Junior Technical Schools (JTS)

Background and Scene Setting.
The Junior Technical School (JTS) movement began in the early 20th century. During the 19th century there had been previous attempts to establish similar institutions of technical and commercial education and instruction. For example the Privy Council Committee on Education as early as 1840 had advocated the creation of industrial schools and even provided grant funding for their establishment and operation. In 1860 these schools were transferred to the Home Office to provide manual and technical instruction (I deliberately use instruction as opposed to education as it was the widely accepted expression at the time) for young offenders. This unfortunately created the perception that such subjects were closely associated with crime and were intended for correction and the instilling of discipline. As mentioned in the history of technical education on the website ordinary elementary schools were not encouraged to offer practical subjects following the Revised Code of 1862. But the concerns about the parlous state of scientific and technical instruction following the Great Exhibition and the growing awareness that Britain was performing badly compared with other countries on the continent and America brought about a few positive developments.
The Science and Art Department (SAD) was created in 1853, and after this date the development of examinations for schools and the introduction of the payment by results regime helped to raise the profile of technical instruction. Gradually these developments helped to establish a state system of education. However the government continued to be reluctant to impose strict requirements on the school boards and the 1889 Technical Instruction Act again avoided any compulsion on county councils in regard to technical and manual instruction. Again the Act was permissive in nature and not mandatory.

The addresses and writings of such people as Henry Armstrong, Thomas Huxley and Philip Magnus on scientific and technical instruction also contributed in raising the importance of these subjects (see biographies on the website). In 1870 approximately 800 schools were receiving funding, offering courses and examinations to over 34,000 pupils. Gradually manual training and domestic economy subjects were introduced in elementary schools. The City and Guilds of London institute (CGLI) and the School Board for London supported by the Drapers Company brought about a change in the Code and that then allowed the introduction of manual training and instruction in elementary day schools. As a result the grant aid paid by the Science and Art Department was allowed for such instruction and towards which School Board rates could be spent. In 1891, 3,568 pupils in 68 schools were receiving manual training and by 1897 this had increased to 112,000 pupils. The grant aid accordingly increased from £600 in 1891 to £19,530 in 1896. In spite of the deterrent effects of various Education Acts and Regulations two types of technical schools were established namely the junior technical schools and trade schools.

Junior Technical Schools (JTS)
These schools were developed from the early technical classes which grow up between 1904 and 1912, and became a separate entity in 1913. Junior Technical Schools (JTS) was the generic term for these institutions but within the movement were Junior Commercial Schools and Junior Housewifery Schools as will be described later. (Titles are a bit confusing on this topic).

The consequence of the publication in 1905 of the Regulations for Technical Schools brought about the establishment of Junior Technical Schools representing the full-time provision for ex-elementary schools pupils. Their development was particularly rapid in London because of the large population, the large range of industries and the limited opportunities at the time for training opportunities for young people wanting to enter employment. By the end of 1913/14 there were 37 schools comprising 27 for boys and 10 for girls; by 1920 there were 80 schools comprising 67 schools for boys and 13 for girls and by 1930/31 there were 144 schools comprising 110 schools for boys and 34 for girls. There were also 33 co-educational schools in 1930/31. The Board of Education (BoE) in 1913 issued the Regulations for Junior Technical Schools under which they were to be managed and grants were increased from £5 per pupil to £7 per pupil in exceptional circumstances. Remember there was still a widely held belief backed up by an administrative requirement that technical education should not available to youngsters under 13 year olds. When the first schools were established under the Regulations for ‘Day Technical Classes’ the minimum age of entrance was set at 13. In 1913 when the Junior Technical Schools were recognised under their own regulations the age of admission would remain the same although an exception was made to allow entry at 12 but only in very few special cases. This requirement certainly had a negative impact on the development of technical and commercial education below the age of 13 and was only rescinded following the 1944 Education Act!

The Board of Education in a report on the Regulations for Secondary Schools for 1912-13 had expressed a view that there was sufficient flexibility in the regulations to allow considerable specialisation in the curriculum where local needs demanded. However secondary schools became more homogenous in character mainly because of the requirements of external examinations. On the plus side progress, albeit slow, was made with the gradual emergence of junior technical schools and trade schools, even some grammar schools began introducing specialised non-academic courses.

It might be helpful to describe how the Board of Education and Local Education Authorities grouped and defined, for administrative convenience, the two essentially different types of schools.

The Pre-apprenticeship school
This was a full-time school enrolling pupils aged between 13 and 14 who had decided that they wanted to enter a particular kind of industrial work e.g. engineering or construction, but not a specific occupation within an industry. The course lasted two or three years, the leaver entering an apprenticeship at around 16. The curriculum provided a preparation for industrial and commercial employment along with a continued general education. This was the normal model outside London and was basically the only provision of this kind in the provinces and these schools became known as Junior Technical Schools.

The Trade School
Unlike the Junior Technical School the Trade School prepared its pupils for specific occupations e.g. book-binding, building trades, cabinet-making, needle trades and silversmithing etc. The trade school substituted training in the school for apprenticeships in the workshop. Most of the trade schools were in London and rarely in the provinces.

A few general points need to be made at this stage about Junior Technical Schools namely their number was small – only about 1% of children attended them (see figures below in the final point), individual schools were relatively small- average on roll less than 200 because since the output was influenced by the needs of local industries. In addition they were expensive to operate, due to the generous standard of staffing, their size and costly equipment required to instruct the pupils. However they were popular from the pupils view because the leavers were placed in good employment, they were not bound by many of the academic restrictions e.g. many did not have to enter formal external examinations and the schools overall created an atmosphere conducive to hard and cheerful work and studies for the pupils.

In spite of the relatively slow progress in their development too often hindered by administrative regulations, jealousies and rivalry, the junior technical schools along with art and commercial schools achieved a great deal. Various constraints were placed on them such as they could not teach foreign languages; parents had to guarantee that their children would enter the occupation for which they had studied for at the school. The accommodation was often poor and mainly housed in technical colleges or similar institutions and as a result often under the authority and control of the college principal. In fact in 1946 85% of Junior Technical Schools were located in technical colleges. However even with these constraints they survived and sustained sturdy growth. By 1926 a number of junior commercial schools and a couple of nautical training schools and junior housewifery schools became categorised the existing junior technical schools and trade schools. In 1929 the number of recognised technical and commercial schools had reached 108 with an enrolment of 18,000 pupils including 4,600 girls.

The Board of Education Pamphlet 111 issued in 1937 listed four kinds of junior technical schools namely those: (i) preparing pupils to enter specific industries or groups of industries: (ii) preparing boys and girls for specific occupations; (iii) Preparing girls for home management and (iv) preparing boys and girls for entry into commerce. In 1935/36 the pamphlet recorded 194 JTSs with 23,844 pupils. The 194 schools consisted of 97 junior technical schools with 13,972 on roll; 37 junior technical (trade) schools with 3,278 on roll; 10 junior housewifery schools with 495 on roll and 50 junior commercial schools with 6,099 on roll. London designated three types of junior technical schools namely: Trade Schools for Girls examples include dressing making at Woolwich Polytechnic, upholstery at Shoreditch Technical Institute; Technical Day Schools for Boys examples being at Paddington and Poplar Engineering Schools and Preparatory Trade Schools for Boys with examples at the Stanley Trade School and those at Shoreditch and the Borough Polytechnic Institute. Other models of Junior Technical Schools developed outside London and partly reflected the flexibility granted to secondary education at the time. And often under different titles.

The list of available courses offered was truly amazing as given by a report in 1938. This is the full list: book production, boot and shoe manufacture, building and building trades, cabinet making, carriage building, chefs and waiting, commercial studies, constructive industries, cooks, corset making, domestic service, dress making, embroidery, engineering, general industrial studies, hairdressing, home management, laundry work, lingerie, meat trades, millinery, motor and aero-metal work, music trades, nautical, nursemaids, photo-engraving and photography, rubber trades, silversmithing and jewellery, tailoring, upholstery and vest making. On 31st March 1938 the number of junior technical and commercial schools, excluding art schools, had risen to 248 with 30,457 pupils on roll.

The junior technical and commercial schools provided offered, in the majority of cases, two year courses with two or three bias subjects see timetables below.

Typical Timetables for Junior Technical Schools (JTS)

Guidelines laid down by Ministry
Spens report recommendations
The average in reality
English subjects including history and geography
6 or 7hr
Mathematics and geometry
8 hr across maths/geometry/science and technology
5 or 6hr
Science and technology
Technical drawing
Workshop practice
Pool including foreign languages
Source: M. Sanderson
Specimen curricula and typical examples of timetables for JTS in the 1920s/30s.
Borough Road Polytechnic JTS 1925.
1 st year
2nd year
3rd year
English, geography and history
6hr 40m
5hr 50m
6hr 40m
Mechanical drawing
4hr 10m
4hr 10m
4hr 10m
Applied mechanics
2hr 30m
2hr 30m
3hr 20m
3hr 20m
3hr 20m
1hr 40m
5hr 10m
1hr 40m
1hr 40m
1hr 40m
1hr 40m
1hr 40m
Workshop materials
29hr 20m
28hr 10m
Source: M. Sanderson
A Typical London JTS 1934
1st year
2nd year
3rd year
English, geography and history
6hr 40m
5hr 50m
6hr 40m
Mechanical drawing
4hr 10m
4hr 10m
4hr 10m
Applied mechanics
2hr 30m
2hr 30m
3hr 20m
3hr 20m
3hr 20m
5hr 10m
1hr 40m
1hr 40m
1hr 40m
1hr 40m
1hr 40m
Workshop practice
1hr 40m
29hr 20m
28hr 10m
Source: Sanderson
Wandsworth Junior Commercial School 1934
1st year
2nd year
3rd year
4hr 30m
2hr 15m
1hr 30m
1hr 30m
1hr 30m
2hr 15m
2hr 15m
2hr 15m
3hr 45m
3hr 45m
4hr 30m
1hr 30m
1hr 30m
1hr 30m
1hr 30m
2hr 15m
2hr 15m
3hr 45m
5hr 15m
2hr 15m
3hr 45m
1hr 15m
1hr 30m
1hr 30m
2hr 30m
2hr 15m
2hr 30m
28hr 45
28hr 45m
28hr 45m
Source: M. Sanderson
The Junior Technical Schools made their mark and the Spens Committee in 1938 concluded in the light of that success ‘We are convinced that it is of great importance to establish a type of higher school of technical character quite distinct from the traditional academic Grammar School.’
Whilst the 1943 White Paper Educational Reform stated ‘Junior Technical Schools came into being in 1905, and their success has been remarkable. Planned to give a general education associated with preparation for entry to one or other of the main branches of industry and commerce, they have grown up in relation to local needs and opportunities of employment. But their progress in numbers has been comparatively slow, and their chances of attracting the most able children vis-a-vis the grammar schools have been adversely affected by the fact that they normally recruit at 13. With altered conditions, and with more rapid development in the future, they hold out great opportunities for pupils with a practical bent.’
Interestingly in 1951 after this worthy statement was made there were still many education authorities, including some of the largest provincial ones, where the entry to secondary technical schools took place at the age of 13 by ‘creaming’ off pupils in the local secondary modern schools – the 13+ examination. I still remember taking it and failing!
The development of the Junior Technical Schools, (including the commercial, housewifery, and nautical schools), represents a fascinating part in the history of technical and commercial education and training.
Final Point.
To assist the reader make greater sense of the Junior Technical Schools, the various titles and their relationship within the technical education landscape in 1935 I provide a brief list of the types of technical schools at the time.
Almost all the important institutions for technical education were composite in character, comprising work assignable to two or more of the official categories of recognition, namely:
·         Junior Technical Schools
·         Technical Day Schools
·         Day Continuation Schools
·         Institutions offering evening instruction
·         Senior full-time courses in Further Education Colleges.
The schools can be designated with in the following structure and I include the numbers of pupils in England and Wales in 1934/5:
Junior – under 16
Full-time courses:
·         Junior Technical Schools – 22,158
·         Technical Day Classes – see Senior over 16 given below – 1,223
Part-time courses:
·         Day Continuation and Works Schools – 15,638
·         Evening Continuation Schools (junior Evening Classes) – 205,648
·         Juvenile Instruction Centres – 23,543
·         Technical Day Classes – 2,077.
Senior-over 16
Full-time courses:
·         Senior Courses in FE Colleges – 8,799
·         Technical day Classes – 1,366
Part-time courses:
·         Evening Classes in FE Colleges and Institutions – 636,677
·         Technical day Classes – 23,350.
It might help if I provide more statistics on JTSs:

