Charles Babbage (1791-1871)

Mathematician, Philosopher and orginator of computing science

Charles Babbage was born in Devon in 1792 into a wealthy banking family. Because of ill health when young he received much of his early education privately and through self study when he discovered his interest in mathematics. He studied mathematics at Trinity and Peterhouse, Cambridge with great distinction although he failed to gain honours and was subsequently awarded an honorary degree in 1814 without being examined. Charles Babbage is mainly known now as the founding father of computer science and for his contributions to computer technology. His work in this area was inspired by the work of J.M. Jacquard who invented a loom that could be coded/programmed to produce repetitive patterns. At this time high error rates existed in the computation of mathematical tables and Babbage attempted to devise machines to remove this human error by mechanical means. Babbage spent a great deal of his life and fortune on designing and inventing ‘difference machines’ that subsequently laid the foundations for computing science and technology. He designed the Difference Machine and later the Analytical Machine that could perform practically all the then known mathematical operations. Unfortunately the necessary materials and technical facilities were not available at the time so his great machines were never able to crank out answers. However his ideas did lay the foundations of computing science developed decades later. Babbage was truly an individual ahead of his time and many of his ideas were viewed with suspicion and dismissed as unworkable though decades later he was recognised as a great innovator and visionary. His frustration and unhappy experiences with getting these machines recognised and the lack of financial support from government made him highly critical of the state of science at the time and the future prospects for science and technology and hence the education of these subjects in England. For example throughout his life he was a vigorous campaigner against the policies of the Royal Society of which he was a Fellow. He made several attempts to reform the Society but all his suggestions were initially ignored but eventually with support did bring about major reforms of the Society.

Baggage was also critical about the health of mathematics in England arguing that during the late 18th century the country had fallen behind its continental counterparts. He criticised his own mathematical studies at Cambridge that he thought were outdated. He became interested and impressed with the work of the continental mathematicians particularly those in France e.g. Lacroix. He was an active member of the ‘Analytical Society’ whose aim was the reform of English mathematics and to undertake translations of continental mathematical texts. By this time Babbage held the Newtonian chair of Mathematics at Cambridge (1828+).

A man of many interests he was very interested in the consequences and challenges of the emerging technological society analysing the interactions between science, technology and society. This aspect reinforced his concern about the decline of science and the inadequate state of science and technical education in England which led to the publication in 1830 of the book entitled ‘Reflections on the Decline of Science in England’ which was instrumental in establishing the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1831.It was his concern about the ineffective use and application of science in industrial processes that made him a strong advocate of scientific and technical education. Another key book was ‘The Exposition of 1851’ published after the Great Exhibition of 1851 when Babbage defined man as a tool making animal. This important definition was restated by Singer in his seminal series of books (1) that again highlighted how farsighted Babbage was. ‘What is man? —- Man makes things, but so do many animals; man shapes objects into tools, but so do few animals; man alone makes tools with which to make other tools’ Through his writings he because an influential promoter of the factory system advocating the importance of increased mechanisation and the system of the division of labour. These and other farseeing ideas were to have a profound impact on industrial production and ultimately on how technical education developed.
As well as being instrumental in founding the British Association for the Advancement of Science he played a significant role in the creation of the Astronomical Society (1820) and the Statistical Society (1834). Babbage was one of a few individuals e.g. A.W. Hoffman, W.G. Armstrong and Co. of Newcastle and Lyon Playfair [see biographies] who were strong advocates of technical education. Other achievements of this remarkable individual included a set of logarithm tables from 1 to 108,000, the standard gauge railway, improved lighting for lighthouses, the dynometer and the cowcatcher. Although many writers have said Babbage’s life was one of continual disappointment he was a remarkable individual, a true polymath, whom history has now acknowledged.


Of the many publications of Charles Babbage four merit referencing namely: ‘The Decline of Science in England, and some of its causes’. (1830), ‘The Exposition of 1851; or Views of the Industry, the Science and the Government’. (1851), ‘Economy of Manufactures and Machinery’. ( 1832) and ‘Passages from the Life of a Philosopher’. ( 1864). Incidentally the Cambridge University Press (CUP) is to soon reissue the first two of these seminal works

His legacy is to be found in the Societies he helped to create and most certainly the recognition as the founding father of computation science/technology and operational research.


  1. Singer. C, Holmyard. E.J. Hall.A.R. and Williams. T.I. ‘The History of Technology.’ OUP. 1958-1962. 5 volumes.
  2. An excellent overview of Charles Babbage life and achievements is to be found in: ‘Charles Babbage and his Calculating Machines.’ Edited by P. and E Morrison. Dover. 1961.

Footnote: A replica of the Difference Machine capable of calculating to 31 digits is housed in the British Museum and is testimony to the accuracy of his work. See image opposite of one of his machines.

Learned Societies and Professional Societies/Institutions

The foundation and development of learned and professional organisations representing science and technical disciplines is a fascinating study in its own right. Any study of their history identifies many similar issues that characterised the evolution of technical and scientific education. In addition analysis highlights the differences in the way disciplines developed and achieved recognition particularly during the late 18th and throughout the 19th centuries. The disciplines in both science and technology were in rapid transition and had to fight to gain recognition and a place in the education system during the 18th and 19th centuries.

I intend to write about the historical development of science education particularly in relationship to that of technical education at a later stage. Before the Industrial Revolution science had little impact on the lives of ordinary people except in areas that involved navigation and the military i.e. war. Science was perceived as exclusive and the domain of the gentry, the enthusiastic rich amateur, the royal courts and the then narrow world of academia. In addition benefactors often supported a number of gifted amateurs financially to undertake their scientific researches. The first scientific learned societies/institutions reflected this fact and as a result were exclusive and elitist and as Armytage (1) so aptly defined the time of their foundation as the aristocratic period.

The Industrial Revolution was driven by gifted and creative individuals most of whom had not attended university and had learnt their skills through direct experience of their respective trades and crafts and in some cases apprenticeship programmes (see biography on this website). For understandable reasons they were prone to be protective of their discoveries, processes and products and seldom shared their ideas. However as the Industrial Revolution gained momentum and pace scientific and technological discoveries blossomed resulting in an increased need for improved communication between individuals and industries. As a result a greater sense on industrial identity gradually developed creating a sense of community, corporatism and spirit across the evolving specialisms in science and technology. This led in turn to the need to establish institutions/societies representing specific areas of scientific, technical and industrial activity. Initially these institutions represented the more general aspects of the activity, discipline or subject but gradually more specialist institutions evolved in the 20th century. These distinct periods are shown below but the list is by no means complete but only illustrates the foundation of many of the key institutions/societies. What distinguishes learned societies is that they represent specific disciplines e.g. statistics, science and amongst other activities organise conferences, seminars and symposia on specialised topics and many operate publishing houses. The majority of professional organisations were and still are independent institutions that promote their disciplines and the specialist knowledge, skills, competences and professional conduct expected of their members. In addition many establish entry standards and encourage the professional status of their respective disciplines. A number accredit university and college programmes involved with their subjects whilst some set their own examinations for the various membership grades. Qualifications to gain entry to certain occupations began in the second half of the 19th century and added much to the status, recognition and development of technical and industrial education and subsequent occupations. For example the Institution of Civil Engineers established examinations in 1897 whilst the Institution of Mechanical Engineering and the Institution of Electrical Engineers introduced examinations in 1912 and 1913 respectively. Many of the institutions work closely with colleges and universities. The number offering examinations have reduced as more universities were established and various qualification reviews and reforms were introduced e.g. the creation of NCVQ. But to provide a scale of provision in 1964 Millerson (2) listed about 160 qualifying organisations with about 80 in science and technology, about 50 in commerce, sociology and law and around 12 in agriculture. There were approximately 120 that conducted their own examinations. Over the years many of the professional institutions have conducted surveys, commissioned inquiries and reports and lobbied governments communicating their concerns about the quality of technical and vocational education and training of people entering their professions.

List of Institutions/Societies and the dates of foundation

The Beginning (The Aristocratic Period)
Date of Foundation Society/Institution: 1660 /The Royal Society 1754. /The  Society for the Encouragement of Arts. 1771/ The Royal Physical Society of Edinburgh. 1783/ The Royal Society of Edinburgh. 1799 /The Royal Institution of Great Britain. 1804/ The Royal Horticultural Society. 1831/ The British Association for the Advancement of Science.

General/Specialist-Professional Periods
Date of Foundation Society/Institution:  1717/ Institution of Royal Engineers.1788/ Linnean Society of London. 1807/ Geological Society of London. 1818 / The Institute of Civil Engineers. 1819 / The Royal Microscopic Society. 1820/ Royal Astronomical Society. 1826/ Zoological Society. 1830/ Royal Geographical Society. 1834/ The Institute of Building, The Royal Institute of Architects, Royal Statistical Society, Society of Engineering. 1838/ The Royal Agricultural Society of England. 1841/ The Chemical Society, Royal Pharmaceutical Society. 1847/ The Institution of Mechanical Engineers. (First president George Stephenson who was instrumental in establishing the Institution following the refusal by the Institute of Civil Engineers to admit him without submitting an essay to satisfy his competence!). 1854/ Society of Engineers (Incorporated the Civil and Mechanical Engineers’ Society (f.1859) in 1910). 1855/ Geologists’ Associated.1860/ The Institution of Naval Architects. 1863/ The Institution of Gas Engineers (Now known as Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers. 1865/ London Mathematical Society. 1866/ The Royal Aeronautical Society (Incorporated the Institution of Aeronautical Engineers (f.1919) and the Helicopter Association of GB (f.1945) in 1960).

1869/ The Iron and Steel Institute (Now known as Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining). 1871/ The Institution of Electrical Engineers (grow out of the Society of Telegraph Engineers renamed the Society of Telegraph Engineers and Electricians in 1850 and became the Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1888 and merged in 2006 with the Institute of Incorporated Engineers to become Institution of Engineering and Technology, Mathematical Society. 1873/ The Institution of Municipal Engineers.1874/ The Society for Analytical Chemistry, The Physical Society (Now known as the Institute of Physics). 1876 /The Royal Society of Health. 1877/ The Institute of Chemistry, Agricultural Engineers Association. 1881/ The Society of the Chemical Industry. 1883/ Edinburgh Mathematical Society. 1886/ The Institute of Brewing. 1887/ Association for the Promotion of Technical Education. 1889/ The Institute of Marine Engineers (Now known as Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology), The Institution of Mining Engineers. 1892/ The Institution of Mining and Metallurgy. 1895/ The Institute of Sanitary Engineers (Now known as Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management), Institute of Engineers- in- Charge (Initially named the Institute of Parochial Engineers). 1896/ The Water-works Institute (Became the Institution of Water Engineers in 1911). 1897/ The Institution of Heating and Ventilation Engineers (Now known as the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers). 1899/ Institute of Refrigeration (Initially named the Cold Storage and Ice Association).

1900/ The Ceramic Society. 1901/ The British Standards Institution (Became the British Standards Institution in 1930), British Academy. 1903/ The Faraday Society. 1904/ The Institute of British Foundrymen, Association of applied Biologists. 1906/ The Institution of Automobile Engineers ,The Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, Institute of Commerce.  1907/ British Association of Chemists. 1908/ The Institute of Metals ,The Institution of Structural Engineers. 1909/ Illuminating Engineering Society. 1910/ Textiles Institute.1911/ The Junior Institution of Locomotive Engineers, Biochemical Society. 1912/ Institution of Railway Signal Engineers, Institute of Medical Laboratory Technology. 1913/ The Institute of Petroleum, Institute of Personel Management. 1914/ Association of Supervising Engineers. 1916/ The Society of British Aircraft Constructors, Society of Glass Technology. 1917/ The Institute of Quarrying. 1918/ The Institute of Physics (Formerly the Physical Society), Institution of Fire Engineers. 1919/ The Institute of Transport, Institute of Engineering Inspection (Initially named Technical Inspection Association. 1920/ The Institution of the Motor Industry, Society of Radiographers, Society of Consulting Marine and Ship Surveyors. 1921/ The Institution of Production Engineers, The Institution of Rubber Industry. 1922/ The Institution of Chemical Engineers. 1923/ The Institute of Welding/Welding (Institute), Institution of Lighting Engineers, Institution of Royal Engineers. 1925/ The British Institute of Radio Engineers, The Textile Institute. 1927 /The Institute of Fuel (Now known as the Energy Institute), The British Boot and Shoe Institution. 1930/ The Institution of Highway Engineers (Now known as Institution of Highways and Transportation). 1931/ The Institute of Housing, The Plastics Institute. 1934/ Faculty of Radiologists. 1937/ Institute of Export. 1938/ Institution of Agricultural Engineers,Engineers Guild. 1939/ Faculty of Radiographers, Institute of Automobile Assessors. 1943/ Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Estate Management. 1944/ Institute of Measurement and Control. 1945/ Institution of Engineering Designers, Society of Operations Engineers, Institution of Water Officers, Institution of Metallurgists. 1946/ Institution of Plant Engineers, Faculty of Builders. 1947/ Society of Cosmetic Chemists. 1948/ British Institute of Management (Incorporated the Institute of Industrial Administration (f.1919) in 1951). 1949/ Institute of Statisticians, Hotel and Catering Institute. 1950/ The Institute of Biology. 1954/ British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing. 1957/ British Computer Society. 1958/ The Institution of Nuclear Engineers. 1959/ Society of Environmental Engineers, Institute of Nuclear Engineers, British Academy of Forensic Science. 1960/ Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine. 1961/ Institute of Printing (Merged with Association of Printing Technologists (f.1956) in 1962).1962/ British Nucleur Energy Society. 1964/ Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.1965/ Institute of Highway. Incorporated Engineers. 1971/ Institution of Environmental Sciences. 1974/ The Institute of Acoustics. 1976/ Institute of Building Services Engineering, Royal Academy of Engineering. 1980/ The Royal Society of Chemistry (Previously four separate societies namely The Chemical Society, The Society of Analytical Chemistry, The Royal Institute of Chemistry and The Faraday Society). 1998/ College of Teachers (Was the College of Preceptors). 1999/ Institute of Logistics and Transport. 2001/ Institute of Leadership and Management. 2002/ Institute of Materilas, Minerals and Mining. 2003/ Energy Institute. 2006/ Institution of Engineering and Technology (Successor to Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Institution of Incorporated Engineers)


  1. Armytage. W.H.G. ‘A Social History of Engineering.’ Faber 1961.
  2. Millerson.G. ‘The Qualifying Associations: a study in professionalism.’ RKP. 1964.

December 2010.

The History of Technical and Commercial Examinations

bookiconThis short history of technical and commercial examinations describes the developments of the examination system from the mid-19th century to the present time.

It complements the history of technical education and is significant because it shows how this form of assessment and formal education of competence and fitness developed to validate technical and commercial education and training provision and the achievements of individuals in their fields.


A Short History of Technical Education –Glossary

This entry is part 18 of 20 in the series A Short History of Technical Education

All areas of human activity create and develop their own specialist language. The area of education and training is no exception to this rule and acronyms, abbreviations and special terms abound. The list below attempts to provide a reference of terms used in post-16 education and training as well as terms associated with schools and Higher Education. Although many of the terms are historical they still appear in many documents. This fourth version of the glossary hopefully will cross reference with the history of technical and vocational education, the history of technical and commercial examinations and the chronology. The list cannot hope to be perfectly accurate or complete but should provide a guide to the terminology, new organisations and initiatives that come and go with increasing rapidity but hopefully the list will be of use to the readership. I have attempted to include material for Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Updated August 2018


A Advanced level of the GCE

AA Advanced Apprenticeship

AA Adult Apprenticeship

AA Activity Agreement

AACE Army Certificate of Education

AACE Association for Adult and Continuing Education – formed in 1978

AACS Adult Advancement and Career Service

AAD Advanced Apprenticeship Diploma

AAE Association for Adult Education

AAES Association of Agricultural Education Staff

AAI Association of Art Institutions

AAN Apprenticeship Ambassador’s Network

A1 First year of Advanced Study

A2 Second Year of Advanced Study

AB Awarding Body

AB Academic Board

ABE Adult Basic Education

ABC Awarding Body Consortium

ABCC Association of British Correspondence Colleges

ABCC Association of British Chambers of Commerce

ABCTG Administration, Business and Commercial Training Group

ABCUs Association of British Credit Unions

ABLSU Adult Basic Literacy Study Unit

ABRC Advisory Board for the Research Councils

ABSN Adult Basic Skills Numeracy

ABSSU Adult Basic Skills Strategy Unit

AC Academy

AC Area Colleges

AC Audit Commission

ACACE Advisory Council for Adult and Continuing Education

ACARD Advisory Council for Applied Research and Development

ACC Association of County Councils

ACCA Qualification Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales

ACE Advisory Centre for Education

ACE Apprenticeship Certificates England

ACE Army Certificate of Education

ACEG Association for Careers Education and Guidance

ACFEC Advisory Committee on FE for Commerce

ACFHE Association of Colleges for Further and Higher Education – previously known as ATI

ACHMI Audit Commission and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate

ACIOB Associate of the Chartered Institute of Building

ACID Association of Colleges Implementing Dip HE Programmes

ACL Adult and Community Learning

ACL Awards Circular Letter

ACLF Adult and Community Learning Fund

ACM Association for College Management (Merged with CEF to form AoC)

ACME Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education

ACOST Advisory Council on Science and Technology

ACRA Association of College Registrars and Administrators (Now merged with AoC)

ACS Average Class Size

ACS Accredited Certification Scheme

ACSCC Association of Community, Colleges and Centres

ACSP Advisory Council on Scientific Policy – founded in 1947 became CSP

ACSTT Advisory Committee on the Supply and Training of Teachers

ACT Association of Careers Teachers

ACTE Association for Career and Technical Education

ACVET Advisory Committee for Vocational Training

AD Advanced Diploma

ADAR Art and Design Admissions Register/Registry

ADES Association of Directors of Education in Scotland

AdFLAG Adult Financial Literacy Advisory Group

ADO Adult Dyslexia Organisation

AE Adult Education

AE Apprenticeship England

AEA Advanced Extension Awards

AEAS Association of Educational Advisers in Scotland

AEB Associated Examining Board (‘A’ and ‘O’ levels)

AEC Association of Education Committees

AEC Adult Education College

AEIC Advancement of Education in Industry and Commerce founded in 1919

AELP Association of Employment of Learning Providers

AEO Association of Education Officers

AfC Association for Colleges (Merged with CEF to form the AoC)

AFD Additional Foundation Degree places

AFE Advanced Further Education

AFECs Advanced FE Councils – two proposed one for England and one for Wales

AFEIS Advanced Further Education Information Service

AFF Apprenticeship Field Force

AfL Assessment for Learning

AFO Apprenticeship Framework Online

AGCAS Association of Graduate Careers and Advisory Service

AGCS Advisory Group on Content and Standards

AHRC Arts and Humanities Research Council

AIP Advisory Interview Process (Part of New Deal)

ALC Adult Learning Account

ALCES Association of Lecturers in Colleges of Education in Scotland

ALBSU Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Unit

ALC Adult Learning Committee

ALCAB A- level Content Advisory Board

ALE Association for Liberal Education

ALF Average Level of Funding

ALG Adult Learning Grant

ALH Average Lecturer Hours

ALI Adult Learning Inspectorate (Replaced the TSC)

ALL Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey

ALLN Adult Literacy, Language and Numeracy

ALM Adult Learning Mathematics

ALMP Active Labour Market Policies

ALN Additional Learning Needs

ALNCFS Adult Literacy and Numeracy Curriculum Framework for Scotland

ALNE Adult Literacy, Numeracy and ESOL

ALP Association of Learning Providers

ALRA Adult Literacy Resource Agency

ALS Additional Learning Support

ALSSF Adult Literacy Support Services Fund

ALT Association of Learning Technology

ALT Association of Lecturers and Teachers

ALU Adult Literacy Unit

ALW Adult Learners’ Week

AM/Adm Memo Administrative Memorandum – communication from government to LEAs

AMA Association of Metropolitan Authorities

AMA Advanced Modern Apprenticeship

aMA Accelerated Modern Apprenticeship

AMB Area Manpower Board (The regional offices of the MSC)

AMS Annual Monitoring Survey

AMSE Associate Member of the Society of Engineers

ANCC Adult Numeracy Core Curriculum

AOs   Awarding Organisations

AoA Association of Agriculture

AoC Association of Colleges merged with NILTA in 2004 – known called AoCNILTA

AoN Application of Number

APA/L Accreditation of Prior Achievement/Learning

APC Association of Principals of Colleges

APEL Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning

API Age Participation Index

APL Accreditation of Prior Learning

App4E Apprenticeships for England

APMG All Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group

APPG All Party Parliamentary Group (Apprenticeships)

APPG All Party Parliamentary Group

APR Age Participation Rate

APT Advanced Personnel Technology

APT Association of Polytechnic Teachers

APTI Association of Principals of Technical Institutions – founded in 1921

APU Assessment and Performance Unit – established in 1974

APVIC Association of Principals in Sixth Form Colleges

AQA Assessment and Qualifications Alliance

AR Apprenticeship Rate

ARB Assessment Resource Bank

ARCA Adult Residential Colleges Association

ART Association of Art Institutions

AS Advanced Subsidiary Awards (Previously called Advanced Supplementary Awards)

ASB Adult Skills Budget

ASCL Association of School and Colleges Leaders

ASDAN Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network

ASE Association of Science Education

ASE Amalgamated Society of Engineers

ASET Accreditation Syndicate for Education and Training

ASET Association for Sandwich Education and Training

ASH Average Student Hours

ASL Additional and Specialist Learning

ASLIB Association of Special Libraries and Information Bureaux

ASNs Additional Student Numbers

ASSC Alliance of Sector Skills Councils

AST Advanced Skills Teacher

ASTMS Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staff

AT Attainment Target

AT Academy Trust

ATA Apprenticeship Training Agency

ATB Agriculture Training Board

ATC Adult Training Centre

ATC Accredited Training Centre

ATC Art Teacher’s Certificate

ATC Art Training Centres

ATCDE Association of Teachers in Colleges and Departments of Education

ATD Art Teacher’s Diploma

ATI Association of Technical Institutions – founded in 1894 -became ACFHE

ATL Association of Teachers and Lecturers

ATO Approved Training Organisation

ATO Area Training Organisation –  Established in 1947 – before 1975 there were 23 ATOs

ATS Adult Training Strategy (MSC programme)

ATT Association of Accounting Technicians

ATTI Association of Teachers in Technical Institutions – founded in 1904

AUS Association of University Administrators

AUT Association of University Teachers

AUT (S) Association of University Teachers (Scotland)

AVCE Advanced Vocational Certificate of Education

AVPC Association of Vice-Principals of Colleges


BAAS British Association for the Advancement of Science sometimes referred to as the BA

BAC British Accreditation Council for Independent FE and HE Institutions

BAC British Association of Counselling

BACE British Association for Commercial Education

BACH British Association of Construction Heads

BACIE British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education founded in 1919 under the name of Association for Education and Industry

BAOL British Association for Open Learning

BALID British Association for Literacy in Development

BAME Black and Minority Ethnic

BAPCK British Association for Promoting Cooporative Knowledge

BASIL Basic Skills for Inclusive Learning

BATC Building Apprenticeship and Training Course

B&M Black and Minority Staff

BB British Baccalaureate

BBC – AL BBC–Adult Learning

BCC British Chambers of Commerce

BCED British Council Education Department

BCGA British Commercial Gas Association

BE Basic Employability

BEAEC Board of Education Adult Education Committee

BEAS British Educational Administration Society

BEBS Business Enterprise and Support

BEC British Employers’ Confederation (Now the CBI)

BEC Business Education Council (Established in 1974 by the DES to plan a set of certificates and diplomas other than degrees)

BECTa British Educational Communications and Technology Agency

BEI British Education Index

BEM Business Excellence Model

BEP Business Enterprise Programme

BERA British Educational Research Association

BERR Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

BESA British Educational Supplies Association

BESD Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties

BESE Board of Education Science Examinations

BET Basic Employability Training

BFUW British Federation of University Women Ltd.

