Information on Colleges and Training Providers


Updated November 2016.

1582 Edinburgh University founded

1592 Trinity College Dublin founded

1596 Gresham College founded.

In 1613 Robin Hood Society founded by H. Middleton.

In 1685 Hackney Academy founded discontinued in 1820 founded by B. Morland.

In 1710 Mathematical School in Southwark founded by T. Crosby.

In 1717/1718 Soho Academy founded by M. Clare.

In 1750 Warwick Academy founded by J. C. Ryland moved to Northampton in 1759 and in 1785 to Enfield.

In 1752 Kendal Academy dissolved.

In 1763 Glasgow University provided Joseph Black with a chemical laboratory- subsequently he performed some of his classic heat experiments.

In 1763 Kensington Academy founded by J. Elphinston.

1777 Naval academy founded in Chelsea.

In 1781 Manchester Lit and Phil founded.

In 1783 The College of Arts and Science Manchester founded.

In 1786 Manchester Academy founded.

In the 1780s and 1790s there were approximately 200 Academies about 66% were in London the rest distributed across the country.

1791 Naval academy founded in Gosport by W. Burney.

In 1798 Thomas Cranfield opened a Day School in Kent Street London.

In 1798 Adult School founded in Nottingham the first.

In 1818 Leeds Lit and Phil founded.

In 1821 Edinburgh School of Arts opened. (April).

1823 Liverpool Mechanics and Apprentices’ Library opened.

1823 Glasgow Mechanics’ Institution founded.

In session 1823/24 Edinburgh School of Art enrolled 317 students in such subjects as joinery industries (91), masonry industries (24), engineering (13), printers (8) and mathematical instrument making and optics (5).

From 1824 the average attendance at London Mechanics’ Institution was: 1824-750. 1826-1,477. 1828-1,100. 1830-950 and in 1831-941.

1824 Dublin Mechanics’ Institution founded – later there were 28 Mechanics’ Institutions in Ireland.

In 1825 Greenock Institution of Art and Science charged 52.5 pennies for masters, 25 pennies for journeymen and 12.5 pennies for apprentices. At Devonport ‘operational subscribers paid 1.5 pennies per week and apprentices 1 p. Leeds Mechanics’ Institution paid 25 pennies per half year and at Newcastle Mechanics’ Institution 60 pennies per annum.

In 1825 Bradford Mechanics’ Institution founded it was renewed itself in 1832.

In 1826 100 Mechanics’ Institutions by 1850 approximately 700.

In 1828 University College London opened attained University status in 1836.

1828 between 1828 and 1843 the Todmorden Natural History Society was very active.

In 1829 Kings College School founded.

In the 1830s Mechanics’ Institutions membership comprised roughly 50% tradesmen, 33% mechanics and 13% clerks.

In 1831 Ripon Mechanics’ Institution founded by 1849 it had nearly 300 members.

In 1831 Kings College opened attained University status in 1836.

In 1831 University of Durham projected and chartered in 1837.

In 1834 the lecture programme at Liverpool Mechanics’ Institution was: Hamlet. The microscope. Stenography. Milton. Mechanics. Combustion. Music of Ireland. Production and Use of Silk. The Middle Ages. Oratory. Perspective. Phrenology. Sanitary Regulations and German Customs.

In 1834 enrolments at Manchester evening schools were 1,458.

In 1835 enrolments at Salford evening schools were 526.

In 1835 enrolments at Bury evening schools were 151.

In 1836 enrolment at Liverpool evening schools were 548.

In 1836/37 Brougham Institution founded Liverpool.

In 1837 Cornwall Polytechnic Society founded in Falmouth by the Fox family.

In 1837 66% of the London Mechanics’ Institution Management Committee had to be working class.

In 1838 Engineering Department established at Kings College London.

In 1838 membership at Huddersfield, Leeds and Manchester Mechanics’ Institutions were 310, 260 and 830 respectively.

In 1838 number of members at the Manchester Lyceuaems: Ancoats-735. Salford-1,500 and Chorlton-530.

In 1838 Salford Literary and Mechanics’ Institution founded under the title of the Salford Lyceuaem.

From 1838 number of members at the Nottingham Mechanics’ Institution were: 1838-747. 1840-899. 1845-816 and in 1850-815.

In 1839 the Museum of Economic Geology founded, in 1851 it became part of the new Government School of Mines Applied to the Arts, in 1853 became the Royal College of Chemistry incorporated as a chemistry department, in 1857 became the Government School of Mines and of Science Applied to the Arts, in 1881 became Normal School of Science and Royal College of Mines and in 1890 became Royal College of Science and Royal College of Mines.

In 1838 enrolments at Birmingham evening schools were 563.

In 1839 Museum of Economic Geology opened and went through a number of name changes e.g. in 1851 known as the Government School of Mines Applied to the Arts, In 1853 became College of Chemistry. In 1857 because the Government School of Mines and Science Applied to the Arts. In 1881 became the Normal School of Science and Royal School of Mines and in1890 became Royal College of Science and Royal School of Mines.

In 1840 Oldham had a School of Science and Art – initially called the Lyceum – started SoA examinations in 1874. In 1882 it enrolled 675 science and 110 art students with technical classes in mechanical engineering, tools and cotton manufacture reflecting the local industries.

In 1841 to 1852 17 schools of industrial design were founded.

1841 220 Mechanics’ Institutions in existence with 30,000 members

In 1841 Andrew Walker opened a Ragged School or School of Industry in Field Lane, Smithfields, London

In 1842 Peoples’ College Sheffield founded by Rev Bayley. Subjects taught included Latin, French, German, Greek, Mathematics, English Lit, Logic, Elocution and Drawing – weekly fee 9 penny (approximately 5p).

In 1842 between 1842 and 1852 21 provincial schools of design were established including in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

In 1842 Metropolitan Early Closing Association founded – encouraged opportunities for intellectual, physical and moral education and improvement.  Formed the basis for the YMCA.

In 1843 Royal Dockyard Schools opened at Woolwich, Sheerness, Portsmouth and Devonport.

In 1843 the membership at Huddersfield, Leeds and Manchester Mechanics Institutions were 190, 816 and 807 respectively.

In 1844 Young Men’s Mental Improvement Society became Huddersfield Mechanics’ Institution’

Queen’s College founded in Belfast, Cork and Galway.

In 1846 Peoples Instruction Society Birmingham founded.

In 1846 Royal Naval College founded.

In 1846 Thirsk Mechanics’ Institution established by E. Gatley and E. Jowett.

In 1848 Masham Mechanics’ Institution founded by John Fisher.

In 1849 Brighton Working Men’s Institute founded.

In 1849 The Oddfellows Literary Institute in Leeds had a library of 1,200 volumes.

In 1850 the membership at Huddersfield, Leeds and Manchester Mechanics’ Institutions were 779, 1,873 and 1,254 respectively.

In 1850 there were 44 Mechanics’ Institutions in Lancashire with 12,405 members

In 1850 there were 610 Mechanics’ Institutions in England with a subscribing membership of 102,050 and 691,500 publications in their libraries. If the Mutual Improvement Societies, Christian and Church of England Institutions and Evening Adult Schools were added the grand total for England was 700 with 107,000 members.

In 1850 the three Irish universities were united – Queens University- in 1880 Queens University was superseded by the Royal University of Ireland.

In 1851 there were: 610 Mechanics’ Institutions in England with 102.050 members. 12 in Wales with 1,472 members. 55 in Scotland with 12,554 members and 25 in Ireland with 4,005 members. Grand totals 702 Institutions with 120,081 members. Reference:Hudson 1851 ‘History of Adult Education.’

In 1851 there were 1,017 literary and scientific institutions in England, 40 in Wales and 225 in Scotland.

In 1851 Census recorded 1,545 adult schools with approximately 40,000 students – by 1858 there were 2,036 evening schools wit approximately 81,000 students (55,000 males, 26,000 females) -majority children/adolescents.

In 1851 Science instruction in schools between 1851 and 1872 went from: Number of schools 0 to 94. Number of pupils 38 to 2,803 and number of pupils 1,330 to 36,783. (Note some science instruction went on in a very small number of institutions).

In 1851 there were 438 evening schools.

In 1851 Number of Evening Schools in Lancashire (319), in Middlesex (181) and Yorkshire (160).

In 1851 there were approximately 55 Mechanics’ Institutions in Scotland ranging with a membership from 20 to 700

In 1851 Night schools received funding for the first time.

In 1851 Owens College Manchester opened attained University status in 1903.

The total returns from the Literary and Mechanics’ Institutions in 1851 were:


No. of Institutions

Subscribing Members

Volumes in libraries



























Source: Hudson J. W. ‘The History of Adult Education’ 1851.

In 1852 the Todmorden Botanical Society was founded by A. Stansfield and J. Nowell.

Between 1852 and 1858 the 17 Schools of Design increased to 56 and student numbers increased from 4,800 to 35,000.

In 1853 Peoples’ College opened in London subjects taught included arithmetic, algebra, geometry, astronomy, history and geography.

In 1853 the Midlands Institution founded.

In 1853 the Royal College of Chemistry became the department of chemistry at the Metropolitan School of Science and remained so until the School was renamed the Royal College of Science and Royal School of Mines.

In 1855 there were 368 Mechanics’ Institutions in membership of the Union of Institutions (facilitated by the SA and the Society of Arts Journal acted as a means of communication between them and the Society.

In 1855 King’s College London instituted an Evening Class Department.

In 1855 Haley Hill College (vocational focus cf. Working Men’s College) Halifax opened closed early 1880s.

In 1858 Salford College (vocational focus) opened closed 1886.

In 1858 at least 25 Mechanics’ Institutions in Yorkshire had erected their own buildings.

In 1859 Boston College (vocational focus) opened closed 1892.

From 1859 any pupil of the artisan class who passed an examination of the Science and Art Department gained a grant for his teacher. Payments varied depending on the grade achieved. In 1866 £5,000 was paid to teachers and by 1867 £8,000 was paid out.

In 1860 the Science and Art Department started its programme for science examinations with 30 classes and 1,340 candidates mostly in private and endowed schools. By 1873 there were 1,182 classes and 24,674 candidates.

In 1860 a Scientific Society of the Haley Hill Working Men’s College in Halifax was founded.

In 1860 Westminster Working Men’s Club founded.

In 1861 Owen College, Manchester only enrolled 88 day students.

In 1861 Liverpool School of Science founded.

In 1861 Notting Hill Working Men’s Hall founded.

In 1861 Ipswich College (vocational focus) opened closed 1890.

In 1862 the Union of Working Men’s Clubs/Colleges/Institute was established and by 1889 there were 329 clubs in membership and by 1899 there were 683 members. The majority of the club movement was from London, Home Counties, Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire and the West Midlands (479 of the clubs in 1899 were from these regions very few in Scotland and Wales.

In 1862 10 females passed the SoA examination in Arithmetic, Gospel and Acts, English , History, Geography and Needle work. All had attended the Ladies Educational Institute which was part of the Leeds Mechanics’ Institution. (From the 25th report of the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutions 1862.)

In 1862 Leicester College founded by D. J. Vaugham and called Working Men’s College in 1868 has continued to operate and now called Vaugham College an extra-mural centre of University of Leicester.

In 1862 Hartley Institute Southampton opened attained University status in 1952.

In 1864 London Working Men’s College  (founded in 1858) had 127 day and 312 evening students.

In 1865 Ovenden Naturalists’ Society in Halifax was founded.

In 1866 there were 18,139 students in 102 Schools of Art, 1,140 students in 32 night classes and 80,084 learning drawing in elementary schools.

In 1866 London Mechanics’ Institution changed its name to the Birkbeck Literary and Scientific Institution and in 1907 to Birkbeck College and in 1950 became part of University of London

In 1867 there were 212 Science Schools with 10,230 students – the so-called ‘organised science schools began in 1872.

Reported that there were 226 Sunday  Ragged Schools, 204 Day Schools and 207 Evening Schools with an average attendance of 26,000.

In 1868 London Working Men’s College, Southwark founded by T H Huxley (see biography on this website).

In 1868 Manchester Building Trades Institute of Technical Education opened with 200 students but this number declined to just 35 by 1880. (Possible explanation the ‘Master Builders’ did not support apprenticeships).

In 1869 Portsmouth and Gosport School of Science and the Arts founded.

In 1867 there were 212 science schools with 10,230 students. The so-called organised science schools date from 1872 presented pupils for the South Kensington examinations.

In 1867 Dalkeith Working Men’s Club and Institution founded.

In 1870 Blackheath Proprietary School London founded.

In 1871 Royal Indian Engineering College Coopers Hill founded.

In 1871 Newcastle College of Physical Science opened attained University status 1963.

In 1872 Crystal Palace School of Practical Engineering established.

In 1873 Institute for Boys and Youths founded at Camberwell, New Road, London.

In 1873 there were 120 schools of art spread across the UK also there were 180,000 boys and girls taught drawing in elementary schools and there were 500 night schools for teaching drawing to artisans.

In 1873 National Training School of Cookery founded in Kensington (1873-1902) became the National Training School of Cookery and Other Branches of Domestic Economy between 1902 and 1931 and then National Training College of Domestic Subjects between 1931 and 1962).

In 1873 Mather and Platt opened their own training school for their employees this continued until 1905.

In 1874 York College of Science Leeds opened attained University status in 1904

In 1874 the Artizans’ Institute founded was an offshoot of the trades Guild of Learning. It pioneered trade classes .

In 1876 number of Day Schools had declined from 195 to 74 with a decline from 23,052 to 5,678 pupils.

IN 1876 College of Science for the West of England, Bristol opened attained University status in 1909.

1877 between 1877 and 1886 no workshop training of any kind was provided at the National Art Training School based in South Kensington.

In 1879 70 Mechanics’ Institutions offered courses in conjunction with the Department of Science and Arts – enrolments were 1,498 in Mathematics, 1425 in Chemistry,1275 in Magnetism, 1128 in Machine Construction and Drawing, 665 in Applied Mechanics , 634 in Steam Technology and 92 in Mining.

In 1880 the Department of Science and Arts estimated that there were 4,000 students attending science classes at Mechanics’ Institutions who were eligible for ‘payment by results’ – and 1,000 attended during the day.

In 1880 first chair in mining established at The Newcastle College of Physical Sciences.

In 1880 Firth College Sheffield opened attained University status in 1905.

In 1881 University College Nottingham opened attained University status in 1948.

In 1881 Foundation stone laid for the Finsbury Technical College (CGLI) – CGLI spent £36,000 on its construction.

In 1882 there were 909,000 students in schools of art and 69,500 in schools of science (Data from Royal Commission on Technical Instruction 1884).

In 1882 University College Liverpool opened attained University status in 1903.

In 1882 the number of centres designated for CGLI examinations were as follows: 25 Mechanics’ and Working Men’s Institutions, 20 Schools of Science and Art, 9 Technical Colleges, 7 Literary, Scientific, or Library Institutes, 9 Institutes, Exeter Training College,23 Schools, 11 Board Schools and National Schools giving a grand total of 134 centres. (By 1983-4 there were 2,246 centres).

In 1883 Toynbee Hall founded.

In 1884 Central Institution at South Kensington founded.

Brunner Mond encouraged and offered their employees technical education.

In 1885 there were 3 Organised Science Schools, 125 in 1896 and 212 in 1901 and nearly 25% of these were attached to board schools.

In session 1886/87 there were 638 students at the Central Institution of the CGLI.

In 1887 Kevin Street Technical School opened – two schools one for science and the arts and the one for the technical trade subjects.

In 1887 People’s Palace opened (Mile End Road) – later became East London Technical College and is now Queens College part on London University.

In 1888 Manchester Central Higher School opened.

Between 1889 and 1902 ‘Whiskey Money’ provided 12 more Polytechnics and Technical Institutions in London and 13 in the provinces and more than 100 ‘organised science schools’.

After 1889 Technical Colleges that were run by local government came into being examples included Gravesend (1898). Dover (1900) and Dartford (1904)

In 1889 Bradford Technical College enrolled 314 day students and 1,337 evening students and Keighley Technical College enrolled 214, and 983 students on those modes of attendance. Note the large disparity between day and evening enrolments!

In the 1890s it was reckoned that <10% of skilled workers had directly experienced any formal training.

In 1891 Battersea Polytechnic founded

In 1891 Young Men’s Christian Institution became the Regent Street Polytechnic (See biography on this website)

In 1892 a Report to the L.C.C. by H. Llewellyn Smith identified there were only 24,000 evening in the whole of London. Out of 24,000 bricklayers only 90 were receiving formal training, out of 7,000 cabinet makers and upholsterers only 120 were doing any sort of training and out of 10,000 men in London tanneries only 13 were studying chemistry.

In 1892 University Extension College opened Reading attained University status in 1926.

In 1882 In 1882/1883 1,977 evening schools with 116,000 students.

In 1893 The Central Institution changed its name to Central Technical College (CGLI) and in 1901 became a School of the University of London.

In 1894 there were 113 trade classes in the London Polytechnics and by 1904 this figure had risen to 313 in such disciplines as bricklaying, painting and decorating, plastering, plumbing and printing.

In1894  Bolton a Manual Training School was linked with the Technical College.

In 1894 South Eastern Agriculture College Wye admitted first 13 students

In 1885 there were 3 Organised Science Schools in 1896 this had increased to 125 and by 1901 there were 212 – approximately 25% were  attached to School Boards.

In 1895 Exeter Technical and University College opened attained University status in 1955.

In 1896 the Northern Polytechnic Institution (Holloway) opened its mission being ‘To promote the industrial skills, general knowledge, health and wellbeing of young men and women’.

In 1896 298,724 pupils attended evening continuation schools in 1899 the figure had risen to 474,563 and approximately 14.4% were over 21 years of age.

In 1897 there were 23,256 evening students at the 9 London Polytechnics of whom approximately 33% were attending classes in building, engineering and metal trades and 1,590 on various other trade courses.

1898 between 1898 and 1904 there was an annual enrolment in book-keeping of 17,000, shorthand of 2,900, needlework of 1,800 and manual training 17,000.

In 1899 Ruskin College opened.

In 1899 In session 1899/1900 5,263 evening schools with 206.000 students.

In 1899 Brewing introduced at Birmingham University.

At the end of the 19th century 170,000 students were receiving instruction in Department of Science and Arts classes.

In 1901 Central Institutions (CIs) were designed in Scotland and by 1964/65 there were 6,000 full-time students studying in CIs.

In session 1901/02 in London only about 15% of 14 to 21 year olds enrolled in the Boards evening schools.

In 1901 Coal Gas and Fuel Industries introduced at Leeds University.

Number of Students Attending Evening Schools in England and Wales between 1902 and 1905:





Number of Evening Schools Recognised by BoE




Number of Students




Source: Statistics 1902-06. Cd3255. BoE.

In 1902 the first town to adopt the course system throughout its Evening Continuation Schools was in Halifax.

In 1902 Biochemistry introduced at Liverpool University.

1902 between 1902 and 1918 ONLY ten technical schools were built! (G A N Lowndes).

In 1902 total number of students at Bradford Technical College was 1,136 of whom 188 attended textiles classes, 158 dyeing classes and 567 engineering classes.

In 1902/03 number of students in evening schools (on government paid grants) was 440,718, number on full-time and part-time study attending BoE recognised provision operating under the FE regulations was 977,000 and Adult Regulations the number was 47,283 this figure increased significantly to 1,025,000 by 1934.

In 1903/04 Liverpool Municipal Technical School there were 1,005 class entries for engineering metal trades programmes but only 155 were for anything higher than the ordinary grade of CGLI.

In 1904 Liverpool out of 1,313 entries for science and technology only 150 were on ‘advanced courses’.

In 1904 the London Polytechnics comprised:

North of the Thames: East London Technical College. Mile End Road with branch at Bow and Bromley.

The Northern Polytechnic. Holloway. The Regent Street Polytechnic. The South West London Polytechnic. Manresa Road.

The Sir John Cass Institute. Jewry Street.

The City Polytechnic comprising- The Northampton Institute, Clerkenwell. The Birkbeck College, Chancery Lane and the City of London College, White Street, Moorfield.

South of the Thames:

The Battersea Polytechnic, Battersea Park Road. The Borough Polytechnic, Borough Road – two branches Herold’s Institute, Bermondsey and Norwood Institute, Knights Hill. The Goldsmiths’ Institute, Lewisham High Street and The Woolwich Polytechnic, William Street.

In 1905 Junior Technical Schools launched and re-launched in 1913.

Manchester College of Science and Technology linked with Manchester University, (As a faculty of the University).

Between 1905 and 1913 number of JTSs and Trade Schools increased to 37 with 2,900 pupils and by 1918 number was 61.

1906 Elmham Watts Naval School (Norfolk) opened.

In 1906 Shoreditch Technical Institute founded a Girls Trade School. This later merged with Clapham Trade School to become the Shoreditch College for the Garment Trades. Renamed Shoreditch College for the Clothing Industry in1966 and in 1967 the college amalgamated with the Barrett Street Technical College  (formerly the Barrett Street Trade School)  to form the London College of Garment Trades and finally renamed the London College of Fashion

In 1907 Imperial College of Science and Technology created by the amalgamation of the Royal College of Science, Royal School of Mines and the Central Technical College of the CGLI.

In 1907 15 Day Technical Schools had been founded in LEAs in the North of England.

In 1907 Naval Architecture introduced at Newcastle University.

In 1907/08 student numbers at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College 605 day and 4,621 part-time/evening.

In 1907 15 day technical schools were founded in LEAs in the North of England but London had the largest concentration of full-time classes.

In 1907 600 full-time students read science and technology at Imperial College this figure increased to 800 by 1914.

In 1908 Only 3,000 students attended full-time courses at technical schools and provincial universities.

In 1908 there were 23 Polytechnics in London and 110 in the provinces.

In 1908 Imperial College , London linked  with London University, (As a School of the University)

In 1908 National University of Ireland formed from the Queen’s College of Cork and Galway with the addition in 1909 of University College Dublin.

In 1909 there were 4,000 FT students and 750,000 PT students in colleges – by 1930 these figures had increased to 42,000 and 1,280,000 respectively.

In 1909 Belfast College became Queens University of Belfast.

In 1912 111 Trade Schools existed – the LCC maintained 16 trade schools 10 for boys and 6 for girls.

In 1912 Royal College of Science and Technology (Glasgow) linked with Glasgow University.

Between 1912 and 1923 number of trade schools for girls increased from 6 to 32. (Subjects taught included dressmaking, millinery, photography, cookery and hairdressing).

In session 1913/14 there were 37 JTSs – 27 JTSs for boys and 10 for girls and by 1920 there were 67 for boys and 13 for girls. There were 1,027 secondary schools.

In 1913 part-time classes staged for the employees of Bournville Company – initially called the ‘The Day School for Young Employees.’

In 1914 Strode School opened for employees of C and T Clarke.

In 1914 it was estimated that only 250 teachers and 400 full-time students were carrying out research which had any relationship with industry or industrial practice.

In 1914 Reckitt and Sons Day Continuation School established in Hull.

In session 1916/17 there were 174 students enrolled at the Stanley Trade School. Was the second largest such trade school enrolments.

In 1917 of the 226 engineering firms surveyed 43 maintained a pupillage system and 62 took on secondary school boys for an apprenticeship that included part-time study.

In 1918 there were 51 Central Schools in London.

In 1918 Lever Brothers, Port Sunlight established a Day Continuation School.

In 1918 Tootal Broadhurst Lee Company opened a Day Continuation School for its young workers at the Bolton Mills site.