More facts on Secondary Schools and Junior Technical Schools (JTSs) between 1913 and 1938.

Numbers of Secondary Schools and Junior Technical Schools between 1913/14 and 1937/38:

Year Number of Secondary Schools Number of Pupils Number of Junior Technical Schools Number of Pupils
1913/14 1.027 187,647 37
1918/19 1081 269,887 69
1919/20 1,141 307,862 78 9,811
1920/21 1,205 336,836 84 11,235
1921/22 1,249 354,956 89 12,235
1922/23 1,264 354,165 89 12,206
1923/24 1,270 349,141 87 11,988
1924/25 1,284 352,605 89 11,954
1925/26 1,301 360,503 92 12,704
1926/27 1,319 371,493 104 19,333
1927/28 1,329 377,540 107 20,200
1928/29 1,341 386,993 112 18,877
1929/30 1,354 394,105 120 20,217
1930/31 1,367 411,309 189 21,998
1931/32 1,379 432,061 194 21,945
1932/33 1,378 441,883 203 22,470
1933/34 1,381 448,421 213 24,130
1934/35 1,380 456,783 223 25,609
1935/36 1,389 463,906 232 27,354
1936/37 1,393 466,245 243 28,747
1937/38 1,398 470,003 248 30,457

Source BoE Statistics of Public Education, England and Wales.  Annual Reports.

Number of JTSs in England and Wales 1926/27 to 1937/38:

Year Schools (England) Pupils (England) Schools (Wales) Pupils (Wales)
1926/27 101 18,704 3 629
1927/28 104 19,541 3 659
1928/29 108 18,243 4 634
1929/30 115 19,537 5 680
1930/31 177 21,066 12 932
1931/32 182 21,003 12 942
1932/33 191 21,445 12 1,025
1933/34 200 23,090 13 1,040
1934/35* 208 24,532 15 1,077
1935/36 216 26,071 16 1,283
1936/37 226 27,395 17 1,352
1937/38 230 29,036 18 1.421

Source BoE  Annual Reports.

*Schools of Nautical Training included for the first time which were then administered by the FE Regulations.

Junior Technical Schools Titles and Pupil Numbers for 1935/36 in England:

Titles Number of Schools Boys Girls Totals
Junior Technical Schools 97 13,972 13,972
Junior Technical (Trade) Schools 37 859 2,419 3,278
Junior Housewifery Schools 10 495 495
Junior Commercial Schools 50 2,184 3,915 6,099
Total 194 17,015 6,829 23,844

Source: BoE Educational Pamphlet No. 111. ‘A Review of Junior Technical Schools in England. 1937.

Multitude of institutional titles can be very confusing – sorry!
I intend to describe some of these other institutions in future biographies.
‘The Junior Technical School.’ Educational pamphlet no. 83. BoE. 1930.
Abbott. A. ‘Education for Industry and Commerce in England.’ OUP. 1933.
Sanderson. M. ‘The Missing Stratum. Technical Education in England 1900-1990.’ Athlone Press. ISBN 0 485 11442 9. 1994.
Millis. C. T. ‘Technical Education. Its Development and Aims.’ Edward Arnold. 1925.
Edwards. R. ‘The Secondary Technical School.’ ULP. 1960.

Technical and Secondary Technical Schools

‘It is therefore now clear that not only do technical schools not yet enter the picture in most cases but that they never will.’ Ministry of Education. 1960.
Background and scene setting
The current coalition government is proposing to reintroduce technical schools so it seems appropriate to describe the last major attempt to establish such institutions following the 1944 Education Act.
Since 1902 in England and Wales there had developed three distinctive groups of post primary schools namely Grammar, Junior Technical and Senior Elementary Schools. The system was complicated and confused and still favoured the academic subjects and in spite of a number of Educations Acts during the first half of the 20th century the situation showed little sign of real improvement. The perception was that the Grammar schools were held in the highest esteem providing the gateway to professional and executive ranks in employment. The Junior Technical group of schools were seen as ‘second best’ for those who had failed to gain a place at Grammar school. The Senior Elementary schools were seen for those who were not capable of, or interested in more advanced education. These views again reflect the class riddled social and economic culture that dominates this country and seems to want to rank every aspect in relation to class, education and wealth. Grammar schools were seen as superior to Junior Technical schools as they led to better paid employment. The Junior Technical schools, (see biography on this website), provided entry into skilled crafts and trades that had some advantages BUT not so highly prized economic and social advantages. The Senior Elementary schools offered none of these advantages and as a result occupied the lowest rank. Such distinctions sadly persisted within the tripartite system that was created after the 1944 Education Act.
The first significant attempt to improve the situation was the Spens Reports in 1938 which recommended three types of secondary schools. The Norwood Report (1941) took the Spen recommendations further and in 1943 the idea of a tripartite system of secondary education was firmly established organised around: Grammar, Technical and Modern. Therefore the Spens and Norwood Reports provided the foundation stones of the new post war educational system. However the government stressed that they did not want the system to be rigid and inflexible. It was therefore permissive and not compulsory stating ‘It would be wrong to suppose that they (Grammar, Technical and Modern schools) will necessarily remain separate and apart. Different types may be combined in one building or on one site —. In any case the free inter-change of pupils from one type of education to another must be facilitated.’ Put simply Grammar schools were those which had already been designated/recognised as ‘Secondary’ schools.
The Secondary Technical schools evolved from the Junior Technical, Junior Art and Junior Commercial schools. The Secondary Modern schools were elevated from the Senior Elementary schools. These proposals were heavily flawed e.g. it would continue to perpetuate a divided system, (see above description), that ranked and segmented pupils into different schools which in turn would be perceived as possessing different degrees of esteem in society. The system required a selection process namely the 11+ examination. However at the time it was difficult to see any alternative became of the massive time scale that any more radical or large scale re-organisation would have required. The post war reconstruction of homes, industry and public services etc would and did inevitably place massive constraints on any major government reorganisation.
Unfortunately Secondary Modern schools offered little in the way of commercial, technical and vocational education. In 1963 the Newsom Report observed that the schools combined a few academic subjects with some practical subjects such as art, crafts, bookkeeping domestic science, house crafts, metal work, needle work, technical drawing and woodwork. Very few offered such subjects as agricultural, horticultural, commercial and secretarial studies. Newsom also highlighted that even where technical and vocational components existed it was overall of poor quality and only, on average, occupied 20% of the fourth year timetables.
Secondary Technical Schools
In 1947 the Ministry of Education defined the features of the Secondary Technical School as follows: ‘the distinguishing feature is relationship to a particular industry or occupation or group of industries and occupations—-. (It) caters for a minority of able children who are likely to make their best response when the curriculum is strongly coloured by (industrial or commercial) interests, both from the point of view of a career and because subject-matter of this kind appeals to them.’ (1)
A relatively small number of authorities created Secondary Technical Schools in their areas. As the Crowther Report stated in 1958 there were over 1.5 million pupils in secondary modern schools and their equivalent, 683,000 in grammar schools and only 95,000 in secondary technical schools. The report sharply concluded that ’we do not now have, and never have had, a tripartite system.’ There were just over 300 secondary technical schools in 1947 and under 100 in 1970 although there were still approximately 30 bilateral Grammar-Technical schools and a few Technical-Modern schools. This last figure indicates that very few authorities exercised the freedom granted to them in 1943 to create bilateral arrangements.
Table 1 below shows Ministry of Education statistics show numbers of pupils between 1946 and 1947 in Secondary Grammar and Secondary Technical Schools’.
Table 1
Secondary Grammar
Number of pupils
Secondary Technical
Number of pupils
Number of Secondary Technical Schools or Departments
Source: Annual Returns from MoE.
The reasons why the secondary technical failed to reach a critical mass in terms of institutions and student numbers included the difficulty and cost of providing the correct specialist facilities, other appropriate physical resources and skilled, experienced, specialist staff coupled as usual with inadequate and sustained funding. The Ministry of Education had imposed cost limits which seriously restricted the building of appropriate accommodation. As Reese Edwards reported in 1952 after inspecting more than 200 secondary technical schools ‘Annexes consisted of pre-fabricated huts, private houses, old vicarages, parochial halls and even dance halls.’ Also a number were housed in Technical Colleges, using accommodation and equipment mainly intended for adult students. However in spite of all these problems many Secondary Technical schools achieved good reputations with former students going on to careers in scientific and technology occupations. (Person comment: Many went on to study for London University external degrees, Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNC/Ds) and Full Technological Certificates from CGLI at local colleges and were joined by a few former Secondary Modern pupils. I studied with many of these and they most certainly were committed to science and technology)). Sadly in the 1960s the Secondary Technical schools started to offer more academic courses similar to the Grammar schools – yet another example of academic drift! They also offered GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels which in turn brought about a few amalgamations usually resulting in bi-lateral Grammar- Technicals.
Table 2 shows the number of pupils taking GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels in the 1950s and 60s in Secondary Technical Schools.
Table 2
GCE ‘O’ level
GCE ‘A’ level
Source: G.F. Taylor. ‘Selection for junior and secondary technical education.’ Vocational Aspects. 20. No 47, Autumn 1968. Pages 330/331.
Secondary Technical Schools continued to exist beyond the introduction of the comprehensive system and table 3 shows the number of pupils in such schools and the comprehensives between 1950 and 1985.
Table 3
Pupils in Secondary Technical Schools in England and Wales
As a % of all pupils in maintained secondary schools in England and Wales
% of pupils in comprehensive schools
Source: B. Simon. ‘Education and the Social Order 1940-1990.’ London. 1991. Pages 583-5,
The vocational aspects of the curriculum in Secondary Technical schools were provided through so-called bias courses. The vocational options on these courses were increased as pupils progressed through their years of attendance. A general basic course was pursued for the first two or three years, (very similar to that of a Grammar school), followed by bias courses and other alternative courses with vocational and technical themes. Not all courses led to examinations but many were entered for General Certificate of Education (GCE) examinations.
Typical timetables for Secondary Technical schools for the bias courses which typically occupied a third of the weekly timetable are given below.
Girls’ School-Bias Courses:
Art, Biology, English, French, Housecraft, Mathematics, Music
Accounts, French, Office Practice, Shorthand, Typing
Biology, Chemistry, Elementary Physiology, Human Biology, Physics
Boys’ School-Bias Courses:
English, German, Mathematics, Science
Bricklaying, Building Science, Carpentry and Joinery, Design and Colour, Painting and Decorating, Plumbing,
Additional Mathematics, Engineering Drawing, Mechanics, Workshop Practice,
The proportion of time spent on these specialist courses increased in the final year of studies. The sixth form in the Secondary Technical School often differed from that offered in Grammar Schools. Pupils could take more GCE ‘O’ levels or other subjects for professional purposes including foreign languages and commercial and technical qualifications offered by such awarding bodies as RSA, CGLI, Pitman’s etc.
Eventually the 11+ began to be questioned and even in 1958 the Crowther Report stated ‘more and more people are coming to believe that it is wrong to label children for all time at 11.’ This finally led to the majority of authorities introducing comprehensive schools. So Secondary Technical Schools were absorbed into the comprehensive system along with the secondary moderns. What commercial, technical and vocational education existed in comprehensives was largely based on the residuals of provision from the secondary modern schools namely domestic science, metalwork woodwork etc. Another classic case of a false dawn and missed opportunity to introduce meaningful curriculum into secondary schools!  Spens had wanted a healthy and thriving secondary technical school sector but it was not to be and was stifled in the two/three decades after the war. The failure resonated over the subsequent decades and contributed to the continuing defects in England’s neglect of technical and vocational education and training system which is more fully described on this website. Over the past decades innumerable attempts have been made to introduce technical and vocational studies into schools e.g. the plethora of MSC schemes and programmes, TVEI, GNVQ, New Deal programmes, vocational ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels etc. – all have failed as the history of technical education and this website shows. Also included in these attempts are City Technology Colleges (CTCs), specialist schools, academies and now the new proposal to reintroduce technical schools. I fear these and other initiatives are doomed to fail or should that be doomed to succeed?
Key questions need to be asked by the government such as:
·         What is the primary purpose e.g. preparing young people for FE, HE, apprenticeships or direct entry into employment?
·         What relationship will these schools have to the economy – bearing in mind the government has indicated a desire to restructure and rebalance the manufacturing base and economy of the country -old industry/dirty jobs or new industry technologically and scientifically-driven occupations?
·         What will be the age of the students when they embark on their technical studies 11, 13 or 16?
·         What students will they attract/recruit and how will they be selected?
·         How specialised will the studies be?
·         What qualifications will be available to the students and at what level?
·         What will be the rationale of the new technical schools compared with, say, CTCs or specialist schools?
·         What will be the relationship with existing FE colleges and private providers?
·         What will be the relationships and links with apprenticeship programmes and employers?
·         Where will the specialist staff come from to teach at these technical schools?
·         In the time of austerity where will the funding come from to purchase the expensive technological facilities, equipment, workshops, laboratories and specialist staff to match the demands of the highly skilled future? *
This proposal must be carefully thought through and whatever happens it must not repeat the mistakes of the past. It will not be a cheap option and must not be about cast off equipment, facilities and staff.
*FE Colleges are already experiencing massive cuts to their budgets (in some cases 20 %+) and making many staff redundant. They will watch with great interest how these new technical schools are funded.
Picture below is in a workshop at South West Ham Secondary Technical School.
(1)   The New Secondary Education. MoE, 1947 pages 47/48.
Two excellent books on this subject:
Sanderson. M. ‘The Missing Stratum. Technical School Education in England 1900-1990s.’ Athlone Press. ISBN 0 485 11442 9. 1994.
Edwards. R. ‘The Secondary Technical School.’ ULP. 1960.