BG (S) Business Gateway (Scotland)

BHA British Hospitality Association

BIAE British Institute of Adult Education – founded in 1921 became NIAE in 1949

BILD British Institute of Learning Disabilities

BIM British Institute of Management – founded in 1945

B-IT Business – Improvement Techniques

BIS Business, Innovation and Skills

BITC Business in the Community (BL’s Business Links)

BITES Business IT and Employment Skills Qualifications

BJET British Journal of Educational Technology

BLA British Learning Association

BMA British Manufacturers’ Association founded in 1908

BME Black and Minority Ethic

BoE Board of Education. (1899-1944))

BOND Building on New Deal

BOPUs Basic On Programme Units

BOT/BoT Board of Trade

BPC British Productivity Council

BRE Better Regulation Executive

BRG Bureaucracy Reduction Group

BRTA British Road Tar Association

BRTG Better Regulation Task Group

BS Basic Skills

BSA Basic Skills Agency

BSARC Basic Sills Agency Resource Centre

BSCF Basic Skills Community Fund

BSEA British Steel Export Association founded in 1929

BSF Building Schools for the Future

BSQI Basic Skills Quality Initiative

BSUS Business Start Up

BTEC Business Technician Education Council ( TEC+BEC)

BTF Bureaucracy Task Force

BTG British Technology Group. (NEB + NRDC).

BTP Better Teaching Partnership

BVQR Board for Vocational Qualifications Reform


C. Cd. Cmd. Cmnd. Command Paper

C1, C2 etc First two years of craft course

C/Circ Circular

CA City Academies

CA Credit Accumulation

CA Community Action

CAA Computer Assisted Assessment

CABs Component Awarding Bodies

CABE Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment

CAC Central Advisory Council

CAC (Wales) Central Advisory Council for Wales

CACC Council for the Accreditation of Correspondence Colleges

CACE Central Advisory Council for England and Welsh equivalent CACW

CACGS Computer-Aided Careers Guidance System

CACHE Council for Awards in Children’s Care and Education

CACPD Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People

CACW Central Advisory Council Wales – established in 1951

CAD Computer Aided Design

CAE Computer Aided Engineering

CAEL Council for Adult and Experiential Learning

CAFAS Council for Academic Freedom and Standards

CAFCASS Children and Families Court Advisory and Support Service

CAI Computer Aided Instruction

CAL Computer Aided Learning

CALL Computer Assisted Language Learning

CALLMI Computer Assisted Local Labour Market Information

CAM Computer Aided Manufacture

CAPS Cooperative Awards in Pure Science – replaced by CASE

CAPIS Central Association for Promoting Industrial and Provident Societies formed in June 1850

CAPITB Chemical and Allied Products ITB

CAPs Credit and Access Pathways

CAO/SAO Chief/Senior Administrative Officer

CAS Careers Advice Service

CaSE   Campaign for Science and Engineering in the UK

CASE Campaign/Confederation for the Advancement of State Education

CASE Co-operative Awards in Science and Engineering

CASE(S) Confederation for the Advancement of State Education (Scotland)

CASHE Council for Adult Skills and HE

CAST Curriculum Advice and Support Team

CAT College of Advanced Technology – 10created in 1965

CAT Credit Accumulation and Transfer

CATE Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education

CATS Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme

CBE Competency Based Education

CBET Competency Based Education and Training

CBEVE Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges

CBI Confederation of British Industry

CBL Competency Based Learning

CBSS Conjoint Board of Scientific Societies

CCA Credit Common Accord

CCA County Councils’ Association

CCs Commercial Certificates

CC County College

CCE Committee of Council for Education

CCEA Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment

CCETs Community Consortia for Education and Training

CCETSW Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work

CCDU Counselling and Career Development Unit

CCIS Client Caseload Information System – used by Connexions

CCTE Chamber of Commerce, Training and Enterprise

CCTE Committee on the Co-ordination of Technological Education

CCW Curriculum Council for Wales

CCWTE Central Committee on Women’s’ Training and Employment

CDG Child Development Group

CDLs Career Development Loans

CDP Committee of Directors of Polytechnics

CDP Community Development Programme

CDT Craft Design and Technology

CDU Curriculum Development Unit

cea curriculum, examinations and assessment

CE/IAG Careers Education and Information Advice and Guidance

CEA Council for Educational Advance

CEDEFOP European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training named after its French acronym

CEDP Career Entry and Development Profile

CEC Commission of European Communities

CEE Certificate of Extended Education

CEF College Employers Federation

CEF Common European Framework

CEG Careers Education and Guidance

CEG Careers Enterprise Group

CEI Council of Engineering Institutions – founded in 1965

CEL Centre for Excellence in Leadership

CELL Committee for Education and Lifelong Learning (Scotland)

Ce-LP Certified e-Learning Professional

CELP College Employer Links Project

CEP Community Education Programme

CEP Community Enterprise Programme

CERDU Central Examinations Research and Development Unit

CERI Catering Education Research Institute

CERUK Current Educational Research in UK

Cert Ed Certificate of Education

CES Commission for Employment and Skills

CESI Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion

CET Council for Education Technology

CETTs Centres for Excellence in Teacher Training

CfBT Centre for British Teachers

CfE Curriculum for Excellence

CfE Campaign for Education

CFE College of Further Education

CfE Curriculum for Excellence

CFE Certificate of FE Various stages e.g. 1, 2 and 3.

C4EO Centre for Excellence and Outcomes

CfFET Computers for Further Education Teachers

CfE Curriculum for Excellence (Scotland)

CfL Campaign for Learning

Cof I Committee of Institutions a key body of CNAA

C – FP Community–Focused Provision

CGLI /C&GLI City and Guilds of London Institute

CGTEA Consultative Group for Training and Education in Agriculture

CHE College of Higher Education

CI College Information

CI Central Institute – Scotland

CI Community Industry MSC)

CIAG Careers Information Advice and Guidance

CID Council for Industrial Design

CIDG Credit Issues Development Group

CIF Common Inspection Framework

CIFE Council for Independent FE

CIHE Council for Industry and Higher Education

CIHT Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation

CiL Collaboration in Leadership

CILA Compulsory Individual Learning Accounts

CILT Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research

CILT Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport

CIM Centre Institute of Management

CIPD Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

CIPFA Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy

CIPHE Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering

CIRF International Vocational Training Information and Research Centre

CIS College Information System

CIT Committee on Industrial Training

CIT Communication and IT

CITB Construction Industry Training Board

CL College Letter – similar to Circular

CLA Copyright Licensing Agency

CLAIT Computer Literacy and Information Technology

CLP Community Learning Programme (WEA)

CLAW Consortium, Local Authorities Wales

CLEA Council of Local Education Authorities

CLMG Campaign for Learning through Museums and Galleries

CLO Common Learning Outcomes

CMI Chartered Management Institute

CMS Career Management Skills

CMS Council for the Mathematical Sciences

CMathTeach Chartered Mathematics Teacher

CMT College Management Team

CNAA Council for National Academic Awards

CO Cabinet Office

COFOG Classification of the Function of Government.

COI Central Office of Information

CoI Committee of Institutions part of the CNAA structure

COIC Careers and Occupational Information Centre

CoID Council of Industrial Design

CoLRiC Council for Learning Resources in Colleges

Comp Comprehensive School

CoP/CP College of Preceptors

COS Certificate of Office Studies

COSHEP Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals

COSLA Convention of Scottish Local Authorities

CoT College of Teachers – founded as the Society of Teachers (SoT) in 1846 and after incorporation became known as the College of Preceptors (CoP) and from 1998 became known as the College of Teachers

CoVE Centre of Vocational Excellence

CP Community Programme (MSC programme)

CPA Comprehensive Performance Review

CPBB Commission on Public and British Business

CPCE Committee of the Privy Council on Education

CPD Continuous Professional Development

CPCE Committee of the Privy Council on Education

CPF City Parochial Foundation (London)

CPRS Central Policy Review Staff

CPVE Certificate of Pre-Vocational Education

Cr/Circ Circular

CRAC Careers Research and Advisory Service

CRCH Central Register and Clearing House

CRE Commission for Racial Equality

CREDIS Credit Framework (Wales)

CREDO Council for Curriculum Renewal and Educational Development Overseas

CREST Creativity in Science and Technology

CRQ Centre for Research into Quality

CS Community Service

CS Central School

CSA Council of the RSA

CSA Care Standards Act

CSCI Commission for Social Care Inspection

CSCS Construction Skills Certification Scheme

CSE Certificate of Secondary Education

CSE Civil Service Examinations

CSEC Central Schools Employment Committee

CSFC House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Select Committee

CSP Council for Scientific Policy – founded in 1946

CSP Commissioning Support Programme

CSI Customer Satisfaction Index

CSM Committee on Scientific Manpower

CSNA Careers Service National Association

CSO Central Statistical Office

CSP Council for Scientific Policy was formerly the ACSP

CSR Comprehensive Spending Review

CSRU Community Schemes Resources Unit

CSTA Construction Skills Training Academy

CST Council for Science and Technology – BIS

CSciTeach Chartered Science Teacher

CSV Community Service Volunteers

CSYS Certificate of Sixth Year Studies

CT Credit Transfer

C3A Colleges of the Third Age

CTC Central Training Council superseded by MSC

CTC City Technology College – first opened in 1986.

CTEB Council of Technical Examination Bodies – 6 REBs + CGLI

CTE(S) Council for Tertiary Education (Scotland)

CTI Computers in Teaching Initiative

CtL Care to Learn

CTLLS Certificate to Teaching in Lifelong Learning Sector

CTTE Commerce Training and Enterprise

C2k Curriculum 2000

CUC Committee of University Chairmen

CULE Cambridge University Local Examinations

CVA Contextualised Value Added

CVCP Committee for Vice-Chancellors and Principals of Universities of the UK (Now called Universities UK)

CVE Continuing Vocational Education

CVS Council for Voluntary Services

CVU Council of Validating Universities

CWB Central Welsh Board

CWDC Children’s Workforce Development Council

CWF Cost Weighting Factor

CXPs Connexions Partnerships

CY Community School

CYEE Central Youth Employment Executive – original title CJEE Central Juvenile Employment Executive founded in 1946

CYS Community Special School

CYSA Community and Youth Service Association


DA Diploma in Art

DA District Auditor

DAB Diploma Awarding Body

DAB Diploma Development Board

DAE Diploma in Advanced Engineering

DAFS Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland

DAS Diploma Aggregation Service – closed in September 2013

DATA Design and Technology Association

DATEC The Art and Design Committee of TEC

DAuE Diploma in Automobile Engineering

DBERR Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

DCAe Diploma in Aeronautics (College of Aeronautics Cranfield)

DCE Diploma of Continuing Education

DCMS Department, Media and Sports

DCS Day Continuation School

DCSF Department of Children and Families (2007-2010 replaced by the Department for Education DfE/DFE in 2010)

DDA Disability Discrimination Act

DDPs Diploma Development Partnerships

DE Department of Employment

DEA Development Education Association

DEAs Disability Employment Advisers

DEA Department of Economic Affairs

DEFRA Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

DEIN Department of Enterprise, Innovation and Network

DEL Department of Employment and Learning (Ireland)

DELG Distributed and e-Learning Group

DELLS Department of Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills

DELNI Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland

DELTA Deaf Education through Listening and Talking

DENI Department for Education of the Northern Ireland Office not responsible for H and FE

DEP Department of Employment and Productivity

DES Department of Education and Science (1964-1992).

DfE Department for Education (1992-1995)

DfEE Department for Education and Employment (1995-2001)

DfES Department for Education and Skills (formerly DfEE and DES -2001-2007)

Dip AD Diploma in Art and Design

DipHE Diploma in Higher Education

Dip Tech (Eng) Diploma in Technology Engineering

DipTech Diploma in Technology

DITB Distributive Industries Training Board

DIUS Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills

DLE Demand-Led Element

DLF Demand – Led- Funding

DMS Diploma in Management Studies

DoE Department of Employment/Environment

DoH Department of Health

DoI Department of Industry

DoT Department of Technology

DPS Directed Private Study

DPSE Diploma in Professional Studies in Education

DRA Default Retirement Age

DRC Disability Rights Commission

DSA Department of Science and Art

DSA Disabled Students Allowance

DScA Department of Science and Art (also DSA)

DSIR Department of Scientific and Industrial Research – founded in 1916

DTC Day Continuation Classes

DTI Department of Trade and Industry

DTLLS Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector

DTLR Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions DTP Desk Top Publishing

DVE Diploma of Vocational Education

DWP Department of Work and Pensions


EA Education Act

E&D Equality and Diversity

EA Education Authority

EAA English Architectural Association

EAB Examinations Appeals Board

EAEB East Anglia Examinations Board  (CSE examinations)

EAG Evaluation Advisory Group

EAL English as an Additional Language

EARACFE East Anglian RAC for FE

EAS Enterprise Allowance Scheme  (Introduced in1983),

EAV Examining and Validating

EAZ Educational Action Zone

E Bacc/English Bacc introduced into the league tables in 2010

EBC E Bacc Certificate

EBITT Employment-based Initial Teacher Training

EBP Educational Business Partnership

EBPOs Education – Business Partnership Organisations

EBTA Employer Based Training Accreditation

EC(UK) Engineering Council(UK)

ECA Educational Centres Association

 ECAC  English Central Advisory Council

ECCTIS Education Counselling and Credit Transfer Information Service

ECDL European Computer Driving Licence

ECIS Engineering Careers Information Service

ECITB Engineering Construction Industry Training Board

ECO Entry Certificate Office

ECTS European Credit Transfer System

ECY Extended College Year

ED or Ed Dep. Employment Department (1856-1899)

EDS Education Data Surveys

EDAP Employee Development and Assistance Programme

EDCs Economic development Councils – set up by the NEDC

Edexcel Awarding body formed from the merger of BTEC and ULEAC

EDI Electronic Data Interchange

EDIMs Equality and Diversity Impact Measures

EDS Employee Development Scheme

EDS Electronic Data Systems

EDS Education Data Surveys Ltd

EEA Engineering Employers Association. (Took over role and title of the original EEF then later reverted back to being called the Engineering Employment Federation (EEF).

EEC Education and Employment Committee

EEC European Economic Commission

EEF Engineering Employers Federation

EEF Education Endowment Foundation

EEN Education for Enterprise Network

EES European Employment Strategy

EET Education and Employers Taskforce

E4E Education for Engineering sometimes referred to as E and E

EFA Education for All/Employers Forum on Age/Education for All

EFA Employers Forum on Age

EFA Education Funding Agency

EFL English as a Foreign Language

EFMD European Foundation for Management Development

EGSA Educational Guidance Service for Adults

EHE Enterprise in Higher Education. (Introduced in 1987).

EIC Employment Induction Course

EiC Excellence in Cities

EIGA Engineering Industries Group Apprenticeship

EIS Educational Institute of Scotland

EIGA Engineering Industry Group Apprenticeship Scheme

EITB Engineering Industry Training Board became Engineering Training Authority (ETA) in 1991

EJEB Engineering Joint Examination Board – established by a number of key professional bodies to oversee examinations in Engineering.

EL 1/2/3 Entry Level 1,2 3

ELL Enterprise and Lifelong Learning (Scotland)

ELLD Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Department (Scotland)

ELLI European Lifelong Learning Initiative

ELLIS English Language Learning Instruction Service

ELWa Education and Learning Wales (Created from merger of FEFCW and HEFCW)

EMA Educational Maintenance Award

EMEU East Midlands Educational Union

EMFEC East Midlands Further Education Council

EMIE Education Management Information Exchange

EMPNTO Employment NTO

EMREB East Midland Region Examinations Board (CSE examinations)

EMTA Engineering and Marine Training Authority

EN Enterprise Networks

ENB English National Board ( Nurse training)

E 1,2&3 Entry levels 1, 2 & 3

EO Equal Opportunities

EOC Equal Opportunities Commission

EOS Employee Opinion Survey

EPA Education Priority Area proposed in 1963

EPA Equal Pay Act

EPC Employers’ Parliamentary Committee founded in 1898

EPI Employment Policy Institute

EPPI Evidence-Informed Policy and Practice in Education

EQF European Qualifications Framework

EQCF European Qualification and Credit Framework

ERP Employer Responsive Programme

ERA Education Reform Act

ERC Employment Rehabilitation Centre

ERP Enterprise Resource Planning

ERSA Employment-Related Services Association

ES Employment Services

ES Edinburgh Review

ESB English Speaking Board

ESD Employment Services Division ( Part of MSC)

ESF European Social Fund

E2E Entry to Employment

ESG Education Support Grant (Specific grant for the then DES)

ESGE Expenditure Steering Group for Education

ESIW Essential Skills in the Workplace

ESL English as a Second Language

ESOL English for Speakers of Other Languages

ESRC Economic and Social Research Council

ET Employment Training

ET Education and Training

ETB Engineering and Technology Board

ETC Elementary Technical Course

ETE Enterprise, Training and Education.

ETF Education and Training Foundation

ETAG Education and Training Advisory Group

ETBI Education and Training Board (Ireland. (2013+)

ETC Elementary Technical Course

ETDU Examination Techniques Development Unit

ETF Environmental Task Force

ETG Environmental Task Group (Part of the New Deal Programme)

ETI Education and Training Inspectorate

ETO Economic, Technical and Organisational

ETP Employment Training Programme

ETPs Employer Training Pilots

ETS Educational Testing Service

EU European Union

EV External Verification/Verifier

EYDCP Early Years Development and Child Care Partnership

EYFS Early Year Foundation Stage

EZs Employment Zones


FAB Federation of Awarding Bodies

FACE Forum for the Advancement of Continuing Education

FACLS Federation of Associations of College Lecturers in Scotland

FAST Forum for Assistive Training

FBI Federation of British Industries founded in 1916 (Now the CBI)

FD Foundation Degree

FDA Foundation Degree in Arts

FDF/fdf Foundation Degree Forward

FDG Foundation Degree Group

FDS Foundation Degree in Science

FDS First Destination Statistics

FDTF Foundation Degree Task Force

FDTITB Food, Drink and Tobacco ITB

FE Further Education

FEAT Further Education Advisory Team

FEC Further Education College

FECL Further Education College Letter – similar to Circular

FECRDU Further Education Curriculum Research and Development Unit ( More commonly known as the FEU)

Fed EE Federation of European Employers

FEDA Further Education Development Agency (Succeeded by FSDA)

FEDEA FE Design Excellence Awards

FEDOR Federation of the Regions founded 1993 created by the 8 RACs

FEI Further Education Institute

FEFC Further Education Funding Council

FEFC(W) Further Education Funding Council (Wales)

FEIS FE Information Service

FEMIS Further Education Management Information Service

FEMU FE Marketing Unit

fenc Further education national consortium

FENTO Further Education National Training Organisation

FERAS Further Education Revenue Account Survey

FERA Further Education Research Association

FERL Further Education Resources for Learning

FERN Further Education Research Network

FERSG FE Reputation Strategy Group

FESC Further Education Staff College (known more commonly as Coombe Lodge)

FESDF FE Staff Development Forum -established in 1996

FESF Further Education Standards Fund

FESI Further Education Sector Institution

FESR Further Education Statistical Record

FET FE and Training

FETAC FE and Training Awards Council

FETN  FE Tutorial Network

FETT Further Education Teacher Training

FEU Further Education Unit . (Succeeded by FEDA and then by LSDA)

FfA Framework for Achievement

FFE/ffe Framework for Excellence

FFORWM The National Organisation for Further Education Colleges in Wales

FFDSA Friends’ First Day Schools Association

FFTIT The Forum for Technology in Training

FHE Further and Higher Education

FIS Funding Information System

FITC Foundry Industries Training Committee

FL Flexible Learning . (Methods include open and distance learning, APL and transfer options

FLLN Family Literacy, Language and Numeracy

FLT Foundation Learning Tier

FM Functional Mathematics

FMA Foundation Modern Apprenticeship

FMB Federation of Master Builders

FOI Freedom of Information

FoSBs Federation of Small Businesses

FRESA Frameworks for Regional Employment and Skills Action

FS Foundation School

FS Free Schools

FS Functional Skills

FS Flexible Specialisation

FSA Financial Service Agency

FSB Federation of Small Businesses

FSMQ Free Standing Mathematics Qualification

FSMUs Free Standing Mathematics Units

FSP Financial Skills Partnership

FSSA Financial Services Skills Academy

FT Foundation Tier

FT Full Time

FTC Full Technological Certificate (CGLI)

FTE Full Time Equivalent


G Course General Course

G1,G2 The two years of a part-time general preliminary diagnostic course at a college

G* The one year part-time general preliminary diagnostic course at a college

GA Graduate Apprenticeship

GB Governing Body

GC Grouped Course/Certificate

GCE General Certificate of Education

GCSE General Certificate of Secondary Education

GDP Gross Domestic Product

GEEP Graduate Engineers Engagement Programme

GERBIL Acronym for the General Education Reform Bill (1987)

GEST Grants for Education, Support and Training

GFE(C) General Further Education College

GIST Girls into Science and Technology

GLH Guided Learning Hours

GLP General Learning Programme (WEA)

GM Grant Maintained

GNVQ General National Vocational Qualifications (Advanced, Intermediate and Foundation)

GNCTU Grand National Consolidated Trade Union

GO Government Office

GONOT Committee to coordinate GCSE, OES, NLI, OCEA and TVEI.