In 1918 W and R Jacob of Dublin opened a day Continuation Schools for their workers.

In session 1919/20 number of enrolments in English Universities were- 3,827 (Pure Science), 4,202 (Technology) and 236 (Agriculture).

In 1919 there were only 30 Higher Elementary Schools in England and Wales.

In session 1917/18 there were 82 6th form science related courses in England and Wales

In 1920 Day Continuation School opened in Rugby.

In 1920 Boots’ Day Continuation School founded in Nottingham.

In 1920 Day Continuation School held classes at Falmouth Technical School – opened with 92 apprentices aged 16 to 18.

In 1921 there were nearly 100 Day Continuation Schools providing part-time day study for over 16,000 learners.

In 1921 the qualifications held by teachers in JTSs were: Graduates- 780 (Male) and 145 (Female). Non-graduate assistants- 562 (Male) and 99 (Female). Non-graduate instructors- 1,189 (Male) and 508 (Female).

In session 1922/23 12,600 boys and 10,800 girls in attendance in Day Continuation Schools (DCSs).

In 1923 Army Education/Training started a system of centralised Technical Schools.

In session 1923/24 number of pupils in the 74 Day Continuation Schools (DCSs) was 11,558 boys and 10,917 girls giving a grand total of 22,475. Girls were in attendance at 36 out of the 74 schools and in 27 schools instruction was given in domestic science.

In 1924 total population in London Central Schools was 27,179 and in secondary (Aided and Maintained) 31,282. (LCC Stats. 1929/30. 1931).

In 1924 Courses in JTSs were: Engineering- 24 in the provinces and 5 in London. Construction-7 in the provinces and 2 in London. Needle trades-7 in the provinces and 8 in London. Commercial-22 in the provinces and 2 in London. Domestic science-9 in the provinces and 4 in London. Nautical-3 in the provinces and none in London. (ED 10/143).

In 1925 there were 37 commercial-bias schools in London and 20 dual-biased schools.

In 1925/26 33% of under 21 s in the engineering industry were apprenticed with approximately another 11% learners.

Information on Junior Technical Schools (JTSs) Between 1926/27 and 1937/38 in Wales and England:

England England Wales Wales


































































Source: BoE Annual Reports.

In session 1927/28 there were 4,178 engineering students attending part-time classes this increased to 6,968 in the session 193o/31.

In session 1924/25 there were 235 6th form science courses in England and Wales.

In 1930-1 there were 110 JTSs for Boys and 34 for Girls and also 33 for Boys and Girls.

IN 1930 Technical College , Sunderland linked with Durham University.

In 1930 there were 10 JTSs in London for girls.

In 1930 proportion of pupils in various types of school: Senior Schools-828,000 (42.1%). All age elementary schools-672,000 (32.3%). Grant-Aided secondary (grammar schools)-440,000 (22.4%) and Junior Technical Schools (JTSs)-27,000 (1.4%). ED 136/214.

In 1930-1 there were 40 Junior Commercial Schools (JCSs) with 5,000 pupils of whom approximately 60% were girls.

In 1931 approximately 3,000 teachers involved in full-time in technical and commercial schools.

In session 1931/32 there were approximately 2,200 pupils attending part-time day classes on advanced commerce courses.

In 1931 the number of students attending classes operated under the 1931 Regulations for Further Education (FE) were: Day Continuation Schools 20,600, Junior Technical Schools 21,000, Senior Full-Time Courses 8,000 and Technical day Classes 27,000 giving a total of 76,600 and there were 905,000 in Evening Classes giving a grand total of 981,600 students.

In 1931 the Number of Students in Technical Colleges on Senior Full-Time Courses* :

  • Does not include students on Commercial subjects


Number o Students

Number of Courses




Arts (76), Preliminary (537) and

Science (379)






Architecture and Building






Chemistry and Chemical Trades






Printing and Photography






Food and Drink Trades



Physical Training



Optics, technical



Leather Industries



Music trades



Boot and Shoe Manufacture



Naval Architecture



Clothing Trades (2)









In 1933 Junior Technical Schools were carried out in 102 separate schools with 177 recognised courses.

In 1933 technical colleges enrolled approximately 200,000 students and evening institutes of various kinds >650,000.

In 1933 the number of students in grant-aided classes for Adult Education was 25,321 for men and 25,711 for women.

In 1933 Harriot Watt College Edinburgh linked with Edinburgh University.

In 1933 there were 317 LEAs.

In 1934 in Technical Day Schools there were 2,589 students in 96 full-time courses and 25,427 students in 1,335 part-time courses – mainly studying engineering/building/printing/photography

In 1934 a survey of occupations of pupils in Day Continuation Schools showed the following percentages (Survey of 800 pupils from 200 separate employers):

In session 1934 there were 527 engineering apprentices and 40 probationers enrolled at Coventry Technical College.

Engineering – Boys 47.9%, Girls 22.9%.

Clerical Boys -4.2%, Girls 19.8%

Distributive trades – Boys 30.0%, Girls 8.6%


Institutional – Boys 3.0%, 0.9%

Private – Boys 0% , Girls 16.3%

At home – Boys 0%, Girls 10.9%

Building trades – Boys 3.4%, Girls 0%

Printing – Boys 1.6%, Girls 1.5%

Agriculture – Boys 1.6%, Girls 0%

Laundry – Boys 0%, 9.0%

Corset manufacture – Boys 0%. Girls 5.2%

Miscellaneous – Boys 8.3%, Girls 4.9%.

In 1934 Percentage Participation among Different Age-Groups:
















In 1934 45% of Selective Central School teachers were graduates.

In 1935 First sandwich course in UK started in conjunction with the Ministry of War.

In 1935/6 Junior Technical Schools (JTSs) and Number of Students:

Types of School

Number of Schools




Junior Technical




Junior Technical






Junior Housewifery




Junior Commercial










Source: Educational Pamphlet No. 111 BoE. 1937.

In 1935 9,100 students in technical education over the age of 17 and 1,600 over 21 – mostly part-time and the wastage rate was approximately 50%.

In 1935 12 universities with 40,392 students  and approximately 3,079 staff in teaching departments.

In 1935 there were 52 Day Continuation Schools – 47 LEA and 7 under private providers.

In 1935 there were 7 schools providing industrial bias courses and 49 with commercially biased courses in London.

In 1936 the Number of Students in Higher/Further Education:







Art Schools



Technical Colleges



Evening Institutes



Day Continuation Schools






Adult Education






Grand total:


In the 1930s Curricula Offered in Different Institutions in Weekly Hours:


Sec. School



















General Subjects









Foreign Languages



























Practical Subjects









Physical Training


















Key: JCS – Junior Commercial School. JTS-Junior Technical School.

Junior Schools- the BoE classified Junior Schools as follows:

  1. Junior Technical Schools (JTSs) are of two types. In the first boys enter for a specified industry or group of industries, such as the building trades, the mercantile marine (Schools of Navigation), mining. In the other type there is a more generalised technical training and the industry for which the school exists is unspecified. Such a school is suitable for any area where there are a number of small industries.
  2. Trade Schools (TSs).Boys and girls enter them to train for a specified occupation, such as cabinet-making, printing, hairdressing.
  3. Junior Housewifery Schools (JHSs). Girls study courses in home management. In the character of their outlook they correspond more to JTSs than to TSs.
  4. Junior Commercial Schools (JCSs). These are similar to the more general type of JTS, but the study of the office arts takes the place of the practical industrial instruction.
  5. Junior Schools of Art (JSA). In these schools general education is continued with a broad based education aimed at the development of artistic skill, and of capacity for design, together with training in certain artistic crafts. These schools are designed to supply recruits to those industries which need artistic ability, or in which it is desirable.

In 1936 the Number of enrolments in He/FE/other were:

Universities – 38,127  (Male). 11,886 (Female). Art Colleges – 33,087 (M). 31,511 (F). Technical Colleges – 280,748 (M). 71,927 (F). Evening Institutes – 352,125 (M). 388,665 (F). Day Continuation Schools – 8,564 (M). 10,506 (F). Agriculture 11,000 (M). 2,000 (F). and Adult Education 3,939  (M). 4,726 (F).  Totals 727,590 (M). 521,221 (F) and the grand total 1,248,811.

In 1937 there were approximately 700 technical and vocational institutions in England – under a wide range of titles.

In 1937  Welsh College of Advanced Technology liked with University of Wales.

In 1937/38 number of students in FE in Scotland was 5,000 full-time, 3,000 part-time and 174,000 evening only giving a grand total of 182,000).

In 1937/38 number of students in grant-aided FECs 20,000 full-time, 89,000 part-time day and evening only 1,094,000.

In 1938 there were approximately 144 Colleges of FE, 191 Art Colleges, 66 Technical Institutions, 162 Evening Institutions and 175 Junior Schools of Art, Technology, Commerce and Housecraft. In addition there more than 4,500 smaller evening institutions.

In session 1938/39 number of full-time students in Britain were: 6,000 (Further Education), 13,000 (Teacher Training) and 50,000 (Universities).

In session 1938/39 number of enrolments in English Universities were- 5,955 (Pure Science), 4,217 (Technology) and 671 (Agriculture).

In 1939 9,100 students in technical education were over the age of 17 and 1,600 (25%) over 21 – mostly part-time and with a wastage rate of 50%!

In 1939 number of day release in Scotland 600 this increased to 5,000 in 1946, 20,000 in 1951 and 25,500 in session 1954/55.

In 1939 there were 16 farm institutes with 774 students.

In 1939 Army Education and Training established Arborfield Army Technical School it changed its name over the next few decades to reflect the changing nature of training e.g. 1939-1946 called Army Technical School. 1946-1966 Army Apprentices School. 1966-1981 Army Apprentices College. 1982-1995 Princess Marina College. 1995-2000 Army Apprentice School (again!) and 2000-2004 Army Technical Foundation College. Closed in 2004.

In 1940 there were 19,809 pupils in JTSs and 6,999 in JCSs.

1945 between 1945 and 1949 218 higher degrees were awarded in 31 of the larger colleges of FE/technology.

Between 1946/47 and 1964/65 the number of maintained art institutions/establishments decreased from 207 to 157.

In 1946 85% of JTSs were located in technical colleges/institutions.

1946 between 1946 and 1954 the Technical Teachers Training Centres enrolled 2,249 students – 862 at the Bolton Centre, 732 at the  London Centre  and 645 at the Huddersfield centre.

In1946 between 1946 and 1964 53 art institutions closed.

In 1946/47 number of students in grant-aided FECs 45,000 full-time, 200,000 part-time day and 1,166,000 evening only.

In 1946/47 there were three FE teacher Training Colleges at Garnett College (London), Bolton and Huddersfield. A fourth one was established at Wolverhampton later.

National College of Horology founded (Following recommendation of the Percy Committee).

In 1946/47 number of students in FE colleges in Scotland was 9,000 full-time, 9,000 part-time and 180,000 evening only giving a grand total of 198,000.

In 1947 there were 37 farm institutes.

In 1947 Number of evening institutes 5,076 enrolling 826,000 students.

In 1949 the Royal College of Art became a National College.

In 1949 there were 20,000 day students in colleges studying for university degrees.

In 1948 the National College of Rubber Technology opened.

In 1948 National Foundry College found within Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College.

In 1950 there were 72,449 students in technical schools.

In 1951 In a total workforce of 23,912 million only 60,930 scientists and 80,770 engineers in Britain.

In 1951 % of young people in work force (15-44)- 43.1%. Older workers (45-59) -21.0%, Total workers- 64.1%. Children <15- 22.4% and Older people -13.5% note for men 65+ and Women 60+. Corresponding figures in 1971 – 40.3%, 22.3%, Total-62.6%, 19,7% and 17.7%.

In 1952 Hatfield College of Technology opened.

In 1952/53 number of enrolments in so-called classes for women- Full-time 1,198, Part-time day 19,113 and evening classes 555,072.

In 1952/03 7,188 students attended part-time catering courses in the evening.

In 1952 Brymore School of Rural Technology, Bridgewater, Somerset established as a Secondary Technology School (STS).

Degrees and HNC/Ds Awarded in Technical Colleges in 1949:




Other Technologies

Internal degree



External degree

















Grand total




Source: PRO/Ed 46/753. MoE.

Technical College Students as Percentage of University Students in 1949:


Pure Science





Degrees, HNCs and HNDs



Evening Class Entries in Major Establishments (excl. Art) and Evening Institutes in the Sciences and in Subjects Related to Manufacturing in 1949-50 and 1956-57:


Major establishments


Evening institutes








150,100 104,000 254,100 299,800

General science

9,450 28,300 37,750 50,100


34,150 2,500 36,650 45,000


30,200 1,350 31,550 33,000


4,750 200 4,950 6,300


4,000 800 4,800 6,100


2,600 550 3,150 3,700


2,800 200 3,000 2,400


1,600 20 1,620 2,300


1,050 50 1,100 1,900

Nature study

350 400 750 400


241,000 138,400 379,400 451,000

Subjects related

to manufacturing



In 1952 63,000 of the 267,000 boys who left school between the ages of 15 and 17 became apprentices or skilled learners – 23.4% entered engineering/ship building and electrical goods industries. 20.6% entered building and contracting. 13.7% entered the vehicle industry and 3.6% entered printing.

1952 in the session 1952-1953 there were 1,446,000 students in Secondary Modern Schools, 686,600 in Grammar Schools and 97,600 in Secondary Technical Schools giving ratios of 14.34: 7.57: 1.00

In 1953 massive expansion of student numbers at Imperial College London proposed – from 1,650 to 3,000.

Full-Time Students at National Colleges between 1953 and 1957:


Of founding


















Rubber Technology/1948






Heating and Ventilating/1948












Food Technology/1951












Royal College of Art

/1837 as School of Industrial Design












In 1954 Government announced the following universities would offer specialised provision in: Chemistry (Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield). Chemical Engineering (Birmingham, Cambridge, Manchester College of Technology). Engineering (Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton). Fluid Mechanics (Cambridge). Fuel Technology (Leeds, Sheffield) Mining Engineering (Sheffield) and Physics (Birmingham, Leeds).

In 1954/55 there were 355,000 students on day release in England.

In session 1954/55 number of full-time students in Britain were: 12,000 (Further Education), 28,000 (Teacher Training) and 82,000 (Universities).

In 1954-55 session there were 85,750 students in Public Sector HE.

In 1954/55 number of students in FE in Scotland 10,000 full-time, 25,000 part-time and 206,000 evening only giving a grand total of 241,000.

In 1954 Colleges that had received approval to run Advanced Technical programmes and receive 75% grants: Acton Technical College. Birmingham College of Technology. Bradford Technical College. Brighton Technical College. Cardiff College of Technology. Glamorgan Technical College. Huddersfield Technical College. Leicester College of Technology and Commerce. City of Liverpool College of Building. Battersea Polytechnic. Brixton School of Building. Chelsea Polytechnic. Northampton Polytechnic. Northern polytechnic. Sir John Cass College. Woolwich Polytechnic. Manchester College of Technology. North Staffordshire Technical College. Nottingham and District Technical College. Rugby College of Technology. Salford Royal Technical College. Sunderland Technical College and West Ham College of Technology.

Designations/Names of Major Institutions of FE in Britain in 1955:





Technical Colleges


Technical Institutes


Colleges of Technology, Art and Commerce


Colleges of Further Education


Colleges and Schools of Commerce


Colleges of Art


Schools of Art and Craft






In 1955 80% of students attending technical college in the evening and only 2.3% attended full-time.

In 1995 >75% of the students who obtained professional qualifications through college of technology did so by part-time study – 4,000 in 1955 and 5,500 in 1957.

In 1956 the MoE Circular 305/56 designated four main types of college:

  1. Local colleges. These undertook courses usually part-time up to ONC level.
  2. Area colleges. These undertook NC courses and some more advanced part-time work and were required to continue their existing full-time and sandwich courses.
  3. Regional colleges. These had substantial amounts of full-time and sandwich advanced work. Some of these colleges offered Dip Tech awards.
  4. Colleges of advanced technology. These had a substantial volume of exclusively advanced work mainly full-time and sandwich.

In the1950s there were only 340 technical schools out of a total of 5,400 secondary schools in Britain. Many of these were old Junior Technical Schools (JTSs) which had to retain their original trade functions and share unsuitable accommodation with technical colleges.

Enrolments by Subject in 1956-57 in Major Establishments and Evening Institutes (England and Wales):




Evening classes

Subjects of a general education value:









All others




Subjects related to specific occupations:









Book, paper and printing








Clothing and textiles








Food and drink








Miscellaneous manufacturing




Building and construction




Commercial, professional, personal services and miscellaneous




Total (excl. Art)




Courses in art establishments




Grand total:




Note: For art establishments in addition to genera art courses (4,500 f-t and 3,000 p-t) and painting (800 f-t and 3,800 p-t) students were also studying industry-oriented courses in dress and allied trades (1,000; 5,600), printing and allied crafts (50; 5,300),interior decorating (100; 4,600), illustration and commercial design (1,500; 1,000), architecture (900; 1,500), and other pursuing silversmithing, sculpture, furniture design, photography etc.

Figures include students following more than one course so double counting exists.

1956 Number of full-time students in FECs 64,000. Part-time 402,000 and evening 1,575,000

1956 100 sandwich programmes with 2,300 students,

In 1958 only 3.7% of secondary pupils were enrolled in Secondary Technical Schools (STSs) – 279 schools with 95,194 pupils and in 1948 there had been 319 STSs and by 1960 the number had decreased to 268. Maximum number of STSs was 319 in 1948.

In 1958 there were 37 farm institutes with 2,000 students.

In 1959 Number of evening institutes 8,299 enrolling 977,000 students.

Proportion of Population in Various Institutions in 1959 for Males:




Teacher Training Colleges















































  • Technical, Commercial and Art Colleges and Evening Institutes.

Proportion of Population in Various Institutions in 1959 for Females:




Teacher Training Colleges



Evening Only*











































  • Technical, Commercial and Art Colleges and Evening Institutes.

In 1960 of the 268 STSs that existed 145 admitted at age 11, 14 at age 12 and 101 at age 13.

In 1960 there were 101,9113 students in technical schools.

In 1961 there were 9,000 students in over 140 technical and commercial colleges studying for supervisory qualifications.

In 1962/63 165 Art Schools enrolled 8,000 full-time students

In 1962 National College of Agricultural Engineering opened at Boreham moved to Silsoe in 1964,

In the session 1962-63 approximately 1,400 first degrees of London University (external degrees) were awarded to students attending FE colleges of which 1,100 were in Science and Technology.

In 1964-1965bsession there were 719 maintained orassisted major institutions in England and Wales.

In 1964/65 135,000 evening institute students (approximately 12.5%) were under the age of 16.

In 19664/65 there were in England: 7 National Colleges, 10 CATs. 25 Regional Colleges. 158 Art Institutions. 5 Agricultural Colleges. 40 Farm Institutes and 514 other major establishments – totalling in all 759. In addition there were 7,783 evening institutions. In Scotland there were 11 Central Institutions but no numbers are available at present for other institutions. (The figures include establishments that were direct grant and Authority maintained).

In 164-1965 there art institutions comprised Royal College of Art, 4 Central Art Institutions, 157/8 maintained colleges of art (often referred to as schools of art).

In 1964/65 there were 7,783 evening institutes with 1 million students with 66% women.

Between 1964 and 1969 the number of day release for young workers increased by nearly 30%.

In 1965 there were 25 Regional Colleges – which enrolled 36,000 students pursuing advanced work mainly in technology and commerce – 66% were part-time.

In 1966 30 Polytechnics created from existing colleges.

In 1966 Guide lines were issued for class sizes namely 24 for full-time (including sandwich) courses, 15 for part-time courses which included a large element of workshop practice and 20 for all other part-time courses.

In 1968 apprenticeships in Britain peaked at 236,000 (25% of young workers in: 40% of all boys and 10% of all girls).

In 1969. Between 1969 and 1975 the number of full-time students in Welsh colleges increased from 12,390 to 19,587 and part-time from 54,843 to 56,528.

In 1969 the seven Scottish National Institutions were: Aberdeen. Robert Gordon’s Technical College,  Dundee Institute of Art and Technology, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt College, Galashiels. The Scottish Woollen Technical College, Glasgow. The Royal Technical College, Leith Nautical Technical College and Paisley Technology College.

1971 between 1971 and 1977 there was a decline of 20% in the number of day and block release enrolments.

In 1971/72 distribution of full-time and sandwich HE students in GB was: Universities: 198,000 (England and Wales), 38,000 (Scotland) – total of 236,000 in GB. Advanced FE: 90,000 (England and Wales), 9,000 (Scotland) -total 99,000 in GB. Colleges of Education: 114,000 (England and Wales), 14,000 (Scotland) – total 128,000 in GB. Totals 402,000 (England and Wales, 61,000 (Scotland) – grand totals 463,000 in GB.

In 1974-75 session there were 210,230 students in Public Sector HE.

In 1976 there were 76,403 FT teachers in FE institutions, 14,029 in Polys and 57,867 in other maintained institutions.

In 1976 there were 563 major establishments of technical education in England and Wales, 61 Independent Colleges and 6,242 Adult Education Centres in England and Wales.

In 1976 number of students aged 16, 17 and 18 in FE colleges:

Full-time – 191,000 (44% Male).( 56% F).

Part-time – 268,000 (79% M). (21% F).

Evening only – 109,000 (38% M). (62% F).

Totals:        568,000 (60% M). (40% F).

In 1977 the annual budget for the FEU was just £o.25 million.

1978 in session 1978-79 the budget for the MSC reached £643 million.

In 1978 there were 143,983 FT equivalent poly students and 41,914 FT equivalent students studying advanced courses at other institutions.

In 1978 there were 16 tertiary colleges in existence.

In 1979 there were 47 FE/HE institutions in Wales – comprising Polytechnic of Wales, 3 National Institutions, 6 colleges of HE and 37 major institutions (i.e. FECs/technical colleges, college of horticulture, college of agriculture, college of art and a college of technology).

In 1980 there were 11,327 students in technical schools.

In 1980 in session 1980/81 total number of students in HE 827,000 – 526,00 men and 491,000 women.

In 1983/84 in the UK there were 53 Universities, 31 Polytechnics14 Scottish Central Institutions and 411 other colleges (maintained), 56 direct grant/voluntary colleges and the Open University – a total of 566.

more detail on the above statistics for session 1983/84 HEIs in UK:

Universities 53 – number of f-t/sandwich students 301,000, p-t 36,000 giving total 337,000

Polytechnics 31 – number of f-t/sandwich students 157,000, p-t 71,000 giving a total of 228,000

Scottish Central Institutions 14 – number of f-t/sandwich students 14,000, p-t 1,000 giving a total of 15,000.

Other Colleges (Maintained) 411 – number of f-t/sandwich students 79,000, p-t 125,000 giving a total of 204,000.

Direct Grant/Voluntary 56 – number of f-t/sandwich students 30,000, p-t 7,000 giving a total of 37,000.

Open University 1 – number of p-t students 76,000 giving a total of 76,000.

Totals: Institutions 566, Number of f-t/sandwich students 581,000, p-t students 316,000 giving a grand total of 897,000 students.

In 1985 in UK there were 46 publically funded universities including the OU.

In 1985 there were 2,502 students in technical schools.

In 1985 In England: 29 Polytechnics and 73 colleges (including 31 voluntary or direct grant colleges) engaged in HE and 298 other colleges (including one direct grant college) with a proportion of HE work.

In Wales 1 polytechnic, 9 colleges engaged in mainly HE and 16 other colleges with a proportion of HE work.