The Curse of Slogans, Jargon, Quangos and Management Gurus.

‘Bandwagon or Hearse, Flagship or Titanic
Plain Speech or Jargon, Guru or Experienced Practitioner’?
Unfortunately education is too often used as a political pawn which leads to policies that are more driven by short termism determined by the date of the next election. In addition education and training is exposed by successive administrations to a series of superficial and opportunistic views and reform. To add to this unfortunate situation education like politics is dominated and influenced by glib slogans, meaningless jargon, empty rhetoric and headline grabbing mantras. Education is too important to be exposed to these superficial fads and political gimmicks. The rapid growth and influence of government advisers, external consultants and management gurus during the past few decades reflects the continuing commitment of successive governments to the all–pervasive free market philosophy, privatisation and the quango-cracy that still sadly dominates this country.
The culture of quangos, management gurus, slogans and jargon reached its zenith under the New Labour administration. Every initiative and programme was badged ‘new’ – the lessons of history were largely ignored or dismissed because of the ‘new’ political dogma and historical amnesia reigned supreme. Everyone, particularly senior managers in the public sector, was expected to buy-into and comply with government policy. If people did not comply they were pressured to resign or toe the line and the sectors became more homogenous with fewer people willing to innovate or criticise whether constructively or destructively. As a result compliance was the key demand and many people became sycophantic and self-serving. They were not prepared to question the status quo and of equal concern was that the sector attracted people who were not knowledgeable or experience and lacked empathy about technical and commercial education and training.
Most of the New Labour flagships have now sunk without trace and been largely discredited e.g. Vocational Diplomas. New Deal, the Connexions Service (soon to be replaced) etc.-innumerable initiatives have come and gone after massive injections of money with little evidence of benefit or improvement to the educational and training system. Sadly the current coalition government perpetuates and expands on such policies with academies, parent run schools, free schools, specialist schools, coupled with half baked reviews and reforms of the vocational curriculum/qualifications and the re-introduction of technical schools. (They must learn lessons from previous attempts to create such institutions if this questionable initiative goes ahead bearing in mind the growing number of other types of institutions i.e. academies, specialist schools, CTCs, COVEs etc under the mantra of ‘choice’).
The whole culture of short term reforms and reviews, new brand names, political/management speak and the continued existence of a multitude of unaccountable agencies and government advisers creates an educational and training landscape full of ambiguities, contradictions and paradoxes with the resultant confusions and uncertainties, with the net result of hindering improvement. Any significant improvement is highly unlikely amidst this jumble and confusion and this is especially true for the already neglected technical, commercial education and training sectors. Technical and vocational education and training urgently requires a clear, radical and fundamental set of reforms and long term strategy unfettered by political dogma and party politics. The pendulum politics in this country continues to weaken our ability to reform and as a result rebalance, amongst other aspects, its economy, political system, manufacturing base and its education and training systems.
Let’s look at each of the elements and how they contribute to this sorry state of affairs. The first element is that of language and the use of jargon, slogans and mantras that is ultimately counterproductive. The propagators of this language want to create a belief that they are experts and only they know what is required. They believe that information is a focus of power and if you can develop a language that is new and mysterious that makes them look innovative, knowledgeable and important. Over the past few decades a massive range of meaningless expressions have come and gone but sadly whilst they were around and in vogue they created an undeserved and disproportionate importance in the minds of many senior managers in the public and private sectors. Examples of these vacuous and specious expressions abound such as; up-ticking, transparency, mission drift, inclusivity, rightsizing, upside-breakout, engagement (prefixed either by responsible or not responsible), delayering, ‘world class’, government flagship, ‘education, education, education’, the third way’ and so on.
To highlight the paucity of thinking and how much politicians and government departments have become detached from the realities of teaching is shown in a statement from the then Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) as a rallying call to teachers: ‘As leading navigators you are mission critical to achieving robust and effective discharge pathways from the secondary phase of the intensive learning scenario.’  Can you imagine how that would motivate teachers! How pretentious. It is a classic example of a meaningless, pompous and convoluted statement – the Department should have undergone mass colonic irrigation!   No wonder it became known as the Department of Curtains and Soft Furnishings! One always knows when a government has lost the plot and run out of ideas when it seeks sanctuary in empty rhetoric, jargon and slogans. They publish lots of glossy, colourful press releases and generate a great deal of noise that will not have any impact or result in any long-lasting improvement.
  ‘Transparency’ is a good example of an overused word that can create confusion and possible misinterpretation.  I have attended conferences and meeting when this term was used over 100 times all in different contexts. A glass technologist would argue that a piece of glass that is truly transparent is invisible! So when a politician states that a process should be transparent it is strictly invisible – surely the opposite of what they actually mean! Why not just say open and clear?  Thank goodness many outgoing government jargon such as New Labour flag ships and bandwagons finally ended up as Titanics and hearses respectively! I fear the jargon, mantra and slogan culture will continue under the coalition government and we wait to see the new lexicology of gobbledygook.
Not only does the world of education and training have to contend with ridiculous language but also it has to deal with the invasion of management gurus and external consultants. They bombard institutions with phone calls, emails and literature on everything from the management of human resources, estates, IT to curriculum development and innovation. They create an impression that to ignore this information and their involvement will bring ruin, arguing that they are facilitating the current government policies or latest initiative. Expensive conferences and seminars often supported by government departments allow the gurus to promulgate their particular philosophies. They charge massive fees and inevitably make certain there have to be return visits/conferences because of the incomplete initial specifications that they have drawn up. Too often their own theories and philosophies are short lived and the following year they return with another set of shallow ideas that are often written up as a bestselling book!
Many of these views apply to external consultants especially from the larger consultancy companies who attempt to maximise their income by providing questionable services to the more gullible managers of institutions. Institutions, if they appoint them, are subsequently inundated with reports with vast amounts of data, much of which is already known to the managers but packaged in a seductive fashion. Final reports and recommendations again leave loose ends which require renewed contracts and further expenditure. In addition very often external consultants have no responsibility to the education institutions and one must remember they are just generating income for themselves and/or their companies.  So often once their work is done, they leave and it is up to the managers then to try and implement the ideas. I would argue it is far better and ultimately more economic, efficient and effective, even with the limited resources available to them, that managers and senior staff capitalise wherever possible on their own staff to improve the institution’s performance. Interestingly many of the larger companies are often major service providers to the governments of the day so it’s almost a form of a cartel!
Quangos come and go and successive governments constantly state they are going to reduce their number and power but they still seem to exist in spite of a pitiful record of achievement. Vast amounts of money have been paid to these largely unaccountable organisations. As I said in the history of technical education on this website quangos are as useful as an ashtray on a motor bike or a concrete parachute! Let’s hope the current coalition government honours its promise to do reduce significantly the number and also reduce the number of special advisers employed and capitalise on the expertise and experience of people who have worked in the sectors.
In order to address the critical issues facing technical education and training the following actions are urgently required:
Ø Take politics out of education
Ø Carry out a radical and fundamental review of all the education and training sectors involved
Ø Introduce long term strategies, tactics and reforms that are simple , clear and uncluttered by multitudes of agencies, organisations, special advisers and gurus
Ø Cease using unintelligible jargon and slogans and reduce the introduction of meaningless new brand names.Cease the use of meaningless management speak it contributes little to the debates and has largely failed as a lexicology and management tool
Ø Involve employers and practitioners in the reviews, reforms and monitoring of the whole system
Ø Develop a consistent and clear policy on skills and higher level technical and commercial training and how these relate and assist the current exercise to rebalance the national economy
Ø Tackle a long term and serious review of the issues associated with vocational qualifications and once and for all establish a culture that recognises the importance of technical and commercial education and training
Ø Get rid of the so-called academic-vocational divide and create parity of esteem between vocational and the so-called academic qualifications (e.g. ‘A levels)
Ø Give greater freedom to the institutions to manage their own affairs based on sound, coherent, consensual national policies i.e. less interference from government and their agencies
Ø Look for good examples of practice in the other home countries and beyond; less preoccupation with American systems and banish ‘the English know best’ syndrome.