GOLD Gateway of Leadership Development

GP Green Paper

GPA Grade Point Average

GRIST Grant-Related In-Service Training (Replaced by TRIST)

GS General Studies

GSCC General Social Care Council

GSVQ General Scottish Vocational Qualification

GTA Group Training Association

GTC General Teaching Council

GTCs Government Training Centres

GTC(S) General Teaching Council for (Scotland)

GTC(W) General Teaching Council for (Wales)

GTP Graduate Teacher Programme

GTTR Graduate Teacher Training Register

GVA Gross value Added


H Higher grade of Scottish leaving certificate

HASWA Health and Safety at Work Act

HCIMA Hotel Catering and Institutional Management Association

HCOS Higher Certificate in Office Studies

HCTB Hotel and Catering Training Board

HE Higher Education

HEA Health Education Association/Authority

HECSU HE Careers Service Unit

HED HE Division

HEEPI HE Environmental Performance Improvement

HEFC(E) Higher Education Funding Council (England)

HEFC(W) Higher Education Funding Council (Wales)

HEI Higher Education Institute

HEIF Higher Education Innovation Fund

HEIST Higher Education Information Services Trust

HELM Higher Education and the Labour Market

HEQC Higher Education Quality Council (Succeeded by QAA)

HEQED Higher Education Quality and Employability Division

HERO HE and Research Opportunities

HEROIC Higher Education Reach Out to Industry and the Community

HES Higher Elementary School

HESA Higher Education Statistics Agency

HESDA Higher Education Staff Development Agency

HG Higher Grade (Scotland) introduced in 1962

HGES Higher Grade Evening School – developed from the Higher Grade Day School as did the Ordinary Continuation School from the Ordinary Day School

HGDS Higher Grade Day School

HIE Highlands and Islands Enterprise

HMCI Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector

HMI Her Majesty’s Inspectorate

HMICA Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Court Administration

HMSO Her Majest’y Stationery Office

HNC Higher National Certificate

HND Higher National Diploma

HO Home Office

HOC(Ed/S/A Comm) House of Commons Education, Science and Arts Committee

HoD Head of Department

Holland Report ‘Young People at Work’ (1977) – led to the creation of YOP

HPWP High Performance Working Practices

HRA Human Rights Act

HRB Humanities Research Board

HRD Human Resources Department

HRF Human Resource Forum

HSC Health and Safety Commission

HSC Higher School Certificate

HSE Health and Safety Executive

HSLC Higher School Leaving Certificate

HT Higher Tier

HTB Hairdressing Training Board

HTC Higher Technical Certificate

HTD Higher Technical Diploma


IAASE Independent Appeals Authority for School Examinations

IAG Information Advice and Guidance Service

IAG Information Advice and Guidance

IAL Informal Adult Learning

IALS International Adult Literacy Survey

IAP Individual Action Plan

IATA International Air Transport Association

IB International Baccalaureate

IB Information Bank

IBE International Bureau of Education

IBO   International Baccalaureate Organisation

ICs Instructional Centres

ICAC Intermediate Certificate in Art and Crafts

ICAE International Council for Adult Education

ICD Institute of Careers Officers

ICE Institute of Civil Engineering

ICEA International Community Education Association

ICG Institute of Careers Guidance

IDL Interdisciplinary learning

ICO Institute of Careers Officers

ICT Information Communication Technology

ICTF Inner City Task Force

ICTLA   Independent Commission on Teaching and Learning for Adults

ICTS Interdepartmental Committee on Training for Skills – founded in 1964

IDAB Industrial Development Advisory Board – BIS

IDBT Information, diagnostic, brokerage and transition

IDUK Institution for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge

IE Industry/Education Unit

IEA Institute of Educational Assessors

IEA Institute of Economic Affairs

IELTS International English Language Testing System

IES Institute for Employment Services

IES Integrating Employment and Skills

IET Institution of Engineering and Technology

IfA Institute for Apprenticeships

IfL Institute for Learning

IFLL Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning

IFS Institute of Fiscal Studies

IiE Industry in Education founded in 1993

IIP Investors in People

IiYP Investing in Young People launched in 1997

ILA Individual Learning Account

ILAM Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management

ILB Industrial Lead Body . (Later became NTOs)

ILM Institute of Leadership and Management

ILM Intermediate Labour Market

ILO International Labour Organisation

ILP Individual Learning Plan

ILP Independent Labour Party

ILR Individual Learning Record

ILT Information Learning Technologies

ILT Institute of Learning and Teaching

ILTHE Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

IMA Institute of Mathematics and its Application

IMS Institute of Manpower Studies

INSET In-Service Education and Training

IoD Institute of Directors

IoP Institute of Physics

IP Innovative Programme

IPD Institute of Personnel and Development

IPDF Industrial Partnership Development Fund

IPPR Institute for Public Policy Research

IPR Intellectual Property Rights

IQF Integrated Qualifications Framework

IROs Integrated Regional Offices

IRSCADE Inter-Regional Standing Committee for Art and Design Education

IS Industrial Society

IS Information System

ISI Institute for Scientific Information

ISIRC Iron Steel Industrial Research Council

ISM Institute of Supervision and Management

ISR Individual Student Record/Report

IST Institute of Science and Technology

ITTC International Student Travel Conference

IT Industrial Training

IT Information Technology


ITALS Initial Teacher Award – Learning and Skills

ITB Industry/Industrial Training Board

ITC Industrial Training Council replaced by the CTC

ITE Initial Teacher Education

ITEA  Irish Technical Education Association (1929 – 1944)

ITEA Iron Trades Employers’ Association

ITEC Information Technology Centre

ITEC Information Technology, Electronics and Communication

ITIA Irish Technical Instruction Association (1902-1928/29)

ITNTO IT National Training Organisation

ITO Industry Training Organisation

ITP Individual Training Plan/Independent Training Provider

ITQ IT Qualification

ITRU Industrial Training Research Unit

ITS Industrial Training Service

ITT Initial Teacher Training

ITTE Initial Teacher Training Education

IV Internal Verification/ Verifier

IVEA Irish Vocational Education Association 1944-2013

IVET Innovation in Vocational Education

IVET Initial VET

IWA Institute for Welsh Affairs

IWF Institutional Weighting Factor


J1, J2 Before 1944, the two years of a course in a junior technical school preceding admission to a senior course in a college

JANET Joint Academic Network (Network linking Universities and other HE Institutions)

JBPVE Joint Board for Pre-Vocational Education

JC Joint Committee – representatives of industry and the professions to oversee standards of National Certificates and Diplomas

JCC Joint Consultative Committee

JCGQ Joint Council for General Qualifications (AQA, Edexcel, OCR,WJEC and CCEA)

JCP Job Creation Scheme (Short lived scheme introduced by MSC in 1975)

JC+/JCP Job Centre Plus

JCP Job Creation Programme (Ended in 1978 – replaced by YOP and STEP (MSC programmes))

JCQ Joint Council for Qualifications

JEC Joint Education Committee

JES Joint Efficiency Study

JETI Jobs, Education and Training Information

JICs Junior Instruction Centres

JIS Job Introduction Scheme

JISC Joint Information Systems Committee founded in 1993

JMA Jobseekers Mandatory Activity

JMB Joint Matriculation Board (‘A’ and ‘O’ levels)

JNC Joint Negotiating Committee

JREI Joint Research Equipment Initiative

JRSS Journal of the Royal Statistical Society from 1887

JRS Job Release Scheme

JSA Jobseeker’s Allowance

JSS Job Splitting Scheme

JSS Journal of the Statistical Society until 1886.

JTS Job Training Scheme (MSC programme)

JTS Junior Technical School

JWT Jobs Without Training


KPI Key Performance Indicator

KS Key Skills

KSA Key Skills Assessment

KS 1/2/3/4 Key Stage (1 to 4 in schools) in National Curriculum

KSF Knowledge and Skills Framework

KSSP Key Skills Support Programme


LA Local Authority

LA Library Association

LA Learning Aim

LAA Local Authority Association

LAA Local Area Agreement

LACSAB Local Authorities’ Conditions of Service Advisory Board

LAD Learning Aim Database L&D Learning and Development

LAP Low – Attaining Pupil Programme

LAPSEC Local Authority Post-School Education Coordinating Committee

LAR Learner Achievement Record

LARS Learning Aims Reference System

LAT Learner Achievement Tracker

LBs Lead Bodies

LC Learning Card

LC Local College

LCC London Chamber of Commerce

LCC Lifetime Careers Consultancy

LCC London County Council

LCCG Learning Card Consultation Group

LCCI/LCCIEB London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Examinations Board LCCI/

LCCIEB London Chamber of commerce and Industry Examinations Board

L&D Learning and Development

LCP Local Collaborative Project

LD Learner Databank/Database

LDA Learning Difficulty Association

LDD Learning Difficulties and/or Disabilities

LEA Local Education Authority

LEACAN LEA Curriculum Advisors Network

LEATG Local Education Authority Training Grants Scheme

LEATS Local Education Authority Training Scheme

LearnDirect (UfI) LearnDirect (also referred to as the University for Industry)

LEC Local Enterprise Council (Scottish equivalent of the TECs)

LEN Local Employer Networks

LEPs Local Economic Partnerships

LEP’s Local Employment Partnerships

LET Learning from Experience Trust

LeTTOL Learning to Teach On-Line

L4L Learning for Living

LfLFE Literacies for Learning in Further Education

LFHE Leadership Foundation for HE

LFS Labour Force Survey

LGA Local Government Association established in 1997

LGNTO Local Government National Training Organisation

LGTB Local Government Training Board

LHCRACTE London and Home Counties Regional Advisory Council for Technological Education. (Formerly Higher Technological Education)

LI Literary Institution

LIBs Lead Industry Bodies

LIC Local Information Centre

LIF Local Initiative Fund

LIG Learning Innovation Grant

LIN Learning Information Network

LINC Learning in Neighbourhood Centres

LLL Lifelong Learning

LLLU London Language and Literacy Unit

LLMI Local Labour Market Information (Intelligence)

LLN Language, Literacy and Numeracy

LLN Lifelong Learning Network

LLPs Local Lifelong Learning Partnerships

LLSC Local Learning and Skills Council

LLUK Lifelong Learning UK

LMC Local Management of Colleges created after the 1988 Education Act

LME London Matriculation Examinations

LMI Labour Market Information/Intelligence

LMC Local Management of Colleges – followed the 1988 Education Act

LMS Labour Market Survey

LMS London Mathematical Society

LNE Literacy, Numeracy and ESOL

LP Learning Partnership

LP Learning Programme

LR Learner Responsive

LPC London Polytechnic Council

LRC Learning Resource Centre

LRD Labour Research Development

LREB London Region Examinations Board

LRS Learner Registration Service

LSC Learning and Skills Council founded in 2001 and ceased in2010 and replaced by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and the Young Peoples Learning Agency (YPLA)

LSCLSD LSC Learner Support Directorate

L&S Learning and Skills

LSDA Learning and Skills Development Agency (formerly FEDA)

LSI Literary and Scientific Institution

LSIA Learning and Skills Improvement Agency

LSIS Learning and Skills Service

LSIS Learning and Skills Improvement Sevice replaced Quality Improvement Agency (QIA) and Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL)

LSMI Literary, Scientific and Mechanics’ (or Mechanical) Institution

LSN Learning and Skills Network

LSRC Learning and Skills Research Centre

LSSF Learning and Skills Standard Fund

LSYPE Longitudinal Study of Young People in England

LTAC Local Technical Advisory Committee

LTB London Technical Board

LTEB London Technical Education Board

LTSN Learning and Teaching Support Network

LUEs London University Examinations

LUEB London University Extension Board

LVSRC London Voluntary Sector Resource Centre

LWBLA London Work Based Learning Alliance


MA Managing Agents

MA Modern Apprenticeship

MAA Multi Area Agreements

MAAC Modern Apprenticeship Advisory Committee

NABE National Association for Business Education

MAFF Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

MAG Modern Apprenticeship Group (Scotland)

MAP Microprocessor Application Scheme (1977 Labour Govn.)

MARIS Materials and Resources Information Service

MaST Mathematics Specialist Teacher (Programme)

MaSN Maximum Student Number

MSSSB Marketing and Sales Standards Setting Body

MC Matriculation Certificate

MCT Member of the College of Technologists – replaced by the CNAA doctorate award

MDF Mutual Development Fund (Managed by FEU/TA)

MEI Mathematics in Education and Industry

MEP Microelectronic Education Programme

MEP Management Extension Programme

MES Museum Education Service

MESP Mini Enterprise in Schools Project

MI Management Information

MI Mechanics’ Institutions/Institutes

MIN Modular Information Network

MIS Management Information System

MIS Mutual Improvement Society

MLE Managed Learning Environment

MLNS Ministry of Labour and National Service

MODFC College funded by the Ministry of Defence

MoE Ministry of Education

MoG Machinery of Government

MOOCS Massive Open On-Line Courses

MoT Ministry of Technology

MoU Memorandum of Understanding

MSC Manpower Services Commission established in 1973 to undertake the DoE responsibilities for training and employment

MSC Management Standards Centre


NAA National Assessment Board

NAAEC National Association for the Advancement of Education for Commerce – founded in 1935

NAAL National Assessment of Adult Literacy

NAB National Assessment Bank

NAB National Advisory Body for Public Sector HE (Replaced by PCFC)

NABCE Non Award Bearing Continuing Education

NABE National Association for Business Education

NAC National Apprenticeship Council (Retail. Meat etc)

NAC National Advisory Council

NACAB National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux

NACAE National Advisory Council on Art Education

NACCE National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education

NACEIC National Advisory Council on Education for Industry and Commerce – founded in 1948 following the Percy Report

NACETT National Advisory Council for Education and Training Targets

NACP National Association of Connexions Partnerships

NACRO National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders

NACTST National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers

NACTT National Advisory Council for Education Technology

NACVS National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service

NAEGA National Association for Educational Guidance for Adults

NAFE Non-Advanced Further Education

NAGCELL National Advisory Group for Continuing and Lifelong Learning

NAIEA National Association of Inspectors and Educational Advisors

NAITFE National Association for Information Technology in Further Education

NALA National Adult Literacy Agency

NALS National Adult Learners Survey

NALT National Association of Labour Teachers

NAO National Audit Office

NAPAEO National Association of Principal Agricultural Education Officers

NAPAG National Academic Policy Advisory Group

NAPL National Association of United Trades for the Protection of Labour – ceased to exist in 1832

NAPTSE National Association for the Promotion of Secondary and Technical Education

NARIC National Academic Registration Information Centre/National Academic Recognition Information Centre for UK

NAS National Apprenticeships Service

NASD National Association for Staff Development

NASDFHE National Association for Staff Development in F and HE

NASU National Adult School Union

NATECLA National Association for Teaching English and Other Community Languages to Adults

NATFHE National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education

NATSCS National Association of Teachers in Selective Central Schools

NATW National Association of the Teachers of Wales

NAUTPL National Association of United Trade for the Employment of Labour.

NAW National Assembly of Wales

NAW  National Appreciaticeship Week

NBHS National Bureau for Handicapped Students

NBR National Base Rate

NCA National Certificate in Agriculture

NCAT National Centre for Alternative Technology

NC National Certificate

NC National Curriculum

NC National Council

NCA National Certificate in Agriculture

NCAL Nationwide Consultancy for Adult Learning

NCC National Computing Centre

NCC National Curriculum Council

NCDAD National Council for Diplomas in Art and Design

NCE National Commission on Education

NCET National Council for Educational Technology (Became BECTa in 1998)

NCETW National Council for Education and Training Wales

NCETM National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics

NCETW National Council for Education and Training in Wales (ELWa)

NCF National Curriculum Framework

NCFE Northern Council for Further Education

NFER National Federation for Educational Research.

NCH National Certificate in Horticulture

NCIHE National Committee in Inquiry into HE

NCLC National Council of Labour Colleges

NCITO National Council of Industrial Training Organisations

NCRVE National Centre for Research on Vocational Education

NCST National Centre for Schools Technology

NCTA National Council for Technological Awards (Hives Council)

NCTEC Northern Counties Technical Examinations Council

NVG National Consultative Group for the Co-ordination of Validation Arrangements in Agriculture and Related Subject

NCH National Certificate in Horticulture

NCT National Council of Technology

NCTA National Council for Technological Awards. (Hives Council)

NCTEC Northern Counties Technical Examinations Council

NCTET National Council for Teacher Education and Training

NCVO National Council for Voluntary Organisations

NCVQ National Council for Vocational Qualifications

NCWE National Council for Work Experience

ND New Deal

ND National Diploma

ND 50+ New Deal or the over 50s

NDA National Diploma in Agriculture

NDAQ National Database of Accredited Qualifications

NDC National Disability Council

NDD National Diploma in Design or Dairying

NDDP New Deal for Disabled People

NDIF New Deal Innovation Fund

NDLP New Deal for Lone Parents

NDLTU New Deal for the Long-Term Unemployed

NDPA New Deal Personal Adviser

NDPB Non-Departmental Public Body

NDPU New Deal for the Partners of the Unemployed

NDYP New Deal for Young Unemployed

NEB National Examination Board ( Shorter title for NEBAHAI)

NEBAHAI National Examination Board for Agriculture, Horticulture and Allied Industries

NEBOSH National Examinations Board in Occupational Safety and Health

NEBPN National Education Business Partnership Network

NEBSM National Examinations Board for Supervisory and Management

NEBSS National Examination Board in Supervisory Studies

NEC National Extension College

NEDC National Economic Development Council (Neddy)

NEDO National Economic Development Office

NEET Not in Education, Employment or Training

NEG NAFE Evaluation Group

NEL National Education League founded in 1869

NEP National Employment Panel

NES National Engineering Scholarships

NES National Entry Scheme

NES National Employer Service

NESS National Employer Skills Survey

NET Not in Education or Training

NETP National Employers Training Programme

NEU National Education Union founded in 1869

NFAE National Foundation of Adult Education founded in 1946 and eventually became NIAE in 1949 when it merged with BIAE

NFCA National Federation of Community Associations

NFEC National Forum for Engineering in Colleges

NFER National Foundation for Educational Research in England and Wales

NFET National Framework for Education and Training

NFWI National Federation of Women’s Institutes

NGfL National Grid for Learning

NHSU National Health Service University

NIACE National Institute for Adult Continuing Education

NIAE National Institute of Adult Education (England and Wales)

NICEC National Institute for Careers Guidance and Counselling

NICIE Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education

NID National Institute for the Deaf (Now RNID)

NIERF Northern Ireland Research Forum

NIESR National Institute for Economic and Social Research

NIG NAFE Implementation Group

NIHEC Northern Ireland HE Council

NILTA National Information and Learning Technology Association mergered with AoC in 2006

NIPD National Improvement Partnership Board

NISEC Northern Ireland Secondary Examinations Council

NISS National Information Services and Systems

NISVQ National Information System for Vocational Qualifications

NJAC National Joint Advisory Council founded in Scotland in 1949 and in England and Wales in 1953

NJCBI National Joint Council for the Building Industry

NJICGI National Joint Industrial Council for the Gas Industry

NJEE National Juvenile Employment Executive

NJTS New Job Training Scheme

NLI New Learning Initiative – part of the Low-Attaining Pupils Programme (LAP)

NLN National Learning Network

NLS National Literacy Strategy

NLSC National Learning Skills Council

NLSS National Learners Satisfaction Survey

NLT National Learning Target

NLT National Literacy Trust

NMN National Mentoring Network

NMiTE New Model in Technology and Engineering

NMW National Minimum Wage

NNEB Nursery Nurses Examination Board

NNN National Numeracy Network

NOC National Occupational Standards

NOCN National Open College Network

NOF National Opportunities Fund

NOMS National Offender Management Service

NOS National Occupational Standards

N+W New Opportunities for Women – MSC programme to improve access for women

NPFA National Provider Financial Assurance

NPFS National Planning and Funding System

NPS National Preferred Scheme

NPTC National Proficiency Test Council

NQAI National Qualifications Authority of Ireland

NQ National Qualification

NQF National Qualifications Framework

NQT Newly Qualified Teacher

NR National Route

NRA National Record of Achievement

NRAG National Rates Advisory Group

NRCVQ Network of National Resources Centres for Vocational Guidance

NRDC National Retail Distribution Certificate

NRDC National Research Development Corporation

NRDCALN National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy

NREB Northern Region Examinations Board

Nrich Mathematics Enhancement Project

NROVA National Record of Vocational Achievement

NRP National Reference Point

NSA National Skills Academy

NSAE National School for Art Education founded in 1888 original name National Society for Art Masters renamed in 1904

NSAR National Skills Academy for Rail

NSDR National Summary Data Report

NSEAD National Society for Education in Art and Design

NSF National Skills Force

NSP National Support Programmes

NSSF National Standardisation Strategic Framework

NSTF National Skills Task Force

NSTOs Non Statutory Training Organisations

NT National Traineeship (Replaced by FMA)

NTA National Training Award

NTAC National Trade Advisory Committee

NTAR National Training Academy for Rail

NTET National Targets for Education and Training

NTI New Training Initiative

NTIs New Technology Institutes

NTO National Training Organisation (Succeeded by SSC)

NTOD National Training Organisations Division

NTONC National Training Organisation National Council

NTP New Training Initiative

NJTS New Job Training Scheme

NUS National Union of Students

NUJMB Northern Universities Joint Matriculation Board

NUTGs National Union for Townwomen’s Guilds

NVH New Vocational Horizons

NVQ National Vocational Qualification

NVYOs National Voluntary Youth Organisations

NWREB North West Regional Examinations Board (CSE examinations)

NWS New Workers Scheme

NYEC National Youth Employment Council


O Ordinary level -GCE. Ordinary grade of the Scottish leaving certificate.

O1, O2 etc The first two years of an ONC course

OB2L Overcoming Barriers two Learning

OD1,OD2 The first two years of an OND course.

