science in 1859. University of Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations (UODLE) established – first examinations conducted in 1858 in 11 centres. The Bath and West of England S0ciety awarded prizes totalling 123 guineas to school pupils.  SoA extended examinations to provincial centres in 1857.n 1857 and 1866 total number of honours chemistry graduates – 11 from University College London and 14 from Owens College Manchester.
London University Examinations -science degrees with examinations open to all. London University requirement of a college certificate of attendance abandoned. University of London introduced external degrees. University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate established – first examinations held in December in Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Grantham, Liverpool, London and Norwich. Junior exams for<16 year olds and Senior exams for<18 year olds. Oxford University started its ‘Middle Class Examinations.’
1859 The Science and Art Department (DoSA) established to develop and introduced examinations for artizans. The SoA transfers science examinations over to the Science and Art Department. First examinations held in London, Edinburgh, Dublin and Manchester, DoSA examinations for teachers of science established in London, Edinburgh, Dublin and Manchester.
1860 Report of the Commissioners on Military Education. Cd. 2603. Army Certificates of Education introduced. Nine schools with 500 pupils participated in the recently introduced science examinations by the Dept. of Science and Arts and by 1870 799 schools participated with over 34,000 pupils. Between 1860 and 1868 the Science and Art Department stages an examination scheme and certification for science teachers – it ceased because of cost! Between 1860 and 1897 number of honour chemistry graduates totalled 859.
1862 Revised Code (Lowe) instituted ‘payment by results’ but also shunned practical work for ordinary elementary schools.
1864 Society of Arts (SoA) introduces shorthand examinations. Report from the Select Committee on Schools of Art. Women first admitted to Cambridge University.
1865 Cambridge Locals extended to women. Local Examinations introduced in Scotland -University and St Andrews offered these. Glasgow started examinations in 1877 and Aberdeen in 1880 however very few candidates
1867 Special examinations for science teacher certificate abolished. Cambridge Locals become available for females.
1868 Whitworth Scholarships/Exhibitions. These were awarded after examinations including written papers in chemistry, mathematics, mechanics and physics. In addition there were practical tests fitting, filing, turning and pattern-making. Whitworth directed that eight should be awarded to Owens’ (Manchester) and three each to Cambridge, Oxford and London universities, one to Dublin, Durham, Edinburgh and Glasgow and others to University College London and Kings College London.1869 RASE examinations introduced for 18 to 25 year olds in Science and Principals of Agriculture.
 1869 Cambridge established its Higher Examinations for Women aged over 18 also University of London started such examinations.
1870 Women admitted to Oxford Local Examinations. UCL opens classes for women. Mason College Birmingham founded by Josiah Mason. Examination entries at Queen University Ireland 302. There were 1,871 classes with 48,905 students in mathematics/physical sciences/engineering and 343 classes with 8,960 students in the biological sciences and geology. Number of students in science 13, technology 6.
1872 SoA introduces shorthand examinations. Higher Grade Schools established by many School Boards.
1873 Society of Arts – established technological subject examinations that were subsequently transferred to The City and Guilds of London Institute in 1879. In 1879 there were 151 successful candidates and by 1908 the number had risen to 13,058. Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examinations Board established often called the Joint Board. SoA offers examinations in Carriage Building. SoA offers examinations in Cotton and Silk Manufacture. Between 1873/77 only 218 candidates for SoA technological examinations.
1874 Girton College examinations for women in the natural Tripos. Yorkshire School of Science opened – introduced courses in dyeing in 1879. leather, agriculture, a teachers training department and organic chemistry in 1891,metalliferous mining in 1898 and electrical engineering in 1899,
1875 DSA started examinations in agriculture. University College Sheffield founded.
1876 Shorthand examinations introduced by SoA. SoA Commercial Certificate awarded for passes in three subjects. University College Bristol founded.
1878 City and Guilds of London Institute (CGLI) – founded by sixteen Livery Companies and the Corporation of London and incorporated in 1880. Maria Grey Training College for women founded. London University examinations available to women for the first time. SoA ceased to hold examinations in manufacture in cotton, paper, steel, carriage building, calico-bleaching, dyeing and printing, alkali manufacture and blow pipe analysis – CGLI took over technology examinations.
1879 The SoA transfers the technological examinations over to CGLI and retains the Commercial examinations. City and Guilds held first examinations. First classes at the Finsbury Technical College. Finsbury Technical College and CGLI Art School established. Royal Institute of Chemistry start examinations. Exams held by CGLI in 1879 included: Cotton manufacture, Steel manufacture, Gas manufacture, Silk Manufacture and dyeing, Paper manufacture, Glass manufacture, Telegraphy, Photography, Pottery and p0rcelain and Alkali manufacture. Number of candidates 7.
1880 City and Guilds incorporated. Philip Magnus appointed as first Director and Secretary of CGLI. CGLI offers examinations in Tinplate and Zinc Work in conjunction with plumbing -subjects later separated for exam purposes. CGLI offered 24 subjects with 816 candidates increased to 49 subjects with 6,607 candidates in 1890.  First sandwich course established in either Glasgow University or the Royal Technical College, Glasgow. Examination entries at Queen University Ireland totalled 748. Victoria University admits women to degree examinations. Between 1880 and 1900 the total number of science honours graduates in England and Wales was 530.
1881 London Chamber of Commerce (LCC) founded. CGLI offers examinations in Woodworking, Metalworking and Mechanical Engineering. First examinations in Framework Knitting (Hand and Machine) held at Technical School Leicester. University College Liverpool founded. Women admitted to all honours degrees at Cambridge.
1882 Union of Institutions dissolved (See history on this website).CGLI offers examinations in Carpentry and Joinery. CGLI offers examinations in plumbing. 1883 Lower Certificate Examination established.
1884 Samuelson Report: Royal Commission on Technical Education. Henry Armstrong introduced a 3 year diploma course in chemical engineering at the Central Institution London. Examination entries at Royal University Ireland 2,364 with 1,458 passes. Oxford admits women to honours degrees in Mathematics, Science and Modern History.
1886 Institution of Municipal Engineers start examinations. CGLI offers examinations in Bricklaying and Masonry – later offered separately.
1887 CGLI hold first international examinations. The London Chamber of Commerce start examinations. First CGLI examinations held overseas in New South Wales Australia.
1888 Oxford Local Examinations Board introduces shorthand examinations. School Leaving Certificate instigated. London University requirements for matriculation were in the following subjects: Latin, One Language e.g. French, German etc. English Language with Geography and History, Mathematics, Mechanics and Hydrostatics and one of the following science subjects Chemistry, Heat and Light, Magnetism and Electricity. In 1889/1890 Botany was introduced. 6,000 candidates for CGLI examinations.
1889 The Welsh Intermediate Education Act. First Treasury grant to University Colleges (£15,000).
1890 London Chamber of Commerce (LCC) began examinations. Examination entries at the Royal University Ireland 2,658 with 1,783 passes. Number of students in science 138 and 30 in technology.
1891 Typing examinations introduced by SoA. Regent Street Polytechnic founded courses and examinations offered included; bricklaying, electrical work, plumbing, printing and watch making. Education provided free. CGLI offered Examinations in Bookbinding.
1892 First CGLI examinations staged at Woolwich Polytechnic. ordinary Science Examinations grant for most rudimentary science results abolished.
1893 ‘Technical Education: Its Progress and Prospects.’  P Magnus. JoSA. School leaving age raised to 11. All degrees and offices open to women at University of Wales.
1894 Bryce Report. Reported in 1885 and stressed the pivotal role of examinations. GLI offers examinations in Cabinet Making. Women admitted to degrees at Durham University.
1895 Union of Educational Institution (UEI) that had started examinations 1896. Covered the Midland region comprising Cornwell, Devon, Hampshire, Huntingdon and Staffordshire. University of Durham establishes a Certificate for Secondary Teachers.
1896 The Central Welsh Board (CWB) founded and this became the Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) in 1948. UEI started examinations. CGLI offers examinations in Plasterers’ Work. CGLI offers examinations in Painters’ and Decorators’. University of Oxford instigates a course on education and awarded a Diploma in Education. Diploma in the Science and Practice of Dairying established. Highland Society of Edinburgh along with Royal Agricultural Society of England developed National Diploma examinations.
1897 Institution of Civil Engineers Entrance Examinations started. CGLI offers examinations in Bookbinding. First Apprenticeship and Skilled Employment Committee established.
1899 Board of Education (BoE) created.  School leaving age raised to 12. Cockerton Judgement – limited powers of School Boards.