Cockerton Judgement: Reflected a Period of Chaos, Confusion and Vacillation.

Setting the scene
The establishment of a national system of elementary schools was first tried following the Elementary Education Act of 1870. The more forward thinking school boards, sadly very few, attempted to develop provision that catered for the needs of their localities such as science schools, day technical schools which were supported by grants from the Science and Art Department. High Central Schools opened after 1878 in Birmingham, Bradford, Leeds, London and Manchester. The reason that very few school boards capitalised on the opportunities, (loopholes?), afforded by the 1870 Act was the majority were held back by the traditions and practices of the past e.g. the general lack of regard for technical and scientific education. The education systems in Wales were being ordered more effectively following the Welsh intermediate Education Act of 1889, which created the local authority and joint education committees for every county and county borough. In 1896 another Central Welsh Board for Intermediate Education Act brought even greater order to the education system in Wales.
However the administration in England continued to be disorganised, unduly complex and muddled when compared with Wales. The Education Department (ED) was mainly responsible for elementary education except for certain schools which were receiving more than £100 in endowments. Higher grade schools came under the authority of the ED but received grants from the Science and Art Department. At the time, Universities and one county council which offered agricultural education received grants from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries. This multitude of different agencies led to uneconomical duplication and an almost total lack of effective coordination. At local level the situation was even more confused and messy as endowed schools had their own governing bodies and across parts of England there were 2,568 different school boards and believe it or not 14,238 other authorities, committees, boards of managers etc.  In addition to this so many school boards were of unequal size, did not serve the whole country, dealt only with elementary education and were very expensive. 
 Eventually it became essential to try and tidy up the situation by introducing legislation to allow counties to manage secondary schools in England. The first attempt in 1892 to follow the Welsh example failed. However pressure from a number of sources e.g. the Bradford Independent Labour Party and recommendations from a secondary education conference brought about the establishment of a Royal Commission chaired by James Bryce. It was established in 1894 and reported in 1895. The Commission was appointed to advise on the establishment of a well organised state system of secondary education. The Commission made a number of important and relevant recommendations including the establishment of a Ministry of Education and that all the various government departments involved with secondary education should be merged into a single Central Authority under the Minister. An advisory body, the Educational Council (EC) comprising independent people, knowledgeable about education, would assist the Minister with matters of general principle and keep and maintain a register of teachers. The Bryce recommendations advocated decentralisation with ‘little direct executive power’ given to the Central Authority which was to ‘stimulate, guide, supply information and act as a balance when conflicting interests appeared. The executive powers would reside with the Local Education Authorities which the Commission would establish in all the English counties and county boroughs. Many of the recommendations took several years to be adopted and this added to the resulting confusion.
As mentioned in the history of technical education on this website the Board of Education in 1900 strongly influenced by Robert Morant*, (the first Secretary of the new Board of Education), adopted a model of secondary education based on the public, endowed and grammar schools (a classic example of academic drift and elitism that has and still plagues the English education system). As a result the secondary school system attempted to mirror this elitist and exclusive model at the expense of science and technology and further relegated/marginalised scientific and technical education/instruction. Morant contributed to the creation of a state secondary system which perpetuated the anti- scientific/technological ethos and class dominated culture so engrained in Victorian public schools and Oxbridge. In 1900 the Board of Education (BoE), in spite of recognising the existence of the relatively few Higher Elementary Schools that provided provision for pupils aged between 10 and 15, did not go out of its way to positively encourage their further development in its policy. Eventually in 1902 the Education Act included a mention and record of technical education in a set of minutes entitled ‘Education other than elementary’!  It seemed that a real concern existed about the higher grade schools operated by a few school boards and that they bridged the elementary and secondary stages of the education system, offering much broader curriculum and as a result were seen by many as being superior.
 This sorry state of affairs yet again reflects the basic hostility towards technical and commercial education and training in England. After the 1902 Act the organised science schools, higher grade schools and schools providing other specialised provision were transformed into municipal secondary schools. Later the Consultative Committee on Secondary Education of 1938 reflected this pitiful situation by stating that the Board of Education ‘did little or nothing to foster the development of secondary schools of quasi-vocational type, designed to meet the needs of boys and girls who desired to enter industry and commerce at the age of 16.’
(I intend in the near future to write a brief biography of senior grade schools and their relationship with the other schools/colleges and institutions.)
Cockerton Judgement
All this turbulence and confusion eventually led to a series of legal challenges that resulted in the Cockerton Judgement. This action, known as the Cockerton Judgement, represents one of the most intriguing and perplexing events at this period of administrative muddle which sadly had a negative impact on the developments of technical and scientific education and training. The judgement arose in part from some of the Bryce recommendations but the causes gradually increased in number following the 1870 Education Act as this commentary attempts to describe. The situation was further exacerbated by the long period of time taken to implement the Bryce recommendations, the creation of a flurry of Education Acts and the introduction of new Administrative Codes.
 The decentralisation policy of the Bryce Commission found its chief agent in those local education authorities who had no counterparts in 1900 in England when the administration remained with School Boards and the Technical Education Committees with all the resulting confusions that occurred during the transition period. Around this time a number of disputes arose including one between the London School Board (LSB) and the London Technical Education Board (LTEB) which wanted to become the authority responsible for secondary education. This case highlighted the confusions over the funding sources for secondary and technical education.
In addition to this case a related dispute arose in 1900 when the competence of the School Boards to pay for instruction out of money raised from the rates was contested by the managers of a School of Art in North London and the London County Council (LCC). The challenge centred of the expenditure incurred by the London School Board (LSB) to fund the teaching of science and art. The contester argued that the payment breached the Code regarding the conditions and limitations of expenditure derived from local rates. The Code arose from the 1870 Education Act that stipulated that money from the rates could only be expended on elementary education. The Local Government Board auditor Cockerton ruled that the London School Board had spent rate money illegally and this became known as the Cockerton Judgement and the London School Board were subsequently surcharged for the amount that they had expended. At the appeals to the Law Courts (1900 and 1901) the auditor’s decision and actions were upheld. The judgement decided that any expenditure outside the limits of the Code or instruction of adults was illegal. The ruling reflected the rather chaotic situation at the time and proved to be an embarrassment to the School Boards, the Science and Art Department and the Education Department. Following the Education Acts of 1901 and 1902 some relief was given which allowed county councils, county borough councils to directly levy rates to tolerate/condone such expenditure for a limited time. Again it reflected the rather adhoc manner in which education and training was managed and financed.
The judgement most certainly demarcated between and sharpened the curriculum of secondary and elementary education. Unfortunately however the majority of higher grade schools, including the science and day technical schools which had been established between 1870 and 1900, were, as a result of the Cockerton Judgement largely destroyed. So in spite of the positive and far looking recommendations of the Bryce Commission, the Board of Education with the publication of its Regulations for Secondary Schools (Issued between 1904-05) and the introduction of the School (Certificate) Examinations Regulations in 1917, the structures and organisational landscape were still complex and confused. As a result this led inevitably to the creation of unnecessary barriers between the various stages of the education system and most certainly between the secondary and the technical and commercial sectors which it must be remembered were still evolving. The administrative turbulence and chaos over this period created inertia and deterrence in the system, especially as it related to technical and commercial education and training. The Cockerton Judgement even resonated in the period after the 1944 Education Act, the creation of the tripartite system and the establishment of technical high schools – coalition government please note!).
The current coalition government is proposing to re-introduce technical schools in spite of the failure of previous attempts. The education and training landscape is already cluttered with a multitude of institutions e.g. academies, specialised schools, CTCs, COVEs, private schools and academies, private training providers, in company training programmes etc. along with colleges that are struggling to survive as a result of experiencing massive cuts in their budgets. This situation mirrors the chaotic situation described above and surely the true purpose of these new technical schools needs to be defined very precisely and their relationship with existing technical and commercial institutions clearly articulated – political and historical amnesia and a classic case of déjà vu.
*Note. Robert Morant was educated at a public school (Winchester) and Oxford University.

Statistical Information – its use and abuse?