OC Open College set up by the DTI in 1987

OCF Open College Federation

ODLQC The Open and Distance Learning Quality Council

OCN Open College Network

OCR Oxford Cambridge Royal Society of Arts Examinations

OCS Ordinary Continuation School

OCSEC Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination Council (‘A’ and ‘O’ levels)

ODs Open Diplomas

OD1, OD2 etc The first two years of an OND course

ODLE Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations (‘A’ and ‘O’ levels)

ODLQC Open and Distance Learning Quality Council

OECA Oxford Certificate of Educational Achievement

OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

OEPs Open Educational Practices

OERs Open Educational Resources

OES Oxford Examination Syndicate

Ofqual Regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessment in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland – DfE

Ofsted Office for Standards in Education – DfE

OG Ordinary Grade (Scotland

OGC Office of Government Commerce

OLDC On Line Data Collection

OLF Open Learning Foundation

OLS Open Learning System

OLSU Offenders’ Learning and Skills Unit

ONC/D Ordinary National Certificate/Diploma

ONS Office for National Statistics

Op 1, Op 2 etc The first two years of an operatives course

OOPEC Office for Official Publications for European Committees

OPAL Older People Active Learning

OPCS Office of Population Censuses and Surveys

OPPs On Programme Payments

OPSR Office of Public Service Reform

OQC Operations and Quality Committee

OR Occupational Route

ORF Output Related Funding

ORT Organisation for Rehabilitation through Training

OSCs Occupational Standards Councils

OST Office for Science and Technology

OT Open Tech

OT Other Training

OTF Occupational Training Family

OTJ Off/On-the -Job Training

OTS Office of Third Sector

OU Open University

OUDE Oxford University Department of Education


P1, P2 etc The first two years of a preliminary course

PAR Programme Analysis and Review

PARN Professional Association Research Network

PAT Professional Association of Teachers

PB Professional Body

PBTE Performance Based Teacher Education

PCAS Polytechnics Central Admissions System

PCC Preliminary Craft Course

PCDL Personal and Community Development Learning

PCE Professional Certificate in Education

PCET Polytechnics Council for the Education of Teachers

PCET Post Compulsory Education and Training

PCFC Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council

PDP Personal Development Plan

PEDD Professional Educational Development Division

PEI Pitman Examination Institute

PEL Paid Education Leave

PELTS Personal Learning and Thinking Skills

PEP Political and Economic Planning

PEP Private Enterprise Programme.

PER Professional and Executive Recruitment (MSC)

PESA Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis

PESC Public Expenditure Survey Committee

PEVE Post Experience Vocational Education

PfE Platform for Employability

PFI Private Finance Initiative

PFR Provider Funding Report

PGCE Postgraduate Certificate in Education

PIs Performance Indicators

PICKUP Professional, Industrial and Commercial Updating Programme (Programme for employed adults)

PIDA Public Interest Disclosure Act

PIDA Pre-Inspection and School Context Indicator

PIP Parents Information Programme

PISA Programme for International Student Performance (OECD)

PIU Performance and Innovation Unit

PJA Personal Job Account

PLA Peoples Learning Agency

PL Principal Learning

PL Principal Lecturer

PLAR Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

PLP Programme Led Pathways

PLRAP Planning Learning and Recording Achieve and Progress

PLSU Prisoners Learning Skills Unit

PNC Preliminary National Course

PODN Professional and Organisational Development Network in HE

PoR Payment on Results

POS Programme of Study

PPBS Planning Programmes Budgeting Schemes

PPDS Product and Process Development Scheme (1977 Labour govn.).

PPP Public Private Partnership

PQP Principal’s Qualification Programme

PRAISE Pilot Records of Achieve in Schools Evaluation

PRO Public Records Office

PRT Programme Review Team

PRU Pupil Referral Unit

PSA Public Service Agreement(s)

PSC Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. Pre- Senior commercial

PSE Personal and Social Education

PSHE Personal, Social and Health Education

PSHE Public Sector Higher Education

PSI Policy Studies Institute

PSLB Procurement and Supply Lead Body

PSS Peoples Skills Scoreboard

PST Pre-senior Technical Course

PT Part Time

PTC Preliminary Technical Course

PTLLS Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector

PTP Private Training Provider

PV Private and Voluntary

PVS Private and Voluntary Sector

PW Programme Weighting

PYC Positive Youth Charter


QA Quality Assurance

QAA Quality Assurance Agency

QC Quality Control

QCA Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (Formed be the merger of SCAA and NCQ)

QCDA Qualification and Curriculum Development Agency

QCF Qualifications and Credit Framework

QE Quality Enhancement

QET Quality in Education and Training

QDB Qualifications Data Base

QIA Quality Improvement Agency

QNCA Qualifications and National Curriculum Agency (Initial title for QCA)

QUANGO Quasi Autonomous Non- Governmental Organisation

QUILT Quality Information and Learning Technology

QSC Quality and Standards Committee

QTLS Qualified Teacher of Learning and Skills became operative on 2007

QTS Qualified Teacher Status


RACs Regional Advisory Councils (Established in 1946 to ensure co-operation between authorities and coordinate the provision of both AFE and NAFE – now disbanded)

RACOFEEM Regional Advisory Council for the Organisation of FE in the East Midlands

RAE Research Assessment Exercise

RANSC Records of Achievement National Steering Committee

RAPAL Research and Practice in Adult Education

RARPA Recognising and Recording Progress and Achievement in non- accredited learning

RAS Robotic and Autonomous Systems

RASE Royal Agricultural Society of England

RB Research Brief (Parliamentary document).

RBA Reports of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (the BA)

RBL Resource Based Learning

RC Royal Commission

RCs Regional Colleges – 25 in 1965

RCB Regional Curriculum Board

RCCDE Regional Council for Colleges and Departments of Education

RCP Responsive College Project

RCR Royal Commission Report

RCT Royal College of Technologists

RCTI Royal Commission on Technical Instruction – 1881 Samuelson

RCU Responsive College Unit

RDA Regional Development Agency

ReACT Redundancy Action Scheme

REBs Regional Examinations Boards/Bodies – six established

REC Recruitment ERoyalmployment Confederation

REFED Refugee Education and Employment Programme

REPLAN DES programme to promote development of educational opportunities for the adult unemployed

RESTART MSC programme for the long term unemployed

REUs Regional Examining Unions

RFF Regional Field Force

RI Reporting Inspector

RI Regional Inspector

RI Royal Institution

RIA Regulatory Impact Assessment

RIC Royal Institute of Chemistry

RICS Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

RIF Regional Innovation Fund

RIS Regional Innovation Strategy

RMC Regional Management Centre also known as Regional Centre for Management Education

RMCA Regional Management Centre Association

RNID Royal National institute for the Deaf

RoA Record of Achievement

RoC Rules of Combination

ROSE Relevance of Science Education

ROSLA Raising the School Leaving Age

ROTO Register of Training Organisations

RPA Raising the Participation Age

RPR Raising Participation Rates

RQA Raising Quality and Achievement

RR Research Report (parliamentary document).

RRA Race Relations Act

RS Royal Society

RSA Royal Society of Arts (Formerly the Society of Arts)

RSC Royal Society of Chemistry

RSG Rate Support Grant

RSI Regional Staff Inspector

RSSL Recruitment Subsidy for School Leavers

RSU Ragged Schools Union

RtA Route to Achievement

RTG Real Term Guarantee

RTOs Registered Training Organisations

RVCF Regional Venture Capital Funds

RVQ Review of Vocational Qualifications

RVQs Related Vocational Qualifications

RWE Realistic Working Environment


S Section of an Act of Parliament -plural pl.Ss

S1, S2 etc Before 1961 the first two years of a senior course leading to ONC examination. (In Scotland the classes in a secondary school)

SA Skills Academies

SA Skills Account

SA Skills Alliance

SA School of Art

SA Student Apprenticeship

SAs Subject Advisors

SAAS Student Awards Agency for Scotland

SACCA Scottish Advisory Committee on Credit and Access

SAD Science and Art Department

SAE Scottish Adult Education

SAGSET Society for Academic Gaming and Simulations in Education and Training

SAL Supported Autonomous Learning

S&L Speaking and Listening

SANCAD Scottish Association for National Certificates and Diplomas

SAR Self Assessment Report

SAR Student Attendance Ratio

SASE Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England

SATRO Science and Technology Regional Organisations.

SBC Small Business Council

SBN Skills for Business Network

SBS Small Business Service

SC School Certificate

SC Schools Council

SC Select Committee

SCAA Schools’ Curriculum and Assessment Authority

SCATO Standing Conference of Area Training Organisations

SCCAPE Scottish Council for Commercial Administration and Professional Education

SCCE Scottish Council for Commercial Education/Schools Council for the Curriculum and Examinations

SCCYCSS Standing Consultative Council for Youth and Community Service in Scotland

SCDC School Curriculum development Committee

SCE Scottish Certificate of Education 1962 to the late 1990s replaced the Junior Secondary Certificate (JSC) and the Scottish Leaving Certificate (SLC)

SCEA Scottish Council for Educational Advance

SCET Scottish Council for Educational Technology

SCETT Standing Conference for the Education and Training In the Public Sector

SCIP School Curriculum Industry Partnership

SCITFE Standing Committee for IT  created in 1989 renamed NILTA in 1989

SCNVYO Standing Conference of National Voluntary Youth Organisations of England and Wales

SCONUL Standing Conference of National and University Librarians

SCOP Standing Conference of Principals

SCORE Science Committee Representing Education

SCOTBEC Scottish Business Education Council

SCOTCATS Scottish Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme

SCOTEC Scottish Technician Education Council

SCOTVEC Scottish Vocational Education Council

SCPL Select Committee on Public Libraries

SCPR Social and Community Planning Research

SCPT Schools Council Project in Technology

SCQF Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework

SCR Select Committee Report

SCRAC Standing Conference of Regional Advisory Councils

SCRE Scottish Council for Research into Education – established in 1928

SCREB Standing Conference of Regional Examination Boards

SCROLLA Scottish Centre for Research into Online Learning and Assessment

SCSST Standing Conference on Schools’ Science and Technology

SCTEB Standing Conference of Technical Examining Bodies

SCUE Standing Conference on University Entrance

SCWVYO Standing Conference for Wales of Voluntary Youth Organisations

SD Specialised Diploma

SDA Skills Development Advisors

SDA Severe Disability Allowance

SDA Sex discrimination Act

SDD Scottish Development Department

SDF Staff Development Fund

SDF Social Democratic Federation

SDI Specialist Designated Institution

SDUK Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge

SE Scottish Executive

SE Scottish Enterprise

SEAC School Examination and Assessment Council (Became SCAA)

SEB Scottish Examination Board

SEC Schools Examination Council

SED Scottish Education Department

SEED Scottish Executive Education Department

SEETLLD Scottish Executive Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning

SEDA Staff and Educational Development Association

SEMTA Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance

SEN Special Educational Needs

SEND Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

SENDA Special Education Needs and Disability Act

SEO Scottish Education Office

SEOs Society of Education Offices

SERC Science Engineering Research Council

SEREB South East Regional Examinations Board. (A CSE examinations board)

SESCCT South-East Scotland Committee for Certificates in Teaching – abolished in 1963

SET Science, Engineering and Technology

SETNET Science, Engineering, Technology, Mathematics Network

SEU Standards and Effectiveness Unit

SF Standards Fund

SFA/SfA Skills Funding Agency

SfB Skills for Business

SfBN Skills for Business Network

SFCEF Sixth Form College Employers’ Forum

SFEA Scottish FE Association

SFEDI Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative

SFEFC Scottish FE Funding Council

SFES Small Firms Employment Subsidy

SFEU Scottish FE Unit

SfL/SFL Skills for Life

SfLH Skills for Life and Health

SfIP Skills for Life Improvement Programme

SfLQ Skills for Life Qualification

SfLQI Skills for Life Quality Initiative

SfLSU/G Skills for Life Strategy Unit/Group

SFR Statistical First Release

SHEFC Scottish Higher Education Funding Council

SI Statutory Instrument – detailed regulations

SIAD Society of Industrial Artists and Designers

SIAE Scottish Institute of Adult Education

SIC Standard Industrial Classification

SID/A Society of Industrial Design/Art

SIG Strategic Intervention Grants

SIG Special Interest Group

SILO Schools-Industry Liaison Officer

SIO Scottish Information Office

SIR Staff/Student Individual Record

SISTERs Special Institutions for Scientific and Technological Education and Research

SKE Subject Knowledge Enhancement

Skill National Bureau for Students with Disabilities

Skillsnet CEDEFOP international network of researchers and policy makers.

SLA School Leaving Age

SLC Student Loan Company

SLC Science Learning Centre

SLDD Students with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities

SLS Social and Life Skills

SLT Single Level Test

SMART Specific, Measurable, Realistic and Time Bound

SMEs Small and Medium Enterprises

SMMT Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd.

SMT Senior Management Team

SoA Society of Arts

SOC Standard Occupational Classifications

SOED Scottish Office Education Department created in1999

SOEID Scottish Office Educational and Industry Department

SPD Special Programme Division (MSC) – were responsible for Youth Opportunities Programmes (YOP) and Special Temporary Employment Programmes (STEP)

SQA Scottish Quality Authority established in 2006

SQC Scottish Qualifications Certificate introduced in 2000

SQMS Scottish Quality Management System

SQS Sector Qualifications Strategies

SRB Single Regeneration Budget

SRC Science Research Council

SRCFE Scottish Regional Council for FE

SRCFE Southern Regional Council for FE

SREB Southern Regional Examinations Board (CSE examinations board)

SRHE Society for Research into HE

SS Skills Strategy

SS Studio Schools

SSA Sector Subject Area

SSA Standard Spending Assessment

SSAs Sector Skills Agreements

SSAL Scottish Survey of Adult Literacies/Literacy’s

SSAT Specialist Schools and Academies Trust

SSCs Skill Sector Councils (Replaced the NTOs)

SSEC Secondary School Examinations Council. (Replaced by SCCE)

SSDA Sector Skills Development Agency

SSP Specialist Schools Programme launched in 1993

SSR Staff Student Ratio

SSRC Social Science Research Council

SSTA Scottish Secondary Teachers Association

STA Standards and Testing Agency – DfE

STC Short Training Course

STFC Science and Technology Facilities Council – BIS

STSs Secondary Technical Schools or Secondary Technology Schools

STEAC Scottish Tertiary Education Advisory Council

STECC Scottish Technical Education Consultative Council – founded in 1959

STEM Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

STEMNET Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network

STEP Special Temporary Employment Programme -(MSC programme)

STF Scottish Training Federation

STF Skills Task Force

STRB School teachers pay and Review Body

STSCC Scottish Teachers Service Conditions Committee

SUBCHAM Training Providers sub-contracting with Chambers of Commerce

SUBCOL Training Providers sub-contracting with Colleges

SUBLE Training Providers sub-contracting with large employers

SUBLA Training Providers sub-contracting with Local Authorities

SUfI Scottish University for Industry

SULF Scottish Union Learning Fund

SUJBSE Southern Universities Joint Board for School Examinations ( ‘A’ and ’O’ levels)

SVEC Scottish Vocational Education Council established in 2007

SVQ Scottish Vocational Qualification

SVQRB Strategic Vocational Qualifications Reform Board

SVUK Standards Verification UK

SWAP Scottish Wider Access Programme

SWEB South West Examinations Board (CSE examinations board)

SWRB Social Work Reform Board

SYPS Scottish Young Peoples Survey


‘T’ Course Technician Course

T1, T2 etc The first two years of a technician course

TA Training Agency (Short lived title for the former MSC)

T&D Training and Development

TA Teacher Assessment

TACS Training and Consultancy Service

TAG Technical Advisory Group

T&L Teaching and Learning

TALIS Teaching and Learning International Survey (OECD)

TALENT Training Adult Literacy, ESOL and Numeracy

TAP Training Access Point

TAS Training Advisory Service later become the Industrial Training Service (ITS)

TC Technical Certificate

TC Technical Academies

TC Tertiary College

TC Training Centre

TC Training Commission (Short lived title of the former MSC)

TC Technicians Council

TCs Training Credits

TCA Tertiary Colleges Association

TCH Teacher Contract Hours

TCS Teaching Company Scheme

TCT Technology Colleges Trust

TCTR Third Sector/Charity Training

TDA Training and Development Agency for Schools

TDG Technical Data Group

TDLB Training and Development Lead Body

TEB Technical Education Board

TEC Technician Education Council

TEIs Teacher Education Institutes

TECNC Training and Enterprise Councils National Council

TECs Training and Enterprise Councils

TEED Training, Enterprise and Education Directorate

TEEM Teachers Evaluating Educational Multimedia

TEN Training and Employment Network

TES Times Educational Supplement

TES Total Expenditure on Service

TES Through-Life Engineering Services

TES Temporary Employment Subsidy

TETOC Technical Education and Training Organisation for Overseas Countries

TF Task Force

TFEP Training for Enterprise Programme

TfI Teachers for Industry

TfT Technologies for Training

TFT Technology and Flexible Training

TfW Training for Work

TGoL Trades Guild of Learning founded in 1873

TGVS Task Group for Vital Skills

THES Times Higher Educational Supplement

TIC Technical Instruction Act (1889)

TiE Technology in Education

TIS Travel to Interview Scheme

TLTP The Teaching and Learning Programme

TME Total Managed Expenditure

TOC Training Occupational Classification

TOPS Training Opportunities Scheme MSC

TP Teachers’ Pension

TPI Teachers Pay Initiative

TPS Teacher Placement Service

TQA Total Quality Assessment

TQM Total Quality Management

TQS Training Quality Standard

TRACE Training for and Approaches to Careers Education

TRADEC Trades Education Courses

TRC Teacher Registration Council

TRIST TVEI-Related In-Service Training

TSA Training Standards Agency

TSC Training Standards Council (Replaced by ALI)

TSD Training Services Division (Part of the MSC)

TSN Talent Source Network

TSO The Stationery Office replaced the HMSO

TSP Training for Skills Programme

TSSP Traineeship Staff Support Programme

TT Teacher Training

TTA Teacher Training Agency

TTCL Teacher Training College Letter – similar to Circular

TTF The Training Foundation

TtG Training to Gain

TfW Training for Work

TOR Terms of Reference

TSB Technology Strategy Board – BIS

TTWA Travel to Work Area

TU Trade Union

TUC Trade Union Council

TUEO Trade Union Education Officer

TUCET Trade Union Congress Education Trust

TULR Trade Union Learning Representative

TVEI Technical Vocational Education Initiative

TVET UK Technical Vocational Education and Training UK

TWs Training Workshops

TWI Training within Industry

TWIAS Training Within Industry Advisory Service

TYS Targeted Youth Support


UABs Unitary Awarding Boards/Bodies

UACE Universities Association for Continuing Education

UBI Understanding British Industry

UBS Unit Based System

UCAS Universities and Colleges Admission Service

UCAE Universities Council for Adult Education – founded in 1945

UCCA Universities Central Council on Admissions

UCEA Universities and Colleges Employers Association

UCET Universities Council for the Education of Teachers

UCISA Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association

UCLES University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate

UCoSDA Universities and Colleges Staff Development Agency

UCP Unified Curriculum Project

UCU University and College Union (AUT+Natfhe)

UD Unit Bank

UDACE Unit for the Development of Adult Continuing Education

UDC Urban Development Corporation

UDEs University Departments of Education

UDE University Diploma of Education

UDILs University Directors of Industrial Liaison

UEB University Extension Board

UEB University Examining Board

UEI Union of Educational Institutions

UESEC University Entrance and School Examination Council

UFC University Funding council

UfI University for Industry (Later called Learn direct)

UGC University Grants Committee/Council

UGS Using Graduate Skills

UI Understanding Industry

UKACEM UK Advisory Council on Education for Management – established in 1960

UKBVQR UK Board for Vocational Qualification Reform

UKCES UK Commission for Employment and Skills – BIS

UKCOSA UK Council for Overseas Student Affairs founded in 1968

UKForCE UK Forum for Computing Education

UKOD UK Publications Database

UKRI UK Research and Innovation

UKSkills UK Skills

UKTI UK Trade and Investment

UKVQRP UK Vocational Qualifications Reform Programme

UKRLP UK Register for Learning Providers

UKSC UK Standing Conference of Management Heads

UKTI UK Trade and Industry

ULCI Union of Lancashire and Cheshire Institutions – REB

ULF Union Learning Fund

ULIE University of London Institute of Education

ULN Unique Learner Number

ULR Union Learning Representative

ULT United Learning Trust (Academies)

UMI Union of Mechanics’ Institutions

UMS Unit of Manpower Studies

U3A University of the Third Age

UoD Unit of Delivery

UP University Press

URLs Union Learning Representatives

UROP Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme

UTC University Technical College

UUK Universities UK

UVAC University Vocational Awards Council

UVP Unified Vocational Programme




VA Voluntary Aided

VABs Vocational Awarding Bodies

VASFE Vocational Aspects in Secondary and FE

VC Voluntary College – church or trust owned

VCE Vocational Certificate in Education

VCE ‘A’ level Vocational Certificate of Education Advanced Level

VCL Voluntary College Letter – similar to Circular

VCOs Voluntary and Community Organisations

VCS Voluntary and Community Sector

VET Vocational Education and Training

VFM Value for Money

VLE Virtual Learning Environment

VMS Vacancy Matching Service

VP Vocational Preparation

VP Vice Principal

VPP Voluntary Projects Programme

VQRP Vocational Qualifications Reform Programme

VQs Vocational Qualifications

VRQs Vocationally Related Qualifications

VSF Voluntary Sector Fund


WA Welsh Assembly

WABLA (HE) Welsh Advisory Body for Local Authority Higher Education

WAG Welsh Assembly Government

WB Welsh Baccalaureate

WBA Work Based Assessment/Accreditation

WBL Work Based Learning

WBLA Work Based Learning for Adults

WBLN Work Based Learning Network

WBLP Work Based Learning Project

WBLYP Work Based Learning for Young People

WBP Work Based Project

WBQ Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification introduced in 2006 also known as the Welsh Baccalaureate

WBSN Work Based Skills Network

WBTA Work Based Training for Adults

WCTs World Class Tests

WDCs Workforce Development Confederations

WDPs Workforce Development Plan

WDSU Workforce Strategy Unit

WE Work Experience

WEA Workers Educational Association

WEEP Work Experience on Employers Premises (MSC)

WEP Work Experience Programme (MSC) replaced by YOP

WETUC Workers’ Educational Trade union Committee

WF Work Foundation

WfD Workforce Development

WG Welsh Government

WIC Work Introduction Course

WISK Work Skill Course

WJEC Welsh Joint Education Committee

WLN Women’s Leadership Network

WMACFE West Midlands Advisory Council for FE

WMCs Working Men’s Colleges

WMCand IU Working Men’s Club and Institute Union – founded in 1862

WMEB West Midlands Examinations Board (CSE examination board)

WMEU Working Men’s Educational Union

WO Welsh Office

WOED Welsh Office Education Department

WOP Wider Opportunities Training Programme

WOW Wider Opportunities for Women MSC

WP White Paper

WP Works Programme

WP Widening Participation

WPLP Workplace Learning Programme (WEA)

WPU Widening Participation Unit

WRL Work-related Learning

WRNAFE Work Related Non-Advanced FE

WS Work School – training run on employer premises. In 1952/53 there were 71 FT students, 5774 PTD students, 1472 PTDE students and 2288 Evening students. Total 9605.