In Scotland 16 Central Institutions, 7 Colleges of Education and 3 Local Authorites engaged mainly in HE  and 43 other colleges with a proportion of HE work.

In Northern Ireland 15 colleges (these included voluntary and grant aided colleges and colleges funded by the education and library boards.

In 1987 Garnett College incorporated.

In session 1987/88 colleges enrolled 3.5 million students in various education and training programmes with a mainly vocational, technical and commercial bias – students from 16-19 age range as well as adults.

In 1988 the first City Technology College opened followed by 14 more over the next four years.

In 1990 following amalgamations and re-organisations the number of 700 FECs declined to<400 – HE institutions increased on the other hand from 25 to 124 – an example of academic drift!

In 1992 University of Greenwich founded.

In 1992 67 tertiary colleges in England and Wales with approximately 450,000 students.

In 1992/93 there were for the first time more students in their first post-compulsory year in England studying full-time in colleges – FE accounted for 55% of all 16-19 year olds and overall 62% of all 16-19 year olds were participating in some form of education and training.

IN 1994/5  456 FECs in England and Wales of which 347 offered programmes in engineering and technology.

In 1996 in session 1996/97 enrolments in Welsh FECs were: Full-time and Sandwich 17,625 (Male), 20.569 (Female). Block-Release and Part-Time day 17,566 (Male) 28,785 (Female) and Part-Time Evening and Other 17,029 (male) 331,716 (Female).

1998/99 60 colleges of art and design inspected.

In 1999/2000 112 FE colleges were inspected by the FE Inspectorate.

In 2001 there were 70 NTOs.

In 2001/02 £3.7 billion made available for FE sector to fund young people and adults. Average level of funding (ALF) was £17.22

In 2002 there were 310 specialist schools.

In 2002 there were 26 colleges in Wales.

In 2005 in session 2005/06 number of apprenticeships were 99,500 (<19). 75,200 (19-24) and 300 (>25). 1228,800 at level 2 and 52,100 at levels 3/4.

In 2008 in session 2008/09 total number of students in HE was 2.6 million – 1,106,00 men and 1,451,000 women.

In 2009 in session 2009/10 number of completed apprenticeships was 171,500.

In 2009 there were 203 academies.

In 2010 there were 3,068 specialist schools out of a total of 4,403 maintained by the State. Proportion of people Not in Education, Employment, Training (NEETs) in UK 15.9%

Proportion of NEETs in UK 13.2%. In session 2010/11 number of f-t staff in FECs 51,000 and in HEIs 117,000.

In 2011/12 there were 402 FECs in UK this figure shows the declining numbers of colleges. 67% of HE students were full-time – 85% at undergraduate level and 54% at post graduate level. 4.22 million students in FECs compared with 4.26 in 2010/11. In Scotland corresponding numbers were 256,500 and 311,000 respectively, In Wales the corresponding figures were 211,300 and 212,700. In Northern Ireland the corresponding figures were 141,700 and 144,400.

In session 2013/14 number of full-time staff in FECs 76,000 and in HEIs 127,000.


In 2015 Number of HE Institutions in England 127 and number of FE Institutions 339

For Scotland the respective figures were 18 HE and 27 FE. For Wales 8 HE and 13 FE. For Northern Ireland 4 HE and 6 FE.

Facts and Figures

Update August 2018.

This section attempts to complement the other sections of this website. I have started including information on the Welsh, Scottish and Irish technical education systems.

In 1560 250,000 tons of coal mined.

In 1620 35,000 tons of pig iron produced.

In 1660 between 1660-1668 number of patents issued for inventions 31. In the 1660s total exports were £4.1 million increased to £6.4 million in 1700.

1n 1688 68% employed in agriculture by 1871 figure decreased to 20%.

In 1688 % of national income – Agriculture 40%, Commerce 5.6%, Manufacturing/Mining/Building 2.1%

In 1690-1699 number of patents issued for inventions 102. Between 1699 and 1737 95 SPCK schools and the like number of Dissenting schools were established in Wales.

In 1700 between 1700 and 1801 the populations of some of the key industrial cities increased as follows: Manchester 8,000 to 95,000. Liverpool 5,000 to 78,000. Birmingham 5,000 to 73,000. Leeds 8,000 to 53,000. Sheffield 5,000 to 45,000. Nottingham 9,000 to 28,000 and Glasgow 12,000 to 84,000. By 1830 the population of Manchester was 180,000. Overall population in England and Wales was 5.5 million and in Scotland 1 million.

In 1700 coal production in Britain 2,985,000 tons. In 1700 West Riding of Yorkshire produced nearly 20% of English wool textiles and by 1800 produced 60%.

In 1700 Textile trade accounted for 70% of English exports – total value £5 million. In the 1700s a total of 1,200 to 1,300 steam engines were constructed.

In 1700 30% of economy based on industry and 40% on agriculture. 2.7 million tons of coal mined. 2,000 tons of copper produced. Early English  newspapers in Britain created  in Exeter 1707, Newcastle 1710, Nottingham 1710, Liverpool 1712, Leeds 1718, Manchester 1719 and Birmingham 1741. In Scotland outside Edinburgh Glasgow 1715, Dumfries 1721, Aberdeen 1747 and Kelso 1783.

In 1720 20,000 tons of cast iron produced increased to 250,000 tons by 1800.

In 1730-1739 number of patents issued for inventions 205.

1739 Average wages for a skilled artisan in London was 22 shillings.

In 1750 general level of literacy in England was 60% for males and 35% for females.

In 1750 Stationary power sources in Britain: Steam – 5,000, Water – 70,000, Wind – 10,000 giving a total of 85,000. In 1750 20 private banks in Londo increased to 50 in 1770 and 70 in 1800.

1750 £86,000 worth of cotton produced.

In 1750 only about 15% of the population lived in towns by 1900 it was 85%. 30% of coal consumption was for industry/manufacture. 4.7 millions of coal mined. £12.70 million exports – £3.23 million were re-exports. Only 12 county banks outside London – increased to 120 in 1784 and 370 in 1800.

In 1754 over 2,000 Charity Schools established.

1760-1769 number of patents issued for inventions 477. In the 1760s Cotton industry contributed about 0.5% to the national income – became 1% in 1780.

In the 18th century there were eighty-nine guilds in the City of London.

In 1760 between 1760 and 1830 the population increased from 7.5 million to 14 million and by 1851 it stood at 21 million.

In 1760 between 1760 and 1820 number of waterwheels in England increased from 70,000 to 120,000.

1769 between 1769 and 1804 a remarkable set of inventions and innovations in iron production, steam power and textile machinery.

In 1770 British manufacturing was worth £43 million of which £10 million was exported. £248,000 worth of cotton produced.

1775 between 1775 and 1800 Boulton and watt sold 164 pumping engines of which 49 went to Cornish mines. Over 70% of British exports went to Europe.

In 1777 -75 Newcomen steam engines operating in Cornish mines.

In 1780 by the end of 1780 40 Boulton and Watt steam engines had been installed – 20 being located in Cornwall.

Between 1780 and 1820 cotton exports from England went from £355,000 to £20,509,926.

In 1780 Between 1780/1789 number of patents for inventions issues 477.

In 1783 Accepted date for the introduction of the factory system.

In 1788 There were 85 furnaces in operation producing 68,000 tons, in 1806 225 furnaces producing 250,000 tons and in 1823 266 furnaces producing 455,000 tons.

In 1788 50,000 mule-spindles in Britain. 85 coke fired furnaces in Britain – 170 in 1820, 623 in 1847 and 855 in 1860.

In 1790 4% of clothing in Europe made from cotton figure increased to 73% in 1890. 7,000 tons of copper produced.

In 1791 there were 73 coke furnaces in England – producing 67,548 tons of iron. 12 coke furnaces in Scotland producing 12,480 tons of iron. In addition 20 charcoal furnaces in England producing 8,500 tons of iron. 2 charcoal furnaces in Scotland producing 1,000 tons of iron.

In 1796 39 cotton mills in Scotland mostly near Glasgow increased to 120 in 1812.

In 1797 Gold standard suspended restored  in 1821.

In 1798 Newspaper regulation and newspaper taxes increased.

In 1798 total number of students who had attended Manchester Academy was 137 of whom 89 were destined for commerce and industry.

In the early 1800s Britain produced 258,000 tons of pig iron by 1851 this had risen to 2.7 million tons most of which was converted into wrought iron.

In 1800 10 million tons of coal mined in GB. £756,000 worth of cotton produced. In 1800 £40.81 million exports – £18.40 million were re-exports.

In 1800 120,000 watches were being made in London each year.

In 1800 Adult literacy in England 53%.

In 1800 coal production in Britain 15,045,000 tons.

In 1801 % contribution to the national economy 32.5% from agriculture, 23.4% from manufacturing, mining and building and 17.4% from commerce.

In 1801 in England and Wales there were two universities for a population of 8.8 million whilst in Scotland there were four universities for a population of 1.6 million.

1801 English spoken by 20 million people.

In 1801 contribution to national income from coal production 1%.

In 1806 250,000 tons of pig iron produced by 1854 figure stood at 3,070,000 tons and in 1884 at 7,812,000 tons.

In 1806 Cotton industry employed 90,000 factory workers and 184,000 handloom weavers.

In 1810  Gross Public Expenditure on Education , Arts and Science was £110,000.

In 1810 Iron production in England was 149,203 tons, in Wales 71,000 tons, in Scotland 22,840 tons giving a grand total of 243,891 tons.

In 1810 250,000 tons of iron produced.

In 1810 10 million tons of coal mined.

In 1811 Luddism at its height between 1811 1nd 1812 and relatively active between 1811 and 1817.

In 1811 4,600,000 mule-spindles in Britain.

In 1811 2,100,000 houses in Britain with an average of 5.6 persons per household.

In 1811 66% of labour employed in agriculture. UK population 18.1 million. Rate of growth 13.8%.

In 1811 total manufacturing output was £130 million of which £40 million was exported

In 1811 33% of families in Britain worked in agriculture. 44% in trade and manufacturing and 20% unoccupied or unclassified.

In 1813 There were 2,400 power looms and 212,000 handlooms  in operation and by 1850 number of power looms was  250,000 and 43,000 respectively.

In 1815 British exports valued as £51 million. 11 London brewers produced 2 million barrels of beer a year.

1816 727 employees in Arkwrights mill at Cromford. 300 in the 1770s.

1817 Mechanical Institution founded in London – short lived but formed basis of the London Mechanics’ institution founded in 1824.

In 1818 25% of children of the poor were receiving some form of education.

In 1819 Hazelwood School founded (1819-1837).

In 1819 Between 1819 and 1824 British exports increased by nearly 40% mainly to North and South America.

In the 1820s 4,000 miles of navigable waterways were opened.

1820 110,000 operatives in spinning mills and only 10,000 in weaving mills.

In 1821 % distribution of the labour work force in Britain:

Agriculture/forestry/fishing 28%, Industry/mining/building 38%, Trade/transport 12%, Service/Public/all others 21%.

In 1823 ‘The Mechanics’ Magazine’ published edited by Thomas Hodgskin and Joseph Robertson.

In 1823 London had 122 miles of gas mains by 1834 this had risen to 600 miles.

In 1823 During 1823/1824 session Edinburgh School of Arts enrolled 317 students composed of the following:

91 Joiners/Carpenters/Cabinet Makers. 24 Masons/Marble-Cutters. 13 Smiths/Engineers/Iron Founders. 8 Printers. 8 Bookbinders/Stationers. 7 Tailors. 6 Millwrights. 6 Painters. 5 Farriers. 5 Plasterers. 5 Shoemakers. 5 Brass Founders. 5 Mathematical Instrument Makers/Opticians. 5 Bakers. 5 Weavers/Warpers. 5 Upholsterers. 4 Silversmiths/Jewellers. 4 Tinsmiths/Coppersmiths. 3 of each – Tanners/Engravers and Coachmakers = 9. 2 of each – Clock and Watch Makers. Architects. Hatters. Hair Dressers. Plumbers. Flax Dressers. Farmers and Brewers = 16 . 6 Teachers. 6 Pupils of Blind Asylum. 54 Shopmen/Merchants’ Clerks. 1 of each – Dentist/Musical Instrument Maker/Surveyor/Dyer/Gardener/Diecutter/Turner and Saddler = 8 and 7 with no trade identified.

In 1825 Aberdeen’s Mechanics’ Institution library held 500 volumes, Carlisle 300, Kendal 400, Liverpool 1,800, Manchester 600, Newcastle 700 and Sheffield 1,400. Joseph Aspdin patented his Portland Cement at his works in Wakefield between 1825 and 1828.

In 1825 22.0 million tone of coal mined.

In 1826 Estimated that there were 109 Mechanics’ Institutions and 5 Literary and Scientific Institutions.

In 1826 Journeymen Steam Engine,Machine Makers and Millwrights Society founded.

In 1828 Society for the Protection of Children Employed in Cotton Factories introduced.

1828 Between 1828 and 1853 the price of books halved.

In 1829 Grand General Union of Operative Spinners founded.

In 1829 16 million tons of coal mined.

1929 19,798 miles of paved streets and turn-pikes roads in England and Wales.

In the 1830s approximately 60% of all schools were private.

In 1830’s employment in the cotton industries 425,000 which represented 16% of British manufacture jobs and 8%of GDP.

In 1830s Liverpool and Manchester spent £15.000 and £18.000 on building their respective Mechanics’ Institutions.

In 1830 Gross Public Expenditure on Education, Arts and Science was £100,000

In 1830 Stephenson produced his Planet locomotive.

In 1830 20 million tons of coal mined – by 1913 it had increased to 287 million tons.

In 1830 700,000 tons of iron produced.

1830 4 Fellowships in Natural Science at Oxford and 3 at Cambridge. 28 Fellowships in Mathematics at Oxford and 102 at Cambridge,

In the late 1830s 107,000 children <18 years of age employed in the cotton industries – approximately 29% of the total workforce.

In 1830 Stationary power sources in Britain: Steam – 160,000, Water – 160,000, Wind – 20,000 giving a total 340,000.

In 1831 Estimated that there were 107 Mechanics’ Institutions and 6 Literary and Scientific Institutions.

In 1831 2,850,000 houses in Britain.

In 1831 Membership of the National Association for the Protection of Labour (NAPL) 100,000 in Lancashire, Yorkshire and parts of the Midlands . Occupations included miners, engineers, millwrights, potters, blacksmiths and textiles.

In 1832 Railway mileage constructed 39, in 1835 – 201 miles, in 1844 – 810 miles, 1846 – 4540 miles and by 1850 – just 7 miles.

In 1832 approximately 500 co-operative societies in existence with over 20,000 members.

In 1832 Value of British exports £36 million.

In 1833 ‘Chambers’ Information for the People’ published. Cost of teacher training £20,000, in 1852 risen to £ 164,000 and by 1870 figure stood at £895,000.

In 1833 Potters Union membership numbered 8,000.

In 1833 Total union membership in Britain numbered 800,000.

In 1833 100,000 power looms and 250,000 hand looms in Britain.

1834 36 adult schools in Bristol – later declined to 25 in 1843 and 18 in 1849.

In 1835 ‘Chambers’ Educational Course’ published.

In 1835 340,000 textile workers.

In 1835 1,113 cotton mills in Britain – 934 in the North West of England.

In 1835 1,369 steam engines in textiles mills in Lancashire and West Riding. 106,000 power looms in GB. 106,000 power looms in GB.

1836 London Working Men’s Association founded.

In 1837 4,203 cotton mills registered under the 1833 Factory Act.

In 1838 there were 20 Literary and Mutual Improvement Institutions in London with 6,050 members. In 1838 out of 1,600 mills in England 1,200 were in Lancashire.

In 1839 State grant for education £30,000.

In 1839 Illiterates represented 41.6% of population – 33.7% for men and 49.5% for women.

In 1839 3,051 steam engines and 2,230 water-wheels in textile industries in Britain.

In 1840 Over 1,600 coffee houses in London – the majority of customers were artisans and many houses had an educational purpose.

In 1840 Steel production in Sheffield was 200 tons per year increased to 20,000 tons by 1860.

1841 agriculture employed approximately 1.3 million people employment reached it maximum in 1851 namely 1.7 million.

In 1841 there were 73,215 members of 17 professional groups/associations.

In 1841 only 114,000 civil servants and ‘other so-called educated people’ employed out of a total of 6.5 million working people.

In 1841 Estimated that there were 305 Mechanics’ Institutions and 44 Literary and Scientific Institutions. Another figure cited 700 Mechanical Institutions with a membership of 120,000 – 500 MI’s in England.

In 1842 Estimated Trade Union membership was 100,000 (approximately 1.5% of the labour force).

In 1843 2,000 miles of railway-lines operated.

In 1844 Rochdale Pioneers store established.

In 1845 £67 million spent on creating just over 2,000 miles of railways.

1847 teachers certificates first instituted.

1848 Railway mileage 4,600.

In 1849 there were 2,000 coffee shops some provided libraries and supported debating societies. Number of certificated teachers 681 and by 1859 this figure had risen to 6,878.

In 1849 6.031 miles of railway track in GB. Iron output 2 million tons and 60,000 tons of steel.

In 1850 there were four universities in England and Wales– Durham and University College London had joined Oxford and Cambridge – the population was then 17.9 million whilst the population of Scotland stood at just 2.8 million.  Public Libraries Act allowed the establishment of libraries from the rates.

1850 Between 1850 and 1875 Britain comprised between 20% and 25% of the world trade.

In 1850 Gross Public Expenditure on Education, Arts and Science was £370,000.

In 1850 Value of British exports £71 million.

In 1850 570,000 textile workers.

In 1850 6,621 miles of railways operated carrying 73 million passengers.

In 1850 2 million tons of iron produced costing £3/4 per ton. 60,000 tons of steel produced costing £50 per ton.

In 1851 Estimated that there were 698 Mechanics’ Institutions and 136 Literary and Scientific Institutions

In 1851 2.5 million tons of iron ore produced and by 1870 it was 12 million tons.

In 1851 % of national income Agriculture 20.3%, Commerce 18.7% and Manufacturing/Mining/Building 34.3%.

In 1851 there were 8 universities in UK and only two schools of engineering at London and Glasgow. 50% 0f the British population lived in towns.

In 1851 Great Exhibition housed in Crystal Palace designed by Joseph Paxton measured 1,848 feet long and 454 feet wide. Joseph Paxton received a reward of £5,000 for this work in the Crystal Palace.

In 1851 300,000 panes of glass produced for the Crystal Palace, 4,500 tons of cast/wrought iron and 6,000,000 cubic feet of timber used in its construction. Employed 2,260 men at the peak of its construction.

In 1851 2.7 million tons of pig iron produced.

In 1851 the profit from the Great Exhibition was said to be £186,436.

1851 % of children aged between 10 and 15 employed in England and Wales was 30% and in Scotland 25%.

In 1851 30% of children aged between 10 and 15 were working and 42,000 were under 10 years of age.

In 1851 manufacturing represented approximately 32.7% of the total labour force this decreased to 30.7% by 1881.

In 1851 the national census stated that in England and Wales there were 1,545 evening schools for adults with 39,783 pupils and for Scotland 438 schools with 15,071 pupils. Subjects in England and Wales included mathematics (135 schools), arithmetic (127) and geography (344) schools).

In 1851 Census reported 2.14 million learners with an average of over 4 years schooling. The Newcastle Commission reported that there were 2.54 million in 1859.

In 1851 there were 14,000 dame schools in existence – small schools run by a private person.

1851 1,100 teachers had obtained teacher certificate.

1851 Percentage of employment in England and Wales – Agriculture 20.9% (In 1881 11.5%), Mining 4.0% (1881 4.8%), Building 5.5% (1881 6.8%) and Manufacturing 32.7%  (1881 30.7%).

In Scotland – Agriculture 22.7% (In 1881 14.2%), Mining 4.0% (1818 5.0%), Building 5.2% (1881 6.7%) and Manufacturing 36.5% (1881 33.8%).

In Ireland Agriculture 48.4% (In 1881 41.1%) Mining 0.4% (1881 0.4%), Building 2.0% (In 1881 2.4%) and Manufacturing 22.8% (1881 16.0%).

1851 Proportion of children aged 10 to 15 employed: England and Wales and Scotland.

England and Wales 30% (1851), 19% (1881) and 14% (1911).

Scotland 25% (1851), 16% (1881) and 9% (1911).

1851 Estimated percentage of the British labour force:

Agriculture, forestry and fishing – 21.7%, Manufacture, mining and industry – 42.9%. Trade and transport – 15.8%. Domestic and personal – 13.0% and Public, professional and all other – 6.7%.

In 1851 1.8 million employed in agriculture, 1.0 million domestic service, 811,000 in cotton/woolen industries, 243,000 shoemakers and 216,000 in coalmines.

In 1851 by 1851 6,802 miles of railways opened.

1851 census recorded 1,545 adult schools with nearly 40,000 pupils in England and Wales.

In 1851 438 evening schools in Scotland.

In 1851 Great Exhibition – Open for 141 days, 6 million visitors, 7,351 exhibitors from Britain and 6,556 from other countries.

In 1854 64.7 million tone of coal mined.

1855 Tax on newspapers abolished.

1855 Between 1855 and 1859 overseas trade as proportion of national income was 17.9%.

1856 Coal mined was 65 million tons

In 1857 between 1857 and 1866 the total number of honours graduates in chemistry was 11 at University College London and 14 at Owens College Manchester.

In 1858 2,036 evening schools with 81,000 pupils

In 1858 Treasury disburses over £663,000 for schools.

London Working Men’s Colleges Enrolments between 1854 and 1860:

















Clerks etc.









Manchester Working Men’s Colleges Enrolments in 1858 Terms:





Clerks, book-keepers, warehousemen shop-keepers, shop-assistants and teachers












In 1860 between 1860 and 1897 the number of honours chemists in English universities and university colleges totalled only 859.

In 1860 between 1860 and 1897 only 859 chemistry students graduated in English Universities and University Colleges.

In the 1860s the ratio of average wages between ‘skilled’, ‘semi-skilled’ and unskilled workers was approximately 5.00: 3.3: 2.4 and in cash terms skilled £60-£67 per annum, semi-skilled £46-52 and for unskilled £20-41.

In 1861 between 1861 and 1911 the number of students in the civic universities increased from 560 to 14,042. (Civic universities Manchester (1850), Leeds (1874), Sheffield (1879), Liverpool (1881) and Bristol (1876). Tax on paper abolished.

In 1861 Between 1861 and 1898 total amount of funding for the provision of technical schools buildings was £94,339.

In 1861 there were 400,000 power looms in operation. UK population 29.0 million. Rate of growth 5.8%.

In 1862 there were 15,000 miles of telegraph lines in Britain.

In 1862 the cotton industry employed 452,00 factory workers and 3,000 handloom weavers.

In 1862 3,450 university students in Scotland.

In 1863 over 450 retail stores had been founded on the pattern established by the Rochdale Pioneers.

In 1863 first underground railway system created – Paddington to Victoria Street.

1863 By 1863 450+ stores based on the pattern/model of that establishes by the Rochdale Pioneers (Coop).

In 1863 Membership of Friendly Societies around 200,000.

In 1864 population in England and Wales 21,000,000.

In 1866 Total electorate population 1 million increased to 2 million in 1869.

In 1867 there were 226 Sunday Ragged Schools, 204 day schools and 207 evening schools providing free education to 26,000 poor children.

In 1867 at the Paris Exhibition Britain only gained 10 honours out of a possible 90.

In 1867 212 Science Schools with 10,230 students.