Important Dates in regard to the development of examinations.     The detail.  
1900 Board of Education (BoE) established –replacing the Education Department and the Department of Science and Art. CGLI offered examinations in Building Quantities. London Board of Education recognised higher elementary education. University of Birmingham Examinations Board founded.
 1901  CGLI Technological examinations held in 380 centres with 34,246 candidates and there were 904 candidates in manual training examinations for teachers. In session 1901/02 only 3,000 students studying technology in Britain in universities and colleges.
1902 Balfour Education Act. Provided for the creation of a system of state secondary school. Little attention on examination system preferred to maintain the status quo with the universities playing a central role. University of London Extension/Examining Board founded.
1903 Board of Education creates three branches for: Elementary Education, Secondary Education and Technological and HE in Science and Art. Northern Universities Joint Matriculation Board (JMB) founded comprising the Universities of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield. University of London Junior School Certificated introduced. WEA founded.
1904 ‘Regulations for Evening Schools, Technical Institutions and School of Art and Art Classes.’ Cd.2172. BoE. Secondary Regulations introduced a subject-based curriculum.
1905 Army Leaving Certificate introduced. University of London Higher School Leaving Certificate introduced. 12 Polytechnics in various parts of London. Junior Technical Schools (JTSs) started.
1907 ‘Regulations for Technical Schools, Schools of Art and other Schools and classes for FE.’ Cd 3555. BoE. JMB Examinations Board founded.
1908 Society of Arts received its royal charter. National System of School Certificate examinations established. BoE and the Secondary Schools Examination Council founded. In 1908-1909 session 1,500 candidates entered the three levels of the London University School Examinations along with 6.700 candidates who entered the London University Matriculation Examinations.
 1910 Number of science honours graduates in England and Wales was 800 and 431 in technology.
1911 ‘Report of the Consultative on Examinations in Secondary Schools.’ Cd. 6004. Dyke Ackland Report. BoE. East Midland Educational Union (EMEU) founded. Covering Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland. ‘Science Examinations and Grouped Course Certificates.’ Circ 776. (20th June) BoE. ‘Examinations in Secondary Schools.’ Cd 6004. BoE. Coal Mines Act advocated higher qualifications for mining engineers. Board of Education discontinued the old lower grade ‘Science and Art’ examinations Circular 776 – advanced grades ceased in 1918 – this stimulated the development of Regional examining boards e.g. UCLI, UEI, EMEU and NCTEC (f 1921). (See biography on this website). Only 2,550 candidates entered the BoE Higher Examinations with only 985 passes. University of Bristol School Examinations Council founded.
1912 2,558 candidates took the Higher Examinations in Science and 9,182 the Lower Examinations in Science. Institute of Mechanical Engineers introduced entrance examinations.
1913 Institute of Mechanical Engineers introduced examinations. Institution of Electrical Engineers introduced examinations. Board of Education (ED) Regulations for new category of Junior Technical Schools (JTS). Junior Technical Schools began in London.
1914 ‘Examinations in Secondary Schools.’ Circ 849. BoE. Concept of grouped subject to be passed in the first examinations rather than in single subjects. 23,119 candidates took CGLI examinations in 73 different subjects in 467 centres.
1915 ‘The Examination of Secondary Schools.’ Circ 933. BoE.
1916 Institute of Brewing proposed introducing examinations postponed until 1920.
1917 ‘Scheme for the Better Organisation of Examinations in Secondary Schools.’ Circ. 1002. BoE. ‘Examination of Secondary Schools.’ Circ 996. BoE. Secondary School Examinations Council (SSEC) established (SSEC) to oversee School Certificate examinations. Training scheme for disabled ex-servicemen.
1918 ‘Examinations in Science and Technology.’ Circ 1026. BoE. National standards for examinations established School Certificate and Higher School Certificate created. Eight approved School and Higher School Certificate Examination were those of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate, Oxford Delegacy for Local Examinations, Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination Board, University of London, Northern Universities Joint Matriculation Board, University of Durham, University of Bristol and the Central Welsh Board.1919 28,000 pupils entered for one or more school certificate examinations in England and Wales. 1919 between 1919 and 1950 the number of candidates who entered 1st examinations in England and Wales increased from 28,000 to 99,900. ‘Locals’ and later the School Cert operated a system of grouped subjects but in 1951 the GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels reverted back to single subject entry. Government insisted that CGLI cease examining at lower levels – which then became the responsibility of teacher dominated regional examining bodies – not liked by employers – eventually overturned in 1933 following the Concordat agreement.
1920 Joint Committees (JCs) in National Schemes established to oversee curriculum and examinations in vocational subjects resulted in Ordinary and Higher Certificates and Diplomas administrated by joint committee – finally dissolved in 1987 following the introduction of TEC/BEC/DATEC awards .Northern Counties Technical Examinations Council replaced the Northern Union of Mechanics Institutes. Between 1920 and 1950 the number of candidates who entered for the Higher School Certificate went from 3,200 to 34,400.
1921 National Certificate (Nat Cert) scheme introduced see following years the subjects that were introduced (This scheme was for 5 years of part-time study). The driving force behind this development was  H. S. Hele-Shaw) National Certificates in Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry started. In fact between 1921 and 1951 15 National Certificates were introduced in engineering, mining, commerce, textiles, chemistry, physics and metallurgy. Pitman Commercial Examination Department established at the Phonetic Institute.
1922 Nat Cert in Electrical Engineering introduced. Royal Aeronautical Society introduce examinations. In 1922/23 session there were 9,200 students awarded 1st degrees and 1,600 higher degrees. 1,017 candidates from 46 schools and colleges sat for ONC Mechanical Engineering with 521 passes.
1923 ‘Differentiation of the Curriculum for Boys and Girls in Secondary Schools’ Consultative Committee BoE HMSO. Ordinary awards granted 663 and 168 higher awards.
1924 Northern Counties Technical Examinations Council (NCTEC) was reconstituted. Covering Cumberland, Durham, Northumberland, Westmoreland and Redcar (North Riding of Yorkshire).
1926 Nat Cert in Naval Architecture introduced. Institution of Gas Engineers introduced examinations. Closure of Finsbury Technical College.
1928 Board of Education Committee (Atholl Report). ‘Examinations for part-time students.’ BoE.
1929 Nat Cert in Building introduced.
1931 The School Certificate Examination. BoE/SSEC.
1934 Nat Cert in Textiles introduced.
1935/36 National Certificate in Commerce introduced. In 1939 the Association of British Chambers of Commerce took over the function of the professional institute of the examinations. Institute of Marine Engineers introduced examinations (1935).
1936 ‘Secondary School Examinations.’ Circ 1448. BoE.
1937 International Institute Examination Enquiry. ‘A Conspectus of Examinations in GB and NI. P.’ Hartog and G. Roberts. ‘The Investigators’ School Certificate Report.’ A very detailed analysis of the examinations. BoE.
1938 Report of the Consultative Committee on Secondary Education, with Special Reference to Grammar Schools and Technical High Schools. Spens Report. BoE.
1939 Nat Cert in Commerce introduced. 3,999 ONCs and 1,331 HNCs awarded.
1941 Nat Cert in Production Engineering introduced. Women admitted to the basic training courses held at Government Training Centres (GTCs).

‘Curriculum and Examinations in Secondary Schools. Norwood Report.’ Endorsed the tripartite system following recommendation of the Spens Report 1938.  BoE. Nat Cert in Civil Engineering introduced.