WS World Skills

WMC&IU Working Men’s Club and Institute Union – founded in 1862 by H. Solly

WSIP Workforce Strategy Implementation Plan

WTEC Workmans’ Technical Education Council

WTES Workmen’s Technical Education Society

WTEU Workmens’ Technical Educational Union – founded in 1852/53

WTSU Workmen’s Technical School Union founded in 1869 – quickly succeeded the Workmen’s Technical Education Society (WTES)

WULF Wales Union Learning Fund

WWCs Working Women’s Colleges

WWW World Wide Web



YA Young Apprenticeship

YALP Young Adults Learners’ Partnership/Project

YC Youth Credit

YCFE Yorkshire Council for FE REB

YCS Youth Cohort Survey

YE Youth/Young Enterprise

YEB Youth Employment Bureau

YEI Youth Enterprise Initiative

YEO Youth Employment Office/Officer

YES Youth Employment Subsidy/Service (MSC scheme)

YEUK Youth Employment UK

YFB/YfB Youth for Britain

YHAFHE Yorkshire and Humberside Association for F and HE

YHREB Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Examinations Board (CSE examinations Board)

YJB Youth Justice Board

YOP Youth Opportunities Programme (Programme under the Special Programme Division of MSC)

YOT Youth Offending Team

YOUTHAID Youth Unemployment Pressure Group

YOUTHWAYS course established by the Department of Education (NI) to help unemployed young people

YPLA Young People’s/Person’s Learning Agency established in 2009 finished in 2010 replaced by Education Funding Agency (EFA)

YPLC Young People’s Learning Committee

YS Youth Service also known as the YSA  YS Association

YSF Youth Service Forum

YSs Young Stayers-on

YSS Youth Support Service

YT Youth Training

YTP Youth Training Programme

YTS Youth Training Scheme (MSC)

YU Young Unemployed

YUMI Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutions/Institutes

YWs Young Workers

YWS Young Workers Scheme


ZBB Zero Based Budget

ZHCs Zero Hours Contracts

Chapter 5 – The Dissenting Academies, the Mechanics’ Institutions and Working Men’s Colleges

This entry is part 5 of 20 in the series A Short History of Technical Education

The Dissenting Academies – Warrington Academy

As mentioned in chapter 1 religion has influenced the development of technical education in England. In fact all stages of the English education system have been subjected to religious dogma and beliefs that have impeded the development of an effective national system of education throughout many centuries.This refusal to recognise the importance of educating the working population can be highlighted by a quotation from the Lord Bishop of London in 1803 – “It is safest for both the government and religion of the country to let the lower classes remain in that state of ignorance, in which nature has originally placed them”  In the last few decades of the 18th and early 19th centuries a new generation of middle class individuals emerged who were involved in the new industrial processes and deeply interested in science and as a result found themselves at variance with the prevailing social and religious orders. Following the Restoration and the 1661 Act of Uniformity  non-conformists were subsequently excluded for a wide range of professions and barred from higher education opportunities. [Note: A non-conformist was a person who did not conform or subscribe to the Act of Uniformity in 1662 making the Book of Common Pray the only legal form of worship in England. In England applied to a Protestant separated from the Church of England]. As a result non-conformists could not hold civil and military office. They also could not enter or take degrees at the English universities that existed at the time i.e. Cambridge and Oxford. Therefore in order to pursue higher education the non-conformists had two options namely:

attend Scottish universities which retained a civic/civil connection and hence unlike Oxbridge were far more enlightened or attend Continental universities.

As a result of this discrimination there were limited options for education particularly higher education for non-conformists so they set about developing their own educational institutions, namely the dissenting academies. When they became established provided the most effective technical and commercial education. The curriculum possessed a very practical emphasis including accountancy, foreign languages, mathematics and science –the physical and biological sciences at this time were referred to as experimental philosophy. Many of the early dissenting academies were short-lived mainly because of constant harassment and persecution from the Church of England that resulted in the academies having to move frequently from town to town. In spite of these disruptions and pressures the dissenting academies gained credibility and established a tradition ably supported by a number of remarkable tutors.

The existence of the dissenting academies made a lasting contribution to scientific and technical education particularly through the achievements of their former students and tutors. For example the Daventry Academy (1752-1789) was one of the first and subsequently influenced those that followed e.g. the Warrington Academy. The academies taught laypeople but also people wishing to enter the church. The Academy founded in Warrington (1757-1786) is a typical example of the movement. The Academy was supported and funded by the newly affluent industrialists from Warrington and beyond who were disillusioned with the standard of education provided by Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The examinations and the resultant value of degrees from these two ancient universities were perceived as of little value except for the elite classes entering the church and other so-called higher order professions e.g. law, medicine. The two universities taught classical and traditional subjects with mathematics, science and its application largely ignored. One of the few exceptions at Oxbridge was the mathematics course at Cambridge which had tutored Isaac Newton and later by William Whiston, who has already been mentioned in an earlier chapter delivering public science lectures in London and at Gresham College. Sadly the subject at Cambridge enrolled very few students. Business people sponsored the academies and wanted to see subjects introduced into the curriculum that would improve the effectiveness and efficiency of commercial and industrial practices and processes in the North West region. As a result Warrington Academy was foremost in science and technical subjects and offered astronomy, chemistry, electricity, hydrostatics, logic, magnetism, mathematics, mechanics, optics, pneumatics as well as the more traditional subjects such as ethics, foreign languages, philosophy, and theology. In 1760 the Academy even introduced a 3 year programme in commercial studies. The Academy taught over 400 students in its 29 years of existence in spite of experiencing constant financial insecurities. Only about 16% of the students studied theological subjects in order to enter the church. The Warrington Academy was finally dissolved in 1786 as a result of continuing financial problems and suspicions voiced by religious bodies. A view of Warrington Academy is shown below.

1757 - Warrington Academy

However its influence continued to live on after its closure mainly through the subsequent achievements of its former students and tutors. These included Joseph Priestley tutor at Warrington Academy (1761), formally a student at the Daventry Academy (1752), an active member of the Lunar Society and noted chemist. Thomas Percival (1740-1804) – one of the first students enrolled at Warrington Academy, founder with others of the Manchester Academy in 1786, founder of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society and a noted medical practitioner and researcher.  Fortunately with the support of Percival after the closure of the Warrington Academy in 1786 its library, equipment and the money realised from the sale of its building greatly assisted the newly opened Manchester Academy. The Manchester Academy was founded in 1786 and continued the tradition of dissent by teaching subjects other than theology. John Dalton was appointed teacher of mathematics and natural philosophy in 1793 and remained there until the Academy was relocated to York in 1803.  Hackney College (1786-1796) was also created by the dissenters and carried on the tradition of the academies specialising in philosophy. In Manchester a drive to teach science instigated by the Literary and Philosophical Society which had been influenced by the Warrington and Manchester Academies established the Manchester College of Arts and Sciences. The closure of the Hackney College and the move by Priestley to America seriously weakened the academy movement. A number of the academies survived but the religious climate in the late 18th and early 19th centuries continued to challenge the innovative aspirations of the academies. Also successive reforms to Cambridge and Oxford began to bring about some significant and positive changes in their curriculum and entry criteria.

The legacy of the dissenting academies is a very positive one not only through the considerable achievements of its former students and tutors but also the pioneering spirit that they generated influenced the future shape of technical education. They most certainly demonstrated to the country that the principle of freedom of religion and learning without dogma was both correct and necessary in a civilised world.

The Mechanics’ Institutions

The Mechanics’ Institution movement was one of the most remarkable movements in British educational history. During the period when they existed educational provision for the children of the working classes was practically non-existent. In 1833 only about 800,000 children were receiving some form of instruction and the majority of this was very elementary reading and writing. Even the Factory Act of 1833 only provided children between 9 and 13 to be employed only if they were in receipt of a voucher stating that they had attended school two hours daily on six days in the previous week and the Act only applied to the textile industry and even in these work places the Act was not universally enforced.

Even before the Mechanics’ Institutions movement was begun a number of institutions, movements and societies had been in existence. Examples of some of these precursors were book clubs, mutual improvement societies, and various working men’s libraries. The Spitalfields Mathematical Society was a good example of a very early specialist group created mainly by weavers. Another interesting imitative was the ‘Sunday Society’ founded by a group Sunday School teachers in 1789 in Birmingham that offered instruction in applied science, arithmetic, mechanics and writing. Following its success a library was created in 1795 to help disseminate/spread knowledge to the working classes. Another society for mutual improvement also existed for a number of years in Birmingham. This society delivered a programme of lectures to its members in a number of areas of natural philosophy. Many of the members were active tradespeople in Birmingham and they constructed pieces of equipment to enhance the lectures. Areas included astronomy, electricity, hydrostatics, mechanics, optics and pneumatics. In 1796 these two societies merged, each maintaining their previous mission and purpose resulting in a remarkable synergetic relationship. As a result of the merger a new Society was born calling itself the ‘Birmingham Brotherly Society’ and extended its provision in order to promote learning for the benefit of manufacturers. In 1797 a library was created by the Brotherly Society called the Artisans’ Library whereby members could for one penny per week avail themselves of books and other reading material.

Two other institutions merit mention as they used titles very close to those later adopted by the Mechanics’ Institutions – namely the Chester Mechanic Institution (1810) that was proposed by John Broster to establish a library, reading room for masters, journeymen, apprentices and workers and in London, the Mechanical Institution (1817) was founded by Timothy Claxton a journeyman who developed instruction in commerce, manufacturing and the sciences.

George Birkbeck who is now widely acknowledged as the founder of the Mechanics’ Institutions movement actually visited the Birmingham Brotherly Society and the Birmingham Artisans Library. He must have also been aware of other self help groups and subsequently refined and enhanced the model through this experience and knowledge to develop his ideas when planning the first Mechanics’ Institution. He was the driving force behind their creation and felt passionately about the education of the workers. The Mechanics Institution movement was in many ways the first attempt to create widespread learning opportunities for the workers who wished to learn about the scientific and technical principles underpinning the processes they were using in their work. A fascinating view of Birkbeck teaching tinsmiths in Glasgow the principles of their work is shown below – the beginnings of the Mechanics’ Institution movement?

Birkbeck at tinsmiths in Gasgow

In the relatively short existence of the movement it highlighted and identified a number of important issues that have continued to impede the development of technical education and training in England. Many of these issues and obstacles can still be identified today namely lack of qualified teachers/instructors, weak literacy/ numeracy skills of the learners and the continuing negative perception of technical/vocational/work – based education. However the legacy of Mechanics’ Institutions continues even today and physical evidence of their existence is still to be witnessed. A number of institutions, colleges and universities, bear testimony to the earlier existence and achievements of Mechanics’ Institutions and one can identify their beginnings from a particular Mechanics Institution e.g. Edinburgh, Huddersfield, Keighley, Liverpool and other towns and Birkbeck College. Many of the institutions had their own libraries and artisans and workers could pursue specifically designed vocational courses by way of lectures and other programmes of study. The Liverpool Mechanics’ Institution is show below.

Leeds Mechanics' Institute 1868

George Birkbeck then Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Anderson’s Institution in Glasgow founded the movement in 1800. Birkbeck proposed to the Trustees of the Anderson’s Institution the creation of a Mechanics’ Institution in Glasgow. The Trustees were initially suspicious, indeed sceptical about Birkbeck’s proposals but he was totally convinced that the workers were keen to learn about the scientific and technological aspects of the industrial processes that they were involved with. He began formal instruction for workmen and artisans in the scientific principles that were used in their trades. The workers paid a small fee to become members and attend the classes. The first lecture enrolled 75 whilst the fourth enrolled 500. In fact the lectures were so popular that ticket sales had to be refused when the numbers became too large. Birkbeck’s confidence was based on personal experience namely that he had identified the workers interest when he commissioned some work on pieces of equipment e.g. a centrifugal pump for his own research. He said “I beheld through every disadvantage of circumstance and appearance, such strong indications of the existence of unquenchable spirit. – – – Why are these minds left without the means of obtaining that knowledge which they so ardently desire and why are the avenues of science barred against them because they are poor?”

His lecture programmes lasted for three months and were staged between 1800 and 1804 and broke new ground in providing learning opportunities for workers. Following his move from Glasgow in 1804 he continued to lecture on science in Birmingham, Liverpool and Hull, and finally settled in London.  Birkbeck was succeeded in Glasgow by Andrew Ure who with his students organised themselves into a society to consolidate, continue and extend the pioneering work begun by Birkbeck. In 1823 the Glasgow men founded the first ‘Mechanics’ Institution’, building on the earlier work and philosophy of Birkbeck at the Anderson’s Institution, [see biography of this institution that was established in 1796 in Appendix 4] and asked Birkbeck to become their first president. The purpose of the new institution was “the instruction of artisans in the scientific principles of arts and manufactures,”- – -“the diffusion of knowledge amongst mechanics.” In the same year a new publication was started namely the Mechanics’ Magazine that argued that a similar institution should be founded in London. This suggestion was immediately taken up by George Birkbeck, Brougham and Francis Place and late in 1823 the London Mechanics’ Institution (now Birkbeck College) was created. At the start of its existence the membership numbered over a thousand, each paying a subscription of five shillings every three months. Other institutions were established throughout the country e.g. in 1824 institutions were established in a number of principal towns and cities across Britain including Aberdeen, Dundee, Leeds, Lancaster, Newcastle and Sheffield and in 1825 Birmingham, Devonport,  Liverpool, Manchester (later to become UMIST) , Norwich and Portsmouth,  In 1826 a Mechanics’ Institutions was founded in Bristol. By the mid 19th century there were over 700 institutions in Britain.


Hudson (1) records that in 1850 the returns from Literary and Mechanics’ Institutions shown below in figure 1.

Figure 1

Country  No. of Institutions No. of Members No. of Volumes News-rooms
England 610 102,050 691,500 372
Wales 12 1472 6,855 8
Scotland 55 12,554 59,661 15
Ireland 25 4,005 57,500 13
Totals 702 120,081 815,516 408

Source: Hudson. J. W. ‘History of Adult Education’. 1851 (1). Kelly (2) provides an interesting table illustrating the estimated number of Mechanics’ Institutions and other Literary and Scientific Institutes in Britain between 1826 and 1851 and this is reproduced in table 2.

Table 2

Year No. of Mechanics’ Institutions No. of Literary and Scientific Institutes Totals
1826 104 5 109
1831 101 6 107
1841 261 44 305
1851 562 136 698

Kelly also reports the distribution and size of the membership in the Mechanics’ Institutions and similar institutes over the same years and this is reproduced in table 3.

Table 3

Number less than 200 Number less than 200 Numbers 200-500 Numbers 200-500 Numbers over 500 Numbers over 500 Totals
1826 80 3 17 1 7 1 109
1831 81 4 16 1 4 1 107
1841 195 38 55 4 11 2 305
1851 445 106 87 25 30 5 698

Key: MIs – Mechanics’ Institutions. LSIs – Literary and Scientific Institutions.

Source: Kelly. T.  George Birkbeck Pioneer of Adult Education.

The Mechanics’ Institutions were justifiably famous for their libraries but also had an amazing additional facility namely newsrooms. The newsrooms which were widely established in the 1830/40s were very popular but were viewed with suspicion by the upper classes who thought the newsrooms would attract persons of a ‘different caste’. These newsrooms contained a rich array of newspapers, journals and periodicals. Tylecote (3) provides a fascinating insight into the material contained in the Manchester Mechanics’ Institution in 1846. Below is a representative list of some of the journals that had scientific and practical themes.

Illustrative list of Periodicals by their frequency of publication

Frequency of publication Titles
Quarterly Journal of Agriculture, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society. Journal of the Statistical Society. Taylor’s Scientific Memoirs
Monthly Artizan. Civil Engineer’s and Architect’s Journal. Dublin University Magazine. Knight’s Book of Reference. Knight’s Library of the Times. Knight’s Penny Magazine. Literary and Scientific Journal. Magazine of Science. Mechanics’ Magazine. Pharmaceutical Journal.
Fortnightly Chemical Gazette.
Weekly Athenaeum. Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal.
Occasional Reports of Local Institutions. Transactions of various Societies

The list of newspapers in 1849 available in the newsroom of the Manchester Mechanics’ Institution is equally impressive ranging through national, regional and local publications. Titles included: The Dublin Freeman. Economist, Glasgow Citizen, Illustrated London News, Morning Chronicle, New York Journal of Commerce, Scotsman, Spectator, Times and Sunday Times, Observer. There were many more from many of the large cities in Britain.

Birkbeck was supported by a number of far-thinking individuals who could see the importance of work-based education including Lord Brougham. The Mechanics’ Institution movement was greatly helped by the support of Brougham who as described in Chapter 3 created the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge and promoted and actively supported the Mechanics’ Institution movement through its publications.

The following quote, which appeared in a Journal of Adult Education, reflects the zeal and commitment of the movement:

‘The movement had genuine educational merits. It started from living interests. There has always been a strong strain of scientific curiosity amongst the English working classes, particularly in the North of England- – – -The Mechanics’ Institutions aimed at satisfying the desire of workmen in an age of scientific triumphs to understand the secret of the new power which was revolutionising industry. They filled a gap for which there was no other provision’.

  Manchester Mechanics’ Institution is shown below.

Manchester Mechanics' Institution  c1824

Sadly in spite of the aspirations of the founders the Mechanics’ Institutions as a whole did not achieve a national critical mass in order to achieve a wider dissemination of scientific and technological knowledge as far as was hoped. In 1858 a report by a committee of the Society of Arts stated that: “Mechanics Institutes are no longer Institutions for mechanics; some enrol a small number of artisans, whilst others register none… though they are still called Mechanics Institutes, they are places for the resort of shop men and the middle class.” It would appear that the development had been pitched too high to achieve and sustain a lasting and widespread success. One major factor leading to their ultimate demise was the poor condition of state education even at the elementary stage. Other contributing factors included: the limited amount of knowledge of the practical application of scientific principles, the proportion of knowledge that the artisans actually required in their work; and the scarcity of industrial research at the time that would have greatly assisted the teaching of the applications of the concepts behind the processes. This further impeded the successful introduction of effective instruction. Therefore, in hindsight, it would be difficult to convey the technical and practical aspects until a more thorough understanding of the principles of industrial practice had been realised. In essence it was too early to reconcile theory and practice and relating and applying science to industrial practice. Also the lack of state funding and sustained political support contributed to the decline as often members’ subscriptions were insufficient to maintain the Institutions. After 1848 the educational opportunities for the workers rapidly declined and the majority of the Institutes became increasingly libraries, reading clubs, providing occasional popular lectures and locations for literary pursuits frequented by the middle and upper classes. This is another classic example of academic drift where provision is primarily focussed on the more academic subjects with the resultant neglect of the vocational and practical subjects.

(One fascinating influence during the first part of the 18th century was the impact of the technical improvements in the development of printing that increasingly provided books and other printed material to the working classes. This most certainly began to provide opportunities for the wider population to access information and improve their reading skills and awareness of technical and scientific knowledge.)

However many positive consequences of the existence of the Institutions still exist today namely that it did highlight and identify the inherent interest of workers and employers in scientific and technical concepts and the impact of this awareness on increasing motivation and productivity. Interesting to note that other European countries and America realised these factors much sooner than England as evidenced by the Great Exhibitions of 1851 and 1867 [see chapter 6]. A number of the Institutes went on to become Working Men’s Colleges and the London Mechanics’ Institution later transformed into Birkbeck College is now a constituent college of the London University and still provides part-time higher education to mainly adults who are working. Other Mechanics’ Institutions that survived and later became an established part of the further and higher education system included the Huddersfield Technical College, the Birmingham and Midland Institute, Firth College Nottingham and Manchester College of Technology. Many others continued to offer evening classes in art, commerce and the sciences until they were eventually absorbed into the emerging technical education system that occurred in the later stages of the 19th century. This invaluable contribution helped to add to the provision of technical education whilst the various Education Acts and Statutes were enacted during the latter end of the 19th century. The Mechanics’ Institutions that survived after 1850 were also able to benefit from the South Kensington grants after 1859, grants from the City and Guilds Institute of London after 1879 and the whiskey money after 1890 [See later chapters for explanations of these Acts and funding streams].

London Mechanics' Institution in 1826

A view of London Mechanics’ Institution is shown opposite in 1826. Looking back over the history of the Mechanics’ Institutions one is struck how their fortunes fluctuated with the ups and downs of the trade cycles. In times of boom and high employment they flourished whilst in times of depression they languished. One can identify three distinct periods of expansion of the Institutions namely 1823-85, 1835-40 and 1845-50. The Mechanics’ Institutions produced many remarkable individuals e.g. James Young (1811-18830 now acknowledged as one of the most important men in the development of the petroleum industry. Also the founding of the unions in Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire they began to lay the foundations for the technical education system. Also the co-operation between the Mechanics’ Institutions and the Society of Arts created the first nation-wide examination system for technical subjects. [I have written a separate history on the history of technical and commercial examinations which is on this website.]

An additional observation:

Just as the dissenting academies had their critics mainly from the Church of England the Mechanics’ Institutions had their critics who made derogatory comments about them. For example the Tories denounced the Institutions as hotbeds of radicalism (‘I had rather see my servants dead drunk than I would see them going to the Mechanics’ Institution’ wrote one critic.) Also radicals condemned the institutions as an exercise in paternalism designed to exploit the workers. Amazing with such negative attitudes and prejudices it was a miracle that the movement survived as long as it did and went on to make significant contributions to technical education.

Working Men’s Colleges and Institutes 1842+

The Working Men’s Colleges’ mission was very different from that of the Mechanics’  Institutions and focused on adult education and attempted to address deficiencies in education for working adults and provided a more general education for coping with social and economic issues. In many ways one could make a crude comparison of this movement with the current programmes for basic skills in such areas as literacy, numeracy and financial competence. Many commentators have argued that many of the attempts to educate the workers up to the mid 19th century had only been a partial success. Too often the middle classes who wished to educate the working classes came at it with a crusading mission and a patronising, dogmatic and conservative attitude. They had no real understanding, conception or direct knowledge of how working people lived .They did not understand the realities of the working classes and believed that education for the workers was about maintaining social order, creating national prosperity and religious salvation!  The Working Men’s Colleges developed very different approaches often tempered with religious influences and a number rejected the idea that vocational and technical education was useful in relationship to a man’s craft or profession. Various preparatory classes were offered and opportunities for progression existed to higher levels of study were established by the colleges. More practical classes were introduced later (1870+) in bookkeeping, science and shorthand these last two being increasingly seen as  important in the emerging business and commerce areas. Colleges were found in 1842 in Sheffield (People’s), Halifax, Leicester, London, Oxford and Wolverhampton. The Wortley Working Men’s Institute in 1876 Club is shown below.

Wortley Working Men's Institute 1876

The Sheffield People’s College for example was established by Rev. R. Bayley who had lectured at the Mechanics’ Institution. The classes were open to both men and women and subjects offered included classical languages, geometry, geography, history but with little or no science and technical subjects. In 1853 after many changes – Bayley had left in 1848 – more vocational programmes were introduced especially in chemistry that were closely linked to the steel trades of Sheffield and students sat Society of Arts examinations. Eventually the College was gradually absorbed, like many of the more successful Mechanics’ Institutions, into the then emerging technical college system but the Sheffield College acted as an exemplar for other institutions that followed.

One such institution strongly influenced by the Sheffield People’s College was the much more successful and longer lived London Working Men’s college founded in 1854 by Frederick Maurice. Maurice was a very religious individual and his college reflected high moral and spiritual ideals and the College was very much based on the universities of Cambridge and Oxford.  He was greatly influenced by the educational ideas of Robert Owen and a supporter of Chartism. The curriculum in contrast to that of the Mechanics’ Institutions emphasised humane studies so drawing, science and mathematics were taught from a liberal perspective. The College employed some notable teachers including Ruskin. The Working Men’s College underwent a number of significant changes over the years and even created an adult school in 1855 to prepare illiterate students to gain entry to the College. Later in 1857 the College established an elementary class to act as a bridge between the adult school and the College. Interestingly like the Sheffield College it introduced more technical subjects such as book-keeping, carpentry and plumbing. The College proved a success by adopting this approach and was able to attract increasing numbers of workers which was reflected in the enrolments at the end of the 19th century, exceeding 1,000. The Working Men’s College Great Ormand Street is shown below.

Working Men's College - Great Ormond Street

The model of the Working Men’s colleges developed rapidly out from London and between 1855 and 1868 more than a dozen colleges were created in England and two in Scotland. Many did not survive very long and most had ceased operating within ten years. As in the case o the Mechanics’ Institutions the inadequacy of elementary/primary education deterred workers from accessing the provision offered by the Working Men’s College. In most Colleges workers did not form the majority of the student numbers. At Salford the College reported in 1858 ‘clerks and warehousemen numbered 79 in a total of 170, while labourers, mill-hands and packers were but 14, all told, the rest being made up of small numbers in a variety of trades and 28 described as miscellaneous’. Table 4 below shows the distribution of enrolments over the three terms in 1858 at the Manchester College.

Figure 4

Book-keepers, clerks, shop-assistants,
shop-keepers, teachers and warehousemen.
149 135 109
Miscellaneous 24 3 0
Operatives 70 57 54

The Manchester College eventually merged with the evening classes run by Owens College. Interesting to note that some who offered the more technical and vocational subjects survived longer and again were gradually assimilated into the emerging technical college movement at the end of the 19th century. The Leicester College was the longest surviving institution and eventually became part of Leicester University’s’ extra-mural department.

The Working Men’s Colleges made a significant contribution to the creation of the University Extension movement and the college in Oxford eventually became Ruskin College with a mission to educate working men to occupy leading positions in industry and commerce. Although it must be restated that many of these latter developments were still very focussed on the arts and humanities and again aimed at the middle and upper classes. One important and lasting consequence of the Working Men’s College was the influence they had on the development of adult education and began to highlight the distinction between liberal and technical education.

Colleges for Women

The London Working Men’s College did not permit the admission of women except for a limited period at the beginning of its existence. However in 1864 the Working Women’s College in Bloomsbury was established. Many of its supporters wanted a merger with the Working Men’s College seeing benefits from mixed classes from such a merger but this was refused by the Working Men’s College senior staff. Following the refusal a minority of individuals changed the name of the Working Women’s College in 1874 to the ‘College for Men and Women’. Yet another group reacted to this and created yet another college called the ‘College for Working Women’ in Fitzroy Street. This latter institution proved a greater success than the College for Men and Women by offering a wide range of technical and academic subjects as well as domestic subjects such as cookery, dressmaking and health studies. The College attracted students from a range of employment areas including domestic service workers, nursing, shop assistants and teaching. This is one of a very few institutes at this time that offered a dedicated programmes of study for women. The College for Men and Women closed in 1901 but the College for Working Women continues to this day having merged with the Working Men’s College in 1967.

Summary and Conclusions

These few examples along with others during the first half of the 19th century provide evidence of an embryonic system for technical education albeit a faltering one. However as has been said earlier it failed for a number of reasons. One of the many reasons was that England did not even have a national elementary/primary education system until well into the 19th century so it is not surprising that a national framework for technical education had to wait until the end of the 19th century. It was much later in the 19th century that a national system for elementary/primary pupils was established. The only semblance of a national system or network of educational institutions at this time were the Public, Grammar and Sunday schools. Also many barriers still existed that deterred workers both men and women from pursuing study, including limited access to educational institutions because of geographic constraints, unsociable times of attendance, relatively high costs, poor teaching staff etc. It must also be remembered that very often many workers/artisans were expected to attend evening classes after working from 6.00 am to 7.00pm in a factory often in atrocious conditions. Much still needed to be achieved before an effective national system of school and technical education could be realised.

The next chapter will continue to map the history and development of technical education including the consequences of the Great Exhibitions of 1851and 1867, the creation of the City and Guilds Institute of London and other educational movements including the Trade Schools.



(1)  Hudson. J.W. ‘The History of Adult Education.’ Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans. 1851.

(2)  Kelly.T. ‘George Birkbeck Pioneer of Adult Education.’ Liverpool University Press. 1957.

(3)  Tylecote. M. ‘The Mechanics’ Institutes of Lancashire and Yorkshire Before 1851.’ Manchester University Press.1957.

Other useful references:

  • Davies. J. L. ‘The Working Men’s College 1854-1904.’ Macmillian .1904.
  • Gregg. P. ‘A Social and Economic History of Britain 1760-1972.’ Harrop.ISBN 0 245 51899 1. 1973.
  • O’Brien. P. ‘Warrington Academy 1757-86.’ Owl Books .ISBN 0 9514333 0X. 1989.
  • Peers. R. ‘Adult Education.’ RKP.1958.

A more comprehensive book list is provided in a separate section on this website along with comprehensive glossary and chronology.

Chapter 4 – Promoting Public Interest and Awareness in Science and Technology – Early Groups, Societies and Movements

This entry is part 4 of 20 in the series A Short History of Technical Education


The previous chapters of this history have attempted to provide the background and context for the issues that have dominated and shaped the development of technical education in England before, during and after the Industrial Revolution. I will now focus on some of the consequences of the successive Scientific and Industrial Revolutions during the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries that precipitated a growing awareness and interest in the practical benefits of science and its applications. This growing interest among the worker population in machinery and its workings, in the processes associated the new industries, manufacturing processes and natural science was fortunately encouraged by a few enlightened employers. However this curiosity and interest did not lead to any immediate or widespread provision of education or instruction in scientific and technical subjects until well into the 19th century.

The excitement generated by the achievements of the Scientific Revolution in the 17th century arising from the discoveries of amongst others Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) , Robert Hooke (1635-1703) and  Isaac Newton (1643-1727) highlighted the importance of communicating and disseminating information about science and astronomy initially amongst other scientists then later to the wider public. An artist’s impression of Robert Hooke is shown below as no known portrait exists of him – he was a very remarkable scientist and sadly has not received the recognition he deserves.

503px-13_Portrait_of_Robert_HookeThere was much less interest at this time in the practical applications of science namely technology – interest only grew slowly as the consequences of the Industrial Revolution impacted on more people. As the scientific community grew they founded the Royal Society in 1660 in order to consider the pure and theoretical aspects of the major scientific discoveries being made at the time. Initially it was perceived as an exclusive and somewhat elitist club for gentlemen scientists. Eventually separate and independent bodies were established in Scotland and Ireland namely The Royal Society of Edinburgh founded in 1783 and the Royal Irish Academy based in Dublin founded in 1785.  As the Industrial Revolution gained momentum public interest did gradually increase towards more applied, vocational and technical aspects of the scientific discoveries and basic principles associated with industrial processes. It was therefore inevitable that groups would be established that considered the workers’ interest in industrial processes and the science that underpinned them.

Even though the Royal Society purported to be about the dissemination of scientific knowledge it had little to do with the application of science preferring to focus on the pure and theorical aspects of science. In 1754 a society was founded that very much focussed on the issues associated with manufacturing namely The Society of Arts for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce that later became the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). Founded by William Shipley (1714-1803) the Society quickly received support from the aristocracy, manufacturers and the wider professional groups who financially sponsored grants and premiums for improvement in fields such as agriculture, industry and the trades. However the emphasis was still very much on the pure aspects of science and technology and the academic view persisted and reflected the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. The Society of Arts has played a significant role in technical and commercial education and training since its foundation. The City and Guilds Institute of London (CGLI) and the RSA are the two premier bodies each possessing a long and worthy history representing technical, vocational and commercial education especially in the area of examinations. An engraving of William Shipley is shown below.


Initially the Royal Society was the premier scientific body that represented all the sciences so it was inevitable that other specialised groups would be established to represent more specific scientific, astronomical and medical disciplines. These included the Medical Society of Edinburgh, (1734), the Physical Society of Edinburgh (1771), the Medical Society of London (1773), the Linnaean Society (1788) and the Royal Institution (1799), the Royal Astronomical Society (1820), British Association (1831) and the Chemical Society (1841). The majority of these organisations were based in London. [Additional information about the foundation of these and other professional bodies is more fully described in the biographies]. In addition to these societies there was a fascinating array of other movements that attempted to communicate and disseminate knowledge about science and its application. These movements centred on a wide range of formats such as debating societies, clubs, libraries, literary and philosophical societies, public lectures and various specialised institutions.

In 1799 the Royal Institution was created by Count Rumford (1753-1814) the American-born of English origin physicist who initially provided lectures on the application of science domestically in the home e.g. ovens, ventilation and heating systems. The Institution had a house on Albemarle Street, London that possessed a special room full of equipment and models associated with these domestic appliances. It was a truly remarkable facility and the Society reflected both Rumford’s unique insight and abilities and those who followed him. The initial purpose of the Royal Institution differed little from that of the Society of Arts. Both grew out of the industrial age and the resultant belief in utilitarianism. [Note: Utilitarian –designed for use rather than beauty – a person who believes in utilitarianism i.e. that the highest good lies in the greatest good of the greatest numbers.] One definite difference was the Institution’s commitment to improve the lives of the poor and to increase the technical knowledge of the artisans. In the first few years of its existence the Royal Institution ran a small industrial school for mechanics providing the basic skills and theory for such crafts as bricklaying, iron plate working, joinery and other metal workings. Rumford left to go to Germany and Humphrey Davy (1778-1829) assumed the role of head of the Institution laboratory and changed the lecture format and content so that it focused on the teaching of science and its application. Davy was then succeeded by Michael Faraday (1791-1867) who introduced a wide range of scientifically based lectures including the famous Christmas lectures, which continue to this day. In 1810 the Royal Institution became a public body in order to promote chemical science, the arts, manufacturing and the spread/diffusion and extension of useful knowledge in general. The Royal Institution was one of a few early examples of a society that set the standard and operating model for other cities to follow such as Liverpool, and the Royal Manchester Institution. These and other bodies did promote  the arts, literature and  sciences in a way that was not exclusive or elitist but attempted to offer provision to much wider audiences including artisans. However in spite of the worthy initiatives there is evidence that the provision for artisans and workers was sparse and as a result not on any significant scale to make any real impact.

Another body that focused on science and science teaching in schools was the British Association for the Advancement of Science founded at a meeting in York in 1831.The meeting highlighted that the educated classes of the time were becoming interested in the diffusion of science. The Association was established as a result of disillusionment with the Royal Society which was still seen as an exclusive gentlemen’s club. The leading spirit was Charles Babbage (1792-1871), a severe critic of the Royal Society arguing that the Society had reneged on its original aim ‘to improve the knowledge of natural things, and all useful Arts, Manufactures and Mechanick practises, Engines and Inventions by Experiments’[See biography of Charles Babbage in the biographies]. The Association’s main purpose was to promote research and discovery and facilitate meetings between practising scientists and as a result was far more open and democratic than the Royal Society. From about 1861 the Association focused its attention and resources on school science.  In 1889 the Association presented a report strongly supporting the Heuristic* method of science teaching that had been developed by Henry Armstrong (1848-1937) who had worked at the Finsbury Technical College and which subsequently greatly influenced the teaching of  science e.g., Nuffield Science. The Association introduced lecture programmes at its annual meeting and these became very famous not only because of their content but the lecturers who included Thomas Huxley, Henry Roscoe and William Tyndall. The Association rapidly became the most highly regarded organisation representing science in Britain and continues its excellent work up to today.

*[The heuristic methods of teaching are basically placing the student as far as possible in the position of the researcher – methods that involve them finding out instead of merely being told about things].

Below I will attempt to describe some of the other important movements although as Kelly (1) states the variety and scope of these is almost impossible to identify and record because of the lack of accurate historical detail. Many were short lived whilst others thrived and some still survive today although these went through many changes in title. However it must be said that many did not cater for the working classes as the cost of membership or activity was well beyond the reach of the artisan. Many of the societies and clubs were exclusively for the middle and upper classes but in spite of this failing it did reveal the growing interest in science and its application even in the upper classes. Also the majority of these movements were based in London which although understandable i.e. being the capital, did reinforce the widely held belief that everything in England revolved around London i.e. London centric. George Birkbeck (1776-1841) would develop a movement i.e. the Mechanics’ Institutions that would address the educational needs and interests of the workers more fully.

[I will describe more fully the Mechanics’ Institutions in Chapter 5.]

Some examples of Bodies Associated with the Dissemination of Science and its Application.

Gresham College and Public Science Lectures.
A good example of public lectures was the Gresham lectures based at Gresham College, founded as a result of a bequest by Thomas Gresham (1519-1579) to the Corporation of London and the Mercers’ Company in 1579. The bequeathed funds were to establish a series of lectureships in such disciplines as astronomy, geometry, law, physic, religion, rhetoric and music. The bequest was fully realised in 1597 upon the death of his wife. The college was based in his house in Bishopsgate Street with a number of the professors in residence. The professors delivered weekly lectures in both Latin and English. The lectures on geometry included elements of arithmetic whilst astronomy was aimed at the needs of mariners and their navigation skills. Gresham College and its professors played a significant part in the creation of the Royal Society in 1658 as many of the early planning meetings were held at the College. The lectures at the College continued to thrive throughout the 17th century with topics in astronomy, geometry and physics and in the 1690s lectures in chemistry and mathematics were begun. One of the most remarkable lecturers was Dr John Theophilus Desaguliers (1683- 1744) who was a gifted mathematician and natural scientist. He lectured in these subjects for over thirty years between 1712/13 until his death in 1744. He offered a series of twenty-two lectures at a cost of two and a half guineas that included such topics as hydrostatics, mechanics and optics. A portrait of Theophilus Desaguliers is shown below.


Other notable lecturers included William Whiston (1667-1752) who had succeeded Isaac Newton at Cambridge and regularly lectured on natural philosophy. Gresham College was the pioneer and forerunner for staging public lectures and in many ways anticipated the university extension movement and many elements of the adult education system that are practised today. Many of the lecturers went on to make significant contributions to science and other disciplines. Gresham College still exists today.

Following the success of Gresham College, science lectures developed across England in the rapidly developing industrial cities of the Midlands and the North but also in towns and ports. A wide range of subjects were taught reflecting the level of interest or specialism in the cities and towns. Mathematics and natural sciences were popular in Manchester whilst natural philosophy was the most frequent subject in the provinces – one can equate natural philosophy with the current title of the physical and biological sciences. As the lectures became more popular the formal lectures were complemented by experiments, working models and demonstrations. However the audiences were mainly middle or upper class because of the high cost of the lectures and that the general ambience did not attract the artisan. The Mechanics’ Institutions would provide through self help the really first opportunity for the working person to learn about science and its application [see chapter 5.]

Working-class Societies.
There were a few examples of working-class scientific and mathematical societies such as the Spitalfields Mathematical Society see Appendix 4. Similar societies existed in Lancashire and Yorkshire and like the Spitalfields Society were created by weavers. Mathematical Societies were to be found in such places as Manchester and Oldham. Other Societies reflecting such interests as floriculture and entomology were active in London in the 18th century. Natural philosophy classes for the artisan were being offered in Birmingham in the late 18th century.

Literary and Philosophical Societies.
From around the 1780s provision around the country of science for adults was made by philosophical and literary societies. However these organisations were very much focussed on the middle and upper classes and were about the pursuit of knowledge as opposed to the practical aspects, although some of the Societies did attempt to popularise and raise awareness of science and its application. Interesting even at this time to see that provision was already available for the elite and privileged and not for the mechanics and artisans.  This fact reinforces the influence of class on the English way of life that Weiner (2) so clearly articulates. Literary and Philosophical Societies were established in some of the big cities such as Leeds (1783), Liverpool (1779) and Manchester (1781). However many did not last long but Manchester proved to be the model of later and more successful ones e.g. Newcastle (1793). Manchester Society was founded in 1781 by Thomas Percival (1740-1804) a former student of the Warrington Academy, [see Chapter 5,] and was the most successful becoming the model for similar societies and continues to this day. Other successful and active ones existed in Birmingham, Leeds (1783), Liverpool (1779) and Newcastle but many were short-lived. The Societies were primarily operated for the mutual improvement of their own members and activities covered a wide spectrum of interests but the Manchester Society was one of the few that specialised in science. This was due mainly to John Dalton (1766-1844) a former teacher at the Manchester Academy. John Dalton is often referred to as the father of modern chemistry and was also a famous physicist who was elected as a member of the Manchester Lit and Phil in 1794 becoming its secretary in 1800 and then president in 1817, a position he held until his death in 1844. A picture of the Newcastle-upon- Tyne Literary and Philosophical Society is shown below along with a portrait of John Dalton.

John Dalton449px-Lit_and_Phil

Many of the more successful and financially endowed Literary and Philosophical   Societies promoted science and literature by a variety of methods and techniques e.g. lectures, the reading of papers, laboratories equipped with certain pieces of apparatus, well stocked libraries and even in some cases museums.  The less successful ones often had ill-defined and vague aims and offered an oddly assorted set of programmes spanning the arts, science and technology. Too often the audiences could not understand many of these and it was inevitable that the membership subsequently declined. However a few e.g. Manchester and Newcastle continue to thrive promoting and offering a wide range of subjects and activities.

The Lunar Society (1765 – 1813).
The Lunar Society (1775-1813) started out as the Lunar Circle (1765-1775) and comprised a group of leading individuals from industry and science.  The Society was in many ways a forerunner of the literary and philosophical societies. At the time, it was, like the Royal Society a meeting place for inventors, scientists and natural philosophers but what made it special was that the members were interested in the application of science to such disciplines as education, manufacturing, mining and transportation. The meetings of the Society were scheduled at the time of the full moon because travelling at night, when no street lighting existed, could be dangerous and many of the members had far to travel to attend the meeting. The members referred to themselves as the ‘lunatics’. The meetings took place in members’ homes including Soho House in Birmingham and in Lichfield. The membership was relatively small, (around 12 to 14), but represented some of the leading scientists and innovators of the time.

The core group comprised Matthew Boulton (1728-1809), Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), Samuel Galton Jnr (1753-1832) chemist and manufacturer, James Keir (1735-1820), Joseph Priestley  (1733-1804) a very famous scientist and educationist and very involved with the dissenting academies, William Murdock (1754-1839) engineer and inventor, Josiah Wedgwood  (1730-1795) owner of the famous pottery and gifted chemist, James Watt (1736-1819) an engineer and inventor, John Whitehurst (1713-1788) botanist and William Withering (1741-1799) botanist.

Matthew Boulton

Matthhew Boulton ( a portrait of Matthew Boulton is shown opposite) was the central figure of the Lunar Society an engineer, inventor and scientist. In addition the society corresponded with and received visits from a number of important individuals such as Richard Arkwright, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Anna Seward and James Watt. The Society was particularly interested in chemistry but discussions ranged widely across many aspects of the emerging products and scientific techniques arising from the industrial revolution. Interests and specialisms represented by the Society included: ceramics, electrical technologies, engineering, geology, manufacturing techniques, medical science, transportation systems e.g. canals. The Society did not engage directly in discussions on politics or religion although they did discuss social, political and economic issues. The Lunar Society was the most famous of such groups that existed at this time in other parts of the country, representing as it did a remarkable gathering of polymaths.  It was also remarkable to see an initiative that was not based in London. The Society and its members, because of their individual skills and interests, were able to bring about the fusion of art with science and industry-a remarkable achievement in those days. The members individually and through the Society contributed greatly to the development of industrial processes and technical education. Members helped found other societies e.g. Literary and Philosophical Societies.

Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1826 –48)
The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK) was founded in 1826 by Henry Brougham (1778-1868) and Matthew Davenport Hill (1792-1872) after the publication of an article in a journal (1821) by the radical Charles Knight (1791-1873) who had deplored the woeful influence of the popular press on the working classes. After the founding of the Society, Brougham appointed Knight in 1825 to supervise the publications of the SDUK and in 1825 Knight had devised strategies to publish inexpensive books on a wide range of topics including science. Brougham had also written a pamphlet in 1825 entitled ‘Practical Observations upon the Education of the People addressed to the Working Classes and their Employers’. This pamphlet defined two themes. The first was the creation of institutes like the Mechanics’ Institutions in Glasgow and London. These institutes should have a range of functions and supporting facilities for discussion groups, elementary teaching, public lectures and discussion groups complemented by a laboratory, library, reading room and a workshop. The second theme was the creation of the SDUK with the aim of publishing low price books popularising science and general knowledge. Knight appointed a remarkable group of individuals and scholars to advise, commission articles and write the material for the various publications. Broughton and Knight were great supporters of the Mechanics’ Institutions movement and other similar organisations that wanted to develop education for the working classes. A series of weekly and bi-weekly publications were subsequently published by the SDUK including the ‘The Penny Magazine’ first published in 1832 and ‘The Penny Cyclopedia’ also launched in 1832 as well as more expensive tomes e.g. ‘Gallery of Portraits’. Also published was the Library of Useful Knowledge, launched in 1827 costing sixpence and published biweekly and focussed on scientific themes. The Quarterly Journal of Education was published over five years 1831 to 1836.