‘Politicians use statistics like a drunk uses a lamp-post, for support rather than illumination.’
‘There are lies, damned lies and statistics.’
In order to begin examining some of the problems confronting technical and vocational education and training in Britain a number of key issues need to be addressed. One critical need is to develop a more effective Labour Market Intelligence system (ILM) which I have already written about on this website. Another equally important matter is to have greater confidence in handling data, information and statistical material about education and training. The recent reports by the Royal Society (1) have yet again highlighted the difficulties in obtaining accurate information about education especially about science and mathematics teachers in schools and colleges. This concern is not new. Many reports over a number of decades have identified major weakness in the way the data is collected, collated and disseminated by government and its departments. In spite of this, findings from such reports and reviews and their recommendations little positive action and improvement has occurred. The only aspect that has changed is that successive governments have increased, often repeatedly, their requests for data and information from education and training providers. As a result institutions now have to spend a disproportionate amount of their resources recording, collecting, collating and dispatching data and information to various government and their agencies overseeing education and training. Practically no area of activity in institutions escapes this scrutiny. It seems that this obsession with data, information and the writing of strategic plans is reminiscent of an Edgar Allan Poe short story where everyone gets buried alive under immense piles of paperwork and bureaucracy. Or perhaps a novel by Kafka with a large, dark and menacing bureaucracy influencing and perturbing all that the institutions are trying to achieve? So surely fundamental questions need to be asked especially at this time of financial cuts and the austerity measures that are being introduced and could include the following:
·          What is the purpose of of all these requests?
·         How is the data ultimately used and how soon?
·         What are the motives behind the way data is finally packaged and disseminated, especially in the public domain?
·         Are the current practices of the data collection and its subsequent packaging meant to be of use to the institutions themselves or is there a wider political agenda?
·         Does the data possess reliability, validity and probity?
Institutions fully accept their responsibilities and accountabilities to sponsoring bodies and ultimately the tax payer and the need to operate with as great a level of efficiency, effectiveness and economy as is possible. However there is a feeling that the current situation of data collection has assumed questionable proportions. Also it challenges whether the data and information collected is of real value to the institution providing it. The formative use of statistical data does provide helpful feedback to institutions and allows them to improve services to their students, staff and other users. After all, the codes of practice from a number of the data collecting agencies stress the importance of the information being of direct use to the providing institution.
Institutions know that if they wait long enough they will receive glossy documents that clearly pander to the league-table fetishists and advocates of the free market. The continuing obsession with league tables, which are superficial and context free, allows politicians to criticise the institutions. Little regard is given to value addedness’ or ‘the distance travelled by the students’. Very often the league tables exclude valuable information about the adult learners this reflecting the funding priorities and the focus on the younger student. Also there has been up to now a very superficial treatment of achievements in vocational qualifications. One galling fact to institutions is the great difficulties in interpreting and validating the partial and superficial information that they receive back. Very often the somewhat superficial level of aggregation and resolution in the statistics makes it even more difficult to manage an institution and plan future provision effectively.
The use of the data and the value of strategic plans?
One interesting use, or is it abuse?, of the statistics is the way the funding agencies aggregate the projected student numbers from the providers’ strategic plans and then inform the government how the student numbers will increase or decrease in certain subject areas. However we all know that in the current volatile environment strategic plans have limited value and the use of those national projections can be very damaging to institutions that are trying to take difficult decisions about the long-term future of certain strategically important subjects that are experiencing shortages like engineering, manufacturing, mathematics and the physical sciences. Perhaps in the current climate strategic plans can be compared with works of fantasy! They make interesting reading but possess very little reality, validity and reliability.
The Royal Society Reports again identified the lack of accurate information about the teaching force in schools and colleges in terms of their qualifications, the amount of CPD undertaken etc. This is particularly concerning across the school, college and training provider sectors in the subjects mentioned above.
League tables must in future include value-added information even though it is a complex and difficult area, but which must not be dodged by the statistical agencies. The tables should strive to present the context under which an educational and training provider operates including the social and economic environment, Inner city and regions that have experienced high unemployment and massive declines in traditional manufacturing industries. The range, diversity and heterogeneous nature of providers must be recognised particularly if they are recruiting in shortage subjects like science, engineering and certain trades and crafts i.e. plumbing.
The two quotes at the beginning reinforce the question – what are the statistics supporting? Are they meant to support the institutions or the various political agendas? Sadly there was evidence in the 1990s and 2000s that some institutions were massaging their figures to present a distorted view of their performance to enhance their marketing activities.
The whole area of data collection has to be fundamentally reviewed and reformed because only then can a national strategy and funding methodology be formulated that tackles the problems confronting this country. Such a review must be free from manipulation and massaging by politicians for they own agendas. Traditionally we all know that politicians like to cherry pick statistics to benefit their own prejudices and policies. In order to improve the situation in regard to key subjects like engineering, manufacturing, mathematics, modern languages, physical sciences there must be a confidence in the data, information and the subsequent statistical analysis that is accurate, reliable, valid and possesses probity. Formative use of information can be an invaluable aid to institutions and most certainly for technical and vocational education and training especially when the coalition government is talking about how to rebalance the British economy and build back the manufacturing base of the country. The government must once and for all develop efficient and comprehensive management information systems (MIS) that will process the data and information from institutions in a quick, accurate and valid manner. In addition individual providers should operate their own systems cost effectively and complement the central systems. Only then will confidence be re-established and engendered in the whole system of data and information handling.
(1)   Royal Society’. ‘State of the Nation Reports.’ 4 parts. 2007 +. Information about the reports access www.royalsociety.org

City and Guilds of London Institute – more background.

(More background on City and Guilds of London Institute (CGLI), Finsbury Technical College, the Central Institution and the City and Guilds of London Art School).
Founded in 1878 by a number of Livery Companies and the City of London in order to contribute to the development of a national system of technical education. Following a review by a number of Livery Companies recommendations were made about the structure and scope of City and Guilds of London Institute. There were to be five branches to the Institute namely:
·         The transference of the Society of Arts Technological examinations to the Association of the Livery Companies which had been constituted as the City and Guilds of London Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education. The resulting Technological Examinations Department was to register and inspect classes in technology and manual training and to hold annual examinations in the subjects taught in these classes.
·         The creation of a Trade/Technical College/School north of the Thames at Finsbury: “An intermediate College’ with day courses in mechanical and electrical engineering and chemistry and evening classes in the same subjects and in applied art.
·         The creation of a South London Technical Art School at Kennington offering courses in such areas as drawing, house decorating, modelling and painting.
·         The creation of a Central Institution which would be a high quality training school for teachers in London. An Institution of a ‘university character’, in mechanics and mathematics; civil, mechanical and electrical engineering; chemistry and
·         Grants for supporting certain technical classes already established at King’s College, London and elsewhere; and grants for the proposed chairs of Chemical Technology and Mechanical Technology at University College, London.
 Subsequently a number of meetings were held to consider taking forward these proposals and on 11th November 1878 at the Mercers’ Hall sixteen Livery Companies and the Corporation of London in attendance that would formally decide to establish a national system of technical education.
The funding came from the seventeen organisations present at the meeting and initially a sum of £11,582. 1Oshillings (£11,582.50p) was provided.
The sixteen Companies present at the founding meeting were:
Armourers and Braziers/Brasiers, Carpenters, Clothworkers, Coopers, Cordwainers, Drapers, Dyers, Goldsmiths, Fishmongers, Ironmongers, Leathersellers, Needlemakers, Mercers, Pewterers,  Plaisters and Salters.
 Eventuallyin 1880 the educational association comprising 14 of the founding Companies established was incorporated under the Company Acts as the City and Guilds of London Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education. In 1900 the Institute was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria.
The locations of CGLI headquarters in London since its founding:
1879-80: Mercers’ Hall
1881-1913: Gresham College
1913: 3, St Helen’s Place – whilst Gresham College was rebuilt
1914: Leonard Street at the CGLI Finsbury technical College whilst the rebuilding of Gresham College continued
1915-57: Gresham College, Basinghall Street
1958 -1995: 76, Portland Place
1995+: 1, Giltspur Street.
Technological Examinations:
1879 – 80: Mercers’ Hall
1881 – 87: Gresham College
1887 – 91: City and Guilds of London Central Institute, South Kensington
After 1891 the technological examinations became part of the examination department and between:
1891 – 1903 were based at Exhibition Road (Royal School of Needlework), South Kensington and at various locations namely:
1903 – 22: Exhibition Road
1922 – 31: 29,Roland Gardens, South Kensington
1931 – 58: 31, Brechin Place
1958 – 1995: 76, Portland Place
1995 –present: 1, Giltspur Street
Some other dates:
1879 – 1926: City and Guilds Technical College, Finsbury – Leonard Street. Initially located in the premises of the Middle Class School in Cowper Street, classes started in November 1879 with teachers such as H. E. Armstrong and W. E. Ayrton. Eventually a new college was built in Leonard Street –foundation stone laid May 1881 and opened in 1883 as Finsbury Technical College.
1879 – 1923: South London Technical Art School – 122-124 Kennington Park Road
1932 – 37: City and Guilds of London Institute Kennington and Lambeth Art School – 118-71 Kennington Park Road
1937 – 71: City and Guilds of London Art School – 118-124 Kennington Park Road
1884 – 93: Central Institution – Exhibition Road
1893 – 1910: Central Technical College – Exhibition Road
1911 – 1962: City and Guilds College – Imperial College of Science and Technology, South Kensington
The Central Institution
The Object of the Central Institution:
‘To train technical teachers, proprietors and managers of chemical, civil and electrical engineers, architects, builders and persons engaged in art industries’.
Building completed in June 1884 with extensive facilities including: classrooms, laboratories, lecture theatres, specialist workshops and studios with engines and other forms of machinery for practical work. Clearly it was an expensive initiative as it focused on high level work and initially student numbers were low e.g. in 1885 there were only 35 students. In 1909 student numbers were 408 but even with fees from them the Institution struggled to be financially viable. The shortfall of £5,000 was covered by the Livery Companies but the high cost of updating equipment was a real concern. Eventually following recommendations from a Royal Commission regarding university education in London a faculty of engineering was created within the University of London and the City and Guilds Central Technical College as it was then called became one of its schools. Finally in 1907 it became one of the constituent colleges of Imperial College and in 1910 became known as the City and Guilds College.
Finsbury Technical College
The Objectives of Finsbury Technical College:
‘One of the yet unsolved problems of education is to discover subjects of instruction which a schoolboy, in after life, shall not cast aside as unprofitable, either for the purposes of his daily work or recreation, and the teaching of which shall have the same disciplinary effect as that of other subjects, which for so many centuries have been the sole instruments of education. In this college, an attempt will be made to partially solve this problem, by teaching science with this double object’. (Philip Magnus)
It is interesting to see what occupations the students represented at Cowper Street in 1880 included the following:
Brewers, Cabinet makers, Chemists, Dentists, Distillers, Drug brokers, Dyers, Electricians, Engineers, Engravers, Fire hose makers, Gas engineers, Glue makers, Hair and felt manufacturers, Inspectors of the Telephone Company, Leather dressers, Perfumers, Philosophical instruments makers, Photographers, Printers, Scale makers, Surgical instrument makers, Telegraphic instrument makers. Telegraphists, Varnish and colour manufacturers, Whitesmiths and Wine merchants,
A remarkable range! I wonder what Philosophical instrument makers were! Something about Natural Philosophy?
Lambeth School of Art/City and Guilds of London Art School
The Institute took over the Lambeth School of Art in 1878 when it faced closure. It was renamed the South London School of Technical Art on Kennington Park Road. The premises were extended by adding extra studios. Most of the classes were offered in the evening and students from local industries particularly the Doulton potteries. Classes were offered in calligraphy, drawing, a wide range of masonry techniques, painting and pottery modelling. The school proved very successful and trained many noted artists and designers. The premises were further extended in 1932 and in 1938 and it was renamed the City and Guilds of London Art School. The running costs of £20,000 in 1970 were relatively modest but the Institute decided that its work was out of kilter with its main business. A separate charitable trust was created supported by a number of Livery Companies and in 1971 the formal links with the Institute ceased.
This brief account does not do justice to the contribution the City and Guilds has made to the development of technical education. It created a number of fascinating institutions and has become a major examining body offering over 500 qualifications in a wide range of industrial sectors throughout 8,500 colleges and training providers in over 80 countries. The City and Guilds Group comprises: the Hospitality Awarding Body (HAB), the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC) and the Pitman Examinations Institute (PEI).