In 1867 there were 1.3 million ‘skilled’ workers , 5.0million ‘semi/lower skilled’ and 4.5 million unskilled workers.

In 1868/69 Liverpool Working Men’s Association had over 1,500 paying members.

In 1868 Joseph Whitworth offered £3,000 per year to endow 30 scholarships  ‘for the future education of young men in the theory and practice of mechanics and its cognate sciences’

In 1868 memberships for various professional bodies were: Royal Zoological Society 2,923. Royal Botanical Society 2,422. Anthropological Society 1,031. Royal Society 528. Meteorological Society 306. Entomological Society 208. Ethnological Society 219 and Chemical Society 192.

In 1870 between 1870 and 1875 42% of men employed in the engineering crafts had fathers in the same trade. Figures for boilermaker and shipbuilder crafts were 46% and 64% respectively.

1870 Coal mined was 110 million tons.

1870 Railway mileage 13,600.

1870 World manufacturing output by Britain 33% and in 1913 was 14.1%.

In 1870 Gross Public Expenditure on Education, Arts and Science was £1,620,000.

In 1870 Stationary power sources in Britain: Steam – 2,060,000, Water – 230,000, Wind – 10,000 giving a total of 2,300,000.

In 1870 the Ragged Schools Union had 132 school members – others existed outside the Union.

1870 Between 1870 and 1874 overseas trade as a proportion of national income was 22.1%.

In 1870 number of Fellowships in Oxford and Cambridge was Classics 145 (Oxford) 67 (Cambridge). Mathematics 28 (Oxford)  102 (Cambridge) . Science 4 (Oxford) 3 (Cambridge).

In 187o there were 15 training colleges for men, 15 for women and 3 colleges with mixed membership.

1870s Number of public authorities adopting the Libraries Acts between 1870 and 1879 was 48, between 1880 and 1889 was 65 and between 1890 and 1899 was 153.

In 1870 between 1870 and 1885  School Boards provided new accommodation for 2,211,299 pupils.

Actual Expenditure on Education and Science between 1871 and 1890:


Education Spend (£)

Science and Art Spend (£)




























Source: ED 23/71.

In 1871 there were 5,560 students in British universities and 38,015 in technical education.

1871 Number of people employed in agriculture 1.6 million (20% 0f labour force).

1871-1872 actual expenditure on education in Britain £1,107,430 of which £211,083 was on science and art (19%).

In 1872 only 12 persons were reading for the natural science tripos at Cambridge whilst in Germany there were11 Technical Universities and 20 other Universities.

In 1872 42 million spindles at work in cotton mills.

In 1872 of the 449 Fellowships in Oxford and Cambridge 212 (46%) were in the classics, 125 (27%) in mathematics and just 7 in the natural sciences. (Devonshire Commission findings).

In 1875 Agricultural Engineers Association founded.

In 1875 expenditure on education was £2,200,000 and by 1884 had increased to 2,800,000. Expenditure on museums and libraries in 1884 was £130,000.

In 1875 average wage earned by boys in cotton mills was 24.5p and adults £1.13.

In 1875 6 million tons of iron produced costing £3/4 per ton. 2 million tons of steel produced costing £30 per ton.

In 1875 Iron output 6 million and 2 million of steel.

In 1876 school leaving age was 10.

1878-1879 actual expenditure on education in Britain was £2,732,534 of which 305,324 was on science and art (11%).

In 1880 the UK’s share of manufactured goods was 41.4% of the world output by 1913 it was 29.9%.

In 1880 Institute of Chemistry membership was 324. Institution of Mechanical Engineers 1,178 membership increased to 1,566 and 5,583 respectively in 1900.

In 1880 only 40,000 employed in the chemical industries – very small when compared with those employed in textiles.

1880 16% of children attended Board Schools. Legal school leaving age was 10.

In 1880 600,000 number of Co-operative movement,1,780,000 in 1900, 3,000,000 in 1914 and 4,500,000 in 1920

In 1881 Census data showed that there were 9,400 engineers and 1,200 scientists – first time this detail was sought in a national census.

In 1881 there were 148,302 members of professional groups/associations.

In 1881 Between 1881 and 1914 non-manual wage-earning jobs increased from 2 million to 4 million.

In 1881 % of children aged between 10 and 15 employed in England and Wales was 14% and in Scotland 9%.

In 1882 there were 909,000 students in schools of art and 69,500 in schools of science.

In 1883 Tonnage of shipping launched 1,250,000

In 1884 number of companies 9,344.

In 1886 Tonnage of shipping launched 473,000.

Amount of Whisky Money spent in London between 1890 and 1902/03:


Whisky Money given to L.C.C.


Amount spent on technical education £










The money grants made available by South Kensington of the Whiskey money tended in many cases to be spent more on science than on technology. (G. Balfour, Educational systems of GB and Ireland. Clarendon Press 1903). However the whiskey money was instrumental in bringing into existence 12 polytechnics in London, 13 in the provinces and more than 100 science schools.

1888 Trade Union membership stood at 750,000.

In 1888 Membership of Boot and Shoe Operatives 11,000.

1889 between 1889 to 1902 Whiskey Money provided 12 more Polytechnics and technical institutions in London and 13 more in the provinces and more than 100 organised science schools.

In 1889 only 40,000 people employed in the British chemical industry – indicated the indifference by Britain towards to the ‘newer industries’ also low figures in the developing the electrical industries – particularly of interest when compared with the numbers employed in America and Germany.

In 1890 probably fewer than 10% of skilled workers in engineering had experienced any form of formal training.

In the 1890s Department of Science was spending £200,000 a year on technical education with approximately 170,000 students.

In 1890 Britain’s share in world trade in manufacturing decreased from 40.7% in 1890 to 29.9% in 1913, to 19.8% in 1955 and to 8.7% in 1976. Provincial universities produced approximately 100 graduates.

In 1890 Between 1890/92 £342,000 whisky money raised and given to LCC but nothing for technical education.

In 1890 Gross Public Expenditure on Education, Arts and Science was £5,800,000

In 1890 35,000 miles of railway track in GB.

In 1891 tramway system created in Leeds – Roundhay Park.

In 1891 Census it was reported that the number people employed in:

Professional and their subordinate services was 507,870. (In 1931 Census 746,085).

General and Local Government was 144,300. (In 1931 Census 293,108).

Commercial occupations 416,365. (In 1931 Census 2,071,420).

In 1893 school leaving age was 11.

In 1893 expenditure on education was £5,400,000 and on museums and libraries was £290,000.

In 1893 £200,000 whisky money raised and given to LCC £ 29,000  spent on technical education.

In 1894 Agricultural Education Association founded.

In 1885 first tramway system started in Blackpool.

In 1890 35,000 miles of railway track in GB.

In 1891 tramway system created in Leeds – Roundhay Park.

In 1892 Trade Union membership stood at 1,576,000.

1893 Association of Technical Institutions (ATI) founded initial membership 17.

In 1895 out of 53,000 certified teachers only 29,000 had received two years’ training in a training college the rest having passed the Acting Teachers’  Certificate Examination.’

In 1897 there were 23,256 evening students enrolled in the London Polytechnics.

In 1898 between 1898 and 1904 there was an annul enrolment in book-keeping of 17,000, shorthand of 29,000 , needlework of 18,000 and manual training of 1,700.

In 1899 of the 24,145 boys leaving London’s elementary schools approximately 66% went into unskilled jobs.

In 1899 school leaving age was 12.

In the late 1800s Department of Science spent approximately £200,000 per year nontechnical education.

In 1900 the number of full-time technical students per 100,000 0f population was: 12.8 in USA. 7.9 in Germany and 5 in England.

In 1900 estimated number of TU members was 750,000.

In 1900 Germany was producing five times more scientists and technologists than in England.

In 1900/1901 5.9% of central government revenue spent on education.

1900 Number of scientists and technologists produced in German Universities and Technical High Schools was 500% greater than produced in English Universities and University Colleges.

In 1900 polytechnics in London increased to 8.

In 1900 expenditure on education was £8,800,000 and on museums and libraries was £400,000.

In 1901 population of UK 38.237 million.

In 1900 the population of London was 4.5 million, Glasgow was 760,000, Liverpool 685,000 and approximately 500,000 in Manchester and Birmingham.

In 1901/02 the public expenditure on technical education in England was £1,008,947 of which £862,002 came from the State grant under the C|ustoms and Excise Act and £146,945 from local rates.

In 1901 there were 17,839 students in British universities and 285,444 in technical education.

In 1901  % share of employment – agriculture/forestry/fishing 6% and in manufacturing/mining/building 40%.

1901 Number of people employed in agriculture 1.3 million.

In 1901 contribution to national income from coal 6%.

In 1901/02 107,000 students of technology studied in German technical universities compared with fewer than 3,000 students in Britain.

In 1902 Between 1901/02 £200,000 whisky money raised and given to LCC £180,000 spent on technical education.

In session 1904/05 approximately 50 students attended classes at Sunderland Technical College in engineering and shipbuilding.

In 1904 500 polytechnic students were studying for London degrees.

In 1904 ATTI founded.

In 1904 In Liverpool out of 1,313 entries for science and technology only 150 were enrolled for ‘advanced classes’.

In 1905 of a survey conducted by ATI with 59 firms only 19 allowed some form of day-release i.e. just 30%.

In 1905/06 there were 83 engineering apprentices at Manchester school of Technology.

in 1905 236 million tons of coal mined in GB.

In 1906 23 Polytechnics in London and 110 in the Provinces.

In 1906 in session 1906/07 approximately 500,000 students over 17 years of age enrolled in evening classes.

In 1906 it was estimated that 14.6% of the workforce in engineering, shipbuilding and railway carriage and wagon building were apprentices. Harland and Wolff’s shipbuilding in Belfast reported 13% of their workforce were apprentices.

In 1906 in session 1906/07 the % of evening students to day students in Manchester (30.2). Halifax (31.6) and London (29.3).

In 1906 there were about 1,200 Adult Schools in England-850 for Males and 350 for females.

In 1907 between 1914 out of 3,318 science graduates 1,077 (33%) were teaching in elementary schools. Shows again the indifference employers had for science and technology graduates. Cardwell stated at this time 70% to 75% chemistry graduates were teachers.

In 1907 600 full-time students reading science and technology at Imperial College, London.

In 1908 only 3,000 students attended full-time courses at technical schools and provincial universities.

In 1908/09 number of pupils from grant-earning schools in England and Wales progressing to university 695 (Boys) and 361 (Girls)

In 1909  29% of engineering apprentices and 51% shipbuilding apprentices were indentured.

In 1909 1,168 Trade Unions in Britain with a membership of 2,369,000 members.

In 1909 there were 4,000 Ft and 750,000 PT students in technical institutions.

In 1909 75% of youths below 14 and 17 received no kind of education.

In 1910 in 1910/11 session there were 639,000 students attending grant aided establishments of FE (mainly evening classes/institutions).

In 1910 4% of children attended grammar schools.

In 1910 Provincial universities produced 500 to 600 graduates.

In 1910 there were 16,000 engineering students in German Technical High Schools and only 4,000 in British Universities. 5,500 graduate chemists in German industry compared with 1.500 in British industry.

In 1911 there were 221.729 members of professional groups/associations.

In 1911 life expectancy for men 47 and for women 55.

In 1911 National income in Britain and Northern Ireland £2,022,000,000.

In 1912 111 Trade Schools existed in Britain.

In 1911 a survey showed that there were approximately 14,000 day students in technical institutions and 765,000 evening students. (Cotgrave).

In 1913 5.8% of the 14-16 age cohort were in full-time education in grant aided schools/colleges.

In 1913 Britain share of world trade in manufacturing was 25.4% compared with 37% in 1883.

In 1913 Britain produced 8 million tons of steel whilst Germany produced 13.5 million tons and America 31 million tons.

In 1913 37 Junior Technical Schools with 2,900 students.

In 1913 187,000 students in grant aided secondary schools.

In 1913 chemical industries in Britain accounted for only 11% of the world trade output compared with 34% by US and 24% by Germany.

In 1913 287 million tons of coal mined over 98 million tons exported.

1913 1,500 Building Societies existed lending out £9,000,000.

In 1913 174,000 school population in England and Wales. In 1935 was 457,000.

In 1913 exports amounted to 98,3 million tons this decreased to 61,65 million tons in 1931.

In 1913 UK exported 689,000tons of machinery with a value of £33,602,000 – in 1929 figure became 562,000 tons and £54,350,000 and in 1932 became 302,000 tons and £29,529,000.

In 1913 Total exports of metals and engineering industries, (e.g. ships, motor cars and aircraft), was £138,011,000 became £109,507,00.

In session 1913/14 number of students in university and technical institutions: Scotland-8,000 (population 4.8 million), Germany-90,000 (population 65 million), Ireland-3,000 (population 4.4 million), Wales-1,200 (population 2.0 million) and England-17,000 (population 34 million).

In session 1913/14 number of full-time students of science and technology Germany-17,000 (population 65 million) and in Britain-6,456 (population 40.8 million)

In 1914 there were 2,500 FT students in engineering and technology in English universities and technical institutions.

In 1914 estimated number of  TU members was 4,145,000.

In 1914 800 full-time reading science and technology at Imperial College, London.

In 1914 number of companies 62,762 (77% private).

In 1914 Trade Union membership was approximately 4 million. , 6,500,000 in 1919 and 8,334,000 in 1920.

In 1914 expenditure on education was £31,800,000 and on museums and libraries was £ 700,000.

In 1914 only about 7% of the male population were receiving any form of trade instruction. (Thomson Committee 1918).

% of Full-time Students in Science and Technology in 1913/14 and 1922/23:










  • Not all institutions made returns so figures are not precise.

In 1914 a solicitor in Britain earned an average of £568 per year, a doctor £395 whilst an engineer earned £292 per year.

In 1914 47.000 cars in Britain.

In 1914 Total tonnage of steam and motor shipping was 18,892,000.

In 1918 school leaving age was 14.

In 1920 650,148 cars on British roads.

In 1920 Gross Public Expenditure of Education, Arts and Science was £43,2000,000

In 1921 population of UK was 44.027 million.

In 1921 220,000 students attended technical colleges.

In 1921 number of day time students in technical education was 22,000 this doubled by 1938 to approximately 44,000.

In 1921 there were 34,591 students in British universities, 1,400,000 students in technical education, 12,256 in JTSs and 362,000 in grant aided secondary schools.

In 1921/22 the Board of Education (BoE) recurrent annual expenditure on education was £51 million and was still £51 million in 1938/39 and varied between £40 and £50 million in the years between.

In 1922 APTI founded initial membership 70.

Between 1922 and 1938 the proportion of science students decreased from 19.2% of the total number of students to 16.2% and the proportion of technology students from 12.5% to 11.3.%

In 1923 Between 1923 /24 Number of houses built 93,000.

In 1923 Out of every 100 insured worker approximately 51 were in manufacturing, 12 in mining, 7 in construction, 20 in distribution/commerce/traffic and 10 in services both in public and private sectors. In 1937 figures were  47, 7, 10, 24 and 12 respectively.

In session 1924/25 number of pupils from grant-earning schools in England and Wales progressing to university: 1,912 (Boys) and 1,330 (Girls).

In 1924 the total population of London Central Schools was 27,179 and in secondary schools (aided and maintained) was 31,282. (London stats. 1929/30.

In 1924 300,000 tons of bottles and jars produced in Britain, 360,000 in 1930.

In 1925 1,573 engineering companies in Britain employed only 26 Apprenticeship Masters.

In 1925 1,500,000 cars in Britain.

In 1925 between 1925 and 1930 71 new chairs were created in Universities – 4 in technology, 15 in science and mathematics and 39 in the arts!

In 1925-26 session there were 211 State Scholarships held by boys and 173 by girls in English Universities.

In 1925-26 session there were 31,039 maintenance grants held at universities, secondary schools and technical schools

In 1926 Unemployment rate was 12.5%.

In 1928 Unemployment rate was 10.8%.

In 1929 7,590,000 tons of pig iron produced in Britain – world figure 97,330,000 tons.

In 1929 Unemployment approximately 1,250,000, increased to 2,900,000 in 1931.

In 1929 total output of tin 192,000 tons, copper 1,900,000 tons and lead 1,7000,000 tons.

In 1930 116,328,000 pairs of boot and shoes made in Britain.

In 1930 About 45% of jute goods exported.

In 1930 Total figure for furniture and cabinet production was £21,666,000.

In 1930 total value of shipbuilding and ship-repairs was around £80 million.

In the 1930s % of elementary school children going to JTSs was approximately 2.6% (boys) and 1.4% (girls).

In 1931 life expectancy for men 58 and for women 65.

In 1931 there were 37,255 students in British universities , 1,820,991 ? students in technical education, 21,945 in JTSs and 411,000 in grant aided secondary schools.cc1931 around 177,000 miles of public roads in Britain 85% in England and Wales and 14% in Scotland.

In 1931 2,250,000 motor vehicles on the 177,000 miles of roads.

In 1931 population in Britain 43,000,000.

In 1931 Total exports for metal and engineering industries was £109,507,000.

In 1932+ Number of employees released for study: 1932/33 26,296. 1935/36 32,810. 1937/38 41,539.

In 1932 Unemployment rate was 22.12%.

In 1932 8.25 million pairs of boots and shoes exported.

In 1932 Number in attendance at elementary school 5,634,213, Number leaving elementary school 523,059 and number leaving for employment 416,769.

In 1933 approximately 700,000 cotton looms in use in Britain.

In 1934 Research expenditure: Universities, learning societies and independent foundations – £1,500,000

Government finance: Defence – £2,000,000. Industrial Research – £600,000. Medical Research – £150,000 and Agriculture Research – £200,000.

In 1934 Number of trade ( junior technical) schools 194 with an attendance of 22,158 and an annual output of 10,000.

In 1935 there were 12,336 full-time students in technical, commercial and art colleges in England and Wales this increased to 187,000 in 1965 and part-time day study increased from 67,417 to 681,000 and those in evening institutes from 437,367 to 1,252,518 and those following adult education in all its forms from 50,796 to 218,881.

In 1935 53 day continuation schools in existence – 46 LEA controlled and 9 provided in private firms.

In 1935 Average worker earned approximately 62shillings 50 pence.

In the session 1935/36 the numbers of Advanced Students in Science, Technology and Agriculture:

Mathematics: Full-time-86 (Male). 3  (Female).  Part-time-38  (M), 6 (F). Biology: Full-time-1 (M), 0 (F). Part-time- 0  (M), 1 (F). Botany: Full-time 91 (M), 24 (F).  Part-time- 17 (M), 20 (F).

Chemistry:  Full-time-472 (M), 30 (F).  Part-time-78 (M), 7  (F). Applied Chemistry:  Full-time-46 (M), 0 (F). Part-time-25 (M), 1  (F).  Full-time-Bio-Chemistry: 40 (M), 11 (F). Part-time- 6 (M),  4 (F).  Geology: Full-time-34 (M), 5 (F). Part-time- 6 (M), 1 (F).  Mineralogy: Full-time-5 (M), 0 (F). Part-time: 0 (M), 0 (F).

Physics: Full-time-200 (M), 12 (F).  Part-time-39 (M), 5 (F). Aeronautics: Full-time- 22 (M), 0 (F). Part-time- 1 (M),  0 (F). General Engineering: Full-time-24 (M), 0 (F).  Part-time-2 (M), 0 (F). Chemical Engineering: Full-time-42 (M), 0 (F). Part-time- 1  (M), 0 (F). Civil Engineering: Full-time-43 (M), 0 (F). Part-time- 7 (M),  0(F). Electrical Engineering: 61 (M), 1 (F). Part-time- 10 (M),  0 (F). Mechanical Engineering: 35 (M), 0 (F). Part-time-15  (M), 0 (F). Mining: Full-time- 3 (M),  0 (F). Part-time 3 (M),  0 (F). Fuel Technology: 35 (M), 0 (F). Part-time-15 (M), 0  (F). Glass Technology: 17 (M), 0 (F). Part-time- 4  (M), 0 (F). Metallurgy:  Full-time- 39 (M), 0 (F). Part-time- 12 (M), 0  (F).  Oil Technology: Full-time-6 (M), 0 (F). Part-time-1 (M), 0  (F).

Textiles: Full-time-25 (M), 0 (F). Part-time-4 (M), 0  (F). Agriculture: Full-time-32 (M), 3 (F).  Part-time-2 (M), 0 (F) and Horticulture: Full-time 2 (M), 1 (F).  Part-time-0 (M), 0 (F).

In 1935 number of pupils in elementary schools 5,424,000. Number leaving for employment 380,000.

In 1935 12 Universities increased to 44 by 1965.

In 1935 12 universities with 40,392 students and approximately 3,079 full-time academic staff.

In 1935 19 students per 10.000 of the population in full-time advanced education by 1965 this figure had become 73 per 10,000.

In 1936 over 100,000 evening classes in England and wales with approximately 2.5 million class entries.

Day-Release of Employees between 1932/33 and 1937/38:







(You can see the growth was rather slow over this period).

In 1937 there were just 19,000 pupils in secondary schools at the age of 18 and only 8,000 Higher School Certificates were awarded and approximately 4.000 out of the 663,000 school leavers went on to university whilst 13,000 attended Junior Technical Schools (JTSs) in 1937.

In 1937 29,431 pupils in JTSs compared with 484,000 in grant aided secondary schools.

In 1937 During session 1937/38 number of students in colleges FT- 12,712. PT -49,462 and Evening -1,114,598 giving a grand total of 1,176,772.

In 1937 % unemployment was 21% in Wales, 16% in Northern Ireland and 14.5% in Scotland. Note 7% in Midlands and 6% in Greater London.

In 1937 11% of children attended grammar schools.

In 1937 between 1937 and 1938 and between 1949 and 1950 the number of students in art institutions more than doubled e.g. full-time 6,000 to 15,000 and 62,000 to 129,000 respectively.

In 1937/38 student numbers in grant-aided establishments of FE were 20,000 full-time, 89,000 part-time and approximately 1,094,000 in evening classes.

In 1937/38 only 20% of children leaving elementary school at 14 received any kind of full-time Further Education.

Comparison of Students in Technical Education between 1937/38 and 1954/55:

Mode of attendance






Part-time day









In 1938 the number of full-time students in FE (excluding art schools) in England and Wales was 42,000 (c.f. 4,000 in 1909) and part-timers was 1,280,000 (c.f. 750,000 in 1909). There were 4,090 f-t teachers in FE (excluding art schools).

In 1938 only 13% of working class 13 year olds were still in school.

In 1938 51,000 day release students and 20,000 F-T.

In 1938/39 only 5,000 students studied applied science out of a possible 50,000 in the UK whereas 20,000 studied humanities.

In 1938  In 1938/39 session 7,661 full-time  students studied pure science, 5,288 technology and 1,043 agriculture and horticulture.

In 1938 444,877 cars manufactured in Britain.

In 1938/39 universities enrolled 6,000 Applied Science students compared with 22,000 Art students.

In 1938/39 41,000 students attended on day released this figure increased to 496,000 in 1964/65 (only included 79,000 female students).

In 1938 % of 14 year olds in secondary schools 38% and for 17 year olds 4%.

In 1938 In session 1938/39 number of degrees awarded in science 2,167and 1,048 in engineering.

In 1938-1939 session there were 41,000 day release students in England and Wales.

In 1938/39 the number of f-t students in technology at graduate level was 5,288 this increased to 10,933 by 1949/50 and the corresponding figures for post-graduate students were 662 and 1,539.

In 1939 there were 9,100 students in technical education over the age of 17 and 1,600 over 21 years of age- mostly part-time and the wastage was very high at 50%!

In 1939 there were 10,278 students of science and technology courses as opposed to 9,852 in 1922 – again reflecting the lack of interest in these subjects.

In 1939 number of part-time day release students was 42,000 increasing to 241,487 in 1949 and 0ver 300,000 in 1953.

In 1939 Gross Public Expenditure on Education, Arts and Science was £65,300,000.

In 1939 number of university students in science and technology was 12,949 increased to 27,759 by session 1950/51.

In 1943 number of graduates from universities in applied science was 1,051 first degree and 65 higher degrees.

In 1943 university output was 1,051 first degree and 65 higher degrees in applied science and its maximum was reckoned to be 1,600 per annum (1,354 excluding Polytechnics and external degrees) whereas the country need at least 3,000 per annum.

In 1944 the tripartite system of secondary school education introduced in England and Wales ceased in early 1970s whilst in Northern Ireland existed from 1947 to 2009. Three types of institutions namely Grammar – taught academic curriculum, Secondary Technical Schools (see biography on this website) designed to train pupils adept in mechanical and technical subjects aimed at producing scientists, engineers and technicians. Secondary Modern Schools (called Secondary Intermediate Schools in N.I.) trained pupils in practical skills and prepared them for less skilled jobs. System was meant to have parity of esteem but in reality did  because of inadequate resources – I attended a secondary modern school and was aware of the differences between the schools within the tripartite system – teachers were great but not supported by government or LEAs.

Number of Students (x000s) Released by Major Industries between 1946 and 1957:




































































In 1945 from 1945 to 1952 teachers’ certificates awarded:

Dressmaking – 1,149. Needlework – 401. Tailoring – 8. Millinery – 25 and Cookery 532.

In 1946/47 159,000 students received instruction in 400 colleges and technical institutes.

In 1947 the following Regional Advisory Councils for FE had been established:

London and Home Counties, Southern, Western, West Midlands *, East Midlands, East Anglia. Yorkshire*, North Western*, Northern and Wales and Monmouthshire*.

  • Already in existence under this title or another.
In 1947 Number of evening institutions 5,076 with 826,000 students.
In 1947 680 establishments provided full-and part-time courses – twice the number in 1938. Student numbers increased from13,727 (1938) to 31,512 (1947)
1947 Between 1947 and 1957 number of students in technical education doubled from 600,000 to 1,200,000 majority studied part-time and evening. During this period building funded increased from £5 million to  £15 million.

In 1948 number of pupils in elementary schools 4,281.  Number leaving for employment approximately 300,000.

In 1948 manufacturing contribution to national economy was 41%

In 1949 in1949/50 session there were 2.4 million students attending grant aided FE institutions.

In 1949/50 7.7% of central government revenue spent on education.

In 1950 30% of 15 year olds, 14% 16 year olds and 7% 17 year olds were in full-time education in schools or colleges in England and Wales.

In 1950 approximate percentages within the tripartite system of secondary education was: 20% in Grammar Schools, 5% in Secondary Technical Schools and 75% in Secondary Modern Schools.

In 1950 nuber of scientists needed 70,000 only 55,000 available – deficiency 15,000. Barlow Committee Report).

Between 1947 and 1957 the numbers of students in technical education went from approximately 600,000 to nearly 1,200,000.

In 1951 population of UK 50.287 million.

In 1951 within a total workforce of 23.912 million there were 60,930 scientists and 80,770 engineers.

In 1951 The Emergency Training Scheme (Teacher training programme introduced after the WW2) ended having trained more than 23,000 males and approximately 12,000 females.

In 1951 The work force comprised the following statistics : Young workers 15-44 – 43.1%. Older workers 45-59-  21.0%. Total workers 64,1%. Children <15 22.4% while older workers 13.5% (For Men 65+ and for Women 60+). Note in 1971 the figures were: 40.3%, 22.3%, 62.6%, 19.7% and 17.7& respectively.

In 1952 During session 1952/53 number of pupils in: Secondary Technical Schools 97,000. Secondary Grammar Schools 686,000 and Secondary Modern Schools 1,440,000.

In 1952 during session 1952/53 out of 2,061,718 students in all grant aided establishments 1,061,038 were women.

In 1952 Size of companies with 11 to 24 workers – 17,177. 25 to 99 workers – 25,103. 100 to 499 workers – 11,600. 500 to 999 workers – 1,481. 1,000 workers – 634. and 2.000+ – 352.

In 1952 during session 1952/53 entries in classes in domestic and women’s subjects: Full-time – 1,198. Part-Time – 19,113 and Evening 555,072.

In 1952/53 2,700 students were successful in taking the HNC Mechanical Engineering course.

In 1952 During session 1952/53 number of students in colleges FT -57,182. PT -353,o49 and Evening – 1,829,185. Giving a grand total of 2,239,416.

In 1952 during session 1952/53 7,188 students attended part-time catering courses in the evening.

In 1953 70 industries formally had adopted national agreed training schemes – what take up was very patchy with local implementation and knowledge of the schemes weak.

In 1953/54 APTI membership 230.

In 1953/54 ATTI membership 5,500 FT and 500 PT.

In 1953 up to 1953 76,000 women had taken examinations in various women subjects  staged by CGLI and 8,800 held the teachers certificate.

IN 1953 Number of evening institutions 9,483 with 1,037,000 students.

In 1953 there were 1.9 million people (7.8%) of the UK workforce employed in engineering and related activities.

In 1954 The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee reported that 40,000 Britain engineers were required each year when only 25,000 were being produced.

In 1954 Membership of ATI 240.

In 1953 In 1953/54 number of degrees awards in science 5,160 and 2,337 in engineering

In 1954 there were 34,400 students in Public Sector Higher Education (AFE).

In 1954 of the 400,000 school 15-17 year olds entering insurable employment more than 80% did so at the age of 15 and with no formal qualifications.

In 1954 Royal Institute of Chemistry had 13,651 corporate members. Institute of Physics had 2.806 corporate members.

In 1955 only 1.2% of secondary modern school pupils stayed on after 15.

In 1955 Number of qualified scientists in Britain 60,930 and engineers 80,770 out of a total workforce of 23,912,000.

In 1955 Number of non-qualified engineers in Britain 30,148 .

In 1955 number of scientists needed 90,000 only 68,000 available – deficiency of 26,000 (Barlow Committee Report).

In 1955 institute of Biology had 1,150 full members, 299 probationers and 299 student members.

In 1956 between 1956 and 1962 the number of schools leavers increased for around half a million to nearly three quarters of a million after 1963 figure declined.

In 1956 In 1956/57 38,747 full-time students studied pure science, 12,496 technology and 1,914 agriculture and horticulture.

In 1956 the White Paper Technical Education defined technical workers as:

1. Technologists. Possessed the qualifications and experience required for membership of a professional institution. These consisted of at least HNC plus ‘endorsement’ subjects plus practical experience in the field.

2. Technicians. These would have undergone specialist training with practical work and would require a good understanding of mathematics and science. Hey would normally work under the supervision of a technologist.

3. Craftsmen. These represented the skilled labour of industry. They were required to know not only ‘how’ but also ‘why’.

Also the Paper described the four main categories of award namely:

  1. University degrees.
  2. Technical college diplomas.
  3. National Diplomas and Certificates:

OND – 2 years full-time.

HND – 3 years full-time (OND+HND =5 years in all).

ONC – 3 years part-time.

HNC – 2 years part-time (ONC+HNC= 5 years in all).

  1. City and Guilds:

Intermediate Certificates -2/3 years part-time.

Final Certificates – 1/2 years part-time.

Full Technological Certificates – consisted of tests on the original technology plus ancillary subjects e.g. management.

In 1956 Number of qualified scientists in Britain comprising 20,692 chemists, 11,482 maths. 10,482 physicists, 4,838 biologists, 894 geologists and 2,838 others.

In 1956 96% of factories in manufacturing employed less than 500 people.

In 1956 only 0.6% of workforce in Britain were qualified scientists and engineers.

In 1957 there were 28 direct-grant FE establishments with a total of 2,500 full-time and 6,000 part-time day/evening students. These direct-grant establishments for FE were not analogous to the direct-grant secondary schools being more under the control of the MoE than LEAs.

In 1957 In 1957/58 number of degrees awarded in science 5,345 and 2,658 in engineering.

In 1958 there were 15,369 full-time teachers and 50,000 part-time teachers in technical colleges, art and evening institutions.

In 1958 number of 18-20 year olds released 69,483 and 21+years old 36,918.

Total number released of all ages 309,255.

In 1958 number of adult students studying in adult centres increased from 0.8 million in the late 1950s to approximately 1.9 million in 1978 after which the numbers declined to approximately 750,000 in 2010/2011.

In 1958 the Crowther Report recorded that 683,000 pupils in grammar schools and >1.5 million in secondary modern schools and just 95,000 in secondary technical schools.

In 1958/59 approximately 200,000 students enrolled on craft courses.

In 1958 Number of evening institutions 8,299 with 977,000 students.

In 1958/59 Students enrolled on ONCs was 140,000 and 40,000 on HNCs which had an industrial character.

In 1958 16,288 students followed full-time courses of acceptable standard in colleges of technology and were in receipt of major awards.

In 1958/59 approximately 450,000 students in FE were studying industrial programmes for technicians, craftsmen and operatives – 14,000 were on full-time or sandwich courses, 283,00 were attending part-time/block-release and 152,000 evening only courses.

In 1958/59 Students enrolled on ONDs was 1,600 and 3,100 on HNDs which had an industrial character.

In 1959 20% of students attending advanced courses were from Secondary Modern Schools i.e. they had failed the 11+ examination – I was one of them!

Employment by Sector in UK in 1961 and 1978:


Number in 1961


Number in 1978


% change 1961to 1978

Total employed :




H.M. Forces




Civilian employment




Agriculture, forestry and fishing




Mining and quarrying












Gas, electricity, water




Transport and Communications




Other services




Total central government




National health




Total local authorities








Health and social services




Total Central and Local government (excl Forces)




Public corporations




Total public sector (excl. Forces)




Total public sector (incl. Forces)




Source: ‘Employment in the Public and Private Sectors’. Semple. M. Economic Trends 313, November 1979 pp 90-108.

Interesting to note the changes across the employment sectors during this period!

In 1960 there were 264 Secondary Technical Schools in existence. 145 admitted students at age 11, 14 admitted students at 12 and 101 at age 13.

In the 1960s approximately 3% of British manufacturers employees were apprentices compared with 5% for Germany.

In 1961 220,128 students still attended ‘all age schools’ by 1965 this figure had declined to 9,376.

In 1961 only 34% of boys and 7% girls leaving school entered apprenticeships or learnerships in skilled occupations (Ministry of Labour figures).

In 1961/62 Universities enrolled 28% of students reading Humanities, 4% Education, 11% Social Studies, 25% Pure Science, 15% Technology, 2% Agriculture and 15% Medical Subjects.

In 1962 7.2% of women enrolled in full-time HE courses compared with 9.8% of men – the figures for part-time HE were even starker 22% for men and 8% for women.

In 1962 % of 14 year olds in secondary schools 100% and for 17 year olds was 15%.

In 1962-1963 session 31 universities enrolled 118,000 full-time students.

In 1962 113,000 students qualified for university entry (14.5% of age group) and only 30,000 enrolled for university study (4% of age group).

1962 between 1962 and 1970 first degree graduate output increased from 22,000 to 47,600. In 1975 1st degrees were 70.000 and by 1980 had increased to 102,000. Because of demographic decline the figure grew more slowly so in 1987 in was 127,000.

In 1963 33% grammar schools in Wales, only approximately 22% in England and over 70% in secondary modern schools.

In1963-1964 session  University of London awarded 1,302 internal and external degrees to students.

In 1963-1964 session 164 higher degrees awarded in science and technology in colleges in England and Wales.

In 1964 College of Technologists (CoT) accepted 137 applications for registrations – 12 awarded in 1964. CoT merged with CNNA.

In 1964-1965 session number of non-advanced courses i.e. for craftspeople, operatives and technicians for industry was 840,000 with approximately 83% working towards recognised qualifications.

In 1964-1965 session 148,000 students studied GCE subjects in colleges.

In 1964-1965 session number of students at FE colleges enrolled in courses to recognised qualifications in England and Wales was males 836.000 and for females 161,600 giving a grand total of 998,200 DES stats 1965.

In 1964-1965 session there were 1,900 students in colleges in England and Wales taking higher degrees and other research postgraduate qualifications.

In 1964-1965 session there were 496,000 day release students in England and Wales.

In 1964-1965 session 16,000 students of the total 20,000 were on advanced sandwich courses at colleges in England and Wales taking Dip. Tech or HND in a proportion of 5:3.

In 1964-1965 session approximately 33% of advanced students were attending on evening only basis.

In 1965 41% of boys and 6% of girls leaving school entered apprenticeships or learnerships in skilled occupations.

In 1965 240,000 apprentices this declined to 53,000 in 1990.

In 1965 8,500 adults in Government Training Centres which were run by the Ministry of Labour – 2,700 were disabled.

In 1965 there were 622,000 technicians and other technical supply staff of which 400,00 were employed in manufacturing industries, 72,000 in the public sector of industry, 46,000 in construction and 89,000 in central and local government.

In 1965 65 LEAs proposed plans to abolish the tripartite system and create comprehensive schools.

In 1965 8,070,000 employees – 663,000 were in manufacturing factories with less than 50 employees, 1,748,000 in firms with less than 100 and 4,011,000 in firms with less than 500 employees.

In 1965 602,000 students of all ages in receipt of part-time release in England and Wales.. 51,000 in Scotland and Northern Ireland. 17,000 on sandwich courses and 33,000 on ‘block release’.

In 1965 467.000 people employed in agriculture spread over 399,603 holdings – 61% less than 50 acres and 78% less than 100 acres.

In 1965 of the total number of technical staff employed in the country 17% held a degree/HND/HNC, 14% an OND/ONC and 9% the Technical Certificate of CGLI the remaining 60% had other qualifications, in-house training or no formal training qualification which had been assessed by an examination.

In 1965 number of students receiving part-time release in England and Wales was 602,000. The numbers for Scotland and Northern Ireland contributed another 51,000 17,000 were on sandwich courses and 33,000 on block-release.

In 1966 the normal minimum requirement for initial enrolment for courses in colleges was set at: 25 for full-time (including sandwich programmes), 15 for courses involving a large % of practical/workshop work and 20 for all other part-time courses. (Circular 11/66).

In 1966 there were 13 ITBs representing 7.5 million workers in various industries.

In the 1950s/1960s the courses offered in the major FE colleges could be listed as:

Advanced – Post-graduate research, post-graduate courses including then the MCT, Dip Tech, Final university degree courses, Final examinations for professional institutions, HNDs and HNCs.

Senior Courses – ONDs, ONCs, CGLI final examinations, CGLI intermediate examinations, Intermediate degree examinations and GCE Advanced level examinations.

Junior Courses – GCE ordinary level examinations, General education courses, Adult education courses and Recreational courses.

Enrolments in these courses for 1954/55:

Mode of attendance

Advanced courses

Senior Courses

Junior Courses





Part-time (own time)




Part-time (released)








In 1968 the minimum specified time for technician courses was 180 hours per year, 220 for part-time students and 280 hours for students attending 1 day and evening. All ONC schemes required 240 hours for vocational subjects plus 90 hours for general studies. HNC schemes required 240 hours for vocational subjects and 60 to 90 hours for general studies.

In 1968/69 24 colleges in England and Wales received a 75% grant towards for delivering number of advanced courses.

In 1968 644,000 day release students and 244,000 F-T and sandwich courses.

In 1969 between 1969 and 1975 linked courses between colleges and schools expanded rapidly to approximately 140,000.

In 1969 in 1969/70 there were 326,000 teachers in England and Wales of whom 52,268 (16%) were trained graduates, 20,898 (6.4%) untrained graduates, 159,548 (48.9%) non-graduates (1-2 year training), 79,771 (24.5%) non-graduate (3 year training).

In 1969 Number of Public Sector Higher Education students (AFE) 190,200.

In 1969 approximately 40,000 part-time teachers and approximately 9,000 full-time teachers in technical colleges.

In 1970 % of 17 year olds in secondary schools was 26%.

In the early 1970s employers recruited >100,000 apprentices this declined to 40,000 by 1983/84.

In the 1970s % of 18 year olds in non-higher technical vocational education: In Germany- 51.8% (1979). Denmark-30.3% (1977). France-6.7% (1979) and Britain- 5.7% (1976).

In 1970/71 the number of institutions providing vocational art and design courses was 309 comprising 58 art colleges, 20 polytechnics (designated or proposed), 10 specialist colleges and 221 other FE establishments – total number of students 9,844 full-time and 8,742 part-time (included block-release students). In addition approximately 5,000 students on vocational art and design courses in a range of establishments by evening study.

In 1971 population of UK 55.928 million.

In 1972 TOPS introduced expanded very rapidly and in March 1978 approximately 95,000 people enrolled including 22,000 under 19 years of age.

In 1972 between 1972 and 1978 the proportion of women on TOPS programmes rose from 8% to 44%.

In 1974 6,500 subject entries for the CEE.

In 1974 Number of Public Sector Higher Education students (AFE) 210,200.

In 1975 20,000 out of the 60,000 TOPs trainees completed courses in engineering and construction.

In 1975/76 adult educational centres provided for approximately 1,797,257 students.

In 1976 number of students on all modes of attendance in:

Polytechnics-192,697, Other maintained major institutions-1,693,230, Direct grant, including voluntary colleges-36,047 and Adult Education Centres- 1,797,257 giving a grand total of 3,719,231.

In 1976 number of full-time students in FE colleges in England and Wales was 76,403 (61,068 males and 15,335 females).

In 1976 Number of NAFE students FT-287,000 and 682,000 0n evening courses. Note approximately 16% on GCE courses.

In 1976 there were 76,403 FT teachers in FE colleges. 14,000 teachers in Polytechnics, 57,867 teachers in other maintained major institutions, 3,808 in direct grant establishments and 719 FT or divided service in adult education centres..

In 1976 there were 287,000 students enrolled on full-time day NAFE courses and 682,000 on NAFE evening courses.

In session 1977/78 3 FE Colleges were offering the International Bacc with approximately 100 students most of whom were overseas.

In 1978 there were 149,989 full-time equivalent students in polytechnics and 41,914 full-time equivalent students studying advanced programmes in other institutions.

In 1979 there were 26,000 employees in Jobcentres and Employment Offices and another 9,ooo in Skillcentres and approximately 1,400 civil servants employed at MSC. There were 600 Jobcentres.

In 1979 approximately 40% of the 700,000 school leavers who found employment received no training and only 20% received 8 weeks or less training.

In 1979 1 in 8 people entered HE – in the 1960s it was 1 in 17 and by 1994 it was 1 in 3.

In 1980 some 90,000 young people began apprenticeships-10% fewer than in 1979.

In 1980 there were approximately 73,000 members of NATFHE, Approximately 1,000 of Association of Agricultural Staffs (AAS),  500 for Association of College Principals and Approximately 2,600 for Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AACE).

In the 1980s participation rate of 17 year olds in education and training were: West Germany full-time 50% and part-time 47%, Japan full-time 90% part-time 0%, France full-time 63% and part-time 12% and in UK full-time 33% and part-time 35%.

In 1980 manufacturing share of economy was 26%.

1980s Since the early 1980s 28 major pieces of legislation related to vocational, FE and skills training enacted with little or no impact or improvement.

In 1980 there were approximately 140,000 students on link courses (links between schools and colleges).

In 1981 unemployment rate was 6.3% with 35% of all unemployed under 25.

In 1982 500 companies involved in Young Enterprise(YE) – YE enabled young people to set up an company, sell shares and market a product to mirror real business practice.

In 1984 in Britain approximately 9% of workers benefited from job-related training and by 1990 this had risen to about 15% but these increased were from a relatively low base. (HMSO Training Statistics 1991).

In 1985 expenditure per FT equivalent student in Universities £5,170. Polytechnics £ 3,150 and Voluntary and Direct Grant Colleges £ 2,950. 

In 1986 the staying on rate for post-16 year olds in England was approximately 46%.

Staying-on Rates in Various Countries in the 1980s:

Full-time education and training

16-yr olds


17-yr olds


18-yr olds


16-18-yr olds

UK (1988)





W. Germany (1987)





France (1986)





USA (1986)





Japan (1988)





Source: Statistical. Bulletin 1990.

In 1985 over 50% of British companies did not offer any formal provision for management training.

In 1985 700,000 youth school leavers had entered the YTS – 4,000 managing agents involved and approximately 160 Information Technology Centres (ITECs) had provided 6,000 places.

In 1985/86 approximately 50,000 people had benefitted from support of the Open Tech.

In session 1985-86 expenditure per FTE student in universities was £5,170, £3,150 in Polytechnic and £2,950 in voluntary/direct grant colleges . (Note in maintained schools net recurrent institutional expenditure per pupil was £1.040). DES Bull 14/87. 

In 1986/89 52% of the work-force received no training in Britain (Training Agency 1989). In Britain about 36% of workers possessed some form of vocational qualifications the figure in Germany was 67%.

In 1986 about 20% of British managers held degrees or professional qualifications in Germany the figure was 63% and in America 85%.

In 1987 Participation rates of F-T education in Britain 50% (16 year olds) and 35% (16-18 year olds)

In 1987 only 30% of companies in Britain possessed a training plan and only 19% of those establishments made any assessment of the benefits of training and only £5 attempted to gauge the benefits against cost. (Training Agency 1989).

In 1987 approximately 100,000 (about 20%) of British school-leavers entered jobs that offered no training. By contrast 93% of West German school leavers entered apprenticeships, further schooling or university.

In 1987/88 Number of HE women students in Polytechnics 148,000 FT and 84,000 PT and in Universities 133,000 and 59,000 respectively.

In 1987/88 Number of HE men students in Polytechnics 157,000 FT and 151,000 PT and in Universities 188,000 and 73,000 respectively.

In 1987 52% of the workforce received no formal training. (CBI).

In 1988 45.6% of entrants to universities and polytechnics were female.

In 1988 the staying on rates in UK were: 50% for 16 year olds, 35% for 17 year olds and 20% for 18 year olds. Giving 35% for 16 to 18 year olds. c.f. these figures with those of Japan namely 92%, 89%, 50% and 77%. Also compare with France 78%, 68%, 52% and 66%. (DES 1990).

In session 1989/90 full-time participation rate at 18 for Scotland was 25% (i.e. entry to HE) compared with 17% for the whole of the UK.

In 1989 school leavers highest qualification with 2 or more GCE ‘A’ level 15%, 1 GCE ‘A’ level or equivalent  40%, Low level below O level 35% and no qualification 10%.

In 1990 only 1 in 200 school leavers became graduate engineers and just 3% of school leavers had GCE ‘A’ Mathematics and Physics.

In1992 20% 0f people employed in UK were over 50 years of age.

In 1995 43% of 16 year olds in education and training were in FECs and 6th form colleges (approximately 450 colleges).  14% of 16 year olds in education and training were on work-based provision.

1995 there were180 NTOs/Lead Bodies/Occupational Standards Councils.

In 1996/97 enrolments in Wales was 191,000 with approximately 50% studying ‘A’ or ‘AS’ levels comprising Full-time 17,625 (Male) and 20,569 (Female), Part-time and Block release 17.566 (M) and 28,785 (F), Part-time evening and other 17,029 (M) and 31,716 (F). (FEFCW 1996/97).

In 1996 approximately 70% of full-time teachers of engineering possessed a teaching qualification.

IN 1996 GNVQ registrations exceeded 180,000 with achievement rate of approx. 55% compared with 70% for BTEC National and ‘A’ level.

In 1996 approximately of engineering teaching delivered by part-timers.

In 1996/97 there were 75,600 students on AMAs in England and Wales -these increased to 87,700 in 1997/98.

In 1997 manufacturing contribution to national economy was  approximately 20%.

In 1997/98FEFC returns showed a 3% decrease in numbers between sessions 1997/98 and 1998/99.

In 1997 Number of Employees by Occupation:


Number (x000)


Managers and administrators



Professional occupations



Associate Professional and Technical



Clerical and secretarial



Craft and related



Personal and Protective



Sales and related



Plant and Machine Operatives



Other occupations






Source: Business Strategies Ltd 1997 in Labour and Skill Trends 1998/99.

In 1998 there were 82,000 MAs started.

In 1998 14 million people held an NVQ level qualification.

In 1998 the year activity survey showed an increase of 0.6% stay on in f-t education at 68.5% and was 82.1 moved to some form of learning after completion of compulsory education and an increase of 7.8% of young people in employment with a planned programme of on and off job training.

In 1998 by the end of 1998 65 NTOs had been established.

In 1998 RDAs went live. (On 1st April).

In 1999 there were 81 approved sectors for AMAs and 50 for FMAs.

1999 51 frameworks for National Traineeships were approved and recruited 54,900 trainees.

In 1999 5% of degree entries held BTEC ONC/OND qualifications this increased to 9% in 2009 (HESA 2010).

In 1999 there had been 223,000 students (January) but 101,000 (43% had left New Deal.

In 2000 enrolments in Welsh Colleges post-16 were: 25% on full-time, 40% on block-release and 3.5% on open and distance learning. 60% of the students were female and 25% under 19. (FEFCW).

In 2000 participation rates were: Full-time education 70.7% (Age 16) and 58.1% (Age 17), Government supported training 8.2% (Age16) and 11.1% (Age17),

Employer funded training 3.1% (Age 16) and 5.6% (Age17), Other education and training 4.8% (Age16) and 5.6% (Age17). Totals 86% and 79.9% respectively.

Note at 18 the figure was 60.2% (36.8% full-time).

In 2000 by the end of August number on New Deal were on the following options: 77,800 young people in f-t education and training. 35,800 on the voluntary sector option and 34,100 on the environmental task force option. (DfEE).

In 2000 NTOs represented companies with a workforce size as follows: Over 1 million employees – 5 NTOs. Between 750,000 and 1 million – 2 NTOs. Between 500,000 and 750,000 – 3 NTOs. Between 200,000 and 500,000 – 16 NTOs. Between 50,000 and 200,000 – 27 NTOs and <50.000 – 15 NTOs.

In 2000 enrolments in FE sector (1/11/2000) was 2,334,800 compared with 2,424,400 in 1999 (1/11/1999).

In 2000 between 2000 and 2002 HE expenditure increased from £5.4 billion to £5.8 billion.

In 2000 level 1 and entry level to FE up 81.9% since 1994 – and represented over 26% of the total provision (17.3% in 1994). Level 2 up 29.1% since 1994 and represents 31.3% of total provision (29.3% in 1994), Level 3 up 3.7% since 1994 and represents 39% of total provision (a decline from 46.2% in 1994) and levels 4,5 and HE down 50.3% and represented only 2.9% of total provision (7.2% in 1994).

In 2000 there were 3,722,610 businesses in UK – of these 70% (>2.6 million) were sole traders. <7,000 were large companies (250+ employees) , 25,000 were medium sized companies (50-249 employees) and the rest were small enterprises. Large company providers provided 25% of private sector employment and 49% of turnover.

In 2000/01 number of FE colleges was 491.  Number of 6th Form Colleges 104. Number of Universities 109 and other HE Institutions 57.

In 2001 there were 1,007 Jobcentres in the UK.

In 2001 it was estimated that the workforce would require a level 3 qualification – this is yet to be achieved. (In 2001 only 43% held level 3 qualifications).

2001 figures for HE comprising 33% were mature students (i.e. over 30 years) and 25% new entrants were entering with non-traditional entry qualifications e.g. GNVQs and BTECs.

In 2001 between 2001/2 and 2003/04 funding for Adult Basic Skills increased from £253 million to £403 million.

In 2001 there were approximately Union Learning Unions representing 66 different unions.

In 2001 population of UK 59.618 million.

In 2001 there were several thousand learning centres and 2,500 private sector training organisations, 600 – 1000 learning material developers/publishers, 600 awarding bodies, 70+ NTOs and over 400 colleges in England.

In session 2004/05 there 25 FE institutions in Wales employing 14,695 staff.

In 2005 in 2005/06 number of apprenticeships were 99,500 (<19). 75,200 (19-24) and 300 (>25) – 122,800 at level 2 and 52,100 at levels 3/4.

In 2006 over 25% of the workforce were over 50 years of age.

In session 2007/08 there were 4,360,700 FTE numbers of  students in FE in England.  Corresponding figures for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were 223,500, 386,600 and 131,800 respectively.

In Session 2008/09 number of students in FE Institutions was 5.6million.

In 2008/09 Student numbers in Science, Engineering and Technology Apprenticeships in England were composed as follows:

Science and related subjects 2,636 (level2) 3% and 4,131 (level3) 5%.

Technology and related subjects 9,000 (level2) 12% and 6,425 (level3) 8%.

Engineering and related subjects 65,436 (84%) and 72,000 (level3) 87%.

Mathematics and related subjects 4,890 (level2) 6% and 5,309 (Level3) 6%.

2009 Learning and Development survey highlighted issues associated with skills namely:

61% employers said new employees from schools/colleges/universities lacked business skills and commercial awareness.

60% employers said employees were weak in communication skills.

55% employers said employees generally lacked work ethic among new employees and

43% lacked customer service skills.

In 2009 in 2009/10 number of apprenticeships were 116,800(<19). 113,800 (19-24) and 49,100 (>25)  – 190,600 at level 2 and 89,200 at levels 3/4.

In 2009 in 2009/10 3.4 million achieved a government funded FE qualification – 1.3 million at level 2 and 674,600at level 3.

In 2009/10 % of employers reporting skill shortages/gaps – hotels/catering 11%, manufacturing 9%, construction 7% and utilities 9%.

In 2010 88% of 16 year olds and 76% of 17 year olds in England were in full-time education.

In 2010 in England 8% 0f employers offered apprenticeships.

In 2010 fewer than 20% of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland studied any kind of mathematics after taking the GCSE qualification.

In 2010 overall 13% taking ‘A’ mathematics in England Wales and Northern Ireland the figure in Scotland was 23%.

In 2010/11 13.3% of central government revenue spent on education.

In 2011 Between 2011 and 2015 employment increased by 20% in the creative industry/economy.

In 2012 there were 1.07 million 16 to 24 year olds classified as NEETs. 5700,000 unemployed and 502,000 economically inactive.

In 2011/12 there were 402 FE Colleges. Number of 6th Form Colleges 95. Number of Universities 126 and number of other HE Institutions 36.

In 2011 in session 2010/11 there were 4.9 million learners who enrolled for publically funded FE courses in the UK.

In session 2012/13  there were 44,216,600 FTE numbers of students in FE in England. Corresponding figures for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were 211,300, 256,590 and 141,700 respectively.

In session 2012/13 £86.6 billion spent on education – £13.6 b on tertiary and £36.5 b on secondary.

In 2013 Minimum wage for apprentices increased by 3p per hour to £2.68. (October).

In 2013 60% of young people are not prepared for the workforce. CGLI

In 2013 It was expected that Traineeships can last between 6 weeks and 6 months and would include work preparation, English and mathematics and work experience placement with an employer.

In 2013 employers stated that 59% of young people do not have the correct attitudes for he workplace.

In 2013 1 in 6 young people are not in education, employment or training (NEETs).

In 2013 the SFA funded over 1,000 colleges , schools and training providers with a budget of £4 billion per year.

In 2013 just 11 in every 1,000 employees in England were apprentices compared with 39 in Australia and 40 in Germany.

In 2013 it is expected (hoped?) that approximately 15% of apprentices will progress onto Higher Education.

In 2013 Between 2013 and 2022 apprenticeships are estimated to contribute £3.4 billion of net productivity to the UK economy.

In 2013/14 the UK spent £2.5 billion a year on out-of-work benefits for the under 25 year olds. Also 14% of young people were classified as NEETS. Number of students in session 2013/14 FE Institutions 4.5 million – a decrease from 5.6million in session 2008/09

In 2014 estimated that over 1 million new science, engineering and technology professionals will be required in the UK by 2020.

In 2014/15 there were 670,000 apprentices

In 2014 Number of FE students studying P-T work based programmes or college study (aged <19 years olds) – 1,200,000 (England). 63,000 (Wales). 79,000 (NI) and 11,000 (Scotland).

In 2015 26 million people employed in manufacturing in Britain compared with 6.6 million in 1980.

In 2015 54% of British exports came from manufacturing

In 2015 20,000 unfilled graduate positions in IT industries in spite of 30,500 studying computer sciences in universities. 16.4 % increase in engineering graduates since 2005 – but still to low to satisfy demand. European Statistical Office projected that by 2060 there will be only 2 people of working age (15-64) in the EU for every person over 65. 25% of people in employment in UK over 50 years of age. 683,000 young people (16-24) unemployed – June/August figures. 187 standards established for the Trailbrazer Apprenticeship programmes.  A number of surveys identified that for every 1£ spent on apprenticeships there was an economic return of £26-£28. Since 1995 amount that British companies spent on training has fallen year by year. 19% of university graduates are working in non-graduate jobs – a figure that is predicted to rise further. CIPD survey showed that in the UK 22% of jobs required no more than a compulsory – level school – second in the OECD.  SMES employed 60 of people in private sector companies.

In 2015 UK trade deficit in manufacturing goods approximately £120 billion.

In 2015 1,300 qualifications offered in Britain – crazy in spite of many reviews to reduce the number.

In 2015 OECD ranks Britain 28th in 33th in countries in terms of developing intermediate skills.

In 2015 Royal Academy of Engineering reported that Britain would need an additional 800.000 graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by 2020.

In 2015 manufacturing share of economy was 10% a figure continuing to decline. Proportion of exports from manufacturing for Britain 44%. 61% of parents preferred their children to undertake high quality degree apprenticeship programmes. University students receive £6,000 more funding per year than vocational students – namely £8,400 compared to £2,150. In UK manufacturing represents approximately 11% compared with 21% in Germany.

In 2016 2.6 million people employed in manufacturing a figure continuing to decline (20,000 per  quarter). UK needs 69,000 new engineers per year to meet demands of industry (IET). Companies with a payroll>£3 million will be required to pay 0.5% of their wage bill to fund the national  Apprenticeships programmes with a minus £15,000 allowance. 46% of all UK employers will require high level skills and also 70% of all newly created jobs will require high skills. More than £450 billion of UK GDP relies from engineering/manufacturing. Surveys show 59% more people required in people management/production-related technical skills, 53% in craft and technician, 52% in sales and marketing and 47% in IT and software skills over the next three years. Government statistics identify 150,000 shortage of carpenters and 75,000 project managers along with other key  trades in construction industry.

Hard to find vacancies for manufacturing was 35% compared with 30% in 2011. This figure has remained approximately the same for the past few years.

2017 Recent survey again highlights the poor standard of teaching in the key subjects because of teacher shortages. Only 33.3% of physics teachers have a degree in that subject and 20% of mathematics teachers. Productivity levels declined again and now the country occupies 25th place in the international league table of developed nations – reasons given lack of investment in Research and Development by employers (R and D) and in vocational and technical training. Two depressing examples of the inability of this country to address yet alone resolve these long standing problems!

In 2017 Construction provides 7% of the UK  economy’s GDP and 6% jobs.

In 2017 Productivity rate lags , on average, 18 points behind the other G7 nations.

In 2017 Of the 490,000 apprenticeships started in 2016-2017 54% were female however only 8.1% were studying engineering.

In 2017 Number of applicants to study languages continues to decline. UCAS figures showed that number of applications declined from 19,620 in 2012 to 15,140 in June 2017 who wanted to study European languages.

In 2017 A CBI survey of teenagers regarding their view of the importance of social/key skills gave the following results:

Strong work ethic 14%, Communication skills 12%. Team working 6%, Self-confidence 6%, Social skills 4%, Leadership 4%, Problem Solving 3% and Creativity 3%.

A depressing set of figures.

The survey also highlighted the importance of work experience was rated at just 20%

In 2018.

The current skills gap during 2017-18 has cost the country £.6.3 billion (Open University’s Business Barometer. 61% of companies have stated the skills gap is getting worse. More than 33% of workers in England do not hold suitable qualifications for the jobs they do. Also 9 million adult workers possess low qualifications. There are approximately 70,000 interns employed in England – 15,000 do not receive any money or their work. Employers from April 2017 with a total payroll had to pay an extra 0.5% into the training account – this increased the levy on individual employers to £15,000 per year. Apprenticeships now require a minimum of 20% training off the job. The construction industry contributes £110 billion per annum representing about 7% of GDP. The OECD has ranked the UK 16th out of top 20 countries in terms of its provision of technical education. OECD further predicts if nothing is done to improve it will rank 28th thy out of the 33 OECD countries for intermediate countries. Employers have indicated that 25% of vacancies are proving difficult to fill. A third of England’s 16-19-year- olds have low basic skills. There are currently 11,600 degree apprenticeships. 65% of employers have found that graduates lack the interpersonal skills to manage people. UCAS have stated that 49% of school leavers will apply to study at university from September 2018.

According to the Engineering UK State of Engineering the country requires at least 124,000 engineers and technicians with core engineering skills and an additional 79,000 roles that require some engineering knowledge and skills alongside other skill sets. Also stated that there is a 59,000 of engineering graduates and technicians to fill these roles. Only 12% of UK’s professional engineers are females a survey in 2016 showed the UK was placed 58th out of 86 countries for gender diversity among engineering graduates. 71% of SMEs never accesses any form of government support, Over 50% of small businesses have less than £1,000 in cash flow. SMEs that employ less than 250 staff account for 5.5million (96%) of all UK businesses

The Untapped Potential of Museums and Libraries

Museums and libraries share a common ancestor with technical colleges through the Mechanics’ Institutions of the 19th century which offered workers the opportunity to improve their skills and acquire new scientific and technological knowledge. It’s also worth reminded that their history includes 19th century endowment by wealthy entrepreneurs who wanted to contribute to the education and cultural enrichment of the population across all ages and classes. Clearly with such a historical heritage it seems natural to more fully exploit the benefits that these different organisations can each offer to engender a learning society and a culture of lifelong learning. With the rapid development of the internet and accessing information online there are now many exciting opportunities to develop a powerful networked information society exploiting and networking the respective strengths of libraries, museums and educational institutions. After all each organisation offers excellent learning environments which are further enhanced as they develop more self-directed approaches to learning both formally and informally.

Sadly the real potential and benefits of working together has yet to be fully realised by these sectors. Although it must be said that many museums especially the national and larger regional museums do make substantial educational provision but much more can be done particularly during this period of austerity and retrenchment. An excellent example is Eureka – The National Children’s Museum which is an interactive educational museum for children up to the age of 11 and based in Halifax in West Yorkshire and founded twenty years ago and encourages parental involvement by way of learning through play. Museums and libraries can provide a rich fund of archived information for research – collecting and displaying a wider range of archived material, information and objects than could possibly be present let alone be accommodated in the average classroom. They can provide contexts e.g. historical/social etc, make links with everyday life and the world of work. Students can visit to carry out investigative work for assignments and with the increasing use of the Internet in education in education, most libraries and museums now offer additional knowledge, information and data in a variety of formats to the remote on-line user. The resources available in the libraries and museums are often very extensive and complement what the educational institutions possess and most certainly can add value to the overall experience of the learners. Resources range from the provision of rare and precious objects, practical information, lists of the learning resources that are available, on-line exhibitions, detailed information about their collections and on-line events. Museums and libraries can represent massive and valuable reservoirs of information for students and the wider community. The rapid developments in information and communication technology have created real opportunities to establish interactive experiences for the learners either individually or in teams.

Too often people in the past, libraries and museums have been perceived as boring, dull, distant places and at times exclusive and elitist but surely nothing could be further from the truth – they can be exciting, attractive, add value to students learning and even be inspirational. Libraries and museums possess a wealth of learning resources that could be more fully exploited by educational institutions if stronger strategic partnerships were formed. These could bring about many benefits not only in education but also to the wider community. Even in these times of austerity the key success factor is the effective management of the partnerships which must be conducted in an open and equitable manner in order to bring about value for money and a win- win result for all parties. This means sharing some staff roles across the three types of institutions and in adopting the principle of reciprocity, educational institutions could provide opportunities for staff exchange as well as courses for library and museum staff; indeed shared staff training would be a must.

Such partnerships would provide people whether in study or not with more extensive learning opportunities that would improve and expand their range of skills and quality of life in general and bring subjects and ideas to life.  Key questions need to be addressed including what information resources are required to support the learner and the new models of learning? The staff would also need to become more versatile and adopt multi-disciplinary skills, work more in teams across institutions and manage and utilise the new technologies.   The respective partners could develop extensive integrated networked information systems. This coordinated approach could bring about many benefits and make a major contribution to the effectiveness of learning and teaching in the education and training sectors. The strategic partnership could also forge much stronger links with the community across all age groups and possibly recapture the mechanics’ institutions philosophy and some of the more open-minded Victorian entrepreneurialism!

Nov 2012


Functional Skills and Apprenticeships

Functional skills are back on the agenda and will form part of the new apprenticeship frameworks which were introduced in September 2012. They will comprise applied skills in English, mathematics and communication technology (ICT). The skills can be taken as stand-alone qualifications and will be embedded within certain programmes of study and will eventually become a mandatory component of Apprenticeships in England replacing the equivalent key skills. Functional skills in Apprenticeships are available in:

  • English which will comprise three distinct components namely: speaking, listening and
  • communication; reading; writing.
  • Mathematics – which will comprise three interrelated process skills to be assessed:
  • representing (selecting the mathematics and information required to model a situation); analysing (processing and using mathematics); interpreting and communicating the results of analysis
  • ICT – which will comprise three interrelated skill areas: using ICT systems; finding and selecting information; developing, presenting and communicating information.

The term functionality has been introduced into educational and training jargon. In curriculum development functionality is equally as important as context, (see article on this website), to which it is closely linked especially in the teaching and learning of vocational and technical subjects. The curriculum developers leading this initiative have adopted the term ‘functional subjects’ to ‘represent a set of learning experiences that provide people with skills and abilities in order for them to be more effective in everyday life, the workplace and educational settings’ (QCA).

Functional skills are critically important to enhance and enrich the apprenticeship programmes in order to better prepare the learners to cope with the challenges in work and real- life contexts. They must also be about developing personal, flexibility, self-management, learning, problem solving, working in a team and thinking skills.

This latest version of functional skills follows a succession of attempts to introduce basic, key and generic skills. This latest attempt will present learning providers and learners with a number of new challenges. The key issue, as it always has been, even before the introduction of basic skills is how to make the subject material relevant and interesting to the learner.

An awful lot has been written about this but many of authors of these guides have little direct experience of teaching technical students and often approach the subject in an academic and clinical fashion.  Also many of the current text books can tend to present an academic bias to the subjects. Tutors have had a long and worthy track record of teaching the additional skills, competences and knowledge components required in practically orientated programmes long before these recently defined skills were formally introduced. Teaching the application of mathematics, science and communications to ,say, hairdressing, horticultural, Institute of Meat, construction, painting and decorating students etc can be very challenging – yes I have been there and I am not Wilt!

It must be remembered that many learners can be hostile to these subjects as they often perceive their programme choice as not requiring additional subjects like mathematics, science etc. Also they could have had bad experiences at school with these subjects. So the skill for the teacher has always been to make the subject content interesting and pertinent to the learner.

The key issues in introducing functional skills are self evident and include:

  • Making a particular skill relevant and meaningful to the learner
  • Delivering where possible the topic in real work situations and environments or at least in realistic working environments (RWEs) based on the learning providers’ premises. Simulation has a number of limitations. Actual work places and to a lesser extent RWEs are ideal environments that offer opportunities for learners to develop, practise, transfer and apply these functional skills.
  • The major challenge with the introduction of functional skills is that the context and content must be realistic and derived from the realities of life and the work place and equally important applied to those realities.
  • Learners must gain an understanding of ‘functionality’ both in terms of the ‘how’ and of the ‘why’. Functional skills must involve such elements as reflection, critical thought, reasoning, and problem solving. Process and thinking skills must be at the heart of this development.
  • Maximising learning activity as much as possible on employer premises e.g. achieve a realistic balance between on and off-job activities.
  • The specification for the functional skills must not be too prescriptive in terms of contexts and situations. Tutors should have the freedom and flexibility to reflect relevant contexts.
  • The assessment regimes must also reflect realistic work contexts and not be over-prescriptive. Effective and sustained learning will not be achieved through inflexible pedagogy, simulation or a pre-occupation with testing and assessment.

If managed and delivered in a considered and sympathetic fashion functional skills will add great value to the apprenticeship and other training programmes..

The Challenges of Introducing Environmental Issues into the Skills Agenda

I know it is stating an obvious fact that education and training must play a significant part in addressing the critical issues currently confronting this planet including those associated with the environment. These include energy, food and water shortages and the consequences of global warming, pollution control, land reclamation and over population. Clearly in spite of a number of sceptics and some who are still in denial of these facts many recognise the dangers.  There is a growing consensus that science and technology can provide some of the solutions as well as creating many new jobs and occupations. In spite of the current austerity, recession and high unemployment especially amongst young people this is surely the time to accelerate investment to create the skills to tackle these issues.

Some of the essential challenges and changes that will be required in all sectors of education and training include:

  • The urgent need for greater awareness of the importance of ecological issues
  • New managerial and organisational structures in institutions
  • Fundamental reviews and reforms of the existing curriculum
  • Introduction of multidisciplinary subjects and programmes
  • Higher profile and importance of scientific (both biological and physical), technical and mathematical subjects;  and hence a significant increase in the number studying these subjects
  • Development of a new set of skills that will match and satisfy the occupational needs of these ecological subjects’
  • Move away from the current linear economy to a circular one with a much greater commitment to recycling and hence reduce waste.

New skills will need to be developed and applied to the existing and emerging scientific and technology knowledge base. These changes will present many daunting challenges for education and training institutions that will include radical reviews and reforms in the way they are managed and organised. The curriculum has to be relevant, up to date and fit for purpose which means that it must involve new qualifications and awards for multidisciplinary subjects and more enlightened methods of assessment. This will require fundamental changes to the way subjects are taught and learnt.

The majority of the curriculum in institutions is still located within a collection of conceptual boxes which create constrictive and confining boundaries. Boundaries not only in terms of subject content but also the way the institutions are managed e.g. separate departments, division and faculties. If the challenges are to be tackled effectively these existing structures must change fundamentally. Specialist departments must cooperate and work more closely together and understand holistically the nature of the challenges that confront them. Parochial and historical practices need to be buried in order to achieve an effective set of reviews and reforms.

Environmental and ecological studies will require a more enlightened approach recognising the fusion of key disciplines such as built environment, construction, engineering, management, facilities management, mathematics and the physical and biological sciences. It has to be multidisciplinary and can no longer be boxed into separate subjects or disciplines. An energy technician represents a good example of this multiskilled and multidisciplinary approach. These individuals need to acquire competence, knowledge, skills and understanding to appreciate the scientific and technological aspects of their occupation. In addition the technician must be aware of the legal aspects of pollution control and management as well as energy conservation and management. Therefore the energy technician needs a curriculum and experience that is truly multidisciplinary and utilises fully an institution’s expertise and resources.

One major concern is the continued reluctance of many to pursue courses that involve scientific, technological and mathematical content. Enrolments in courses and programmes have continued to decline over a number of decades and various campaigns to increase enrolments have largely failed. Coupled to this is that colleges and universities have downsized, merged or even closed departments in many technical disciplines e.g. construction, engineering and physical sciences. Also successive governments in this country have operated insensitive funding regimes which discriminate against higher cost lower recruiting technical and practically based subjects preferring instead to fund lower cost and populist subjects.

In addition, as the country lost its manufacturing base young people in particular perceived construction, engineering and science as fields not offering secure careers and that in turn deterred them from studying these disciplines. Therefore if attitudes to the study of scientific and technical subjects are to be encouraged to change it will need to be recognised that part of the strategy to succeed will have to be linked to increasing the capability and capacity of institutions to cater for growth in these scientific, technological and ecologically oriented courses. This would need long term recognition and commitment from successive parliaments.  It will not be a quick fix. A whole series of strategies needs to be introduced including:

  • Comprehensive systems of careers information advice and guidance (CIAG) at all education sectors to encourage students to pursue these courses
  • The  courses and programmes need to receive adequate resources i.e. financial, physical and human
  • More credibility and appropriately qualified and experienced teachers need to be recruited supported with effective CPD programmes
  • Awarding bodies need to create new qualifications and awards – CGLI have already made a good start with their green skills qualifications initiative
  • Establishment a parity of esteem between technical and the so-called academic subjects
  • Produce more highly qualified crafts/trades people, technicians, technologists , and environment scientists

The challenges are immense but if successfully implemented could greatly contribute to tackling one of the major problems facing this country and the world.

First published on the City and Guilds Centre for Skills Development website in Winter 2012.

Youth Matters

One of the most unfortunate consequences of the current global financial crisis is the very high level of youth unemployment particularly in Europe. Sadly the present situation looks like it will persist for some time and already commentators are talking about a lost generation mirroring a similar situation in a number of regions in Britain in the 1980s e.g. North East and South West of England. I had direct experience of that situation in Cornwall and the plethora of short term schemes introduced by the then government most of which failed to create long term solutions. Unfortunately at present one can see a similar scenario developing across many countries in Europe and beyond. Complex and interrelated features become manifest at times of high unemployment including the demographical, financial, and societal and most obviously the type and profile of current employment in the country. Whilst politicians argue about the priorities and sequencing of austerity and growth measures, too often the complex issues associated with the possibility of long term structural unemployment particularly for young people is not given the highest priority. The situation is made more complicated at present as the various global transformations come into even stronger and more significant focus e.g. the emergence of the BRICS economies and the ever accelerating advance of the newer technologies and their applications. Ironically in such times golden opportunities arise to fundamentally review and reform critical factors including the structure of the wealth generating base of a country and its relationship to other world economies.

One issue is clear, that the current financial crisis will take a long time to be resolved possibly a generation! Most certainly the future will be very different and will require radical and new solutions; historical signposts will offer little guidance so new paradigms need to be established. So what will this mean for the education and training for the unemployed, young people and under 25 graduates. Conventional curriculum design and traditional teaching methods will not work in the current climate so the purpose and structure of existing education and training systems need to be fundamentally reviewed and reformed. I will focus on Britain and the education and training of young people but many of the points highlighted may apply in other countries. Very different types of employment will necessarily be anticipated and the education and training of young people must be more aligned to the future trends of commerce, industry and services worldwide and as a result totally new approaches in the curriculum will be required both in terms of its content, delivery and structure. This assumes that the country has developed a well defined strategy for the regeneration of its economy underpinned with effective Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) to monitor the changes both nationally and globally.

The curriculum must be structured to create new skills bases with greater emphasis on flexibility, generic skills, entrepreneurial skills and the recognition of the importance of multi- and cross-skilling within the workforce. For example small and medium sized enterprises will become even more important in the future so the curriculum must fully recognise the essential skills that will be necessary i.e. put simply to prepare young people to be more enterprising, creative and innovative. These skills are not present in the heavily prescribed curricula and only figure in more specific programmes at college and university level. It is essential that these are fully integrated into programmes for all students whether at school, college or university. Themes that are critical and essential for coping with the new demands could include:

  • Business skills  especially at the setting up stage
  • Managing self or lone employment
  • Marketing a small business
  • Financial literacy skills
  • Greater awareness of economics and banking
  • Knowledge of legal issues as it relates to running a business
  • Greater competence in languages of key countries – customers and suppliers
  • Greater awareness and knowledge of other countries’ business, manufacturing and services strengths including cultural aspects
  • Problem solving skills
  • The introduction to philosophy and philosophical concepts that will allow a more critical, logical, pragmatic and reflective view of life and work to be developed.

To be even more effective the new programmes must be supported by vastly improved Careers Information, Advice and Guidance (CIAG) systems. In order to enable a young person to be better prepared for work increased emphasis must be given to work experience/shadowing/sandwich programmes and that employers are more involved at all stages of the education and training process.

Analysis of previous recessions affecting Britain offer few positive examples of major reforms as only too often governments and companies cut back on training and fail to adopt regenerative and effective long term strategies to develop and strengthen the skills of the workforce. Also they are prone to create short term schemes that achieve little or no long term benefit for the young people or the country. Wider societal elements also contribute to problems with the education and training of young people including the obsession with celebrity culture and the possible negative effects of media role models. The increasing desire for instant answers and the resultant tendency to invest less time in learning coupled with a decline in critical analysis as a result of the dependency on the internet can be problematic. But having said that young people are far more confident in exploiting the benefits of the new technologies and if the educational experience on offer recognises that they will be more aligned to the way these technologies impact on both the world of work and the work of the world.

The current situation will present governments and politicians with some major challenges but one aspect is critical and that is that all interested parties should be involved in the reviews and subsequent proposals including employers, the media, educational and training organisations and definitely the young people themselves. The reforms must be radical and fully recognise that the nature of education, training and work will be very different in the future so all parties must be prepared to bury past practices and ideologies in order to create a more promising future for young people. A country that fails to invest in its young people will also fail to succeed in the global economy.

First published on the City and Guilds Centre for Skills Development website-Autumn 2012.

Polytechnic Institutions of London

Some historical background:

Royal Polytechnic Institution (Incorporated 1838)The genesis of the Polytechnic movement was the foundation in 1838 of the Polytechnic Institution located at 309 Regent Street and 5 Cavendish Square – figure opposite. The driving force in its creation was George Cayley (1773-1857) who was a noted inventor accredited with the foundations of aerodynamics and aerial navigation. The Polytechnic opened on 6th August 1838 with exhibitions and demonstrations of printing, optical equipment, power looms etc reflecting the intended practical applications focus of the institution. The building included laboratories and lecture rooms. It received a Royal Charter in 1839 and became known as the Royal Polytechnic Institution. The Polytechnic offered a non-classical, non-university education organised around popular public lectures and research into the rapidly developing technologies of the time. It is important to remember that there was still a great deal of resistance and prejudice among the then traditional universities e.g. Cambridge and Oxford to science and technology. An example of this ridiculous attitude was the vice-chancellor of Cambridge who commented on hearing that Joseph Priestley (discoverer of oxygen) had been appointed as professor of chemistry at Warrington Academy (see biographies on this website) ‘chemistry is not a suitable subject for universities’. The Royal Polytechnic existed for over forty years and was among the few institutions to pioneer technical education.

The Polytechnic Institutions

In 1881 Quintin Hogg (see biography on this website) purchased the buildings occupied by the Royal Polytechnic to develop further his educational work for the “poorer classes”. The new institution became known as the Regent Street Polytechnic and was opened in 1882 and so the Polytechnic movement was born with the Regent Street Polytechnic providing an exemplary model to tackle the problems associated with the education of young people in London. It must be remembered the parlous state of education provision for young people at this time.  The London Polytechnic movement was created at the end of the 19th century to address and tackle some of those deficiencies in the educational and training opportunities for young people who had left school and were working during the day. In 1880 London had three quarters of a million young people between the ages of sixteen and twenty five but less than 2% of that male population and an infinitesimal percentage of those females attended any form of educational institution. The polytechnic movement was remarkable and possibly unique at this time in its intention to combine instruction, social interaction and recreation for its students. They were not to be a place of amusement with a few educational classes added; nor were they educational institutions that provided limited opportunities for recreation. The interplay of these three elements was devised intentionally to address the specific needs of this age group living in deprived areas of London. The moral purpose of these institutions was to steer young people away from crime, alcohol and prostitution. The polytechnic movement owed much to the earlier Mechanics’ Institutions e.g. Birkbeck College represented a direct link with the Mechanics’ Institution movement.

It is to Quintin Hogg and his commitment and pioneering work for the education of working young people and his philanthropy that the London Polytechnic movement was established. It was largely the success of his work that created the foundations for the other London Polytechnics.  But no one individual, however generous, could fund the development of other institutions across the city.

What gave the subsequent Polytechnic movement added impetus to expand and extend over London was the City Parochial Charities Act of 1883. The Act provided for the application of any surpluses to be spent on the following priority areas to improve the physical, social and moral condition of the poorer inhabitants of the Metropolis and specific objectives were:

  • To promote the Education of the poorer inhabitants of the Metropolis by means of technical, secondary or art education, or evening lectures
  • To establish and maintain libraries, museums or art collections
  • To promote and extend provident institutions, and working men’s and women’s institutes
  • To preserve, provide and maintain open spaces, and recreation, or drill grounds
  • And generally to improve the physical, social and moral condition of the poorer inhabitants of the Metropolis.

To gather evidence about the then current state of technical education members of the Commissioners had visited the Regent Street Polytechnic, the People’s Palace* and analysed data and information from the Report of the Royal Commission on Technical Education and the work of the City and Guilds of London Institute (CGLI) (see biographies and history on this website). The success of the Finsbury Technical College also provided useful evidence for the polytechnics structure and management. As a result of their work they proposed a regional development of similar Polytechnics across London in the East, North, North-West, South, South-East, South-West and West the intention being to create a ring of institutions in London. After a great deal of argument and discussion and subsequent refinement of the purpose of institutions the Commissioners issued a schedule for the Institutions stating that the primary object was the promotion of industrial skill, general knowledge, health and well-being of young people belonging to the poorer classes namely:

  • “Instruction in: (i) The general rules and principles of the arts and sciences applicable to any handicraft, trade or business. (ii) The practical application of such general rules and principles in any handicraft, trade or business. (iii) Branches or details of any handicraft, trade or business, facilities for acquiring the knowledge of which cannot be usually obtained in the workshop or other place of business. The Classes and Lectures shall not be designed or arranged so as to be in substitution for practical experience of the workshop or place of business, but so as to be supplementary thereto.
  • Instruction suitable for persons intending to emigrate.
  • Instruction in such branches and subjects of Art, Science, Language, Literature and General knowledge, as may be approved by the Governing Body.
  • Public Lectures or courses of Lectures, musical and other entertainments and exhibitions.
  • Instruction and practice in gymnastics, drill, swimming, and other bodily exercises.
  • Facilities for the formation and meeting of Clubs and Societies.
  • A Library. Museum and Reading Room or Reading Rooms.”

The funds provided by the City Parochial Charities were greatly enhanced from other sources particularly the Livery Companies. For example the Drapers’ Company took over the People’s Palace whilst the Goldsmiths’ Company assumed total responsibility to create and maintain the proposed Goldsmith’ Institution located in Lewisham High Road, New Cross. Also the Clothworkers’ Company gave significant funds to the Northern Polytechnic at Holloway whilst other City Companies assisted in other ways. A number of Polytechnics absorbed existing colleges e.g. City of London College.

In 1903 there were twelve polytechnics institutions and three branches namely:

North of the Thames:

The East London Technical College, Mile End Road, E with its branches, the Bow and Bromley Institute.
The Northern Polytechnic, Holloway, N. (Opened 1896).
The Regent Street Polytechnic, Regent Street, W. (Opened 1882).
The South-West London Polytechnic, Manresa Road, Chelsea, S.W. (Opened 1895).
The John Cass Institute, Jewry Street, EC. (Opened 1899).
The City Polytechnic, comprising:
The Northampton Institute, Clerkenwell, E.C. (Opened 1896)
The Birkbeck College, Bream’s Building, Chancery Lane, E.C.
The City of London College, White Street, Moorfields, E.C.(First opened in 1860)

South of the Thames:

The Battersea Polytechnic, Battersea Park Road, S.W. (opened 1894).
The Borough Polytechnic, Borough Road, S.E. with two branches, the Herold Institute, Bermondsey, S.E., and the Norwood Institute, Knight’s Hill, S.E. (Opened 1892).
The Goldsmiths’ Institute, Lewisham High Road, New Cross, S.E. (Opened 1891).
The Woolwich Polytechnic, William Street, Woolwich, S.E.  (Opened 1891).

The Polytechnics addressed the needs of the apprentice and artisan including the architects’ drawing-clerks. They developed specialised faculties for their local needs. For example the Northampton Institute established provision for metal-work and technical optics; the Borough Polytechnic programmes for builders, plumbers and bakery, whilst the John Cass Institute developed provision in metallurgy. Woolwich Polytechnic provided scientific instruction to the workers at the Arsenal. Battersea Polytechnic developed engineering for the London and South West Railway. Chelsea Polytechnic focused on provision for commercial and clerical work and Regent Street Polytechnic offered provision in art, commerce, science and trade. Between them the Polytechnics offered a very wide range of courses ranging from bookbinding, building trades, cabinet making and furniture trades, carriage making, carpentry and joinery, goldsmiths/silversmiths, house painting and decorating, metal plate working, plumbing, printing, and wheelwrights’ work as well as introducing provision for women covering book-keeping, domestic economy subjects, languages, and shorthand.

Attached to several of the polytechnics were eight other special schools catering for example for girls wishing to study domestic economy subjects. Therefore the polytechnics offered a wide range of subjects at different levels. So it was possible for young people after passing the Public Elementary School fifth grade to remain in the polytechnic day school up to sixteen or seventeen; on leaving school at any age, continue education in any branch of study, in either evening or day classes; to prepare either for manual labour, commerce and the higher levels of technical education. Also it was possible to undertake a classical curriculum similar to that of a university, to qualify for membership of the professional association or take a London degree and finally to specialise in post-graduate investigation or research in various areas of art, literature or science.

The Polytechnic Institutes of London proved a great success and developed parallel to similar technical institutions across Britain and contributed to the development of technical and commercial education and training in the country. The institutions underwent many name changes merging with other institutions and a number form part of the modern universities in London.

*Peoples Palace was started in the East End of London after the publication of Walter Besant’s ‘All Sorts and Conditions of Men’  as a place of education and recreation initially providing day and evening classes in the trades and industrial occupations. Classes in mechanical, electrical engineering, chemistry, science and art were offered as well as social and other activities. The Palace then became the East London Technical College and is now part of London University.


The London ‘Polytechnic’ title had no connection with institutions so named in mainland Europe e.g. France, Germany and Switzerland. The name was carried over from the George Cayley Royal Polytechnic when Quintin Hogg purchased the premises after the Royal Polytechnic went bankrupt.

A useful definition of Polytechnic is an institution teaching many art and technical subjects up to and including degree level and offering a number of modes of attendance e.g. full and part-time.

Useful References:

Webb. S. London Education’. Longmans, Green and Co. 1904.
Millis. C. T. ‘Technical Education. Its Development and Aims’. Edward Arnold. 1925.
Sadler. M. E. Continuation Schools in England and Elsewhere’. Manchester University Press. 1907.

Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) and Education

Social theorist, writer, political campaigner and cited as the first female sociologist.

Harriet MartineauI came across this remarkable woman in the biography of Charles Knight.

She wrote for the publications of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK see biographies on this website). Born in Norwich where her father was a manufacturer and her mother held very strong views on female propriety and behaviour. The family were of Huguenot decent and held Unitarian views. Harriet suffered ill health most of her life. She began to write from an early age for the Unitarian publication ‘the Monthly Repository’ but after the age of 27 she was able to move away from her mother’s influence and strict discipline and began to expand her writing to wider themes which she would continue to her death. Her first publications were focused on political and economic issues including a fictional tutorial on a number of key political economists such as Jeremy Bentham, Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo. Her publications soon gained recognition and wide acclaim winning a number of prizes from the Unitarian Association.

I will focus on her work in education but she was a prolific write and commentator on issues ranging from America, children, education, feminism, household education, marriage, race relations and religion. Her writings were both seminal and eclectic in nature and are still relevant today. After gaining success she moved to London where politicians and civil servants sought her advice on a wide range of issues both political and cultural. She also maintained a wide circle of friends including Charles Babbage, Henry Brougham, Thomas Carlyle, Charles Darwin, George Elliot, Charles Knight, Charles Lyell, Thomas Malthus and John Stuart Mill. She translated and condensed Auguste Comte’s six volume ‘Cours de Philosophie Positive’ into two volumes entitled ‘The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte’ – a version which Comte himself recommended to his students over his own!

Harriet Martineau displayed a great interest in education and wrote her first article on education at the age of 21. She argued education was a vital element throughout life and its universal implementation would contribute to a better society emphasising both the intellectual and physical aspects of early and lifelong education. Education would make people better employees, employers and parents. She also strongly advocated that employers should expect that prospective employees should have had educational opportunities prior to employment and that employers should provide appropriate industrial education for all their employees, a view which aligned with those of Robert Owen. A true visionary, she stressed the importance of lifelong learning, strongly advocating vocational education as well as intellectual training for all children from all classes of society. She was a passionate advocate for girls’ and women’s education emphasising skill acquisition for preparation for work and argued for the removal of all barriers to further and higher education and employment for women.
She was very supportive of:


  • A national system of education for the working class
  • Industrial training and a curriculum that included the 3 Rs, industrial and manual training
  • A more enlightened and freer curriculum in infant schools with less emphasis on rote learning and didacticism
  • The creation of working women’s colleges that would better prepare women for vocational occupations with better pay
  • The establishment of general education provision for women wishing to pursue self-improvement programmes
  • Reform of public schools’ endowments and charitable trusts
  • The extension of the remit for the Taunton Commission (1864-67) to include female education
  • She expressed her disapproval of:
  • The monitorial system and rote learning
  • The same tests for girls when they were required to spend a disproportionate time was spent on domestic subjects when compared with boys
  • Corporal punishment
  • Endowments that were exclusively for boys e.g. for entry to Christ’s Hospital
  • The public school system

As one can see her views, beliefs and opinions were truly challenging and insightful, reflecting the fragmented nature of Victorian society at the time and were seen by many at the time and even today as subversive. That they are seen as still relevant today reflects that many of fundamental issues are yet to be resolved. She was instrumental in creating the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women (SPEW-an unfortunate acronym which was helpfully changed later) after writing an article in the Edinburgh Review. She spent her later life in the Lake District where she taught at the local Mechanics’ Institution, a movement she greatly admired and supported. At one time she was an active member of the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society.
Weiner Gaby. Umea University, Sweden. ‘Harriet Martineau on Education’. An excellent paper presented at Birmingham University on 18th October 2004.
Pichanick, Valerie. ‘Harriet Martineau, The Woman and Her Work, 1802-76’. University of Michigan Press.
Harriet Martineau work with Charkes Knight is described in ‘Charles Knight Educator, Publisher, Writer’ by Valerie Gray. ISBN-10: 0 7546 5219X. Ashgate. 2006.

Great Engineers and Pioneers and their Education

Updated November 2016.

Trained men and apprentices contributed greatly to the Industrial Revolution but it must be remembered that the majority never had never studied at university or enjoyed any significant period in a school education. The majority of these remarkable individuals came through the apprenticeship route, taught themselves or gained their experience in the work place. Many possessed a natural innate ability to solve engineering problems. The Industrial Revolution owed little to education systems or to direct action from the state. It is also interesting to note how many of these individuals were from Scotland.

A good example is the development of machine tools. The key players were Joseph Bramah, Joseph Clements, Henry Maudslay, William Muir, Richard Roberts and Joseph Whitworth . All started as manual workers but made their engineering contribution through the application of geometry, a working knowledge of metals, and the gradual improvement in precision, accuracy and replication of machine tools.
In addition people like Telford and Maudslay also trained many individuals through apprenticeships who then went on to make their own discoveries and inventions including Joseph Clement, Joseph Whitworth, Richard Roberts and James Nasmyth.
The list is by no means complete and some current entries are incomplete but I intend to add more detail as my researches continue.

Discoveries/Other Achievements
Education/Training (if known) and/or occupation
 John Anderson
Scottish educator. Established weekly classes for mechanics/artizans basis of the Mechanics’ Institutions. The Andersonian/Anderson Institution created after his death for which he left money in his will. (See biography on this website).
Educated at Glasgow University.
 John Astbury
Pioneering potter and researcher.
 August Applegath
 Printer improved the steam-powered flat-bed press.
Richard Arkwright
Industrialist and inventor. Automatic spinning frame (1769)
Some times referred to as the Father of the Industrial Revolution.
Apprenticeship but mainly self taught. Started a successful career as a barber specialising in dyeing hair. Became interested in spinning and his frame invention  was financially supported by Strutt and Need a Nottingham manufacturer.
 Henry Edward Armstrong 1847-1937  Chemist and strong advocate for improvements to science teaching more focussed on investigation and exploration.  Royal College of Chemistry and Leipzig University. Professor of Chemistry at Finsbury Technical College.
William Armstrong
Industrialist and inventor. Hydraulic engines, cranes  and swing bridges and then ordnance manufacture
Articled solicitor but turned to engineering
 William Arrol
Scottish engineer. Built viaducts and railways.
 Apprenticed blacksmith. Studied mechanics and hydraulics at night school.
 Joseph Aspdin
Bricklayer and inventor. patented Portland cement.
Stonemason by trade.
 William Edward Ayrton
Educator, engineer and inventor
 Studied mathematics at University College, London. (see biography on this website).
Charles Babbage
Mathematician/Inventor /writer including calculating machines/founder of Royal Statistical Society, Astronomical Society and the British Association/ophthalmoscope/railway signals
Cambridge university
 John Fredrick La Trobe
 Water engineer
Henry Bell
Engineer. Steam boats – first passenger-carrying steamboat in European waters.
Apprenticeship/millwright/stone mason/carpenter
 Patrick Bell
 Invented the first successful reaping machine
 Trained as a clergyman.
Henry Bessemer
Pioneer metallurgist, military ordnance, inventor and business man. Bessemer steel converter 1756
Self taught and learnt metallurgy in his father’s foundry
 Edward John Bevan
English industrial chemist. Patented the viscose process for rayon manufacture.
Studied at Owens College, Manchester.
William Bickford
Inventor. Miner’s safety fuse (1831)
Apprenticeship/leather worker
J G Bodmer
Inventor. Pioneer of the assembly line. Major contributions to a wide range of machines using steam, water to drive textile mills armaments and locomotives. Founded the Chorlton Mills in Manchester
Swiss born and a skilled mechanical engineer
Matthew Boulton
Inventor. Steam engine technology. Manufactured many metal products including buttons, coins, and clocks. With James Watt opened a steam-engine factory in Birmingham. Developed steam-powered coin minting machine.
 Local grammar school thenan academy in Deritend, Birmingham. Brilliant business person who factory offered many good opportunities to apprentices and employees. Worked closely with James Watt
Joseph Bramah
Inventor. Water closet (1778)/Safety locks (unpickable/hydraulic press/fire engine and a beer machine for use in pubs. Also invented a machine for printing bank notes
Apprenticeship to village carpenter. Became a cabinetmaker in London.  He went on to train many other mechanics and inventors including one of the first proposals to create a screw-propeller.
 Thomas Brassey
English engineer. Designed and built viaducts and railways.
Articled as a land surveyor.
James Brindley
Engineer and canal builder e.g. Trent and the Barton aqueduct; discovered the process of puddle clay linings to canals. Mersey canal started in 1766
Apprenticeship as a millwright and self taught but possessed an instinctive ability for engineering.
 Robert Brown
 Scottish botanist discovered the ‘Brownian motion effect’ and a plant hunter.
Educated at Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Engineer and inventor. Railway/ship engineering/bridge and tunnel building
Attended boarding school then to a school in France (College of Caen) and the Lycee Henri Quatre in Paris and gained valuable work experience with Maudslay and Son and Field.
 Henry Brunner
 Educated at father’s school – then Zurich Polytechnic. Became chief chemist at John Hutchinson’s Works.
 Edwin Beard Budding
 Inventor of the lawn mower.
 Mary Carpenter
 English educationalist and reformer. Founded a ragged schools.
Trained as a teacher.
Edmund Cartwright
Inventor. Power- loom (1787)/Wool-combing machine
Oxford – trained at Wakefield and Oxford for the church. Became interested in weaving and with other craftsmen developed the power-loom.
Henry Cavendish
Pioneering investigator in electricity, discovered hydrogen. Torsion balance to determine the mean density of the earth
Cambridge but left without a degree. Conducted research very much alone. Cavendish Laboratory established in 1871 in his honour.
 George Cayley
Amateur scientist and aviation pioneer. Developed the first successful glider.
 Tutored privately by George Walker.
 William Chapman
Canal engineer.
 Charles Chubb
English locksmith/business man. Improved ‘detector locks’ Ran a hardware business.
 Samuel Clegg
English inventor. Worked with William Murdock/Murdoch on gas illuminations systems. Invented a number od appliances for gas fittings e.g. meters, valves etc.
Apprenticed at Matthew Boulton and James Watt works. Taught by John Dalton.
 Dugald Clerk
 Scottish Mechanical engineer. Gas engine designer.
 Studied at Anderson’s College, Glasgow and Leeds to because a chemical engineer.
John Clement
Invented the metal-plning machine and improved lathe design. Engineer to Charles Babbage
Attended a local village school for a short period. Apprenticed thatcher and slater.Later worked for Bramah Maudslay
 Joseph Clement
A tool maker. Worked with Joseph Braham at Henry Maudslay’s factory. Improved  engineering standards by inventing screw threads e.g. a planning machine patented in 1825. and a constant speed lathe which was patented in 1827.
 Apprenticed tool maker.
 William Congreve
English scientist. Controller at Woolwich Laboratory. Invented the ‘Congreve rocket’.
 Educated at the Woolwich Academy.
 William Cookworthy.
Henry Cort
Navy agent and Inventor e.g. the Cort process converting pig iron into wrought iron patented in 1783/84
Naval agent/clerk where he managed a forge in Gosport Hampshire where is researched processes and invented the puddling process.
 Thomas Russell Crampton
English engineer. Designer of locomotives and installed the first cross channel cable.
Richard Crawshay
Introduced Cort’s puddling process.
 James Croll
Scottish physicist and geologist. Pioneer in climate science and geology.
 Elementary school-self taught. Millwright, keeper at the museum of Anderson’s College.
Samuel Crompton
Improved the Spinning Mule (1779) which was across between Hargreaves spinning jenny and Arkwright’s water frame.
Well educated but with no mechanical training largely self-taught
 Joseph Crosfield
 Soap and chemical manufacturer in Warrington.
 Quaker education – then apprenticed as a druggist and chemist in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
William Cubitt
Civil engineer. Canal/railways. Invented the treadmill and involved in the construction of the Great Exhibition Hall 0f 1851.
Apprenticeship worked as a miller, cabinet- maker and a millwright until 1821 when he went to Ransome’s factory near Ipswich.
 John Curr.
 Railway/tram engineer.
 David Dale
Scottish industrialist and philanthropist. Successful line business. Employed hundreds of pauper children.
 Apprenticed to a weaver.
John Dalton
Atomic theory (1808), scientific experimenter invented the hygrometer. Tutor at New College Manchester in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy.
Basic school education (Quaker).
No formal education.
 Abraham Darby
English iron master. Founded the Bristol Iron Company. His son A. Darby 2 (1711-1763) and his grandson 3 A. Darby (1750-1791) followed him in the iron industry. Darby 3 built the world’s first iron bridge in 1779. Converts furnace to smelt iron with coke instead of charcoal.
Erasmus Darwin
Physician. Founded the Derby Philosophical Society/Lunar Society member
 John Davenport.
Potter and manufacturer.
 Humphry Davy
 Chemist and physicist. Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution. Discovered potassium and sodium and established the science of electro-chemistry.
 Penzance Grammar School then apprenticed to a surgeon-apothecary.
 Henry Deacon
 Chemist and Industrialist. Invented apparatus for grinding and smoothing glass.
 Quaker education then apprenticed to a local engineering group Galloway and Sons and the Nasmyth, Gaskell and Company.
 James Dewar
Scottish chemist/physicist. Invented the Dewar flask and discovered cordite.
Educated at Edinburgh University.
 Bryan Donkin
English engineer and inventor. Developed automated paper making machines. Patented rotary printing machine. Improved food preserving techniques.
Apprenticed as a mechanic.
 Thomas Drummond
Engineer and surveyor. Invented LIMELIGHT known as Drummond light. Improved the heliostat used in surveying.
 George R Elkington.
Inventor pioneered electroplating. later opened a copper-smelting works in South Wales.
 Apprenticed at a Birmingham small arms factory
 William Fairburn
 Scottish civil engineer, structural engineer, railways and shipbuilder. Invented steam excavator and sausage making machines.
 Apprenticed as a millwright in Newcastle upon Tyne. Befriended G. Stephenson.
Michael Faraday
Physicist and chemist. Pioneering electrical engineer;  invented amongst other items the electric motor, transformer and the dynamo. Director of Chemical Laboratory Royal Institution.
Self-taught apprenticed to a book binder. Worked with Humphry Davy and succeeded Davys chair of chemistry at the Royal Institution famous for the Christmas lectures
 Samuel fellows
Framework knitter and textile manufacturer and researcher.
 James David Forbes
 Scottish physicist and glaciologist.
Self-taught and then entered Edinburgh University.
 William Frankland
 Brilliant chemist
 Lancaster Royal Grammar School then apprenticed as a druggist in Lancaster – then assistant at the chemical laboratory of the British Geological Society (Lyon Playfair was director (see biography on this website)). Marburg and Giessen.
 Holbrook Gaskell
 Educated at private school and then apprenticed clerk in the Yates, Cox Company – an iron merchant and nail makers. Formed a partnership with James Nasmyth.
 Holbrook Gaskell (2)
 Chemical industry
 Educated at Owen’s College Manchester
 Holbrook Gaskell (3)
 Chemical industry
 William Gossage
 Chemical manufacture- soap. Patented an alarm devise which could be attached to a watch or clock
 Apprenticed to his uncle as a druggist and chemist – studied chemistry and French.
 James Henry Greathead
 Inventor – born South Africa. Designed the ‘Greathead shield’ used in drilling tunnels and subways.
 Apprenticed as a civil engineer.
 Samuel Greg
Irish man after moving to England built the Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire. He established a small school within the factory complex. The mill is now a fascinating museum.  Active in the Mechanics’ Institution movement.
James Hargreaves/Hargraves
Inventor. Spinning loom (1764)
Little formal education/self-taught. Worked as a weaver and carpenter.
 Thomas Hancock.
Rubber engineer and researcher.
 Joseph Hall 1789-1862. Iron founder and experimenter.
John Harrison
Inventor and horologist. Clocks/Chronometer. Invented the gridiron pendulum and the remontoir escapement.
Little formal education/self-taught
 Thomas Hawksley
Water engineer.
 Apprenticed to an architect.
 William Hedley.
Railway engineer.
John Heathcoat
Inventor of a lace, ribbon and net –making machine
Apprenticeship (Knitting machines)
 Alfred Holt
 Engineer, ship owner and merchant.
 Robert Hunt

Government School of Mines and Experimental Physics .

No formal education. Apprenticed to doctor in London.
 John Hutchinson
 Chemist and Industrialist.
 Educated in Paris.
 William Jessop
 English civil engineer. Canal and railways
 Pupil of John Smeaton.
 James Prescott Joule
Physicist and researcher . Thermodynamics.
 Private tutor and self-taught.
John Kay
Inventor of machines including the fly or flying shuttle. Reed-maker for the weaving industry. Invented a number of machines to improve the weaving processes. Fly/Flying shuttle (1738).
Educated in France
James Keir
Assisted Priestley in experiments/Chemical research. Lunar Society member.
Edinburgh High School and University where he studied medicine.
 William Lever
 Industrialist and politician. Founded a soap and cleaning manufacturer Lever Brothers.
 Educated in Bolton at Bolton Church Institute then worked in family grocery business.
 Joseph Locke
English railway engineer.
Articled to George Stephenson.
 Charles Macintoch
Scottish industrial chemist and inventor. Patented processes for waterproofing rubber.
Educated in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
 Kirkpatrick Macmillan
Scottish inventor. Credited with the first tricycle and bicycle – pedal driven.
 Farm worker, coachman and blacksmith.
 William Mather
 Industrialist and politician. Great advocate for education Chairman of Mather and Platt (Ironworking).
 Educated privately then at Owen’s College/Manchester University
John McAdam
Pioneer road designer and builder
Wealthy individual who invested his own money in improving road design and building – process he invent named after him ‘roads were macadamised’
William McNaught
Mechanical engineer and inventor. Compound steam engine (1845).
Trained as a marine engineer/Attended Andersonian/Anderson’s Institution
 Robert Mallet
A brilliant and versatile Irish geophysicist, civil engineer and inventor. See as the founder of the science of seismology. Editor of the ‘Practical Mechanics Journal’ between 1861 and 1867, contributor to ‘The Engineer’ and has many patents to his name.
 Attended Trinity College Dublin
 John Marshall
 Improved linen manufacturing techniques
Henry Maudslay
Engineer and inventor. Machine tools e.g. table-engine 1807. Patents for calico printing, small steam engines and the differential for lathes. Trained a number of brilliant toolmakers including Joseph Clement, Richard Roberts and Joseph Whitworth.
Apprenticeship (Blacksmiths) but did not serve the full 7 years but was taken on by Joseph Bramah for 9 years gaining valuable experience of engineering and manufacturing processes.
 John Mercer
English chemist specialised in dyes. Discovered processes associated with such materials as cotton and calico.
 Self taught.
Jack Metcalf
Engineer. Pioneer  road-building
No formal training. A truly remarkable individual totally blind since the age of 6 Possessed an inexplicable 6th sense and talent. He went on to design and build roads in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Derbyshire e.g. Macclesfield-Chapel-en-le-Frith and Buxton -Whaley Bridge. Over 180 miles of roads stand to his genius
William Murdock/Murdoch
Engineer. Gas lighting/steam coach/Lunar Society
Initially worked with father as a millwright. Gained further experience with Boulton and Watts factory i.e. learnt on the job
Matthew Murray
Mechanical engineer and inventor. Yarn manufacture. Improved the design of the steam engine and flax-spinning machine.
Apprenticeship (Blacksmith). Improved the design of the steam engine as well as developing textile machinery
 David Mushet
Scottish iron master. Improved the efficiency of iron/steel smelting processes.
James Muspratt
Chemist and industrialist. Chemical industries alkali manufacturer using the Leblanc process for the first time in England.
Apprenticeship (Druggist). Established a chemical factory with Thomas Abbott.
 Robert Napier
A brilliant marine engineer established an engineering business in Glasgow in 1815. Designed engines for boats including for one called the Leven. Developed the ship building yard at Govan and continued to build hips for companies such as P and O and the navy.
James Nasmyth
Engineer. Machine tools e.g. steam hammer 1839 and the steam pile driver which revolutionised the construction of bridges. Also a planning machine and a hydraulic punching machine. Founded the Bridgewater Foundry at Patricroft.
Attended Edinburgh High School for 3 years but left at 12. Attended evening classes at Edinburgh School of Arts (really a technical college) his father also helped with his education. In addition he continued to teach himself. He went to work with Maudslay and Sons and Field and gained valuable experience.
James Neilson
Engineer. Blast furnace in steel manufacture/Founded the Glasgow Gas Workmen’s Institution (1821)
Little formal education/self taught
Thomas Newcomen
Inventor. Steam engine design/First efficient atmospheric steam engine. Worked with Thomas Savery.
Blacksmith/Ironmonger worked with Thomas Savery
Thomas Percival
Significant figure in the Manchester Lit and Phil movement
Warrington Dissenting Academy/Edinburgh and Leyden gaining a MD.
William Perkin
Chemist. Initially researched synthesising coal-tar but then moved to textile dyes creating a number of synthetic dyes. Discoverer of aniline dyes.
City of London School. Royal College of Chemistry studied and worked with August Hofmann
William Pilkington
Industrialist. Glass making
Left school at 18
Lyon Playfair
Chemist/technical education advocate and served on many committees including those on scientific and technical education. Professor of Chemistry Royal Institution and Professor of Chemistry applied to Arts and Agriculture at the School of Mines.
St Andrews; Andersonian Institute: Giessen University Germany
Joseph Priestley
Chemist and clergyman. Discovered oxygen and researched electrical science/Lunar Society member. Tutor at Warrington Academy and New College Hackney.
Grammar school/home tuition/Daventry Dissenting Academy
 William Radcliffe
Cotton manufacturer and inventor.
Jesse Ramsden
Instrument maker e.g. screw cutting lathe 1770/dividing engine 1775. Instruments used in mathematics and astronomical research
Apprenticeship in instrument making.
 Robert Ransome
Opened a small iron works in Norwich and obtained a patent for tempering cast-iron ploughshares. Helped to standardise the parts of ploughs and other agricultural  machines. He went on to open a factory in Ipswich which still continues today.
 John Urpeth Restrick
 Engineer and inventor.
Richard Roberts
Mechanical engineer and inventor. Invented a screw-cutting machine, gas meter and planning machines used in spinning machinery. Invented a number of spinning machines and railway locomotives.
Worked initially in a quarry as a labourer. Apprenticed and pupil of Henry Maudslay after running away from recruiting sergeants
 John Roebuck
 English inventor. Improved refining methods of precious metals. Founded the Carron Foundry.
Educated at Edinburgh and Leyden.
Benjamin Rumford
Scientist and administrator. Investigator of energy/Invented the shadow photometer and introduced the concept of the standard candle/Technical education/Royal Institution
School/Apprenticeship/Harvard University
 John Scott Russell
  Canal engineer
 Titus Salt.
 Wool manufacturer and business person.
Thomas Savery
Inventor and military engineer. Invented the paddle system on boats. Invented the first practical steam engine in 1698 which was improved by Thomas Newcomen.
Military engineer
Samuel Seaward
Cranes, dredgers, swing bridges and many other inventions
A pupil of Henry Maudslay
John Smeaton
Civil engineer. Researched the mechanics of waterwheels and windmills. Lighthouse design e.g. Eddystone. Improved the Newcomen atmospheric steam engine. Founder of civil engineering profession.
School/Apprenticeship. Worked as a mathematical-instrument maker.
 Josiah Spode
 A master potter and managed factory in Stoke-on Trent. Researched methods of making porcelain. A pioneer in the pottery industry.
George Stephenson
Railway engineer. Steam locomotives
Evening classes three nights a week paying 4 pence a week. Began as a colliery engine-wright. Gained direct work experience in mining engineering /Apprenticeship
Robert Stephenson
Mechanical and structural engineer. Steam locomotive design/bridges
Self-taught with help from his father George. Attended a village school and then his father sent him to a private school and then apprenticed at Killingworth Colliery which he did not complete but then gained valuable experience in railway engineering.
Jedediah Strutt
Knitting machines worked with Richard Arkwright. Established a hosiery business in Derby. Built a number of mills and provided homes for his workers.
Apprenticed millwright . largely self taught.
 Joseph Wilson Swan
 Chemist and physicist. Inventor of improved electric lights.
 Apprenticed to druggist
 William Symington
Scottish engineer and inventor. Patented engines for road locomotion and steam boats.
Mechanic at Wanlockhead mine.
Thomas Telford
Civil engineer. Canal/road engineer e.g. Caledonian canal started in 1804. Innovative Aqueduct and bridge design and construction.
Attended a local parish school. Apprenticeship (Stonemason) Langholm and self taught.
Charles Tennant
Chemist and industrialist. Textiles/Dying/bleaching
Studied at a local school then apprenticeship as a silk weaver
 Sidney Gilchrist Thomas
 Inventor discovered how to separate phosphorus from iron in the Bessemer Converter.
 Self-taught and attended Birkbeck Institute.
 Robert Wilson Thomson
 Scottish inventor of the pneumatic tyre. Also made solid tyres for road steamers.
Richard Trevithick
Engineer and inventor. Steam engine (High-pressure steam engine 1800
Attended a local school but largely self taught and became a mining engineer
Jethro Tull
Agriculturalist. Seed drill (1701)/Introduction of improved farming methods
Oxford university
James Watt
Engineer and inventor. Steam engine design/Lunar Society. Carried out surveys for canals and harbours.
Taught by mother then some formal schooling-Greenock Grammar School and eventually gained experience as an instrument maker at Glasgow University. A mechanical genius who was very versatile.
Josiah Wedgewood
Chemist specialising in pottery/Lunar Society
Self educated/Apprenticeship (Pottery/thrower) but because of ill health broke the indenture and experimented with decorations, clay types and furnace technology.
 Charles Wheatstone
 Physicist involved in telegraphy with William Cooke (1806-1879).
Joseph Whitworth
Engineer and inventor. Machine tools/Screw threads. Planing machines, a power- driven self-acting machine and measuring machines. Established the Whitworth scholarships.
Attended his father’s school then as a boarder at a private school at Idle near Leeds but left at 14. Apprenticeship (Cotton spinning) and gained valuable work experience in Manchester and London engineering companies including the Maudslay workshops
John Wilkinson
Ironworker and inventor. Boring machine
Learnt working at his father’s side.
 Arthur Woolfe
1766-1837 .
 Improved the Watt steam engine





The Academic vs. Vocational Debate Revisited

The UNESCO Convention describes vocational education and training as:

  • “All forms and levels of the education process involving, in addition to general knowledge,
  • The study of technologies and related sciences
  • The acquisition of practical skills. Know-how, attitudes and understanding relating to occupations in the various sectors of economic and social life”

I believe this description states the true value of vocational qualifications and occupations. It is inclusive of all vocational disciplines and levels. It conveys the importance of competence/capability, generic and specialised skills, performance, problem solving and understanding. But for a number of reasons the situation in reality is very different, as this viewpoint will try and explain.

The history of technical and commercial education and training on this website identified and described the issues that have bedevilled the debates associated with academic and vocational education and training and the related qualifications and awards. In spite of a number of reviews over decades little has changed and the qualification system has continued to be dominated by the so-called gold standards of ‘A’ levels and full-time honours degrees. These qualifications have been protected by successive governments whilst technical, professional and vocational qualifications have been subjected to superficial periodic reviews and reforms that did not resolve the fundamental issues associated with these qualifications. These reforms have still not created a parity of esteem between the general/academic and vocational qualifications or even begun to counter/neutralise the negative perception of vocationally orientated qualifications and awards. The negative perception has deeply embedded cultural and historical roots as a result of the class structure. British education system like so much is driven be snobbery and class divisions.

One of the reasons is the debate is made more complicated by the way the word vocational is selectively perceived by people in spite of the description given above. Vocational qualifications and their associated occupations are perceived through a wide spectrum of interpretation. For example finance, law and medicine are seen as high status professions and involve study at degree level. Whilst other vocational occupations and their associated qualifications like automobile mechanics, hairdressing and plumbing are perceived as second class or of a lower status.
A number of factors can be identified that have created this wide distinction and the negative perception and attitude towards many technical, commercial and vocational education and training programmes, qualifications and occupations. These include reputation, understanding and relevance.

There is a strong correlation in this country between the status and reputation of vocational education and training and what occupation the learner is pursuing i.e. it is a social class/status issue reflecting the continuing presence and influence of social class distinctions. Although as stated above some vocational programmes are seen as being of high status, craft and trade professions are perceived as low status which are often lowly paid and part-time. Even when society places a higher status on some vocational occupations e.g. nursing and teaching these are not fully valued, recognised or well paid.

The persistence of inaccurately informed attitudes is fed in the education system initially by poor careers information, advice and guidance or that which does not counter the prevailing prejudices within society. Those in positions of influence and power in education have inevitably little or no direct experience of these vocational areas having come through the traditional academic route i.e. GCE’A’ level /degree and then direct into education. In fact the vocational education and training system is seen by all the key players and even the learners themselves as confusing because:

  • Teachers are often unable to provide professionally informed advice and guidance to the learners.
  • Employers experience difficulties in assessing the value of the multitude of vocational qualifications that exist and too often experience problems gauging the applicants ability and employment potential
  • Parents who continue to strongly influence their children’s choice and are often captives of their own educational background
  • College and University admission tutors experience problems trying to map the so-called equivalence of the multitude of vocational qualifications
  • The learners often have insufficient access to impartial, up to date and informed information, advice and guidance about courses and careers
  • There is little recognition that many vocational qualifications can be as economically rewarding as academic awards and more aptly lend themselves to developing one’s own business – these qualifications possess relevance


    The false perception that these lowly viewed vocations do not include knowledge and cognition aspects – there is a misapprehension that the manual/physical aspects of the job over-ride the intellectual/cerebral and many sadly still imagine that understanding, cognitive and cerebral aspects are marginal and it’s all about brawn over brain! Hence they are lowly valued vocations.

The situation has not been helped by the ever changing nature of the vocational qualifications themselves when compared with the academic qualifications. The latter have remained relatively unchanged for many decades. Another element that has held back any major reform of all qualifications is the obsession with curriculum frameworks and the concept of distinct qualification and occupational pathways or routes. Over the recent past we have had academic/general, general vocational, vocational, work-based etc qualifications and frameworks. This approach surely reinforces the perceived hierarchy of qualification and occupations and has in turn given rise to a plethora of terms e.g. craft, trade, operative, technician, technologist, professional and chartered et al.

Also there is a multitude of vocational qualifications that have been subjected to numerous reforms and this in turn has caused confusion and uncertainty as to their value to employers and other stake holders and end users. Interesting to note there are more HE degree titles than vocational qualifications but this is never highlighted in the debates!

Relevance is a very useful concept when describing vocational qualifications that are lowly perceived as they do more readily lend themselves to setting up one’s own business and offer greater opportunities to earn a living post-qualification. Sadly the usefulness of qualifications to the individual and the idea of constantly renewed economy through positive attitudes and values in relation to vocationalism hardly gets a look-in. Those who take the vocational route are tacitly or openly regarded as ‘uncultured’ -a classic response in a class ridden society!

Final comment
The major and fundamental issues are about the perception by society coupled with the ignorance, misunderstandings and inherent problems associated with vocational education and training qualifications and occupations. Essentially it is the issues associated with the social status of the occupations that the students have prepared and studied for.