Topics covered by these publications were remarkable and included almanacs, geography, history, maps, physical and biological sciences. It was reckoned that there were 200,000 subscribers to the Penny Magazine per week many of whom were artisans but also included middle class readers. The publications did not engage in political or religious issues but rather focused on popularising other areas of knowledge. The SDUK wanted to appeal to workers who had just learnt to read and the material would improve their reading skills as well as informing them. The SDUK focused primarily on teaching artisans the scientific principles associated with their trades and imparting useful information. In fact their reluctance to get involved in politics generated a degree of unpopularity from a number of quarters including the workers themselves – a similar situation happened with the Mechanics’ Institutions who also would not engage in political issues. The workers were beginning to feel excluded and increasingly resented being treated as second class citizens and wished to be involved more fully in political and social debates

The first publication in the Library of Useful Knowledge sold 33,000 copies mainly to middle class readers and sadly in spite of Brougham’s hopes did not attract readers from the workers. Unfortunately the enterprise lost a great deal of money in the order of £30,000 of which over £16,000 was on the paper duty/tax. The SDUK unfortunately had to cease most of its operations in around 1848 because of falling sales and revenue but some of its publications continued under the stewardship of Knight. The SDUK was an example of a valiant and far thinking initiative based on very worthy and high ideals supported by a group of remarkable individuals like Brougham and Knight. The SDUK was not a complete failure but represented  at the time the first attempt to create a comprehensive and inexpensive range of educational literature for the masses. It most certainly disseminated knowledge across the country that had not been previously available. The SDUK and its publications influenced future ideas, patterns and models of educational development. It set an important precedent in a very important area when newspapers and other publications were expensive and subjected to high taxation rates and where newspapers and their owners were very often politically influenced or the owners were corrupt and biased in their opinions.

Libraries, newspapers and Museums.

This is a fascinating area far too vast to attempt more than a brief description but libraries and museums most certainly assisted in opening access to the workers and their families to books and helped to disseminate/spread knowledge that was emerging in the 17th and 18th centuries. As educational opportunities opened up for workers’ in the early 18th century the demand for written material increased and with the invention of steam-printing introduced in 1814 the cost of production significantly decreased and this coupled with the improving transport system allowed books and periodicals to be distributed more widely across the country. There were circulating libraries in Bath, London and Southampton in 1740 but these were very much for the upper and middle classes. The library movement although extensive in the first half of the 18th century was inadequate to satisfy the growing demand. Many of the larger cities such as Glasgow, Manchester and Preston had public libraries although Chetham’s in Manchester was primarily for scholars and closed at 4.00pm before the workers had finished their labours. The majority of ‘town libraries’ in England and Scotland were not strictly public but were operated by subscriptions and as a result were restricted to the subscribers. A number of libraries were linked to cathedrals–a report in 1849 identified 34 such libraries. In fact many libraries across Britain were associated with chapels and churches and as a result were primarily concerned with theological themes. A few more enlightened employers created libraries for their workers. The one area where books were plentiful and covering a wide range of topics were the collections held by cultural and specialist groups and societies. The range was truly remarkable and included many of the organisations described in this history namely Co-operative Societies, farmers’ clubs, Friendly Societies, Literary and Philosophical Societies, Mechanics’ Institutions, Mutual Improvement Societies, Oddfellows and many more. These did offer opportunities to many workers to access information that had previously been the exclusive domain of the upper and middle classes. Mutual Improvement Societies and libraries were created by local trade unions again reflecting how trade unions developed after the repeal of the Statute of Artificers. It is interesting to note how Salford and Warrington made use of an Act of 1848 that allowed a half-penny tax to be used to establish libraries attached to museums. It was only after the 1850 Public Libraries Act that  towns with a population of over a 10,000 could use the half-penny tax to create public libraries.

The Industrial Revolution greatly increased the public’s interest in news and comment and with improved printing technologies and machinery a significant proportion of the working class were reading newspapers and political journals. However the political climate at the time was difficult and the ruling class readily enforced the law of blasphemy, libel and sedition which suppressed many publishers and writers. The French Revolution had an impact on many aspects of the British political and social life.  Also there were a number of taxes that made the publishing business expensive and a whole series of campaigns and protests occurred throughout the 18th century until a more enlightened set of legislation removed many of the barriers to free speech and the general concept of the freedom of the press. As the various taxes were removed the price of the papers came down. The Daily Telegraph became the first penny newspaper in 1855 whilst in 1861 the Times cost 3d. But the campaigns for a free press and the removal of the taxes on knowledge took a long time and sadly involved suffering among those who fought these battles, as many of whom were imprisoned and persecuted.

Museums and Art galleries before 1820s were most definitely London centric although Scotland had two non-university museums, one in Edinburgh and the other in Perth. After about 1820 museums began to be established and records show that prior to 1845 there were about 40 museums mainly in England. Thirty of these were associated with antiquarian societies, literary and philosophical societies, natural history societies and universities. Wales had only one recorded museum based at the Royal Institution of South Wales in Swansea whilst Scotland in addition to the ones at the universities, (e.g. Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews), and in Edinburgh and Perth plus five other museums. After the Museums Act of 1845 the number slowly grew but progress was slow because local authorities were reluctant to apply for the rate–aid that the legislation required. A few cities and towns availed themselves of the rate-aid but it was only after the removal of the rate–aid that the museums movement really developed across the country assisted by government funding. The Great Exhibition of 1851 provided the catalyst for the creation of the South Kensington Museum which eventually became the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Great Exhibition most certainly awakened a greater interest in technical matters and technical education [see later chapters.] The exhibition also lead to the creation of the Department of Science and Art which had a major influence on technical education in the years after 1853.

Co-operative and other Mutual Improvement Movements
Between 1829 and 1834 there was a great deal of industrial unrest following a number of reforms to employment that worsened the working conditions of many. Strikes were increasing and other forms of industrial action were taking place across the country. It was at this time the trade union movement began to develop in order to improve the conditions of service for their members even though the majority of employers were very hostile to unions. Also a number of mutual improvement groups were established that attempted to represent the workers and the disadvantaged. These movements were trying to create an identity and independence for the working classes that did not depend on charity or patronage however well meant. These groups often were involved in educational works and sometimes they would link with other movements e.g. trade unions and create jointly managed libraries. One such group was the Co-operative movement which is still very active and highly regarded today. The movement grew out of this turbulent period and the driving force behind its formation was Robert Owen 1771-1858) a radical reformist. Owen wanted to transform the British capitalist society into a Co-operative Commonwealth. Three distinct Co-operative enterprises could be identified that were subsequently established across the country. The first was purely educational advocating the Owenite ideals through circulating literature, lectures, and meetings with a great deal of propaganda. The second was a trading enterprise buying wholesale and hence cutting out the middleman and providing cheaper food, clothing and other services e.g. burial services. The final enterprise was associated with the production of goods that were sold direct to the Co-operative shops and hence bypassing the capitalist system. By 1832 there were 500 Co-operative Societies. Owen also founded schools at his factories in New Lanark and argued very strongly for the education provision to be included in the Factory Acts. He founded a number of organisations that included educational aims e.g. the National Union of the Industrious Classes and the Society for National Regeneration. The Co-operative Societies with the trade unions were major players in adult education in the late 19th century and they laid the foundations in the creation of the Workers Education Association (WEA) founded in 1903 and also the creation of Ruskin College. [I will mention the development of adult education as it impacts with technical education in later chapters]. A pen portrait of the Cooperative movement on this website and an image of the first cooperative shop is shown below. Cooperative shop

Summary and conclusions

These few examples along with others during the first half of the 18th century provide evidence of an embryonic system for technical education albeit a faltering one. Benevolence of individuals from the upper and middle classes was the driving force behind many of the societies and movements described above. These individuals in many cases truly believed that they were acting in the interests of the working classes. In addition they felt that such good work would create prosperity and help maintain order within the nation. However increasingly the workers and artisans felt excluded from many basic rights such as access to education without the gift of charity or benevolent support. The situation engendered a feeling of inferiority and in spite of many worthy initiatives the sense of injustice continued to grow. As the 18th century progressed various Parliamentary Acts began to address many of these injustices and eventually brought about the development of a national school system and better working conditions for employees. However as has been said earlier many of these worthy initiatives failed for a number of reasons. It must be stressed that at this time England did not even have a national primary education system so it is not surprising that a national framework for technical education had to wait until the end of the century. It was much later in the 18th century that a national system for primary pupils was established. The only semblance of a national system or network of educational institutions at this time were the Public, Grammar and Sunday schools. One very important factor that is seldom mentioned by historians is the injustices associated with how the workers were expected to engage with the various educational opportunities that were emerging during this time. Those who did take up the opportunities that might been available in their locality would have had meet many challenges and obstacles. Workers were expected to attend classes after working long hours in awful conditions and environments. Wages were low and poverty, ill health and low life expectancy were the norm. Yet they were expected to attend classes at unsociable hours and often required to pay a fee that surely added to the financial burden placed on them and their families. Those who did attend and stayed the course must have been remarkable individuals when all the deterring factors are taken into account. They must have been very intelligent, incredibly self motivated and ambitious to make their lives better not only for themselves, their families and the majority of the working class. The situation was unjust especially when one compares the way the middle and upper classes accessed education. Many attended grammar or public schools and Cambridge and Oxford Universities that were very privileged and requiring little effort by the students.

The next chapter will describe the history and development of the Dissenting Academies, the Mechanics Institutions and the Working Men’s Colleges and Institutes.


  1. (1) Kelly. T. ‘A History of Adult Education in Great Britain.’ Liverpool University Press.1970.
  2. (2) Wiener. M. ‘English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit 1850-1980.’ Penguin. 1985.

Other useful references:

  1. Gregg. P. ‘A Social and Economic History of Britain 1760-1972.’  Harrop. ISBN 0 245 51899 1.  1973.
  2. Uglow. J. ‘The Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World.’  Faber and Faber. 2002.
  3. R.K.Webb, ‘The British Working Class Reader.’ George Allen and Unwin Ltd. 1955.1938

A more comprehensive book list is provided on this website along with a comprehensive glossary and chronology.

Chapter 3 – The Guilds and Apprenticeships

This entry is part 3 of 20 in the series A Short History of Technical Education

The first two chapters attempted to set the scene and identify and summarise the issues and factors that have dominated and bedevilled the development of technical and vocational education. They will continue to be highlighted throughout this history. One of the fascinating and recurring aspects in researching the topic is the fact that a number of innovative initiatives prior to and during the first Industrial Revolution were associated with a few farsighted individuals and so often isolated and fragmented in geographical terms and as a result did not possess sufficient critical mass to have a lasting impact. In addition many of the initiatives were associated with private generosity and municipal pride and patriotism, Many of these initiatives will be described in later chapters and in some cases more fully discussed in the biographies in Appendix 4. As mentioned in earlier chapters before the age of mechanisation and the controlled exploitation of steam to drive machinery all artefacts were hand made. What machines existed exploited the elements e.g. wind and waterpower drove windmills and water wheels to grind corn and irrigate fields. Manually operated they were associated with rural cottage industries such as spinning and weaving. The techniques used were handed down generation by generation. Agriculture was the main occupation and craftspeople worked alone or in small communities. As mentioned in chapter 2 evidence now exists that industrial development occurred at earlier times both in Britain and Europe than the first industrial revolution. For example in the 13th century water–owered mills were used widely in the woollen-cloth industries and from the mid-16th to the mid-17th centuries greater use was made of coal in such industries as  metal smelting. In the time before the Industrial Revolution technical education was based on the apprenticeship system and largely managed by the Craft Guilds. To continue to set the scene the following sections will describe the work of the Guilds and the purpose and operation of the Apprenticeships.

The Craft Guilds – Livery Companies and Apprenticeships.

A Guild was basically an association of craftspeople representing a particular craft or trade. The earliest known guilds were believed to have been established in India around 3800 BC. From about the 12th century European Guilds (or Gilds) and Livery Companies gradually evolved into what one could currently identify as being equivalent to business organisations/consortia. Eventually at the end of the 1700s and the early 1800s the guilds were criticised by politicians and business people for being resistant to free trade and reluctant to adopt the newer technological and business practices and developments. They were increasingly perceived as being territorial and parochial. Industrialisation of trade and industry and the development of copyright and patent protection laws during the 18th century gradually eroded the power and influence of the guilds. Some commentators believe that the guilds were the precursors to the trade unions. Other commentators have argued that because the guilds were associated with small business associations comprising self-employed skilled craftspeople they possessed little in common with the trade union movement. Guilds still exist today across the world e.g. in Europe they represent local craft and tradespeople in the more traditional skills. In America guilds still represent actors and writers along with other occupational groups. In the City of London, the ancient guilds survive as Livery Companies whilst in Preston a guild continues as the Preston Guild Merchant operating many of the traditional ways. Much pomp and ceremony is associated with the Livery Companies even today reflecting their pride in their history and traditions. The Vintners Hall is shown below:


The craft guilds reached their apogee of power and influence during the 13th and 14th centuries both in Europe and England being solely responsible for the organisation of labour and the standards of the craft and trade skills in their particular area or locality. Guilds developed across the country both in rural and urban areas represented particular crafts and trades say in bricklaying, joinery, shipbuilding and a host of other crafts and trades associated with agricultuture, manufacturing and industrial processes. The craft guilds were very dependent on the authority of the municipal or town governance and at times patronage. Most craft guilds were established on the authority of the town major the major also being the chief magistrate who constantly revised the rules in the best interest of the townspeople As the number of Guilds increased various demarcation disputes arose e.g. between the cordwainers, the saddlers and the tanners. Other disputes occurred about the exact range of the authority exercised by each guild particular where the crafts and trades were similar and this often reflected badly on the Guilds and its overall management.  The organisation of a Guild was precisely defined into three hierarchical categories or classes: namely the livery, the freeman and the apprentice. At this time members of the guilds were exclusively male hence the terminology. The liveries were people who had established businesses and it was from this category that the Master, the Wardens and the Court of Assistants were elected. They were totally responsible for the organisation and management of a particular guild including the supervising the apprenticeships, setting judging their standards and setting of prices and wages. The next category was the freemen who were bound absolutely to a guild and were referred to as the journeymen craftsmen. The final category comprised the apprentices or trainees who were bound or indentured to a master craftsman for seven years. The apprenticeships were overseen during this period by the Court who made certain the apprentice received effective training and acquired the appropriate skills for the particular craft and trade and was well treated.

The apprentice at the end of his training was required to present his masterpiece to the Wardens, this being a piece of work to justify that he had mastered his craft. The Guilds by maintaining high standards and wages limited any possible competition from beyond the City boundaries. Although the methods of the Guilds were often perceived as autocratic they established good standards at a time when England was primarily a rural country comprising craftsmen, farmers, labourers, landowners, and shopkeepers. One characteristic that the majority of the guilds possessed was the service to the local community. In Medieval times production and trade was based on two fundamental principles namely ‘service to the local community and a reasonable profit’. Where the guildsman sold products abroad they could not make greater profits again reinforcing the principle that the needs of the local community were paramount.

The system worked well until the coming of increased use of steam power and the emerging factory system that required a new set of methods of training as people migrated to the cities and away from rural communities. The advent of industrialisation, mass production and the factory system in Britain brought about the demise of the craft apprenticeship system and it is interesting to note this did not happen in Germany. This resulted in the gradual decline of the Guilds as the factor system developed. This transition highlighted the need to raise awareness of the application of scientific ideas to industry and as a result created the rudimentary beginnings of technical and vocational education. The decline of the old apprenticeship in England was greatest during the last quarter of the 18th century and the early part of the 19th century.

The Guilds were instrumental in creating the City and Guilds Institute of London following a government committee report about the need to promote the interests of several of the trades. These included such Companies as the Clothworkers’, the Goldsmiths’ the Fishmongers’ Cutlers’ and the Carpenters’. [See the complete list of the founding organisations later on in this chapter.]

(The Guilds continue today though they have become more diversified supporting their respective crafts and trades in a number of ways. The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, almost uniquely, continues to offer very high quality apprenticeship programmes where the apprentices are still managed by a master. Recently the City and Guilds Institute of London (CGLI) recognised the high standards set by the apprenticeship programme and the resulting artefacts by accrediting the Company for its Senior Awards).


Prior to the 19th century the main route into a particular craft, trade and industry was after the successful completion of an apprenticeship. The system of apprenticeships began in the late Middle Ages and were often managed by the craft guilds or a town government. The formal contractual relationship between the master and apprenticeship was created in 1562 following the Statute of Artificers that then established a structure for a national system of apprenticeships. (Note: An Artificer is a mechanic, a person who creates skilfully, a craftsman). Apprentices initially were referred to as ‘prentices’, A master craftsman was allowed to employ young people in order to provide them with formal training in a particular craft or trade. In addition the master undertook to develop the young person’s general understanding of life and the appropriate manners and wider skills necessary to conduct their business. Therefore the apprenticeship was not just about the mastery of craft and trade skills or an introduction into the mysteries of the particular craft or trade but equally importantly about gaining business and social skills. The young person received a small amount of money whilst undergoing their training and the amount increased as the programme and associated skills advanced over time. The Statute was repealed in 1814 for a number of reasons that made the existing legislation somewhat ineffective. The reasons for this erosion of the Statute included the following:

  • Masters increasingly took on apprenticeships without any written contract or indenture – presumably to keep wages low?
  • New trades developed in the 17th and 18th centuries and were not included in the apprenticeship programmes which therefore did not reflect these  new skills emerging  in industry and commerce
  • Many trades did not stipulate the length of the apprenticeships and Masters increasingly took on too many apprentices whom they could not properly manage In many trades binding enforcement of an agreed period of time for a journeyman to serve was not enacted.

This shows yet again that no effective provision had been made for the implementation and monitoring of the Statute of Artificer. As a result of the repeal of the Statute no legal requirements then existed for any training e.g. no defined periods of training were stipulated and this is where the emerging trade union movement began to be involved in the training of more skilled crafts and trades. The trade unions that grow up in the mid-19th century began to establish arrangements for such aspects as the period of training and recruitment of apprentices in a number of trades. The unions established libraries in conjunction with other movements e.g. Mutual Societies. The trade unions began to fill the gaps created following the repeal of the Statute. The trade unions have since maintained an interest and commitment to technical and vocational education and training and have been represented on committees and development groups associated with this important area of the education system. The trade unions were able to maintain the standards of workers in a range o trades and crafts.  However a number of guilds continued to operate apprenticeship programmes based on traditional lines and some even today adhere to the indenture and vigorous and high quality training regimes. A good example is the Goldsmiths’ Company which even now is establishing its own college to further enhance the skills of its apprentices.

Most of the apprentices during these times were male with only a very few programmes such as embroidery and silk-weaving for females – yet another sad reflection of the traditional view of the role of the female in society and work. The issue of gender and occupation stereotyping still persists today.  The ages of apprentices ranged between 14 and 21 and on successful completion of the apprenticeship they became master craftsmen. A typical apprenticeship lasted seven years in England. The period of the apprenticeship on the continent was three years but much greater importance and emphasis was placed on the period and purpose of the journeyman stage in Europe i.e. the period after finishing the apprenticeship and the additional experience and skills acquired before applying to become a master. In England apprenticeships had a long tradition initially resulting from the consequences of the Poor Laws and the later factory Acts that attempted to legislate that young people received training in order to enter meaningful employment and to reduce the likelihood of becoming exploited by employers or drifting into criminal pursuits. The later Factory Acts introduced better working conditions for young people and progressively raised the age limits for entering employment. For example the first Factory Act in 1802 introduced the concept of compulsory attendance at school during part of the week but the lack of a national system at the time made this legislation rather ineffective. Again an example of ineffective implementation and monitoring of legislation particularly in the area of employment practice and the area of technical education and training. Later education and factory Acts were more far more effective as a national system of elementary and secondary school education developed in the 19th and 20th centuries. This coupled with the successive raising of the school leaving age reduce the exploitation of child labour and a greater commitment to education and training gradually developed. Following the successful completion of the seven period of the apprenticeship the apprentice would be granted the rank of a journeyman and the documents issued to him entitled him to travel and gain more experience in his chosen craft or trade. The documents included certificates issued by the Master and/or the guild.  The term journeyman has its origins in the French word journee meaning ‘one day’. This meant that he could request a fee for a day’s work.  A journeyman was a tradesman or craftsman who although he had successfully completed an apprenticeship could not employ other workers. They were often called jack or knave and this is where the expression “jack of all trades master of none” comes from. Because of limited resources many journeyman in medieval England could not afford to establish their own workshops and in many cases would remain employees of other enterprises. In Europe a journeyman, (Geselle), would travel extensively working in different workshops and locations in order to develop greater experience and skills in this particular craft or trade and this would increase their chances of becoming a master in their craft or trade. After several years of travelling and gaining experience the journeyman could apply to the Guild to become a Master. This journeyman phase comprised two stages. In the first stage the journeyman would operate as a day worker for typically five years followed by a period of travelling lasting another three years during which time he would wear a distinctive scarf. Approval for his application required the agreement of all the Masters of the relevant guild, a financial donation and/or additional goods, and where appropriate for the particular craft, a masterpiece. In England the journeyman stage was less precisely defined in terms of the period and many crafts and trades did not require the submission of a masterpiece. It is interesting to note how differently the apprenticeship systems operated in England and the Continent. Since the Industrial Revolution and with the developing system of technical education institutions, employers gradually became more reluctant to impart their knowledge and skills directly to young people and increasingly delegated that training to educational institutions. In fact a number of commentators have argued that the demise of the traditional apprenticeship ushered in the beginnings of technical education. Sadly employers have often seen skill acquisition as a cost requiring as it does  investment of resources and resultant loss of profit that often the employer does not want to give away to other employer and competitors!  Many employers also were afraid of poaching of their trained employees by their competitors. Since the mid-19th century the model that emerged combined work based training, (on job training), and attendance at a local technical institute, (off job training). It is the challenge of achieving the correct balance of the work based training with the theoretical aspects taught in the educational institution that still has not been realised in England.

Following the repeal of the Statute of Artificers until the mid-20th century the concept and purpose of the apprenticeship has been continually modified to address the ongoing concerns of juvenile labour including periods of high youth unemployment. A recurring theme is the need to offer training and basic education to young people to combat ignorance and to attempt to deal with skills shortages and gaps in the workforce. One continuing problem is often associated with poor literacy and numeracy skills and scientific illiteracy especially with school leavers.  I will consider how the apprenticeship model has changed since the 18th century in later chapters as well as a separate chapter on the most recent attempts by government’s to develop more effective programmes associated with work based learning including apprenticeships. The current governments approach is a classic example of ill- conceived and muddled thinking with little regard to historical good practice where it existed but more of that later! Political and historical amnesia is sadly a recurring characteristic of successive governments when planning developments in technical and vocational education.