City and Guilds of London Institute (CGLI) Timeline

1878 Foundation of CGLI

1879 Finsbury Technical College and CGLI Art School founded

1880 Appointment of Philip Magnus as Director and Secretary to CGLI

1884 Opening of Central Institution in Exhibition Road

1887 First overseas examinations in New South Wales

1900 Royal Charter of Incorporation granted

1902 Balfour Education Act

1907 Foundation of Imperial College

1926 Closure of Finsbury Technical College

1933 Signing of the ‘Concordat’

1944 Butler Education Act

1951 Launch of AEB

1958 CGLI HQ located at 76 Portland Place

1964 Industrial Training Act and creation of NEBS Management

1971 City and Guild School becomes Independent Trust

1973 Haslegrave Report Formation of TEC, BEC and DATEC

1979 Ferryside Agreement

1985 Publication of Review of Vocational Qualifications

1990 Acquisition of Pitman Examinations Institute

1995 CGLI HQ located at 1Giltspur Street

1998 Establishment of AQA. Launch of City and Guilds Affinity


CGLI. ‘Reflections Past and Future’. By Andrew Sich CGLI. 2000.
Lang. J. ‘City and Guilds of London Institute. Centenary 1878 – 1978. CGLI. 1978.
City and Guilds of London Institute. ‘A Short History’. CGLI. 1993.
Cronin. B. P. ‘Technology, Industrial Conflict and the Development of Technical Education in the 19th– Century England’. Ashgate. Aldershot. ISBN 0 7546 0313 X. 2001.

Rev. Henry Solly (1813-1903).

(Founder of the Club and Institute Union, Social Reformer and a key player in Charity Organisation, the Artizans’ Institute and the Working Men’s Club Movement).
Born in London his father was a successful businessman involved in transport particularly the railways and steamships across to America. He studied classics and mathematics at University College in Gower Street, London being amongst its first students. In 1840 Solly entered the Unitarian ministry – he later resigned following a dispute with the church authorities. He became very involved with the Chartist movement as well as with a number of other working class groups. Henry supported many radical causes such as free education, the creation of museums, anti-slavery and universal suffrage. In the early 1860s he played a major part in founding the working men’s clubs. He was one of the leading and most energetic figures in the adult clubs movement. These clubs were aimed at improving the social and education of working men who up to then had not been involved with the Mechanics’ Institutions. A number of people had suggested that the Mechanics’ Institutions had partly failed because they had not provided recreational activities but even so Solly acknowledged the positive impact and contribution that they had made to education for mechanics and the workers. To be fair other earlier organisations had argued in similar ways that there should be recreation alongside formal instruction and indeed a number of Mechanics’ Institutions and Lyceums from the 1830s had offered such a combination of recreation and education. 
 Solly was also an active member of the temperance movement and banned the consumption of alcohol in the working men’s clubs although this embargo was later abolished with the result that the clubs became more popular. One aspect he was particularly successful in was gaining financial support from the aristocracy and politicians. As a result he was able to establish 116 clubs over a period of three years and by 1867 nearly 300 existed that were recognised by the Union. The Union was established in 1862 in London mainly because of Solly’s efforts and was under the presidency of Brougham (see biography on this website) and a number of eminent vice-presidents. The concept of a Union had been advocated by David Thomas but it was Solly who brought it into existence. The Union was founded to help working men create Clubs and Institutes to improve their lives through education and recreation. As mentioned above Solly was very committed to combining recreational activities with educational activities arguing that after a hard day’s work they needed some form of recreation. The first Union offices were located at 150 The Strand, London.
He stated that the aim of the working men’s clubs was to encourage the establishment of clubs where working men “could meet for conversation, business and mental improvement, with the means of recreation and refreshment, free from intoxicating drinks”. He said that the education was given “as by a friend,” in an easy, pleasant and often in a conversational way”. The operation of the clubs usually comprised classes complemented with opportunities to access libraries and periodicals/newspapers.
The movement published a journal called The Working Man which aimed at improving the education of the workers and in addition strongly advocating co-operation with the employers. Initially the majority of the clubs struggled to survive and some closed. One reason for this was the exclusion of alcohol and tobacco and eventually the rules were amended, against Solly’s wishes, and the clubs began to enrol more workers. He was the first paid secretary for the Union but when he opposed the sale of alcohol in the clubs he was forced to resign although he returned in 1871 but this too failed following disputes about his salary. He was chairman of the Union between 1862/87 and between 1871/72/3 he was organising and travelling secretary. He did remain a member until 1879 and continued to be a firm supporter of the movement but never again held a senior post.
Solly went on to found the Trades Guild of Learning in 1873 which promoted the vocational and further education of Artisans. The Guild was not a Trade Union but included skilled workers who were trade union members as well as those who were not. Eventually there was a disagreement between Solly and the management of the Guild arising from his strong paternalistic beliefs and those held by the trade unions and he resigned as its chairman. Solly was by most counts restless, autocratic, irascible, arrogant, and though a hard working idealist he was dismissive of others and found it difficult to work in harmony with colleagues.
However he was more successful in retaining an executive position with the Artizans’ Institute which he helped to create after he severed his involvement with the Trade Guild of Learning (TGoL). The Artizans’ Institute was founded in 1874 and was initially located in St Martin’s Lane. The Artizans’ Institute was in some ways an offshoot of the Trade Guild of Learning and Solly played a key part in its creation. Its value cannot be underestimated as it helped to form the foundations for the Technical Education of Artizans working in a number of crafts and trades and laid many of the important principles on how they should be conducted. The guiding principle was to complement and supplement the training of the factory or workshop and not supersede it.  The objectives of the Institute were: ‘The systematic instruction of apprentices and workmen (i) in the principles of art and science forming the basis of various handicrafts; and (ii) in the technical application of those principles to actual work’.  The Institute experimented with a combination of technical training for the crafts and trades with more liberal focussed subjects. Solly acted as Principal until 1878, when because of ill-health he retired. The Institute struggled for some time after his departure but eventually was recognised and supported by a number of Livery Companies (see biographies on this website) and continued to raise the importance of technical education. In addition Philip Magnus (see biography on this website) gave the Institute great encouragement and finally in 1883 the classes of the Artizans’ Institute were transferred to the Finsbury Technical College (see pen portrait on this website).
The Artizans’ Institute played an important part in the development of technical education and in spite of all the difficulties associated with Solly’s irascible and mercurial temperament he contributed much to its development.
Solly died in 1903 and the then secretary of the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union B. T. Hall wrote “If the work that the clubs do, if their influence on personal character and their contribution to the sum total of human happiness be correctly appreciated …. then shall the investigator reckon Henry Solly amongst the constructive statesmen of our time”. (1)
He was also instrumental in creating the Charity Organisation Society. In addition he became editor of the Beehive the most influencial working-class newspaper in the 1860s and 70s
His philosophy reflected his idealism and was based on three strong beliefs namely: education, recreation and temperance and he held firmly that to remove one would undermine completely the others.
In 1889 there were 329 clubs in membership with the Union; in 1899 there were 683 and by the time he died in 1903 there were 992 clubs with a membership of 380,000. The Club movement was mainly active in London and the Industrial areas of England. For example London, the Home Counties, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the West Midlands accounted for 479 out of the 683 in 1899. Very few existed in Wales and Scotland. Henry Solly possessed great energy and ability and recognised the importance of education but tended to make his beliefs and ideas foremost and assumed ‘ownership’ of the organisations he helped to establish. Nevertheless he is a key figure in the development of technical and workers’ education along with others that include F.D. Maurice (Working Men’s Colleges, London) – see picture below, R. S. Bayley (Peoples College, Sheffield) and Quintin Hogg (The London Polytechnics) – see other biographies on this website.
(1)   ‘The Working Men’s Social Clubs’. J. H. Wicksteed.1904
and ‘Our Fifty Years, The story of the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union’. B. T. Hall. The Working Men’s Club and Institute Union. 1912.
Other useful references:
‘Technical Education’. Address to the Trustees of the Artizan’s Institute, by Henry Solly. 1878.
‘These Eighty Years’, Or, The Story of an Unfinished Life. H. Solly. Simpkin and Co. 1892. 2 volumes
‘Education and the Labour Movement 1870-1920’. Lawrence and Wishart. 1965.
Note:  Artizan today is more usually spelt Artisan