1944 Ordinary awards granted 4,070 and 1,405 Higher Awards .

1945 Higher Technological Education. Percy Report. MoE. Nat Cert in Applied Physics introduced. Nat Cert in Metallurgy introduced. Advisory Committee on Education (Scotland) recommended a comprehensive system for all secondary pupils 12-16 with a common core curriculum and leaving examination.
1946 ‘Youths’ opportunities, FE in County Colleges.’ MoE pamphlet No.3. Central Youth Employment Executive established (CYEE).
1947 Northern Advisory Council for FE established. School leaving age raised to 15. Nat Cert in Applied Chemistry introduced. Institution of Mining introduce examinations.
1948 ‘Examinations in Secondary Schools.’ Circ 168.  (23rd April) MoE/SSEC. ‘Education and Training Act’. 7,997 ONCs and 4,509 HNCs awarded. Welsh Joint Education Committee founded.
1949 CGLI Memorandum on the Origin, Development and Work of the Institute. CGLI. Scheme for Scottish Leaving Certificate accepted. ‘Examinations in Secondary Schools.’ Circ 205. MoE. The Year Book of Technical Education and Careers in Industry, H. C. Dent (Ed.), Black.
1950 ‘Professional Bodies Requirements in Terms of the GCE.’ Circ 227. MoE. UGC Policy Statement on Applied Science. UGC. In 1950/51 session there were 17,300 awarded 1st degrees and 2,400 higher degrees.
1951 The School Certificate and Higher School Certificate replaced by GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels. These were offered by: University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES). Joint Matriculation Board (JMB). University of London School Examinations Board (LSEB). Northern Ireland Schools Examination Council – not based in a university. University of Oxford Delegacy Examinations (ODLE). Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination Board (OCSEB). Southern Universities Joint Board for Schools Examinations (SUJBSE). Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC).Joint Standing Committee to advice on technical and commercial GCEs. Nat Cert in Chemical Engineering introduced. National Diploma in Agricultural Engineering established. National Retail Distribution Certificate introduced.
1952 Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) assumed examinations to its other functions. Nat Cert in Mining introduced. ‘Examinations in Secondary School’ Circ 256 MoE (Sept).
1953 Associated Examining Board (AEB) established by CGLI. Nearly 800 centres in Britain and Northern Ireland for RSA examinations. CGLI offered a single 3-year stand alone craft courses in Heating and Ventilating Engineering practice.
1954 ‘Technical and Commercial Subjects in the GCE.’ JMB. Southern University Joint Board for School Examinations founded.
1955 Council of Technical Examining Bodies established. National Council of Technological Awards established- Diplomas in Technology Dip Tech) and College of Technologists scheme followed. ‘Examinations in Secondary Schools.’ Circ 289. MoE.  Liberal Education in a Technical Age, NIAE.
1956 ‘Technical Education.’ Cmd. 9703. MoE. Diploma in Technology (Dip Tech) instigated – enrolled 965 students for 37 courses in 1957. 31.835 candidates for ONC (16,176 passed) and 12,568 candidates for HNC (8,176 passed). External Examinations for Secondary Schools. College of Preceptors. March.
 1957 49 Dip Tech programmes accredited.  Recent Developments Affecting the Pattern of Craft, Technical and Technological Training. BEAMA Education Conference report and papers.
1958 ‘Awards at Universities and other Institutions of FE.’ Circ.339. MoE. Beloe Committee appointed to look at other than GCE Examinations CSE introduced in 1965. Carr Committee. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Rules for the Examination and the Submission of Theses. July. The Royal Institute of Chemistry. Regulations for Admission to Membership. June. 62 colleges in which degree study could be undertaken existed along with 13 technical colleges affiliated to universities which could award those university degrees – examples were the London University External Degrees. 18,000 National Certificates and 10,000 Higher National Certificates awarded.
1959 15 to 18. Crowther Report. MoE. ‘Report on the Wastage of Students from P-T Technical and Commercial Courses.’ MoE/ NACEIC. ‘National Council for Technological Awards List 10.’ NCTA. National Council for Technological Awards Second Report. First examinations for the Mechanical Engineers Craft Course. Up to about 1959 CGLI structured its qualifications as a continuous 4-5 year syllabus divided into two parts – first part a 2-3 year part-time course leading to an ‘Intermediate’ Certificate which was followed by a 2 year part-time course leading to a ‘Final’ Certificate. In some cases a further 2 years would gain a ‘Full Technological Certificate.
1960 ‘Secondary School Examinations Other than the GCE.’ MoE/SSEC. Beloe Report. Around 1960 Voluntary Industrial Training Councils established. Teacher training courses extended to 3 years. ONC Business Studies introduced.
1961 National Council for Diplomas in Art and Design (NCDAD) established. ONC/OND/HNC in Business Studies introduced.  Institution of Scottish Examination Board created. Scottish Council for Commercial Education established. ‘Better Opportunities in Technical Education.’ Cmnd 1254. MoE. Secondary School Examinations other than the GCE. College of Preceptors. Scottish Council for Commercial Education (SCCE) founded. ‘Examinations  than the GCE.’ College of Preceptors. ‘Secondary School Certificate Regulations and Syllabuses.’ Union of Educational Institutions and in same year the equivalent document from the Union of Lancashire and Cheshire Institutes. G1 courses in Engineering started. CGLI General Regulations. CGLI and Heating and Ventilation Engineering Regulations and Syllabus for 1961. RSA Ordinary (Single Subject), Examinations for Part-Time Students
1962 Scottish Association for National Certificates and Diplomas (SANCAD) established to oversee National schemes for Scotland. Curriculum Study Group established in the MoE. Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) introduced. ‘Professional Bodies Requirements in Terms of GCE.’ Circ 5/62. MoE.  ‘Awards for First Degree and Comparable Courses. The University and Other Awards Regulations.’ Circ 9/62. MoE. Yorkshire Council for FE YCFE) assumed examinations to its other functions except for the Redcar region. Curriculum Study Group established with the MoE. Higher Grade Qualifications (Scotland) introduced. HND in Business Studies started – initial enrolment 380 candidates. In the session 1962-63 1,400 first degrees of University of London were awarded to students in FE colleges of whom 1,100 were in Science and Technology. HND Business Studies introduced with 380 enrolments. G* and G2 courses started in Textiles.
1963 Technical Education MoE. The Scottish Certificate of Education Examination Board established. ‘Certificate and  Senior Certificate Examinations.’ Report by examiners. College of Preceptors. ‘Regulations for the ACP and LCP Examinations from 1963 onwards.’ College of Preceptors. ‘Secondary School Certificate Regulations and Syllabuses.’ East Midland Educational Union and in same year the equivalent document from the Northern Countries Technical Examinations Council. ‘JMB. What it is and what it does’ Petch. J. A. JMB. Certificate in Office Studies (COS) introduced. 12.000 students registered for University of London external degrees – 8,500 full-time. G course started in Mining. CGLI offered courses for operatives in session 1963-1964. New ONCs established 2 years designated as O1,O2. London Chamber of Commerce (Incorporated) Regulation, Syllabuses and Time Tables of Examinations. The Nuffield Foundation Science Teaching Project. Report. October. 8,000 Dip Tech awarded.
1964 National Examinations Board in Supervisory Studies established- later called NEBS Management. Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA) established and receives charter – abolished in 1992.Schools Council for Curriculum and Examinations (SCCE) established followed recommendations by the Lockwood Report. MoE replaced by the DES. University of Durham School Examination Board dissolved. HND in Business Studies introduced. Industrial Training Act enacted – established a Central Training Council and 29 Industrial Training Boards (ITBs). ‘Schools Curricula and Examinations’. MoE. There were 113 craft and 110 technician qualifications being offered by CGLI. G courses in Science, Shorthand and Construction started. Approximately 120 professional bodies offered examinations in such subjects as science, technology, commerce etc.
1965 Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) introduced following the Beloe Report – ceased in 1987. A number of Regional examining boards were established namely: Associated Lancashire Schools Board. East Anglian Examinations Board. East Midlands Regional Examination Board. Metropolitan regional Examination Board. Middlesex Regional Examination Board. Northern Regional Examination Board. North West Regional Examination Board. South East (Regional) Examinations Board. Southern Regional Exams Board. West Midlands Regional Examination Board. West Yorkshire and Lindsey Regional Examinations Board. Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Examinations Board. Later the Yorkshire Boards merged to create the Yorkshire Regional Examinations Board and the Metropolitan and Middlesex Boards merged to create the London Regional Examinations Board. CSEs replaced by CGSEs in 1986/87. First CNAA honours degrees in Business Studies introduced. Multiple choice examinations began to be introduced in 16+ examinations. National Diploma in Design (NDD) replaced by the Diploma in Art and Design (Dip. AD). Number of colleges offering Dip. Ad stood at 40.