To assist understanding it might be helpful to illustrate the development of the Goldsmiths’ Company. The Company is a typical example of a Livery Company but one that continues to invest a great deal into education and training. The Company is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London. It received its first royal charter in 1327. The Goldsmiths Company was founded to regulate and oversee the goldsmiths craft or trade. From 1300 it has been responsible for the testing the quality of gold and silver and from 1975 the testing of items made of platinum. Hallmarks were introduced on gold and silver items in the 15th century when craftsmen were required to bring their products to the Goldsmiths Hall to be tested, assayed and marked if they successfully passed the process. Hallmarking still continues today and the Company manages this process under statute through the aegis of the London Assay Office. The Goldsmith Hall is shown opposite:

Hall - Goldsmiths

Some key dates

  • 1300. The first reference to standards of gold and silver wares, the ‘guardians of the craft’ and the leopard’s head in a statute of Edward 1
  • 1327. First Royal Charter granted by Edward 111
  • 1363. Goldsmiths and silversmiths required to have a mark unique to them on all their wares in order to identify the craftsman
  • 1544. The lion passant mark introduced on gold and silver ware
  • 1773. Two new Assay Offices opened in Birmingham and Sheffield
  • 1851. The Company offered £1000 in prizes at the Great Exhibition of 1851
  • 1878. The Goldsmiths’ Company with the other City Livery Companies were instrumental in creating the City and Guilds Institute of London (CGLI). (See below for the complete list of founders of the CGLI)*
  • 1880. Two Royal Commission reports investigated the conduct of the City of London Livery Companies. One report advocated their abolition whilst the second argued for their continuation. The reports most certainly fired up many of the Companies who developed more effective and proactive approaches and initiatives especially focussed on technical education. The reports identified a number of concerns including the lack of accountability and the Guilds relative insularity and lack of real commitment to education and training.
  • 1891. The New Cross Technical and Recreative Institute opened by the Company which was then handed over in 1904 to the London County Council and eventually became Goldsmiths College and part of London University.**
  • 1966. The Company established the Technical Advisory Committee to offer technical assistance to the trade.

* It was not until 1880 that the educational association established by the 14 founding Livery Companies was officially incorporated under the Company Acts as the City and Guilds of London Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education (CGLI). The original meeting occurred on 11th November 1878 at the Mercers’ Hall that brought about the CGLI. At incorporation there were 17 founders namely the Corporation and 16 Companies. The companies were: Armourers, Brasiers, Carpenters, Clothworkers, Coopers, Cordwainers, Drapers, Dyers, Fishmongers Goldsmiths, Ironmongers, Leathersellers, Mercers, Needlemakers, Pewterers, Plaisterers and Salters. I will describe more fully the history of CGLI in a later chapter.

**The Goldsmiths’ Company funded entirely the creation of the college following a decision by the charity commissioners to establish three polytechnics in south London

It is interesting to compare the different reasons for the foundation of the Goldsmiths  and Birkbeck colleges. Birkbeck College was founded on the earlier Mechanics’ Institution movement based on democratic ‘self help principles’ whilst the Goldsmiths College was founded in order for England to complete more effectively from competition from the Continent.

I will consider the Mechanics’ Institution movement much more fully in Chapter 5.

A typical indenture is shown below. It is still used by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths’ now more commonly known as The Goldsmiths’ Company. It makes fascinating reading and indicates the high standards expected of the apprentice and the Master. Although as time progressed after the repeal of the Statute these were not always honoured by many masters and guilds. Note the emphasis on the need to maintain standards and good behaviour and one wonders how the Company checks these aspects out?

Copy of Indenture

Reproduced by kind permission of The Goldsmiths’ Company

The next chapter will consider other educational movements and societies involved in disseminating scientific and technical knowledge and skills in the period before and during the Industrial Revolution.

Useful References:

  1. Cunningham. W and McArthur. E. A. ‘Outlines of English Industrial History.’ CUP. 1904.
  2. Cunningham. W. ‘The Growth of English Industry and Commerce in Modern Times.’ CUP. 1892.
  3. Peters. A.J. ‘British Further Education.’Pergamon Press1967.
  4. Webb. S and Webb. B. ‘The History of Trade Unionism.’ Longmans, Green and Co. 1911.
  5. Williams. G. ‘Recruitment to Skilled Trades.’ RKP. 1957.
  6. Wilson. C. ‘England’s Apprenticeship 1603-1763.’ Longman, Green and Co. Ltd. 1965.

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

Chapter 2 – The Industrial Revolution and the Role of Science and Technology in the Development of Technical Education.

This entry is part 2 of 20 in the series A Short History of Technical Education


The Industrial Revolution and the Role of Science and Technology in the Development of Technical Education.

“The greatest invention of the nineteenth century was invention of the method of invention” A.N. Whitehead.  Lowell Lectures. 1925.

This chapter will attempt to continue to set the context and background of this history of technical education by providing more detail about the influences and driving forces associated with the Industrial Revolution and the impact arising from the growth of science and the advances in technology on the development of technical education. After all it was the Industrial Revolution that highlighted the essential need to develop a national system for elementary/secondary education and equally important a technical education system. The Industrial Revolution inevitably acted as a catalyst/trigger for the development of a national technical education system although as this history will show the development was both faltering and haphazard throughout the 19th and early 20th century. One of the interesting issues during this development period was the heated debates about the relationship between science and technology especially in regard to how these subjects were taught and  their relative importance and place in a national education system.

Background to the Industrial Revolution.

The term Industrial Revolution was first used by Louis – Auguste Blanqui in 1837 and it was then widely adopted following a series of lectures entitled ‘Industrial Revolution of the 18th Century in England’ by Arnold Toynbee delivered in 1882. The First Industrial Revolution as it is more commonly called spanned the period between the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Many historians cite the period between 1780 and 1830 as the time when Britain witnessed the most rapid industrialisation activity although other historians define other periods. In addition a number of historians have argued that industrialisation occurred much earlier than 1780 and strictly was not a revolution but rather an example of gradual evolution. A number of studies using econometric techniques showed that the slow production rates coupled with low national incomes would indicate that industrial evolution rather than industrial revolution was a more appropriate term to describe the process. Other writers identified that there was a piecemeal development in processes associated with industrial innovation and in organisational structures. Clear evidence now exists that industrialisation was not the exclusive domain/province of Britain but included developments both in Asia and Europe.

There was a great deal of migration of European artisans and professional people into Britain during the 15th/16th/17th centuries bringing their superior skills and technological methods.  There was evidence of exchange and transfer of ideas, skills and technologies between Britain and Europe for many centuries before the first industrial revolution. For example the Dutch made significant contributions to the technologies associated with the drainage system in the Fens in the mid 17th century and later made significant improvements to water mills. Dutch and Flemish refugees played a significant role in creating the foundations of the development of the cotton, silk and other textile trades in England. France also made major contributions to blast furnace technology as did the Germans in improving the smelting and refining of non-ferrous ores. The French were the leaders in science during the 18th century and again made many contributions to the new industries associated with chemicals e.g. dying and bleaching. The exchange was certainly not just one way e.g. Britain helped Belgium and France to modernise much of their industry but most of the transfer of technology and effort from Britain was aimed at the USA. It is interesting to note that a number of Parliamentary Acts during the 19th century prohibited the emigration of workers into mainland Europe as well as placing restrictions on the export of machinery, spare parts, design plans and expertise. These Acts most certainly limited and constrained the exchange of technology and technical knowhow between Britain and the Continent. This aspect again reflects and reinforces the secretive and protectionist nature and practices of British companies, a point that will be picked up and developed later in this chapter.

During the first industrial revolution Britain witnessed a massive set of transformations in such areas as agriculture, demographic trends, manufacturing and transportation.  These and other changes had a profound effect on the cultural, economic and social climate of the country. For example Figure 1 below shows the dramatic growth in population between 1760 and 1901.

Figure 1
Year Population England and Wales Population Scotland Total population Britain
1760 6,736,000 (estimated) 8,000,000 (estimated)
1801 8,892,000 (1st census) 1,608,420 10,500,000
1851 17,927,609 2,888,742 21,000,000
1901 32,527,843 4,472,103 37,000,000

Another important transition occurred from around 1760 when the basis of the labour economy changed from one based on manual/physical labour to one increasingly based on machines. In addition the tradesperson replaced the craftsperson and the applied scientist replaced the amateur inventor. One consequence of the industrial revolution was that for the operation of the new machines largely unskilled labour were used. Skilled workers found themselves lowered in status and in less demand and companies increasingly employed women and children to keep costs down.  Coal was king as its production rose from 2.5 million tons in 1700 to 10 million tons in 1800. Three important technologies can be identified that formed the foundations of the first industrial revolution namely: iron production, steam engine and textiles.

The steam engine had been discovered before the industrial revolution and was subsequently improved by Watt and others after 1778. The steam engine was initially adapted and used to provide power for a whole series of machines and as a result was in many ways the most important ‘enabling technology’ of the time and as a result made the major contribution to the first industrial revolution. Steam driven machines were gradually improved, adapted for wider uses such as in the production of textiles and the mining of iron and tin  and this evolution continued to  enable the operation of more complex machinery e.g. machine tools, lathes, farm machinery.  The development and refinement of machine tools by such individuals as Henry Maudslay and Joseph Whitworth played a key and crucial part in the later phase of the first Industrial Revolution as machine tool technology enabled standardised manufacturing machines to be fabricated. A portrait of Joseph Whitworth is shown below.

Joseph Whitworth 1803 - 1887

The movement of manufactured goods and services was also greatly assisted and facilitated by improvements to the national transport system that included better roads and the development of an extensive network of canals, (from about 1773), and railways (from 1825). To illustrate the rapid growth of inland navigation systems i.e. canals and rivers in 1750 there were around 1,000 miles of inland navigation and by 1850 this had increased to 4,250 miles excluding a significant mileage that existed in Ireland.

As the national economy increased and technological advances accelerated and gained momentum the first industrial revolution converged around 1850 into the second period of industrial revolution/evolution.  After 1850 the rapid development of steam driven transport systems e.g. shipping and railways opened up new markets both in Britain and across the world. Later in the 19th century the newer technologies associated with electrical generation, the internal combustion engine and the industrial processes related to chemicals etc further accelerated and spread the growth of industrial and international trade.

By 1850 Britain was the acknowledged workshop and the leading industrial power of the world producing over half the world’s coal, cotton and iron. Imported food and essential raw materials for the manufacturing processes were paid for by the export of manufactured products as well as the export of a developing service sector including financial, insurance and shipping services. The country possessed the world’s most powerful navy and mercantile fleet and this not only helped to maintain the empire but provided the means to export its manufactured commodities. Sadly the transportation of slaves to the new world until the trade was abolished in 1807 also contributed to Britain’s wealth particularly to the city ports of Bristol and Liverpool.

Structure and the organisation of industry in the late 18th and 19th centuries It is appropriate to consider other factors, that have been raised by some writers, which they,  argued undermined this country’s manufacturing performance and ultimately contributed to Britain’s economic and industrial decline. Many of these factors again highlight the lack of an effective and comprehensive technical and commercial education system as well as the continuing negative attitude towards  competitiveness, entrepreneurialism, practical and technical activities. A list of some of these factors is given below:

  • The sizes of companies were relatively small and in the majority of cases family owned.
  • Management and organisational structures dogged by amateurism, complacency and indifference.
  • Employers often engaged in fierce and destructive competition with rival companies.
  • Incompetent and ineffective sales and marketing especially overseas. An unwillingness to develop marketing and sales strategies and tactics to match and satisfy customer needs.
  • The inability of company staff particularly the marketing team, if they existed, to learn and converse in foreign languages.
  • The widespread use of indirect selling and marketing overseas by agencies and agents.
  • The relatively late adoption, (after 1851), of a distinctive or ‘brand’ or product kite mark when compared with other competitors. Exceptions were in the china/pottery industries e.g. Spode and Wedgewood.
  • Reluctance to develop rigorous patenting techniques, when compared with USA, Belgium and Germany. This again highlights the tendency for English, (family run), businesses to be protectionist and secretative.
  • ‘The gentrification’, (Wiener’s expression), of the first and subsequent generations of successful business people who quickly adopted the mores of the upper classes.
  • The reluctance to adopt and invest in new manufacturing techniques and technologies and hence develop new products.
  • The reluctance to replace obsolete equipment and invest in new plant.
  • Basic hostility towards technical education especially outside the traditional apprenticeship schemes even though these were fast disappearing.
  • The relatively few scientists and technologists employed in industry. There were also shortages of qualified foremen, supervisors and technicians. This factor highlights two recurring issues and links with the inadequacy of technical education.
  • Low wages and status amongst workers as a result of no regulation or effective legislation that forced wages and conditions of work down. Employers were also hostile to the creation and membership  of unions.
Wedgewood Factory at Etruria

A view of the Wedgewood Pottery factory at Etruria is shown opposite.

Many manufacturing companies were family businesses and relatively small when compared with similar business enterprises overseas. In particular industries involved in the production of cotton, linen, silk were dominated by families. Small and larger manufacturing enterprises including engineering were also family owned and operated in such diverse industries as brewing, cutlery, pottery alongside thousands of workshops producing specialised products and artefacts particularly around Birmingham and Manchester. The culture of the family was apt to be very protective and secretive towards their manufacturing techniques and they were generally reluctant to cooperate and form associations with other similar based manufactures and this again was in stark contrast with companies in Europe. This secretive attitude was also evident in the way companies would avoid or be reluctant to register and patent their products for fear of plagiarism. This attitude impeded further development of a company’s products and restricted its product range and as a result this constrained the future growth of the company so maintaining the overall profile of small companies in Britain. Many businesses on the continent and the US took the opposite approach and many became very large with world wide brands and product differentiation which ultimately gave them a competitive edge over England towards the end of the 19th century. In fact this reluctance and propensity for secrecy about their industrial processes eventually became counterproductive as continental countries began to develop and manage technology in a more systematic way compared with England.

The relatively small size of the companies also had a negative impact on marketing and sales activities especially abroad. The home market was very buoyant and effective sales and marketing were relatively easy and this contributed to the culture of complacency and indifference but the overseas sales were very different and soon declining sales highlighted weaknesses in the sale techniques adopted by England companies. Because companies were relatively small they were inevitably reluctant to invest in dedicated sales teams based overseas instead preferring to use agents and agencies who also worked on behalf of other companies so no real loyalty and commitment existed with these agents and often there were issues of conflict of interests. As competition increased from continental countries and the USA the weaknesses inherent in the way sales and marketing of British products operated began very apparent. The USA and Germany developed networks of sales organisations dispensing with agencies and agents. The inability and resistance to learn and speak the languages of overseas customers, the reluctance to carry out market research to assess customer needs and the continued use of sales/marketing agents all contributed to the loss of market share from the mid 19th century.

Another factor that reflected weak management was the poor relationships that existed between workers and managers coupled with the opposition to unions and union membership that were strongly discouraged. Commercial, business and management education was virtually non-existent during most of the 19th century and was even less developed than technical education. I will consider the development of business and management education in later chapters.

Cottonopolis1                                                                   Glasgow. Industrial Revolution

Two typical views of an industrial site during the Industrial Revolution are shown above the one on the right is in Glasgow – note the high level of smoke pollution. One fascinating factor that reflects the basic hostility towards industry and technical education is explored by Wiener (1) and others namely the influence of class and social stratification. In Britain there had always been reluctance among the gentry and upper classes to send their sons into industry preferring them to enter banking or merchants’ offices. What is particularly interesting is the manner in which the first generation of successful industrialists behaved towards the education of their children. They invested their fortunes in massive country estates and did all possible to be recognised, accepted and assimilated into the upper echelons of English society. This most certainly included sending their sons to Eton or other public schools and Oxbridge and upon graduating they entered the family business ill – prepared to be part of the business lacking the necessary experiences, knowledge, skills and the techniques associated with the industrial processes, technological and scientific concepts and management of the business. Even more interesting is that many did not return to the business but went into the perceived more cultured and dignified environments of law, politics, religion and the other learned professions. The same negative view of technical/practical activities gradually permeated to the middle classes who readily adopted the mores of the upper classes and developed a distinct set of prejudices towards practical and technical pursuits, science, mathematics and technology. These negative attitudes still exists today. One only has to see the current problems with recruiting people in these subjects into colleges and universities. These deeply held attitudes and prejudices most certainly demonstrate the destructive effect of class attitudes and negative perceptions that persist even to day in some quarters of society.

Most company managers were reluctant to adapt and innovate and invested little in new plant and equipment. Having been the first industrial nation was ultimately a contributing factor in England’s decline, fuelled by degrees of complacency and arrogance. This created a culture of resistance to move with the times and overall industry failed to invest in new plant and equipment, develop new products and processes based on advancing scientific and technological ideas and reluctance to recruit scientifically and technologically qualified people. In the majority of cases companies refused to recruit highly qualified people  even though very few existed and many would often argue that a ‘practical’ person was preferred over a so-called ‘theoretical one’  Companies also invested little in research and development. This reluctance to embrace new industrial and managerial practices continued well into the 20th century. One classic case was the indifference indeed hostility towards the introduction of scientific management techniques. This approach was developed with great success in the USA but employers in this country resisted its introduction arguing strongly that workers were human beings and not machines and that there was no place for scientific routines or procedures in industrial and commercial businesses.

The role and interrelationship between Science and Technology and its impact on technical education.

Just as advances in technology significantly influenced the Industrial Revolution the development of scientific ideas in turn influenced technology and made major contributions to the first and second industrial revolutions. Indeed until the advent of the scientific era, technological advances were almost exclusively based on craft and trade skills and experience, personified by the apprentice model where the skills were handed on very much on a personal and individualistic level. The secrets of the craft or trade were jealously guarded and often shrouded in mystery. Chapter 3 will describe more fully the apprenticeship model before and after the Industrial Revolution.

However the most significant technical advances during the second industrial revolution (>1850s) were driven by science as well as by the demands made on technology itself.

One of the more intriguing aspects in writing this history is the identification of a number of perplexing and paradoxical issues, none more so than the interaction between science and technology and the role and teaching of these disciplines in the emerging education systems. This paradox has been highlighted by a number of influential writers e.g. Levine (2). The belief which sadly continues today is that science is seen as being a more superior body of knowledge than technology as well as the subsequent application of scientific knowledge and ideas. This perception of precedence comprised two directly related aspects, firstly that science always precedes technology because the application could only happen after the scientific discovery was made and secondly the view that science education was superior to technical education. Although the first assertion is valid in most cases it is not universally true. The application of existing technology can itself bring about the need for further and new scientific research and discovery. As existing technologies and machines are operated in different working situations the demands and limitations of the machinery and the underlying technologies often precipitate the need for more original scientific research. Therefore the belief that science is always ahead of technology and therefore is superior is a false one as it is clearly a two way iterative process i.e. science ≪=≫ technology. A classic example of how technology precedes and interacts with science can be seen in the development of the steam engine. As the use of the engine was diversified and applied in different situations fundamental design and operating limitations were identified that required further basic scientific research and this in turn challenged and questioned the existing scientific theories and hypothesises. In this case of the steam engine the discipline of thermodynamics was greatly enhanced and refined. A good example at present is the use of bio-fuels in cars that traditionally use petrol or diesel as the array of O rings and gaskets cannot operate in the new operating environment created by the bio-fuels. Therefore a whole new area of material science has had to be established in order to deal with the challenges of the existing technology. Other examples show that science and technology possess a synergistic relationship to one another and clearly feed off each other and that no one discipline is superior to the other.

However it was the aspect of this false belief that has been so damaging to the development of technical and applied education namely that scientific education should take precedence over technical education. This assertion most certainly had a negative and retarding impact on the image and development of technical education during the 19th century – one can also see these elements in play even today as the history will show later. The acceptance of this belief by politicians and decision makers meant that education policy at the time required the instruction of science to take precedence over the instruction of technical, applied and practical subjects. For example Alexander Williamson (3) an influential figure in education and a professor of chemistry at King’s College reflected this belief in his evidence to the Devonshire Commission when he objected to the creation of technical schools rather than scientific institutions saying “this does not give due priority to pure science”. This highly questionable belief and attitude was even held and articulated by some of the greatest advocates of technical education including Lyon Playfair and Thomas Huxley (4) who both voiced similar views as Williamson. The debate continues even today as evidenced in early 2009 when an enlightened government minister stressed the need to commit a greater proportion of the research funding for science to enhance the economic and technological base of the country. The vast majority of the scientific community, mostly university based, expressed their total disagreement with this suggestion arguing it subverted academic freedom and independence.

What cannot be denied is that the period from 1750 to 1850+ particularly during the Victorian period witnessed an exciting and productive time of intense research/innovation in practically every field of scientific exploration namely biological, chemical, mathematical, physical and technological. The Victorian period was particularly productive in adopting, expanding and transforming technologies in such areas as electricity,  industrial control engineering, lighting, photography, railways, steamships, telegraphy and telephony. Many of  these individuals behind these great achievemnets never received formal education by attending university or secondary schools instead they were self taught and/or possessed amazing creative abilities. This was the period of the first Industrial Revolution driven by steam. The second Indutrial Revolution from the mid-18th century was driven by the chemical, communications and electrical technologies which Britain did not fully capitalise on – Germany and America did!


The development of technical education during most of the 19th century had to overcome many prejudices and problems in order for it to gain recognition and credibility. Reading the literature shows conclusively that those resisting forces and movements came from all levels of society, the State and individuals. This resistance manifested itself as shown in this and the previous chapter through a whole host of factors and these were coupled with:

  • inadequate funding and support from the State up until possibly the 1860s
  • negative attitudes and behaviour from managers towards technical education fearing the loss of process and trade secrets if the workers understood the industrial technologies and techniques.

The next chapter will consider the importance of the Craft Guilds-Livery Companies, the Gilds and the apprenticeship schemes before the first industrial revolution and their gradual decline as the first industrial revolution evolved. Also the impact on traditional crafts and trades skills as the factory systems developed throughout the 19th century  contributing to the demise of the traditional apprenticeships will be explored. These transitions inevitably identified and highlighted the growing need to establish different educational structures to satisfy the demands of the emerging industries. One such development represents one of the most exciting and important educational movements in English educational history namely the Mechanics’ Institutions. Some of the key figures in the movement will be considered including John Anderson, George Birkbeck and Anthony Ure and other farsighted individuals who realised the importance of a well informed and trained workforce which led to the creation of the institutes. This will be seen as a period that promised much but sadly became a time of false dawns and missed opportunities arising from many of the factors identified in the first two chapters.

Picture of Anthony Ure shown opposite

Dr Ure

References for chapter 2

  1. Weiner. M. ‘English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit.’ CUP. 1981.
  2. Levine. A.L. ‘Industrial Retardation in Britain 1880 – 1914.’ Basic Books. 1967.
  3. Alexander. W. Evidence to the Devonshire Commission.
  4. Huxley. T. ‘Science and Education- Essays.’ Macmillan. 1905.

A comprehensive book list, chronology and glossary of terms is provided in separate posts on this site.