The Artizans’ Institute and The Trade Guild of Learning

Henry Solly, (see biographies on this website), was heavily involved in establishing both these organisations and it was his interest in working-class education which was instrumental in their creation.
The Trade Guild of Learning (TGoL)
The formation of the Trade Guild of Learning pre-dates the Artizan Institute so in strict chronological terms it makes sense to describe this organisation first. At a meeting held on the 1st March 1873 at the offices of the Working Men’s Club and Institute, discussion centred on the creation of a ‘Trade Guild of Learning’. Members from various Trade Societies including Bookbinders, Cabinet Makers, Chair makers, Gilders, House Painters and Decorators, Tanners, Woodcarvers and Zinc Workers were present. Solly was also present and the meeting was chaired by Lord Lyttleton and other members included a number of politicians, scientists, staff from the Oxford and Cambridge universities and King’s College, London.  The meeting formulated the following resolution that the Guild was to promote ‘the delivery of lectures and the formation of classes, to assist members of the Trade Societies and other skilled workmen in acquiring knowledge of history, political economy and technical education…’ (1).  Rather ambitious terms were expressed about its aims namely ‘as an attempt to bring Technical and the Higher Education within the reach of artisans, especially the Trade Union of the United Kingdom.’ The meeting also elected an impressive list of vice-chairmen including Alfred Tennyson, Samuel Morley, Matthew Arnold, John Donnelly (Science and Art Department) and John Tyndall FRS. In spite of this impressive launch the Guild soon found it difficult to gain support from such bodies as the London Trades Council. The Guild arranged programmes and courses of lectures but it never succeeded in gaining wide spread support and gradually its activities declined. Solly soon fell out with the management of the Trade Union of Learning and with other associates went on to found the Artizans’ Institute in 1874.
The Artizans’ Institute.
Surprisingly little is known about this fascinating institute even though it was the first institute of its kind. In a sense it was an off shoot of the Trade Guild of Learning (TGoL) particularly from the efforts of Henry Solly and some of his friends. It could be seen as a successor to the then defunct Workmen’s Technical Educational Union (WTEU) and advocated the importance of technical education driven by the workers themselves. It was opened in 1874 in Castle Street, St Martin’s Lane, London. Its importance should not be overlooked as it was a pioneering institute in the development of technical education. Its opening ceremony was attended by over twelve skilled trades, a somewhat surprising number bearing in mind the rivalry between the Companies and trades. One of its innovative approaches was the appointment of the instructors/teachers who were practicing tradesmen. Solly stated ‘we regard as a fundamental axiom for any real improvement in Technical teaching … that we must look among skilled workmen for Technical teachers …we must give them the means of instructing their fellows.’ (1 and 2).  The Institute offered classes in Bricklaying, Carpentry, Engineering, Masonry, Pattern Making, Metal Work, Plumbing, Stained Glass Painters, Tailoring and Wood Turning. In addition classes were held for subjects offered by the Science and Arts Department in such areas as Applied Mechanics, Art subjects, Building Construction, and Elementary Mathematics and Geometry. Lectures were also given in such subjects as Industrial History, Political Economy and Social and Political progress. Membership fees were set at 1s 6d (7.5 p) per quarter and classes cost 7s 6d (37.5p) to 10s (50p) per session. Apprentices were admitted at half price. The average number of members in an institute was 100 and for students 140. The Institute attracted a number of lecturers who later went on to make important contributions to technical education e.g. C. T. Millis.
The Institutes’ innovative approaches attracted a great deal of attention from Trade Union representives and public figures. In fact Philip Magnus stated later that it could be regarded as the forerunner of the London Polytechnics created by Quintin Hogg (see biography on this website). Magnus went on to say ‘that the methods of technological instruction – the method now adopted in the laboratories, workshops and lecture-rooms of our great Polytechnic Institutions’. (3)
Around this time many of the Livery Companies were becoming increasingly concerned about the state of technical education in the country. Evidence clearly showed that the country was falling behind its competitors and performing badly in a number of International Exhibitions e.g. Paris. In addition the continuing decline in apprenticeships and the lack of technical education opportunities fuelled this concern and on 7th June 1877 a meeting at the Mercers’ hall was convened. There were fourteen Companies present at the meeting which reflected the wide spread concerns. The meeting agreed to establish a Provisional Committee ’for the purpose of preparing a scheme for a national system of Technical Education.’ One of the tasks that they agreed on was to undertake a comprehensive review of institutions involved at the time in technical instruction. The group was lead by George Bartley (philanthropist) and the monitoring group visited 45 different establishments across the country. Other members of the group included William Armstrong (industrialist), John Donnelly (educationalist – Science and Arts Department and Society of Arts), Douglas Galton (scientist), Thomas Huxley (scientist) and Henry Trueman Wood (administrator- Society of Arts). Some of the institutions visited included the Bristol Trade and Mining School, the Cirencester Agricultural College, the Glasgow Technical College, the Leeds Mechanics’ Institution and the Yorkshire College. Also on the itinerary were the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, University College London, Working Men’s Clubs/Colleges, technical and art schools and the Artizans’ Institute. I have provided this detailed account of the review as it reflects the range of institutions delivering technical education at the time and also its bearing on the Artizans’ Institute. The  Artizans’ Institute was considered the best by far of the institutions visited. Bartley produced a very detailed report and placed the Institute at the top of the institutions inspected particularly for its promotion of scientific and technical education stating ‘not on account of its magnitude of its work, but because its objectives seem to bear with some considerable weight on the subject we have in view’.  Henry Trueman Wood a member of the review panel, who later became secretary to the Society of Arts,  said of the Institute ‘Its promoters may justly claim the great credit of having made the first attempt to supply London workmen with the sort of instruction which would be of service to them in their callings’. He also wrote later ‘that the Institute fought a very uphill fight for a long time, and justly claimed credit for having acted as pioneers’. Its main weakness was its size but its innovative and pioneering achievements were considerable in spite of this and the fact that no State funding was given made the task of managing the Institute even more difficult.
The review highlighted, yet again, that much of the provision in the majority of the other institutions was unsatisfactory resulting from inadequate grounding in elementary scientific knowledge. This weakness meant that the artizans could not benefit from the practical instruction because of the lack of the theoretical background. A similar contributing reason was suggested about the failure of Mechanics’ Institution movement. Interestingly Armstrong, Bartley and Huxley wanted more financial support for science instruction but Donnelly surprisingly rejected the request arguing that the State was already providing sufficient funding! The report also commented that there was a lack of qualified science teachers, insufficient money to pay them and very few establishments that taught the subject and equally concerning no institution that taught applied science.  Many of these factors had been highlighted previously and many were further repeated but little positive improvement resulted from all these reports. The factors identified in this report and the others are as relevant today as there were then – the history of technical education on this website attempts to describe this depressing fact.
The report proposed the creation in London of a central Institute for ‘Higher Technical Education’ – interesting to note that a similar proposal had been made by the Workmen’s Technical Education Committee (WTEC) in 1868! The committee also recommended the establishment of trade schools, the creation of a national system of examinations for technical subjects and additional financial support to institutions engaged in technical instruction. Eventually the CGLI actioned some of these proposals.
Henry Solly continued to be Principal until ill-health forced him to retire in 1878. Following his retirement weak management caused a number of problems and the Institute came very close to closure. However in 1879 a meeting was held attended by Henry Doulton, Silvanus Thompson and other key figures from the world of industry to revitalise the Institute. C. T. Millis was appointed director to succeed Solly (Millis later became Principal of the Borough Polytechnic between 1892 and 1922). The Institute gained support from a number of Livery Companies and CGLI. As mentioned already Philip Magnus (then Superintendent of Technological Examinations, CGLI) was very positive about the Institute and following a visit in 1880 requested the trustees of CGLI to award the Artizans’ Institute £300. Eventually because of its size and continuing financial viability it was transferred in 1881 to the Finsbury Technical College (see pen portrait on this website). Philip Magnus was then acting Principal of the Finsbury College. In 1881 the work was located in Cowper Street Schools where Professors Armstrong and Ayrton who were two highly influential figures in technical and scientific education were teaching pending the official opening of the Finsbury Technical College in 1883.
The Science and Arts Department and its secretary John Donnelly refused to financially support the Institute and this again reinforced one of the main themes articulated in the history of technical education on this website, namely the reluctance of successive governments to commit public funds to technical education at this time. Even the press at the time reflected the different attitudes and ambivalence towards the funding and status of technical education. At least one publication, the Globe, complemented the Artizans’ Institution as an important factor in the promotion of technical education at that time. The Globe reported ‘at the present moment this institute … contain(s) probably ..whatever germ there is of hope for the survival of English trade’. (4) whilst other publications were against the funding of technical education arguing that the workers should pay the costs and the State should not subsidise this form of instruction, reflecting the attitude of politicians and the Science and Arts Department.
The foundation of the Artizans’ Institute and the Trade Guild of Learning did reflect the growing desire to develop some form of technical education and ultimately acted as a catalyst for such organisations as the City and Guilds of London Institute (CGLI) to support such pioneering initiatives. Many key figures and a number Livery Companies were involved in supporting the Institute during their existence e.g. T. Huxley, P. Magnus, C. T. Millis, S. Morley, H. Solly and the Carpenters’ Clothworkers’, Drapers’, Fishmongers’ Companies. The development of both organisations also sadly reflected the negative attitude to technical education among politicians and the majority of society.  
(1)   ’Trade Guild of Learning.’ H. Solly. Workman’s Magazine Nos. 1 and 5. Published under Literacy and Critical Tracts. London. 1873.
(2)   ‘Technical Education: a Few thoughts and facts about it’. H. Solly. Address to the Trustees of the Artizans’ Institute. 1878.
(3)   ‘Address on Industrial Education’. P. Magnus. Cambridge. 1901.
(4) The Globe 30th May 1876.
See also:
 Millis. C. T. ‘Education for Trades and Industries’. Edward Arnold. London. 1932.
P. Magnus: ‘Industrial Education’ chapter VIII in ‘Education in the Nineteenth Century’ edited by Roberts. R. D.  CUP. 1901.
Lang. J. ‘CGLI Centenary 1878-1978’. An historical commentary. CGLI. 1978.

Institutions of Technical Education/Instruction in Britain in 1878

A special committee was established in 1877 by a number of Livery Companies under the chairmanship of George Bartley to enquire and investigate the state of provision of technical education in Britain in 1878 (see biography of Artizans’ Institute on this website). In all institutions over 40 institutions were identified by the committee and included the following:
Agricultural College, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Anderson Institute, Glasgow
Artizans’ Institute, St. Martin’s Lane, London
Birkbeck Institute, Chancery Lane, London
Building Trades Institute, Manchester
Chemists and Druggists Schools, Bradford
College for Working Women, Fitzroy Square, London
Colliery Schools
Cookery Schools
Co-operative Societies Schools, Rochdale, Lancashire
Crystal Palace School of Practical Engineering, London
Dockyard Schools
Glasgow Technical College, Scotland
Gresham College, London
Huddersfield Mechanical Institute and Trades School, Yorkshire
Hull Navigation School, Yorkshire
Islington School of Science and Art, Essex Road North, London
Keighley Trade School, Yorkshire
King’s College, London
Leeds Mechanical Institute, Yorkshire
London Institute, Finsbury Circus, London
Middle Class Schools, Cowper Street, London
North of Scotland School of Chemistry and Agriculture, Aberdeen, Scotland
Oldham Science and Art School, Lancashire
Owens College, Manchester
Plymouth Navigation School, Devon
Railway Schools
Royal College of Mines, London
Royal Indian Engineering College, Coopers Hill
Royal Marine Schools
Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London
Royal Polytechnic institution, Regent Street, London
South London Workmen’s College, London
St. Margaret’s Technical Schools, Westminster, London
Strand Mechanical Institute, London
Telegraphist School, General Post Office, London
Trade and Mining School, Bristol. Borders with Somerset and Gloucestershire
University College, London
Workmen’s College, Great Ormond Street, London
Yorkshire College of Science, Leeds, Yorkshire
Note 16 were in London and 24 outside London in spite of the fact that much of the manufacturing and industry was outside the capital – again reflecting the supposed importance and centricity factor of the city.
Note: Cambridge and Oxford Universities were also involved in the review.
See the pen portrait of the Artizans’ Institute on this website for a more detailed account of the Livery Companies review. The review played a significant part in establishing the City and Guilds of London Institute (CGLI) – again see the pen portrait of CGLI, Central Institution, Finsbury Technical College and the City and Guilds of London Art School on this website. People involved in the review included William Armstrong (industrialist and inventor), George Bartley (philanthropist), John Donnelly (educationalist – Science and Art and Society of Arts), Douglas Galton (scientist), Thomas Huxley (scientist) and Henry Trueman Wood (administrator Society of Arts).