 1966 Agreement between CGLI and the six REBs concluded. The six BEBs were Union of Education Institutes, Welsh Joint Education Committee, East Midlands Educational Union, Yorkshire Council for FE, Union of Lancashire and Cheshire Institutes and Northern Counties Technical Examinations Council). G courses started in Printing.
1968 CGLI set up a Skills Testing Service as a result of the Industrial Training Act that provided practical tests for training outside the traditional FE system. Dainton Report – Enquiry into the Flow of Candidates in Science and Technology. DES/Council for Scientific Policy. HMSO. London- advocated a broader ‘A’ level qualification to attract more people into science. ONC in Public Admin introduced first certificates awarded in 1970.
1969 Haslegrave Report of Technician Courses and Examinations – (Ad Memo 21/69). Examinations Techniques Development Unit (ETDU) established at CGLI. Higher Certificate in Office Studies introduced.
1971 The London Chamber of Commerce changed its name to the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Examinations Board.
1972 School leaving age raised to 16. TOPs introduced.
1973 The Technician Education Council (TEC) created. Schools Council attempted to introduce N (Normal) and F (Further) level examinations – failed. ‘Examination Structure’ Schools Council. WP 46. ‘Preparation for Degree Courses’ Schools Council WP 47. Government established TEC and required CGLI to abandon its very successful technician examinations.
1974 The MSC established. The Business Education Council (BEC) created. Assessment of Performance Unit established by DES to promote the development of methods of assessing and monitoring the achievement of pupils. ‘Vocational Courses in Art and Design’ (Gann Report) DES HMSO. CGLI developed Foundation courses.
1976 ULCI merged with NWRAC. ‘School Examinations and their Function.’ UCLES publication.
1978 1978 Youth Opportunities Programme (YOP) introduced – two main approaches work experience and work preparation. ‘School Examinations’. (Waddell Report).
1979 Ferryside agreement which regulated relations between CGLI and the REBs and the RACs which were not REBs. Mansell Report ‘A Basis for Choice’ published. School Examinations (Waddell Report) recommended a single examination at 16 to replace GCE ‘O’ levels and the CSE – the GCSE introduced in 1986. LEA Arrangement for the School Curriculum-LEAs had to publish curriculum policies. ‘Proposals for the Certificate of Extended Education (CEE)’ Cmnd 7755 (Keohane Report) DES. 13% of school leavers achieved 2 GCE ‘A’ levels.
1980 ’16-19′ (Macfarlane Report) DES/LEAs. DATEC established (The Art and Design element of TEC and BEC).
1981 Northern Advisory Council for FE (NACFE)merged with the Northern Counties Technical Examinations Council to become the Northern Council for FE (NCFE). ‘A Basis for Choice (ABC) in Action’ A report by CGLI/BTEC/RSA/FEU on pilots of ABC 1979-1981 FEU London. ‘A New Training Initiative: A Programme for Action’. Cmnd 8455. DoE.
1982 Cockcroft Report into mathematics. ‘New Technical Education Initiative (TVEI)’ Press Release DES. ‘TVEI’ announced – MSC. ‘Mapping and Reviewing the Pattern of 16-19 Education’ Schools Pamphlet No. 20. School Council replaced by Examinations Council and School Curriculum Council,
1983 Certificate of Pre-Vocational Education (CPVE) introduced. Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI) pilots introduced  (Sept.) – a further 12 in Sept 1985 aimed eventually to establish 103 in 98 education authorities. YTS introduced. ’16-18s in Scotland: An Action Plan.’ SED. Edinburgh. ’17+ A New Qualification’ DES HMSO.
1984 BTEC created by the merger of TEC and BEC. Secondary Examinations Council (SEC) and School Curriculum Development Committee (SCDC) replaced by the Schools Council. ‘TVEI Review’ MSC. ‘The NVQ Criteria and Related Guidance’ NCVQ London. Scottish Certificate of Education for 14-16 year olds introduced. University of London Entrance and Schools Examinations Council and School Examinations Department renamed University of London School Examinations Board.
1985 Pitman Examinations Institute sold to Longman Group. ‘CPVE in Action’ FEU London. ‘Academic Validation in Public Sector HE’ (Lindop Report) DES HMSO. ‘TVEI Review’ MSC. ‘Progressing to College: A 14-16 Core’. FEU. New examination announced for 17 year olds (CPVE). Participation post-16 lower than in 2009 -participation in vocational and academic routes was: 18% for academic qualifications and 3% for vocational qualifications by 2001 these figures became 40% for ‘A’ levels and only 18% for vocational qualifications. However by 2009 the figures were still 40% for ‘A’ levels but vocational awards increased to 28% (10% increase since 2001).
1986 ‘Review of vocational qualifications and the establishment of the National Council for Vocational Qualifications NCVQ).’ H G De Ville ISBN 0 112705901.  Introduced a competency-based, outcome-measured national infrastructure -had profound effects on education and training providers. NCVQ merged with SCAA to form QCA in 1997. JTS and Restart for adults began. GCSE introduced. YTS extended to 2 years. ‘The European Schools and the European Baccalaureate.’ DES.
1986/87 ‘O’ levels and CSEs replaced by GCSEs – first awarded in 1988. Staying on rate for post-16 year olds in England was approximately 46%. ‘Changes in Scottish NAFE Examinations’. Publication 1a/48 CNAA.
1987 Advanced Supplementary (AS) levels introduced. Open College founded. The National Qualifications Framework.’ NCQV. London. The NCVQ Framework created. (March) NCVQ .’Progression from CPVE’ FEU London. ‘Current developments in School Curriculum and Examinations’. SCUE. SCDC. SEC. CNAA. ‘Work Experience in TVEI: Student Views and Reaction’. NFER.
1988 ‘Advancing A-levels.’ Higginson Report. DES. HMSO. London. GCSEs first awarded. The Management Charter Initiative (MCI) launched. National Curriculum (NC) started. National Curriculum Council (NCC) and the School Examination and Assessment Council (SEAC) replaced  School Curriculum Development Committee (SCDC) and Secondary Examinations Council (SEC). AQA established AEB+SEG+NEAB.NWRAC/ULCI became CENTRA (the FE Centre for the Regional Association of LEAs). NVQS and SVQs introduced. Career Development Loans (CDLs) introduced. Education Reform Act-introduced National Curriculum and testing regimes. ‘The National Certificate: A Guide to Assessment’ SCOTVEC. ‘Introducing a National System of Credit Accumulation’ NCVQ London. MSC becomes The Training Agency (TA). ‘NVCQ and its Implementation’. NCVQ Bulletin No 1. ‘Planning the FE Curricula’. FEU. ISBN 1-85338-080-6. national Curriculum Council consultation on science and mathematics.
1989 Training in Britain. TA/DE. ‘Generic Units and Common Learning Outcomes’ (June) NCVQ. ‘Vocational Qualifications: Criteria and Procedures’ NCVQ. International Curriculum and Assessment Agency for Examinations (ICAAE) founded focussed on business and ICT awards.
1990 CGLI purchase Pitman Examinations Institute (PEI). Training Credits introduced. British Baccalaureate published IPPR – went nowhere! Government lifts restriction on schools offering BTEC courses. Core skills first proposed for GCE ‘A’ levels – failed. ‘Core Skills 16-19’ National Curriculum Council (NCC).Howie Committee appointed to review extension of the Scottish Highers qualifications e.g. S5 and S6. S. O. Edinburgh. ‘Common Learning Outcomes: Core Skills in A/AS levels and NVQs’. G Jessop. NCVQ. YTS renamed Youth Training (YT).
1991 The CPVE replaced by the Diploma of Vocational Education (DVE). Youth Training replaced by Modern Apprenticeships and then phased out in 2002. SATs piloted in primary schools. ‘A Survey of the International Baccalaureate’. DES. ‘Access and opportunity’ Cmnd 1530. SED. Edinburgh. HMSO. ‘Beyond GCSE’.  Royal Society. London. Ordinary and Advanced Diplomas (Consultation Document) published. DES. London. ‘General Scottish Vocational Qualification’ A consultation paper SCOTVEC. ‘Ordinary and Advanced Diplomas’ Consultation Document DES. ‘A Framework for Growth’. APVIC. National Records of Achievements (NRAs) launched.
1992 ‘Upper Secondary Education in Scotland’ (Howie Report) SOED Edinburgh HMSO. ‘Beyond GCSE’ Royal Society. The national Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB) established. Government asks NCVQ to develop GNVQs. SVQs introduced in Scotland.
1993 GNVQs launched nationally initially piloted. School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA) replaced National Curriculum Council and School Examinations and Assessment Council. Dearing Report ‘The National Curriculum and its Assessment.’ Modern Apprenticeships announced – began in 1994 in 14 occupational sectors later extended to cover over 50 sectors. ‘Towards a Unified Curriculum’. APVIC. ‘Post Compulsory Education: A National Certificate and Diploma Framework – A Discussion Paper. FEU. Rainbow in Discussing Credit)
1994 CENTRA assumed responsibility for North West LEAs. GNVQ in FE Sector in England.’ National Survey Report by FEFC. ‘Higher Still’ announced a new unified system in Scotland to embrace all 16+ provision except SVQs and other work-based qualifications, SO. Edinburgh. Modern Apprenticeships introduced. CGLI proposals for a Technological Baccalaureate – came to nothing reintroduced in 2013. ‘Identifying and Measuring Knowledge in Vocational Awards’. CGLI Research report 63. ‘GNVQs in Schools and Colleges in Northern Ireland’. DENI. A* introduced in GCSEs. Foundation GNVQs introduced. The FEFC ceased allocating funds according to mode of course e.g. f-t and p-t but determined to fund the nature of the qualification sought. Northern Ireland Examinations Council became the Northern Ireland School Examinations and Assessment Council replaced by the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment  (CAAE).
1995 DfEE created. Review of 100 NVQs and SVQS.’ Beaumont Report. DfEE. ‘Assessment Review.’ Capey Report. NCVQ. London. University of Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations abolished. ‘An Interim Report on the Wales FE Credit Framework.’ Fforwm Wales Modularisation and Credit Based development Project. Fforwm. Cardiff. ‘GNVQ Quality Framework.’ NCVQ/BTEC/CGLI/RSA. NCVQ. London. ‘Education and Training- Implementing a Unified System of Learning’. Pring and Brockington etal). ‘Learning for the Future Project’ Post-Compulsory Qualifications – options for Change. (Spours and Young). ‘Tackling the Mathematics Problem’. London Mathematical Society. Institute of Mathematics and its Application. Royal Statistical Society. ‘Employers Use of the NVQ System’. IES Report 233. University of Sussex. GNVQs piloted. ‘Towards a Single Qualifications System.’ NEAB. ’14-19 Strategy for the Future: The Road to Equality.’ NUT. MAs available for young people. 354,000 NVQS/SVQs awarded and 84,000 GNVQs (Session 1995/96). Other vocational awards numbered 423,000 in session 1995/96. Percentage of females taking NVQs/SVQs approx. 53%, GNNQs/GSVQs approx. 53% and other vocational awards approx. 51%.
1996 ‘Review of Qualifications for 16-19 Year Olds.’ Dearing Report. SCAA, Edexcel created following the merger of BTEC with the London Examinations Board – BTEC + ULEAC. ‘Review of 100 NVQs and SVQs’ (Beaumont Report) NCVQ/SCOTVEC. ‘Review of GNVQ Assessment’ (Capey Report). Modern Apprenticeships introduced. Dearing Report Review of Vocational Qualifications for 16-19 year olds.’ ‘The Welsh Baccalaureate’ Institute of Welsh Affairs. (Jenkins and David). GNVQ offered as a more work-based alternative to the so-called academic qualifications of GCSE and ‘A’ levels. ‘Proposals on 14-19 Education.’ NAHT. 459,000 NVQs/SVQs awarded and 93,000 GNVQs (Session 1996/97. Other vocational awards numbered 439,000 in session 1996/97. CGLI entered agreements with NEAB and WJEC to simplify the admin and verification processes of IT systems in their centres. Training Credits extended to all in England, Scotland and Wales.
1997 Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) created following the merger of NCVQ and SCAA a massively powerful quango. Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR) established. AQA created from merger of AEB and NEAB – CGLI involved with GNVQ programmes but remained independent for all other qualifications. QAA for HE founded replaced HEQC. National Traineeships introduced to replace Youth Training eventually became Modern Apprenticeships (MAs). ‘Introducing the National Advanced Diploma’. SCAA/NCVQ. ‘Key Principles for Curriculum and Qualifications Reform from 14’. AoC, ATL, GSA, HMC. NAHT, NUT, PAT, SHA, SHMIS, NASUWT. NATHFE. ‘Towards an Overarching Certificate: Qualifying for Success’. DfEE. ‘The Key Skills of Students Entering HE’. DfEE. GNVVs introduced. 22,853 applicants to HE possessed level 3 GNVQ (93.6% offered places).
1998 ‘The Learning Age’ Cm 3790. DfEE. College of Preceptors becomes the College of Teachers. OCR established MEG+OCEAC+RSA Examinations Board. New Deal for Young People (NDYP) introduced. New Deal for Long-Term Unemployed (NDLTU, ND 25+) introduced. New Deal replaces YTS. National Literacy Strategy (NLS) introduced. Union Learning Fund created. Institute of Health Care and Development (IHCD) acquired by Edexcel. CGLI award their millionth NVQ. CGLI awarded 48% of all NVQs – but NVQs only accounted for 32% of all CGLI business. NCFE offered over 70 qualifications. New Code of Practice for GNVQs proposed. FEDA, AoC, Edexcel, Fforwn and NOCN agreed to introduce a qualification framework based on units and credits to assist the curriculum of lifelong learning.
1999 Moser Report ‘Improving literacy and numeracy; a fresh start.’ Review of the national Curriculum QCA/DfEE. National Numeracy Strategy (NNS) introduced. ‘Improving the Value of NVQs and Other Vocational Qualifications (OVQs). FEDA/QCA. (Sept). ‘Education and Training Development Agenda: Towards 2000. DfEE. Joint Council for General Qualifications established comprised AQA, Edexcel, OCR along with CCEA and WJEC covered a range of qualifications GCSE, ‘A’ level, GNVQ, Certificate of Achievement, Key Skills and Advanced Extension Awards.
2000 Federation of Awarding Bodies founded comprising CGLI, Edexcel, OCR and LCCIEB. CENTRA along with AOSEC, EMFEC and Learning South West to form the Awarding Body Consortium (ABC). University for Industry (UfI) became operational. Adult Basic Skills Strategy Unit (ABSSU) founded. Level 2 apprenticeships introduced. ‘Guide to the Basic Skills Initiative’. FEFC. Advanced Subsidiary levels replaced Advanced Supplementary levels. Review and reform of GNVQs. Vocational ‘A’ levels introduced replaced Advanced GNVQs. Advanced Subsidiary (AS) levels introduced. Between 2000 and 2009 the number of 16-18 year-olds working for level 3 Apprenticeship qualifications decreased by 50% from 60,000 to 30,000. From September three compulsory units were introduced at the Intermediate and Foundation of GNVQ. Revised versions of Part 1 GNVQs introduced (September). The British Association of Open Learning (BAOL) launched BAOLO Direct an online directory of more than 780 products, 500 services and 750 courses.
2001 Prototypes for Foundation Degrees launched. ConneXions service established – advice and information for teenagers. ‘AS’ level programme ‘Use of Mathematics’ introduced – extended from Autumn 2002. CGLI introduced higher level qualifications (i.e. level 4 and 5) – piloted from 2001.
2002 Institute of Leadership and Management created – NEBS Management +ISM. Vocational GCSEs proposed – introduced in September replacing Foundation/Intermediate and Part1 GNVQs. Advanced Subsidiary examinations (AS) introduced. Foundation degrees launched nationally. GNVQs phased out and replaced by so-called vocational GCSEs and ‘A’ levels. Jobcentre Plus launched. Technical Certificates introduced in FMAs and AMAs – to provide the underpinning knowledge and understanding required for the relevant NVQ level. ITOs replaced by the Sector Skills Councils (SSCs). Green Paper ’14-19 Extending Opportunities, raising standards’ published – main focus on qualifications. Review of first year of Curriculum 2000 published LSDA.
2003/4 Technical Certificates introduced to enhance the theoretical content for apprenticeships. Edexcel taken over by Pearson and became a profit making organisation. ‘Making Mathematics Count’. HMSO.  ‘Review and Development of Graduate Apprenticeships’. UVAC.
2004 Mike Tomlinson Report ’14-19 Curriculum and Qualifications.’ -recommendations rejected by government. National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC) became part of CGLI. Apprenticeship frameworks rebranded.
2005+ A recent series of reviews and reports e.g. Foster, Leitch along with a number of government initiatives have brought about the development of vocational diplomas, revised apprenticeships and an apparent commitment to skills improvement and vocational education. Hospitality Awarding Body (HAB) ( Hospitality and Catering) became part of CGLI. ’14-19 Education and Skills’. Cm 6476. DfEE.
2006 Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification introduced also known as the Welsh Baccalaureate (WB). 2006/07 Leitch Review of Skills – led to the establishment of Commission for Employment and Skills CES). CGLI with AQA start to develop Specialised Diplomas for piloting in 2008.
2007 School leaving age to be raised to 18 possibly in 2013 (Cmnd 7065). DCSF created replaced by the Department for Education (DfE/DFE). Functional skills introduced as a 3 year trial. ‘The UK’s Science and Mathematics Teaching Workforce’. A State of the Nation Report. Royal Society. ISBN 9780-85403-663-9.
2008 A set of interesting statistics. In 2006/07 – 763,000 vocational qualifications were awarded. In 2005/06 – 619,160, 2004/05- 532,478 and for 2003/04 the figure was 441.957. These were consistently below the targets set by the government and the 2006/07 percentage increase showed a deceleration on previous years. Testing and Assessment/ Report by House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee. Diplomas launched.  CGLI Centre for Skills Development founded. ‘Draft Apprenticeship Bill’ Cm 7452. ‘The Diploma: a guide to employers’ DCSF. National Apprenticeship Service announced. ‘Science and Mathematics Education’. State of the Nation Report – Royal Society- ISBN 978-0-85403-826-8.
2009  Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act.’ Created a statutory framework for apprenticeships. 11+ in Northern Ireland abolished. There were over 180 apprenticeships frameworks in place. OECD. PISA Report.
2010 Diplomas abolished. QCDA abolished. 17,000 Foundation Degree programmes run in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. ‘National evaluation of diplomas: first year of delivery.’ 25/3. DfE. Research. Good practice in involving employers in work-related education and training.’ Ofsted.
2011  ‘Vocational qualifications: long term effect on the labour market.’ 24/6. BIS. Research. ‘Outcome for first cohort of diploma leavers.’ 27/10. DfE. Research. ‘Intermediate and low level vocational qualifications: economic returns.’ 28/9. BIS. Research.
2012  ‘Apprenticeships for Young People.’ Ofsted.
2013  ‘Tech Bacc for 16-19’. BIS 16/12/2013. ‘Vocational Qualifications for 14-19 olds’. BIS. 16/12/2013. 3 levels for apprenticeships introduced – Intermediate, Advanced and Higher – Intermediate = 5 GCSES/2 , Advanced ‘A’ levels , Higher NVQ4/Foundation degree


Terminology and jargon abounds in assessments, examinations and testing below I provide some basic definitions which \I hope will help the reader.

Assessment:  The process of observing learning; collecting, describing, recording, scoring and interpreting information about the learner’s. Formal methods of assessment include: Tests/examinations which can be practical and/or academic, written/oral, seen/unseen, essay/objective tests, multiple choice/open-ended, timed/untimed etc.

Tests/examinations on modules of syllabuses

Coursework, continuous assessment, graded assessment throughout the programme.

Assessment, examination, test: Three terms referring to devices or procedures for getting information about the competence, knowledge, skills or other characteristics of the person being assessed, tested or examined. The three terms are often interchangeably, but there are some distinct differences between them. Assessment is the broadest of the three whilst examination is the narrowest.

Assessment Approaches: Two main forms namely Criterion-referenced (learner who has attained a certain standard) and Norm-referenced (allowing a certain quota to pass the test/assessment).

Competence — the possession and development of sufficient skills, knowledge, appropriate attributes and experience for successful performance of life roles. FEU.

Competency Test: A test to see if the learner has attained the minimum standards of skills and knowledge. Can be understood as a capacity or capability in the learner or as an element of an occupational role.

Correlation: A statistic that indicates how strongly two measures e.g. test scores tend to vary together.

Course Work: Consists of assignments such as essays, paintings, projects, reports etc finished by the learner during the programme,

Credential Inflation: Ever-increasing numbers of learners who are drifting into further and higher education in order to acquire extra qualifications, which are devalued as more people acquire them.

Criterion Referencing: Making test scores/assessments meaningful without indicating the learner taking the test/assessment position in the group. On a criterion-referenced test/assessment, each individual learner’s score is compared with a fixed standard, rather than with the performance of the other learners taking the test/assessment.

Evaluation: Both qualitative and quantitative descriptions of how the learner is progressing in order to attain the project goals.

Formative Assessment: Assessment occurring during the process of a unit, module or programme. Formative assessment is done before instruction begins and/or while it is taking place.

Grade Inflation: Grade inflation is said to occur when the pass marks appear to increase every year BUT standards do not (they can either remain the same or decline). It is a very controversial issue in Britain.

Norm-Referencing: Making test scores meaningful by providing information about the performance of one or more groups of test takers (called the ‘norm groups’) A norm-referenced scores score indicates the test taker’s relative position in the norm group.

Objective Scoring: Scoring system in which an answer/response will receive the same score, no matter who does the scoring. No judgement is needed in the scoring rule.

Objective Test: A test designed for which the scoring procedure is completely specified enabling agreement among different assessors/examiners. A correct-answer test.

Performance-Based Assessment: A test of the ability to apply knowledge/competence in a real-life or work-based situation.

Qualification Inflation: The level of qualification required for employment increases with time e.g. where once 2 GCE ‘A’ levels was sufficient to gain employment it then becomes a first degree.  

Reliability: Measure of consistency for an assessment process or instrument. If reliable should give similar results over time with similar learner populations and contexts.

Rubric: A set of rules for scoring the answers/responses in test/assessments.

Self-Assessment: The learner uses an assessment list or rubric to assess their own work.

Standards: Agreed values used to measure the quality of the student performance, instructional techniques, curriculum etc.

Subjective Scoring: Any scoring system that requires judgement by the examiner/scorer

Summative Assessment: Evaluation at the end of the unit/module of instruction or an activity or plan to determine the learner skills, knowledge, competence or the effectiveness of the activity/task.

Validity: The test/assessment/examination accurately measures the desired/agreed goals. 

Chapter 10 – Developments between 1920 and 1940



The Great War inevitably brought about many changes in education for example the existing apprenticeship programmes were seriously disrupted by the war. However, wars stimulate change and often as a result some innovate practices are introduced in order to increase productivity and tackle the challenges of the urgent need to accelerate manufacturing for the war effort. For example the Ministry of Munitions introduced much shorter training schemes by training workers in just one or two operations. More physical resources e.g. modern equipment was made available to technical schools and other institutions offering technical instruction. After the war the government training priorities centred on disabled ex-service personnel. In 1925 the Interrupted Apprenticeship Programme allowed individuals who had their apprenticeships disrupted by the war to complete their schemes. Training Centres were established offering six month to eighteen month programmes in a range of trades and were aimed at people who could relatively easily gain employment. Instructional Centres were established for the long term unemployed. Interestingly if people did not accept the offer of training their unemployment benefit was withdrawn. Training schemes were introduced for women but again the main purpose was to prepare them for employment in domestic occupations such as cookery, housework, laundry and needlework. Courses included both residential and non-residential to prepare unemployed women and girls for employment in domestic areas. Between the two world wars approximately 2 million people received some training with around 1.5 million attending Junior Instructional Centres. Junior Instructional Centres were managed by the LEAs under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour which had in 1919 assumed total responsibility for all government funded training although the post war recession and the subsequent depression in the late 1920s and early 1930s caused many of the training programmes to be severely curtailed. However even with the involvement of the Ministry of Labour training was still mainly seen as the responsibility of the employers – the government saw their role as supporting the most vulnerable in society e.g. disabled ex-service personnel.

Even with all the political developments associated with secondary education in the early 20th century there was still great uncertainty about technical and scientific subjects and their place in the school curriculum. In the early 1930s there were still only about 100 junior technical schools enrolling approximately 30 000 students in 1937. Before the Second World War day release schemes for apprentices from industry still operated at a very low level. Regional development of technical education was equally slow although the first really concerted effort to establish any semblance of regional co-ordination occurred in 1928 when the Board of Education created the Yorkshire Council for Further Education.

A series of financial crises during most of the 20th century linked with the massive national debt as a result of the two world wars inevitably caused all sorts of problems for the country. The shortage of money on many occasions during the century and the failure and inability to invest in education held back many essential initiatives to tackle skill shortages and to create and sustain a well qualified workforce. The continued lack of money to maintain a quality public sector of education sadly explains why even today problems still persist across the technical and commercial education system.

The two most important clauses in the 1918 Act were finally enacted following the 1921 Education Act namely the raising of the school leaving age from 12 to 14 and the possibility of creating a system of part-time continuation education for young people not in full-time education ultimately up to the age of eighteen. Both these important clauses, if they had been implemented immediately would have acted as a catalyst which would have brought about a greater degree of integration and coherence between the academic and technical streams of education. However the lack of money brought about massive cuts in public expenditure in the 1920s and 1920s and this coupled with a general culture of hostility from parents and surprisingly employers towards technical education continued to significantly curtail essential and crucial developments. Only one authority namely Rugby operated a system of part-time continuing education on a statutory basis. It was only after the 1944 Education Act that these two proposals were reinstated. The period between 1902 and 1939 witnessed the development of a mass secondary school system although it was only after the Second World War that it was completed. Colleges, many of which had been created from early developments i.e. Mechanics’ Institutions and Workingmen’s Colleges developed slowly and were very much dependent on the support and insight of the local authorities. Too often the colleges had to operate in outmoded accommodation with outdated and inappropriate equipment. Too often the situation can be summed up by the expression ‘make do and mend’. To illustrate the parlous state of investment the government’s commitment to spend £12 million on capital projects in 1939 actually saw less than £2 million expended. I will describe the development of the colleges in later chapters.

The Hadow Report in 1926 ‘Education of the Adolescent’ recommended the raising of the school leaving age to 15 and the creation of secondary education for all children which would follow consecutively on six years of primary education. The purpose of secondary education was therefore extended to include ‘modern secondary schools’ where the education might have a ‘practical’ and ‘realistic’ bias – note the use of the word might! In 1930 the Ministry of Labour became responsible for more training. In 1938 the Spens Report recommended the expansion of the technical schools and the continued development of the tripartite system of secondary education namely separate grammar, technical and modern schools. Two typical quotes from the report highlights the concerns felt by the members namely ‘We are convinced that it is of great importance to establish a new type of school of technical education quite distinct from the traditional academic Grammar School.’ and ‘The natural ambition of the clever child has been turned towards the Grammar School and the professional occupations rather than towards Technical High Schools and industry. This tends inevitably to create a disproportion in the distribution of brain power as between what may be broadly termed the professional and industrial worlds. Further, there is the regrettable and undesirable difference in social esteem.’ The report also recommended that the school leaving age should be raised to 16 years. The report argued that a new type of higher school of technical character should be developed as a first step from the existing Junior Technical Schools (JTSs). Clearly most of these recommendations were subsequently refined by later Reports and Education Acts and obviously the Second World War had a major influence on the new structures of the education system including technical education after the war. In 1932 the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance argued that attendance at Junior Instruction Centre or a courses of Instruction should be regarded and enforced as a normal condition in respect of unemployment whether through the Insurance Scheme or in the form of Unemployment Benefit .

Even in the early 1930s there were still only about 100 junior technical schools that enrolled approximately 30,000 students by 1937, for example. Before the Second World War day release schemes for apprentices from industry were at a very low level. Regional development of technical education was equally slow although the first really concerted effort to establish any semblance of regional co-ordination occurred in 1928 when the Board of Education created the Yorkshire Council for Further Education.

The two most important clauses in the 1918 Act that would eventually influence technical education were the raising of the school leaving age and the possibility of creating a system of part-time continuing education for young people not in full-time education ultimately up to the age of eighteen. Both these important clauses, if they had been implemented quickly, could have acted as a catalyst, which would have brought about a greater degree of integration and coherence between the academic and technical streams of education. However massive cuts in public expenditure in the 1920s and a general culture of hostility from parents and surprisingly employers significantly retarded these crucial developments. Only one authority namely Rugby operated a system of part-time continuing education on a statutory basis. It was only after the 1944 Education Act that these two proposals were reintroduced. The trade unions continued to show little interest in technical education outside the existing apprenticeship programmes. The reason for this reluctance seemed to stem from a fear that the unions would lose influence and their ability to control wages and conditions of service of their members when in they were in employment.

Technical Schools and Institutions.

Because of the historical development institutions were often composite in character, comprising programmes identifiable in more than one category in terms of level, mode of study and attendance. For example a technical college could comprise a Junior Technical School for boys, a similar school for girls, a senior full-time course in a specific trade along with evening courses in this and other related trades.
Table 1 illustrates the types of institutions offering technical teaching and instruction in 1935.

Table 1. Types of Institutions involved in Technical Education and Instruction.

  • Junior Technical Schools
  • Technical Day Classes
  • Day Continuation Schools
  • Evening Institutions
  • Senior full-time programmes in Colleges of Further Education.

Table 2 illustrates the range of provision for these technical institutions along with the enrolments for 1934.

Table 2. Enrolments and Range of Provision in Technical Institutions.

Junior (<16)

Full-time courses No. of Students in England and Wales
Junior Technical Schools 22,158
Technical Day Classes 1,223
Part-time courses   No. of Students in England and Wales
Day Continuation and Work Schools 15,658
Evening Continuation Schools 205,648
Juvenile Instruction Centres   23,543
Technical Day Classes   2,077
Grand totals   PT 250,906 / FT 23,381

Senior (>16)

Full-time courses No. of Students in England and Wales
Senior Courses in Colleges   8,709
Technical Day Classes   1,366
Part-time courses
Evening Classes in Colleges and Institutions 636,677
Technical Day Classes 23,350
Grand totals PT 660,027 / FT 10,165

Source: Education in 1934. HM Stationery Office 1935 reproduced in Technical Education (Fabian Research Bureau, 1936).

In 1937 a Board of Education Pamphlet 111 listed 4 types of junior technical and commercial schools (excluding art institutions). These were those i) preparing pupils for entry to specific industries or groups of industries, ii) preparing pupils for specific occupations, iii) preparing girls for home management and iv) preparing pupils to enter commerce. In 1935/36 194 junior technical and commercial schools existed with 23,844 pupils on roll. On March 31st 1938 there were 248 schools with 30,457 pupils on roll. In the year 1937/38 there were 224 junior technical and commercial schools with 28,169 pupils on roll.

These figures provide an interesting set of insights into how students were able to undertake technical studies e.g. note the low level of day release compared with evening attendance. Young people who had shown promise at primary school might be offered day release e.g. in 1934 approximately 25,000 boys and girls were so released on a basis of two half-days to attend technical subjects these would be enrolled in technical day classes and day continuation schools. In 1935 there were 53 Day Continuation Schools in England and Wales of which 46 were controlled by LEAs and 7 were provided by private companies. Also note the large number of titles for the institutions. In fact evening student numbers had reached a peak in the early 1900s and except for a few fluctuations remained relatively constant until the 1940s. From the 40s the driving forces were the increase demand for scientists and technologists in industry coupled with the acute shortage of skilled and highly qualified researchers and technicians and this led to a number of reviews, which in turn brought about an expansion.

Some Statistics on Number of Students Enrolled in Colleges and Other Institutions.
It might be helpful to present some data on student numbers and subjects to illustrate how the technical education system was developing and how people were participating in art, commercial and technical education. The following statistical data is taken from the Board of Education Annual Report for 1936 and shows class numbers and class entries classified according to specific subjects. In 1936 there were just over 100,000 evening classes in England and Wales with approximately 2.5 million class entries – remember students could enter themselves for more than one subject so it is not the number of students that is shown in the following tables.

Table 3. Evening classes in 1936.

Subject-group No. of sub-groups or Individual subjects No. of classes in group No. of class entries
Commercial 23 20,262  475,912
Engineering trades 33 8,087 159,888
Building 21 4,688 79,778
Mining 2 1,236 23,701
Printing 5 669 12,423
Clothing and Textiles 20 2,971 43,160
Chemical 16 757 12,208
Food and Drink 4 332 6,000
Domestic 13 15,095 289,567
Manual Subjects 3 5,686 132,476
Natural Sciences 10 5,810 117,509
Art 10 1,974 44,356
Languages 20 4,199 76,189
Hygiene 3 2,290 49,356
Others including: Physical Training, Social Sciences and Music 13 10,958 287,978
Miscellaneous 6 584 15,753


Numbers do not show detail for English and Mathematics as these key subjects wee offered mainly as a servicing subject for a very wide range of other programmes.
Analysis of the detail above shows that industry, commerce and domestic subjects were the most popular.
Table 4 shows the class entries in Colleges and Evening Institutes in 1936.

Table 4. Class Entries in Colleges and Evening Institutes.

Colleges  Evening Institutes
Subject-group Class entries Subject-group Class entries
Industry 276,190 Commerce 612,307
Commerce 134,565 Industry 372,153
Natural science 55,517 Recreational 309,453
Liberal studies 42,254 Domestic 299,038
Domestic 39,135 Liberal studies 178,245
Recreational 16,104 Natural science 61,992


Fascinating to see that study in evening institutes was three times that provided in colleges. A culture of going to college full-time or during the day was only growing slowly.

Table 5 illustrates the relative proportions of the various modes of attendance at a typical college. It also proves of interest reflecting the domination of evening study. The figures are taken from an average college and its annual return in 1936.

Table 5. Profile of Modes of Attendance at a Typical College in 1936.

Student hours
Mode of attendance Average annual hours %
Full-time 41,900 22
Part-time 22,300 12
Evening 126,400 66
Totals 190,600 100

Table 6 shows the enrolment pattern in schools of art and colleges.

Table 6. Enrolments in Schools of Art and Colleges 1936.

Colleges Art Schools
Mode of attendance Total % Total %
Full-time 12,505 5 5,729 8.7
59,829 91.3
Totals: 253,124 100 65,558 100


It must be remembered that art students represented a relatively small proportion of the total student numbers in colleges. The schools of art were in many ways monotechnics and able to offer a much wider range of art and design subjects much of it at the higher levels because of their better facilities.
The cost of educating a student in university and colleges has always been an issue and even today a great deal of debate continues about what the real costs should be to provide a high quality and relevant curriculum. Table 7 provides an interesting insight to the costs in the late 1930s.

Table 7. Cost of Courses to Institutions per Student (1930s).

Institution and mode of attendance  Annual Cost (£) Total cost of each completed course (£)
Technical college-evening 10 50 (5 years)
Technical college-part-time 26 156 (6 years)
Technical college-full-time 65 195 (3 years)
University-full-time 125  375 (3 years)

A really fascinating statistic that Richardson (1) carried out was the average fees paid per student to attend different courses in colleges and universities in the 1930s. Table 8 shows his calculations.

Table 8. Price of Education to the Student.

Institution and mode of attendance Estimated Annual Cost (£) Cost of completed course (£)
Technical college-evening 4 20 (5years)
Technical college-part-time 30 180 (6 years)
Technical college-full-time 90 270 (3 years)
Modern university e.g. civic 160 480 (3 years)


Interesting to compare with the equivalent fees and expense incurred by today’s students.
To complete this statistical presentation table 9 shows the overall numbers of students attending Further Education in 1936.

Table 9. Total Numbers of Students Attending Various Institutions in 1936.

Institution type Male Female
Universities 38,127  11,886
Art Colleges 33,087 31,511
Technical Colleges 280,748 71,297
Evening Institutions 352,125 388,927
Day Continuation Schools 8,564 10,506
Agriculture 11,000 2,000
Adult Education 3,939 4,726
Totals 727,590 521,221
Grand total for females
and males: 1,248,811


This table makes fascinating reading on a number of counts e.g. .the proportions of females studying in various institutions and the continuing dominance of evening and part-time study. It is interesting to make a comparison with current university enrolments patterns in 2008 when female enrolments at university for the first time exceeded those for males – at last some sort of equality is being achieved reflecting the demographic realities of the population.
Teachers in Technical Education.

In 1934 there were 3,854 full-time teachers many of those teaching languages, mathematics and science were graduates whilst the majority of the teachers of technical and vocational subjects possessed appropriate technical training and experience in the work place. These were supported by 10,000 part-time teachers and instructors again the majority being drawn from commerce and industry. At this time no technical training institutions existed for teachers and very few formal structures were available to help teachers and instructors develop teaching techniques. May just learnt on the job. However in 1936 the Nottingham University College in collaboration with the Board of Education instigated a full-time, one-year post-graduate course for the training of teachers of technical subjects mirroring existing ones offered for secondary school teachers. This pioneering course was a forerunner for later training colleges that were established as the number of teachers in technical and commercial education increased and he development of PGCE focused on teaching in technical education. Technical training colleges were created later e.g. Bolton College of Education (Technical), Garnet College London, Huddersfield College of Education (Technical) and Wolverhampton Technical Teachers’ College. [I will consider in more detail later the teachers and teacher training in Further Education – a title that is now accepted].


Although a much fuller account is provided in the separate history of technical and commercial examinations on this website it will be helpful to link some examination statistics with the data and information on student numbers, institutions and the courses describe above. Examinations have always played an important part in technical and commercial education. A number of awarding boards organised and provided external examinations for the wide range of institutions presenting their students. There were a number of Local/Regional Examining Unions offering very efficient systems of examinations. They involved local employers and he institutions by way of advisory committees to draft curricula and syllabuses for examinations that were in demand from their own areas. In areas not covered by these Examining Unions national bodies like the CGLI, [R]SA and London Chamber of Commerce offered a very wide range of subject examinations. The Joint Committee described earlier continued to offer ONC/ONDs and HNCs/HNDs developed during the 1920 and 30s. The total number of O/HNCs awarded in 1931 was 2,792 rising to 5,330 in 1939. In 1939 the number of candidates for mechanical / electrical engineering and building was 1,833, 1,133 and 533 respectively.

Table 10 illustrates how the number of candidates increased during the period covered by chapters 9 and 10 i.e. 1900 to 1940.

Table 10. Number of Candidates entered for CGLI at Various Years During the 1920/30s.

Year No. of Centres No. of Subjects No. of Candidates No. of Passes
Pass Rate
1900 390 64 14,551 8,114 (55.8%)
1910 418 75 24,508 14,105 (59.6%)
1915 419 72 15,625 9,866 (63.1%)
1919 312 65 8,523 5,221 (61.3%)
1920 321 67 9,825 6,231 (63.4%)
1925 299 73 8,676 5,738 (66.1%)
1930 402 86 14,721 9,616 (65.3%)
1935 433 108 18,656 12,084 (64.8%)
1939 556 125 34,174 22,000 (64.4%)
1940 427 116 15,163

It is Interesting to note the impact on the numbers at the time of the Great War and the beginning of World War 2. The passes show a fair degree of consistency albeit still with a high failure rate.

The [Royal] Society of Arts continued to grow after it had transferred the technological examinations to CGLI in 1879 and specialised in vocational subjects other than technical e.g. commercial, secretarial and office related subjects. It continued and still continues to be a major player in education and examinations [see the history of technical and commercial examinations]. The number of entries was small in the1880s but by 1890 the number of candidates had risen to 2,315 and continued to increase steadily during the 1890s and by 1900 had reached nearly 10,000. The increase can be linked to the whiskey tax as this created more classes in commercial subjects. Another factor that contributed to the increase was the introduction of bronze medals in 1891. The Society also introduced, at the turn of the new century, the three stages denoting level of study namely: elementary  aimed at day continuation schools); intermediate and advanced (this was finally introduced in 1905). The Society also reintroduced the group certificate an idea that had first been considered in the 1870s but failed to gain credibility. The group certificates at the three stages or grades quickly became accepted. After these reforms the number of candidates increased dramatically from 1900. Table 11 shows the growth in entries for RSA examination between 1900 and 1929.

Table 11. Number of Entries for [RSA] Examinations.

Year 1900 1905 1911 1919 1925 1929
No. of entries: 9.808 23,803 30,000 31,000 71,000 100,000


Again the Great War had an impact on entries and entries remained fairly constant up to and throughout the Second World War. After the war entries continued to increase e.g. 154,100 in 1949. Other examining bodies included the London Chamber of Commerce that had started offering examinations in commercial subjects in 1890 and the Pitman Examination Institute again offering commercial subjects [see biography].

The University Sector:

In the mid-1930s there were twelve universities and five university colleges but these institutions could not award degrees. Departments of technology were slowly being created within the university sector and some would cooperate with the local larger colleges e.g. Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Loughborough and Nottingham to reduce the possibility of unnecessary duplication. In 1934 there were 4,439 students enrolled full-time in these higher education institutions and the majority of the graduates preferred to enter the technical side of industry e.g. industrial design, research and development and testing rather than the production side of industry. Even in the 1930s there was a mismatch between supply and demand i.e. an over production of chemists and a shortage of biologists. Apparently nothing changes. Today our shortages are for mathematicians, physicists and statisticians.

Commercial Education:
In commerce recruitment for degrees was still relatively small. However, as industry became more sophisticated the demand for more qualified administrative, clerical, financial, legal and secretarial staff grew so institutions began to offer courses in a wide range of subjects. Subjects like accountancy, banking, book-keeping, law, shorthand, and typing. A number of these subjects were overseen by professional bodies some of which offered examinations, set standards and granted professional membership grades depending on the person’s experience and position in the company. Many other commercial occupational areas were offered by a variety of institutions including:

  • Junior Commercial School. In 1936 there were 44 such institutions enrolling 5,259 students. These institutions provided instruction in commercial subjects and the so-called ‘office arts’ as well as continuing the students general education.
  • Senior Full-Time Courses. There were 45 of these enrolling 1,447 post-certificate students. Examples of programmes included secretarial courses mainly for females, Intermediate B.Com and B.Sc. (Economics) and more specialised commercial programmes in, say, merchandising.
  • Evening Classes. Subjects offered at the junior level included arithmetic and accounts, English and commercial correspondence (literacy and business communications), shorthand and an optional foreign language. The senior courses were of three years duration and had commerce as a mandatory subject. In addition optional subjects were available including book-keeping, commercial arithmetic, foreign language, and shorthand, a trade subject reflecting the student’s employment interest and typing.
  • Advanced courses were obviously found in the larger institutions that could provide the facilities, qualified staff and resources to prepare the students for professional examinations. For example in London there were 23 Senior Commercial Institutes complemented by a number of privately run commercial institutions.

Other Developments that were Relevant to Technical and Commercial Education.

In 1911 the East Midlands Educational Union was founded and in 1920 the Northern Union of Mechanics’ Institutions (founded to 1848) was reconstituted as the Northern Counties Technical Examinations Council. In 1935 the National Association for the Advancement of Education for Commerce was founded. The British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education (BACIE) was established in 1934 following the merger of the association of Education in Industry and Commerce (founded in 1919) and the British Association for Commercial Education.
In 1919 the Board of Education established a committee to investigate ‘Education for Engineering that praised the quality of work in the Junior Technical Schools. In spite of the lack of funding to build and improve the accommodation of institutions some technical institutions/colleges were built during the period from 1900 and 1940. These included: Liverpool School of Commerce (1924), Loughborough Technical Institute (1909), Municipal Technical Institute (Norwich -1901), Rugby Technical and Art School (1920) and Workington County Technical and Secondary School (1912). Obviously the names of these institutions were changed later following the various reforms to the technical education system and the requirements of a number of Educations Acts.

Other institutions created earlier continued to operate and evolved from amongst others the Mechanics’ Institutions movement after their long and illustrious histories, A few examples include Birmingham Municipal Technical School (1895), Brighton Technical College (1897), Cardiff Science and Art School (1865), Glasgow Commerce College (1845), Leeds Mechanics’ Institution (1824), Leicester School of Commerce (1896), Manchester Mechanics’ Institution (1824), Mechanics’ Institution (Lancashire and Morecambe-1824), Northampton Institute (1891), School of Arts (Heriot-Watt Edinburgh (1821) and Science School and Technical College (Gloucester-1873). It is interesting to note the multitude of titles again these were rationalised during the rest of the 20th century.

A far more comprehensive chronology is provide in Appendix 1 that attempts to record many of the founding dates of key developments in technical and commercial education. In addition Appendix 4 provides more detail of key people and organisations in the technical and commercial education.


During the period from prior to the Great War and through the interwar years the major factor suppressing the further development of technical education was a succession of economic depressions and as a result a lack of money to invest in expanding the national education system and especially for technical and commerce education. The expenditure by the Board of Education in 1938 was £51 million – the same as it was for the period 1921/22! . High levels of unemployment during this period created little commitment to develop and sustain a skilled workforce – this has been a recurring issue throughout this country’s history and its attitude to technical education.

During the period covered by chapters 9 and 10 the importance of technical education was continually stressed by government and other relevant parties but resulted in little sustained or meaningful action. As I said earlier it was a period of slow evolution. The long awaited revolution following the expansion between 1870 and 1905 did not materialise. The Board of Education appeared to encourage and cajole but the State, because of financial constraints or indifference towards technical subjects failed to establish a comprehensive national system for technical education. The result was that the country was still denied an adequate system for the provision of secondary education for all and most certainly had an ill-formed system for technical education when the Second World War began 1939. The war again highlighted the lack of sufficiently qualified scientists, technicians and technologists and the poor state of engineering and manufacturing in Britain. The country survived more by luck and through outside support mainly from America. This fascinating but perplexing issue has been brilliantly explored and described by Barnett (2)

Chapter 11 will describe the developments after the 1944 Education Act and beyond that began to create a technical education system that we can begin to comprehend in terms of the current structures and practices. The country attempted, only partly successfully, to learn from the mistakes and problems identified in the war including the urgent need to develop and support a more effective technical education system. Amongst other developments was the rationalisation of the technical and commercial education landscape.


  1. Richardson. W. A. ‘The Technical College. Its Organisation and Administration.’ OUP. 1939.
  2. Barnett. C ‘The Audit of War.’ Macmillan -M Papermac. ISBN 0-333-43458-7. 1987.

Other useful references:

  • Venables. P. F. R. ‘Technical Education. Its Aims, Organisation and Future Development.’ Bell and Sons. 1955.

In order to help the reader comprehensive book lists, chronology and glossary are provided in separate section of this website.