Livery Companies/Guilds

Some basic definitions:
Livery Companies: had their origins in England before 1066. Guilds (or mysteries, from the Latin misterium, meaning professional skill): were active throughout Europe for many centuries.
           The word guild is from the Saxon word gilden which means to pay or payment as the members had to pay a fee.
          The word livery basically refers to the uniform that identified the company.
The guilds in the Middle Ages were an important and integral part of Medieval life in England. The early guilds were the medieval equivalent of a trading standards system and their power was considerable and expulsion from one meant that you could not make a living. There were two kinds of guild namely merchant and craft and very often there were tensions and disputes between the two. The merchant guilds controlled the trades practised in the towns and they checked the quality of the products as well as the weights and measures. Craft guilds were separate from the merchant guilds but operated under the same rules as the merchant guilds and regulated the quality, working hours and conditions of its members. The craft guilds were formed in a similar way to the merchant guilds where a group of tradesmen or craftsmen pursuing the same occupation joined together. Examples of the trades included:  apothecaries, bakers, carpenters, cloth makers, masons, painters, shoemakers and tanners. There were three levels of craftsmen (yes it was almost exclusively for males!) namely masters, journeymen and apprentices. Usually parents paid a fee to for the apprenticeship that would place their son with a master craftsman. So one can see the power the guilds possessed as between them they managed, monitored, regulated and controlled business practices and imports, established wages, defined working conditions and trained apprentices. The master would provide food, lodgings, clothes and the necessary instruction during the period of the apprenticeship. Both the merchants and crafts guilds created monopolies within Medieval towns and cities as no one could practice a craft and trade without being a member of the appropriate merchant or craft guild. Members of the guilds were very often involved in civic affairs and often occupied important and influential positions in the community. Each guild had its own hall and its own coat of arms. The guilds represented many of the jobs and occupations of the time. Clearly London was the centre for most of the guilds although guilds did exist outside the City of London e.g. the Cutlers of Hallamshire in Sheffield, the Merchant Venturers of Bristol and the Fellmongers of Richmond in Yorkshire. Both Scotland and Ireland had strong guilds as well as mainland Europe where France, Germany and Switzerland had very active guilds. In the 18th century London had eighty-nine guilds ranked according to a hierarchy of precedence with the twelve Great Companies at the top (see below for list of the twelve). The guilds also developed strong links and associations with religion and politics.
There were three ways of becoming a member of a guild namely by completing a seven year apprenticeship, patrimony (i.e. one’s father was a member) or by redemption (i.e. payment of a fee). Most guilds were composed of men from a variety of backgrounds and even by the 18th century most did not include women, though sometimes widows could by default become a member and could take over the training of apprentices BUT were excluded from participation in company business.
Example of the rules operated by the craft guilds included:
·         A financial penalty or ban on any illicit practice by a non-guild member –an example of the mononopoly or closed shop
·         Strict rules of conformity to the charter of the particular craft guild and if broken subjected to fines
·         Welfare arrangements including caring for sick members and orphans
·         Protection of members belongings i.e. goods, horses and wagons when they were travelling on business
The Great Twelve City Livery Companies.  (Often referred to as ‘Worshipful Company of’ the relevant trade or profession), are in order of precedence:
1.    Company of Mercers (General merchants)
2.    Company of Grocers
3.    Company of Drapers (Wool and cloth merchants)
4.    Company of Fishmongers
5.    Company of Goldsmiths
6.    Company of Merchant Taylors (Tailors) ( alternates with the Skinners)
7.    Company of Skinners (Fur traders) (alternates with the Merchant Taylors)
8.    Company of Haberdashers
9.    Company of Salters
10.  Company of Ironmongers
11.  Company of Vintners (Wine merchants)
12   Company of Clothworkers
Gradually the number of guild apprentices declined in London and the social background of the apprentices changed. The guilds lost their monopoly as work became more available to those who had not served an apprenticeship and new areas of trade and craft developed that were not covered by a particular guild. Most of the power of the guilds was located in the City and as suburbs developed outside the City boundary craftsmen and tradesmen who were not guild members began to practice and ignored the rules and regulations of the livery companies. In addition the fee for an apprenticeship deterred many families paying the expensive premiums that were around £28 in 1716. As the numbers declined apprentices increasingly came from more prosperous families and these entered professions such as architects, lawyers and surgeons. The power of the guilds to regulate economic activity declined significantly in the 17th and 18th century as a result of a number of factors and they became more like agents for providing social prestige, business networks and a political voice for their members as well as charity work. In particular some guilds suffered greatly as a result of the Great Fire of 1666 because of the need to undertake the massive job of reconstruction. The powers of the guild were relaxed and this accelerated the use of apprentices from outside London who were not involved with a particular guild. Once restoration and reconstruction was complete the guilds found it difficult to reassert their former power and authority. This coupled with the development of new technologies and industries as a result of the Industrial Revolution, the creation of factories and free trade all contributed to the decline of the guilds. Many of the new industries that were established were not regulated by the guilds and people increasingly questioned and challenged the authority and monopoly of the guilds. Ironically a number of historians (1) have suggested when trying to explain why Britain was the first industrial nation by developing earlier and faster than their European counterparts have viewed the demise of the apprenticeship in Britain as an advantage! These commentators argue that the continued influence and power of the guilds in Europe held back the development of new techniques and stifled imagination and innovation on the continent. Clearly there are other factors contributing to why Britain was the first industrial nation e.g. massive reserves of coal etc.
800px-VintersHall_2   A view of the Vintners hall is shown opposite.
 There are still 108 livery companies today with a membership of approximately 40,000 and some still continue to have regulatory powers e.g. the Goldsmiths, Scriveners whilst some have become inoperative except as charitable foundations. The majority are now social and charitable organisations very often with a great deal of ceremonial activity. However some continue to support education and training particularly the Goldsmiths Company which is establishing its own college and actively continues managing high quality apprenticeships working closely with CGLI. Salters and the Clothworkers’ and a few others have supported schools and colleges to develop curriculum in subjects like chemistry and mathematics. It must also be remembered that sixteen Companies played a key role in creating the CGLI (see history of technical education on this website).
Many historians are split on the value, influence and the contribution that the guild movement made to the economy of England. Obviously at the beginning they made a major contribution to the development of the trades and crafts at the time and were powerful agents in developing and maintaining quality and craft and trade standards of products. They initially prevented unlimited competition and helped to keep wages and working conditions stable in what were turbulent times. But gradually became closed shops and monopolistic, exclusive (e.g. barring women) and hierarchical (reflecting the class structure that has so dominated life in this country).  Their demise was inevitable as the Industrial Revolution evolved and the factory system developed with mass production techniques that required totally different skills. This change in the profile of the skills base for the factory workers that many have argues as a deskilling/low skill transition, arising from the repetitious nature of work did ultimately require a fundamental rethink of how training of the workers was to be managed. A number of the guilds realised times had changed and after 1970’s a number started to support technical and commercial education. It must be remembered that many Companies did provide significant funding in the founding of colleges and other educational institutions e.g. Armourers and Braziers. Carpenters. Clothworkers. Cordwainers Drapers. Goldsmiths. Grocers. Leathersellers. Goldsmiths ‘ Hall in 1835 shown below.
Goldsmiths Hall 1835
 Barry. J and Brooks. C. W.(eds) In ‘The Middling Sort of People’. Basingstoke. 1994. Particular interesting is piece by Brooks ‘Apprenticeships, Social Mobility and the Middling Classes’.
(1)  Landes. D. S. ‘The Unbound Prometheus’. CUP. 1969.
See also pen portrait on a short history of apprenticeships on this website.

List of  current companies:

  1. Worshipful Company of Mercers (general merchants)
  2. Worshipful Company of Grocers (spice merchants)
  3. Worshipful Company of Drapers (wool and cloth merchants)
  4. Worshipful Company of Fishmongers
  5. Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths (bullion dealers)
  6. Worshipful Company of Skinners* (fur traders)
  7. Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors* (tailors)
  8. Worshipful Company of Haberdashers (clothiers in sewn and fine materials)
  9. Worshipful Company of Salters (traders of salts and chemicals)
  10. Worshipful Company of Ironmongers
  11. Worshipful Company of Vintners (wine merchants)
  12. Worshipful Company of Clothworkers
  13. Worshipful Company of Dyers
  14. Worshipful Company of Brewers
  15. Worshipful Company of Leathersellers
  16. Worshipful Company of Pewterers (pewter and metal manufacturers)
  17. Worshipful Company of Barbers (incl. surgeons and dentists)
  18. Worshipful Company of Cutlers (knife, sword and utensil makers)
  19. Worshipful Company of Bakers
  20. Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers (wax candle makers)
  21. Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers (tallow candle makers)
  22. Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers (armour makers and brass workers)
  23. Worshipful Company of Girdlers (belt and girdle makers)
  24. Worshipful Company of Butchers
  25. Worshipful Company of Saddlers
  26. Worshipful Company of Carpenters
  27. Worshipful Company of Cordwainers (fine leather workers and shoemakers)
  28. Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers
  29. Worshipful Company of Curriers (leather dressers and tanners)
  30. Worshipful Company of Masons
  31. Worshipful Company of Plumbers
  32. Worshipful Company of Innholders (tavern keepers)
  33. Worshipful Company of Founders (metal casters and melters)
  34. Worshipful Company of Poulters (poulterers)
  35. Worshipful Company of Cooks
  36. Worshipful Company of Coopers (barrel and cask makers)
  37. Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers (builders)
  38. Worshipful Company of Bowyers (long-bow makers)
  39. Worshipful Company of Fletchers (arrow makers)
  40. Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths
  41. Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers (wood craftsmen)
  42. Worshipful Company of Weavers
  43. Worshipful Company of Woolmen
  44. Worshipful Company of Scriveners (court scribes and notaries public)
  45. Worshipful Company of Fruiterers
  46. Worshipful Company of Plaisterers (plasterers)
  47. Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers (journalists and publishers)
  48. Worshipful Company of Broderers (embroiderers)
  49. Worshipful Company of Upholders (upholsterers)
  50. Worshipful Company of Musicians
  51. Worshipful Company of Turners (lathe operators)
  52. Worshipful Company of Basketmakers
  53. Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass
  54. Worshipful Company of Horners (horn workers and plasticians)
  55. Worshipful Company of Farriers (horseshoe makers and horse veterinarians)
  56. Worshipful Company of Paviors (road and highway pavers)
  57. Worshipful Company of Loriners (equestrian bit, bridle and spur suppliers)
  58. Worshipful Society of Apothecaries (physicians and pharmacists)
  59. Worshipful Company of Shipwrights (shipbuilders and maritime professionals)
  60. Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers
  61. Worshipful Company of Clockmakers
  62. Worshipful Company of Glovers
  63. Worshipful Company of Feltmakers (hat makers)
  64. Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters
  65. Worshipful Company of Needlemakers
  66. Worshipful Company of Gardeners
  67. Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers
  68. Worshipful Company of Wheelwrights
  69. Worshipful Company of Distillers
  70. Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers (wooden-shoe makers)
  71. Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers
  72. Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers
  73. Worshipful Company of Gunmakers
  74. Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers (threadmakers for military and society clothing)
  75. Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards
  76. Worshipful Company of Fanmakers
  77. Worshipful Company of Carmen (vehicle drivers)
  78. Honourable Company of Master Mariners
  79. City of London Solicitors’ Company (lawyers)
  80. Worshipful Company of Farmers
  81. Honourable Company of Air Pilots
  82. Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders
  83. Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers
  84. Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers
  85. Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors
  86. Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  87. Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators
  88. Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants
  89. Worshipful Company of Launderers
  90. Worshipful Company of Marketors
  91. Worshipful Company of Actuaries
  92. Worshipful Company of Insurers
  93. Worshipful Company of Arbitrators
  94. Worshipful Company of Engineers
  95. Worshipful Company of Fuellers
  96. Worshipful Company of Lightmongers (electric lighting suppliers)
  97. Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners
  98. Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects
  99. Worshipful Company of Constructors
  100. Worshipful Company of Information Technologists
  101. Worshipful Company of World Traders
  102. Worshipful Company of Water Conservators
  103. Worshipful Company of Firefighters
  104. Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers (licensed taxicab drivers)
  105. Worshipful Company of Management Consultants
  106. Worshipful Company of International Bankers
  107. Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers
  108. Worshipful Company of Security Professionals
  109. Worshipful Company of Educators
  110. Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars