Inhibitors to Implementing the Skills Agenda

As a result of the current financial crisis many countries are now considering how to rejuvenate and rebalance their economies. New paradigms need to be developed which in turn will create many difficult challenges for governments and the education system. Many of these issues are associated with the quality and quantity of human capital in terms of knowledge and skills and how to recognize and cope more effectively with the massive transitions in labour markets and the ever accelerating advance in technologies. These challenges differ in magnitude from one nation to another. Many of the causes for skills gaps and shortages have been identified and discussed ad nauseam over many years but still remain largely unresolved especially in some European countries e.g. Britain and France; they include the following:

  • The positive and negative consequences of globalization from micro to macro levels
  • The mismatch between supply and demand and the critical need to match the demands of the economy with the correct skills profile
  • The continuing low skills equilibrium, the continuing failure to elevate the skills of the existing workforce and to increase, improve and raise the levels of the skills of those in vocational and technical education and training
  • Poor and ineffective labour market research which is too often focused on short term priorities as a result of government policy
  • Weak careers information, advice and guidance systems (CIAG) in the education and training sectors especially in schools
  • Lax accountability in schools for vocational provision
  • The reluctance to develop a comprehensive range of high quality apprenticeship programmes especially beyond level 2+

In addition to these factors there are equally critical inhibitors that contribute to the skills problem and these are seldom identified and discussed but are important when attempting to develop new strategies and tactics and include:

  • Some employers place a low premium on the skills possessed by their employees
  • Although some employers effectively identify skill requirements short term they are generally less effective at planning over the intermediate and longer terms
  • The absence of radical and long term skills policy that matches the reforms that are so urgently required in industrial strategies and the vocational curriculum offered in colleges and universities
  • Neglect in recognizing regional differences and disparities in investment in a country too often as in Britain there is a focus on London and the South East. Preference for one region and its economic specialisms can siphon graduates and the more highly qualified people away from the other regions that already have less economic investment and renewal and hence suffer skills deficits
  • The vocational education system is failing; colleges and other training providers are not responding adequately to demand or because of funding issues they are unable to provide the relevant programmes (1)
  1. College funding regimes are based on the previous session’s enrolments i.e. historical rather than forward looking data; as a result it is difficult to respond effectively to future industrial policy changes. The funding regimes also favour high recruiting programmes, in itself symptomatic of lack of focus on IAG and unrelated to strategic market intelligence. This disadvantages many key strategically important programmes which are orientated to scientific, technological and mathematical disciplines-the very ones that will be essential in the future.

The fact that some employers are indifferent to the quality of employees’ skills profile is a worrying feature as a recent survey highlighted 33% of employers did not possess a business or training plan let alone a training budget for their employees. Therefore many employers continue to recruit low skilled people and in many cases paying them low wages which can raise some fundamental ethical issues when they employ immigrants. In also brings into question the quality of the products and services they offer. Countries like Germany and the Scandinavian countries have adopted the opposite approach and recruit highly qualified people whether domestic or immigrant and aim for the high value end of the product chain.


The way forward especially for Britain if it is serious about rebalancing the economy and up-skilling the workforce now and in the future is to look at proven good practice abroad e.g. Germany and Scandinavian and urgently introduce a series of measures that must include:

  • Create a more effective labour market information system with robust intelligence to identify industry skills gaps and shortages and intermediate and long term skills challenges
  • A greater focus on establishing a flexible labour market, encouraging and supporting flexible and part-time employment
  • Support for lifelong learning including CPD programmes for employees especially for SMEs
  • Place a high value on working partnerships between employers and education and training institutions
  • Support to employers to encourage an enlightened demand for higher level skills
  • Establish a high quality, robust and up to date foundation of skills in the education and training system including a greater emphasis on high quality vocational and apprenticeship programmes,
  • Require all levels of education – secondary to FE and HE to work more closely with industries
  • Strengthen the accountability of schools for vocational provision and decouple it from the school- leaving examinations and hence link it more significantly with post-16 vocational curricula; namely remove the primary focus on a school-leaving certificate and expand 14-19 vocational programmes in schools and colleges
  • Devolve powers to the regions so that they can develop their own priorities and industrial strategies that recognize and exploit local strengths and resources and hence play their part in the national economy.

Dec 2012

The Cooperative Movement and Education in Britain Part 1

 Contrary to the general belief that the Industrial Revolution only brought about social disorder and despair because of the factory conditions, it is actually the case that many innovative initiatives developed at a local level amongst the workers and artisans themselves. There was a wide and rich set of developments including the Co-operative movement, Mechanics’ Institutions, Building Societies, political groupings and trade unions that grew from a growing sense of social, employment and political inequality. Local initiatives by local people is something which is urgently required now devolving powers away from London and the so-called golden triangle of the South East.

This biography will focus on the Co-operative movement and its involvement in education and training. The precise date of the first cooperative is uncertain although it is known that a number of embryonic versions existed in Scotland from the 15th century and in France and England in the 19th century. But it was the Industrial Revolution in Britain associated with the resultant massive transitions in society and the labour markets that gave the basic principles of such movements added impetus. The guiding principles were that people could come together to create membership organisations based on common ownership or mutualism. For example a co-operative society was founded in 1824 in London. The number increased rapidly and in 1830 there were approximately 300 and by 1832 around 450 in Britain. These early examples of co-operatives were based on the ideas of Robert Owen (see below). Their main activity was as trading associations within communities and education for children and adults formed part of the philosophy. The London Co-operative and Economical Society along with its counterpart the Edinburgh Practical Society made provision for education both for adults and children. Other societies such as that based in Westminster offered lectures on science and the Birmingham society established a library and organised debates on a wide range of topics. In 1829 the British Association for the Promotion of Co-operative Knowledge was established but education also figured significantly in its history especially from 1844 when the Rochdale pioneers recognised the importance of education and welfare for people.

A key figure in the establishment of the concept of cooperatives as we know them today was the visionary Welshman Robert Owen (1771-1858) a successful cotton magnate who was committed to creating a conducive working environment for his workers including education for them and their children.


He was a man ahead of his time and his work inspired amongst other developments infant education, the Cooperative movement and trade unionism He introduced his ideas in New Lanark in Scotland and attempted to establish ‘villages of co-operation’ where workers would be enabled to provide for themselves by growing their own food, making their own clothes and eventually to become self-governing. Sadly this initiative failed both in Scotland and America. The Owenites were committed to education as an essential aspect for achieving co-operativism. According to the Owenite philosophy a person’s character was a product of the environment and education was learning about the essential facts and also the ideas and attitudes that would lead to a healthy and productive life. Education was not just about learning facts or gaining knowledge as important as this was in the industrial revolution. His ideas were taken up and developed by others including William King (1786-1865) who firmly believed that the working classes should establish co-operatives for themselves and he saw his primary role as an instructor. He founded ‘The Co-operator’ a monthly publication which advocated through a series of philosophies and practical guidance encouragement of workers to engage in society by creating their cooperatives in the wider society. He also advocated a gradual development, starting with setting up their own shop – why not to go to their own shop run to their own standards and fairness rather than be abused by storeowners and shopkeepers many of whom adulterated their products to maximise their profits

Rochdale is quite rightly acknowledged as the birthplace of the modern cooperative movement when a group of 28 workers founded the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers and established the Rochdale Principles in 1844. The Rochdale pioneers as they became known were also committed to developing educational opportunities. From 1850 to 1855 a school for young people was established and more advanced classes were offered to adults and workers in Rochdale. The original shop in Toad Lane, Rochdale shown below.

Cooperative shop

In 1872 the education committee of the Pioneers’ Society determined to develop instruction in artistic, scientific and technical subjects some twenty years before the legislation following the Technical Instruction Committee recommendations (see this website). The Rochdale Society committed some money to develop educational activities of around 2.5% of their budget. Instruction was meant to develop greater understanding of industrial processes and procedures. In 1873 the Pioneers affiliated with the Science and Art Department (SAD) in London at South Kensington and science classes were started. The classes were well supported and in 1886 numbered 686 students pursuing classes in art, science and technology and in 1882 the first City and Guilds technological examinations were held in Toad Lane in Rochdale. The subjects studied were associated with the cotton industry and enrolled 70 students and later other related subjects were introduced including cloth manufacture, pattern designing, spinning of woollen and worsted articles and weaving.

In 1879 students studying botany, chemistry, geology and electricity arranged a debate with their teachers to discuss the nature of general education and specialist subjects. These kinds of educational activities were eventually to lead to the creation of the Rochdale Literary and Scientific Society which continues today. In 1884 there were 47 lending libraries, 69 circulating libraries and 194 newsrooms with 134 lectures enrolling 2,253 students in Rochdale and the immediate locality. These initiatives built the foundations of higher education in Rochdale when the 1889 Technical Instruction Act was passed. The Rochdale Society established fourteen libraries in the locality comprising 13,389 volumes along with an extensive number of periodicals. It managed a laboratory containing a wide range of scientific and mathematical instruments including microscopes with sets of slides. Classes largely focused on science and technology in such subjects as botany, chemistry, electricity, geometry, magnetism, mechanical drawing, physical geography, physiology with French and art. The majority of these classes were recognised and supported financially by the Science and Art Department (SAD) – (see this website).

Only 230 out of 912 societies across the country in 1880 allocated money for education and again the North West of England led the way with 100 funding education activities – another reflection of London’s neglect to fund education in the north!). So in summary only a small percentage of co-operative societies were involved in adult education and if active were managed very much like Mechanics’ Institutions or evening classes often limited to the provision of a library, a newsroom, a few popular lectures and one or two classes. But this is not to underestimate the influence of the more active societies in Rochdale and Oldham which contributed significantly to the University Extension Movement.

After1885 a number of inevitable and understandable changes occurred following enactment of various political Acts by Parliament led to a decline in the educational work of the societies. Local authorities took over much of the education activities operated by the societies and the technical classes were superseded by the new Technical Instruction Committees (see detail on this website). Also following the legislation concerning the provision of libraries, public libraries reduced the need for the society’s libraries. However the co-operative movement influenced key players in education and the University extension movement like James Stuart pioneer on the Extension movement, Arnold Toynbee the noted historian of the Industrial Revolution, Arthur Acland an Oxford Extension secretary and Michael Sadler his successor. Stuart proposed in 1879 that funds should be established to support ‘peripatetic professors’ of a Co-operative University and this led to the creation of a committee that established the Co-operative Union to promote classes in book keeping, industrial history and citizenship. Another consequence of the movement was the creation of the Women’s Co-operative Guild founded in 1883 by Mrs. Acland and led by Margaret Llewellyn Davies which advocated greater commitment to education for women.

In 1894 the Pioneers decided to cease all its technical classes which reflected the change resulting from national legislation in regard to technical education which had brought about more state control and funding. In 1890 the Pioneers education committee provided £200 for the new Technical School and in 1891 the Rochdale Technical Instruction Committee appointed two councillors to represent them on the Pioneers education committee to maintain strong links between the Co-operative and the local authority. The excellent work and example of the Pioneers was complete.

Recognition of the pioneering work achieved in Rochdale is demonstrated on an engraved tablet on the external wall of the Toad Lane building inscribed as shown below:














In the early days of the cooperatives, education about the movement was secondary to industrial education. As the Co-operative’s general and vocational education role was replaced by the state, co-operators focussed on education about co-operativism. The movement in Britain is now more commonly known, rightly or wrongly, through a brand name and its nation business as a retailing, undertaking services and banking organisation but education continues to form an important part of its work.

Part 2 will bring the cooperative movement’s involvement in education up to the present time with the re-emergence of co-operative schools in England – a real alternative to the academies being currently developed.

March 2013

Trade Schools in England

Trade Schools in England

As mentioned in the history of technical education there were a number of separate developments in technical and commercial education provision and the focus for this pen portrait will be on a few examples of trade or similar schools. As the apprenticeships declined in the late 1800s/early 1900s the trade schools attempted to provide an alternative and in some cases provided a pre-apprenticeship programme as an entry to the existing apprenticeships. They provided instruction in the manual skills and trades to young people leaving elementary schools. The majority of the trade schools were in London but the general descriptions will illustrate the overall organisation of these institutions. There were basically three kinds of school in the London area namely:

Trade Schools for Girls, Technical Day Schools for boys and Preparatory Trade Schools for Boys.

Most operated the same entry requirements and timetable profiles. All the Institutes’ had advisory committees with members drawn from the specific trades. Committee members examined the work, advised the Governors where appropriate and helped to place the students in the workplace.

Trade Schools for Girls:

Day Trade School at Borough Polytechnic, London.

The first Trade School for Girls founded in 1904 with 11 students in London teaching dressmaking, waistcoat-making and upholstery. In addition other supporting subjects specific to the student included practical arithmetic, design, geometrical drawing and were taught along with English and physical education. Students were given a thorough introduction to the specific skilled craft whilst continuing their general education in order to develop after two or three years of work placed experience into a competent worker. Approximately twenty-two hours per week involved the trade subject. Admission was usually through an industrial scholarship awarded by the London County Council (LCC) and candidates must have attained at least Standard VI of the elementary day school. Students had to be between 14 and 16 years of age. The scholarships offered free instruction and a maintenance grant of £8 for the first year which rose to £12 for the second year. Non- scholarship candidates must have passed Standard VII of the elementary day school and had to pay 9d (5p) per week or 10s (50p) per term.

Day Trade School at Woolwich Polytechnic, London.

Opened in April 1907 and taught dressmaking and the profile of instruction included:



Hours per week







Geometrical drawing


Design and Art Needlework


Physical education




Emphasis was given throughout the course to the suitability of materials, calculations of cost and quantities, colour coordination and sizing garments to customer requirements. All the teachers were experienced and practising professionals.

The admission policy was the same as the Day Trade School at Borough Polytechnic but a number of free places were available which were granted by the governors.

Day Trade School of Dressmaking at Paddington Institute (LCC).

The primary aim of the Day Trade School was to offer girls leaving elementary school an alternative to an apprenticeship in dressmaking. Approximately two and half days were devoted to trade instruction whilst the rest of the week was aimed at providing a general education with special reference to dressmaking. A typical subject profile was:

English literature and composition.

Vocal expression.

Arithmetic and bookkeeping.




Domestic economy.

Physical education.

The programme was usually two years in duration with a three month probationary period. The age was for 14 to 16 year olds with opportunities for other students to enter subject to a fee of 10s (50p) per term or £1.50 per year. Similar entry criteria were in place as with the Polytechnic mentioned above.

Day Trade School for Girls at the Shoreditch Technical Institute (LCC).

Opened in 1906 with the objective of offering industrial training to girls leaving elementary school and an alternative to apprenticeships. The trade subject focused on designing and making ready-made rather than customised clothing and upholstery. 50% of the week was dedicated to the trade the student had chosen and the other half on general education which included English composition, arithmetic, design, freehand and geometrical drawing, some domestic subjects and physical education. Courses lasted two years and entry was similar to the Paddington Institute. Again supervision conducted by a Consultative Committee of experts.

Preparatory Trade School for Girls at the Cockburn High School, Leeds.

Opened in February 1906 to provide a very practically focused training programme designed to replace the then disappearing apprenticeship programmes. One priority was to engage with employers and link the school and workplace as much as possible. The school was more general in its approach than the London Trade Schools. Approximately 15 hours a week were given to practical work and the remaining to business methods, drafting, drawing, design, hygiene, additional elements of housewifery and general education. The primary objective was to adapt the course to the specific needs of the girls and depending on their occupational aspirations. The Trade School worked closely with the School of Housecraft situated at the Cockburn High School and this relationship provided greater opportunities to the girls. The course was usually a yearlong with a termly fee of 7 shillings. Girls were admitted from the age of 14 but a number of 13 year olds were also admitted who had gained or could receive a labour certificate.

Domestic Science School for Girls Liverpool:

Opened in 1896 and was a result of work of the Liverpool Training School of Cookery and Technical College of Domestic Science. The focus of the school was to provide grounding in the trades and skills required by elementary school leavers before entering different domestic occupations. Course duration was twenty weeks and instruction was given in cookery. housewifery, hygiene, laundry work and sewing. The school could accommodate 70 pupils and was open from 9.30 to 4.00 each day except Saturday. There were five classes for practical work with a maximum of 15 girls per class. Some subjects were offered on a rotating one week basis and the cycle was repeated four times in a session. Interestingly the school was actually based in a house which was lived in and used. The Principal and four teachers were resident and the girls performed all the regular duties. The girls were also required to plan, purchase and manage for a small house hold. In dressmaking each girl was measured for her own pattern and then made the garment for herself. The practical work was carried out each morning and the afternoon demonstrations were given on the principles of skills involved in the various trades.

A fee of 1 shilling (5p) was charged to girls from the elementary schools; others paid 2 shillings and sixpence (12.5p). Liverpool City Council gave a grant on the understanding that a certain number of girls from elementary schools would be enrolled. The usual age of entry was between 14 and 15 and none were eligible over 18 years of age.

The Domestic Economy School, Dallington, Northamptonshire.

Opened in 1896 by the Northamptonshire County Council the Domestic Economy School at Dallington aimed to provide a thorough training in the skills and trades of domestic services with a special focus on the economic use of materials and time. The accommodation comprised a residential school set in two acres of land with gardens including a flower bed, lawns and vegetable plots, a house and paddock. The girls were expected to carry out all duties expected in such a domestic complex – no servants were employed. The school catered for 30 girls all who had attended elementary schools and entered at 14; all boarding and meals were provided free. Initially the course was to last six months but it was decided that this was not long enough and in 1899 it was extended to eight months. Two school entries were operated every four months and the girls were paired into ‘old’ and ‘new’ girls.

The timetable over the thirty-four weeks was as follows:

Kitchen and scullery work 9 weeks, Laundry 9 weeks, Housework (upstairs) 9 weeks and Housework (downstairs) 7 weeks.

Instruction was also given in bed-making, cooking, dressmaking, ironing, house-cleaning, lighting, mending and sewing. Instruction in basis first aid was also given.

Special Schools for Engineering and Trade Schools for Boys:

Technical Day School, Paddington Technical Institute, London.

Opened in September 1906 to provide a course of scientific and technical training prior to entry into the engineering and building trades. Boys leaving Higher Elementary and Secondary Schools were eligible who wanted employment as foremen and managers. The training was not meant to replace apprenticeship training or workshop experience. Entry was at 14 years of age and required a recommendation from the head teacher of the previous secondary school or by examination for elementary school pupils. Course lasted two years and focussed on the particular industry the boys wished to enter. The curriculum comprised instruction on workshop practice, use of tools and drawing office methods. Curricula also included Applied Mechanics, Business methods, Chemistry, Commercial Correspondence, English Composition, Mathematics and Physics. School opened between 9.30 and 12.30 and 2 to 5 p.m. on five days a week and operated a three term year.

The fee was 15 shillings (75p) per term or £2 and 5 shillings (£2.25p) a year. In addition the County Council offered a number of scholarships for 14 to 16 year olds and provided free tuition and a maintenance grant of £10 and £15 for the first and second years respectively.

Day Technical Classes at the LCC Central School of Arts and Crafts, Regent Street, London.

Established in September 1906 provided preliminary training in silver smithing and allied trades. Number of pupils 20 and the annual fee was £1.50p with ten County Council studentships.

Technical Day School for Boys at the Shoreditch Technical Institute (LCC).

Opened in January 1902 with the objective of training boys to enter furniture or other wood-working trades e.g. cabinet-making, carpenters, draughtsmen, pattern-makers, wood-carvers and turners. In addition to the specialist subject general education was continued with subjects that included Arithmetic and Mensuration, Drawing Freehand and Model, English Composition, Geography, Geometry and Geometrical Drawing, History, Modelling in Clay. Classes were also held in experimental science (theory and practical), workshop practice, technology of materials and use of tools and extensive bench work. Special emphasis was given to acquiring knowledge of the artistic principles of design and the scientific and technological principles of the disciplines. The instruction was as follows:

Subject 1st Year 2nd Year 3rd Year
English 4.5 3.0 1.5
Art Drawing and Modelling 6.0 4.5 3.0
Mathematics 6.0 4.5 3.0
Science and Technical Subjects 6.0 4.5 4.5
Workshop and Drawing Office 7.5 15.0* 19.5

Key: * Six hours metal work

Entry levels were set at Standard VII of elementary schools for boys of 14 years of age and 25 scholarships were available for younger boys. Scholarships awarded on examination results and were available for two or three years. Course duration was for two or three years. The fee was £1. 10 shillings (£1.50p).

Technical day School for Boys at the Borough Polytechnic Institute.

The Technical Day School for Boys located at the Borough polytechnic was opened in 1897 and re-organised in 1906 to provide trade training. Instruction in a wide range of trades was offered including a number of branches in engineering, various metal trades, bakery, book-binding, chemical technologies, confectionery and tailoring. Entry was at 12 years of age with V1 th. Standard of an elementary school and the entrants needed to exhibit a commitment to a specific trade. Course duration was 3 years with an opportunity for a one year extension.

The curriculum included: English subjects, practical mathematics, freehand and model drawing, mechanical and engineering drawing, mechanics, physics and chemistry, wood and metal working, one foreign language (French or German) and physical education. A typical profile of hours spent over the three years is given below:


1st Year

2nd Year

3rd Year

Mathematics (incl. mensuration and geometry) 5 4 4.5
English incl. Special lectures and visits to museums and works. 6 3 3
Science (Chemistry and Physics) 4 4.5 6
Drawing (Freehand, Engineering and Model) 4 5 5
Art 2 1.5
Foreign Language (French or German) 3 3
Workshop Instruction 5 5 7.5
Physical Education 1.5 1.5 1
Totals: 27.5 27.5 30.0

The first year was common for all the students and in the second year they were organised depending on the boy’s chosen trade but no specialisation was allowed until the third year, the second year being a more general introduction particularly in the workshop to the trade. The optional fourth year was aimed at students who possessed a greater aptitude and wanted an extended period of more specialised training and showed special aptitude.

The LCC awarded 25 scholarships tenable for three years to thirteen year olds which allowed free tuition and maintenance. There were also Free Tuition Scholarships and scholarships provided from other sources giving free training along with £8 for the second year and £11 for the third year.

The fee for the other students was £1 per tern or £3 for a year. Again an Advisory Committee monitored the school’s progress and formed a link with local industries helping the boys to gain employment when completing the course.

The Stanley Technical Trade School:

Opened in March 1907 in South Norwood, London by W. F. Stanley who founded a successful optical and scientific instrument company. Stanley financed the setting up of the school and initially played a major role in defining its purpose. The main objective was to teach the elements of mechanics, science and applied art and manual skills and dexterity using workshop practice before entering apprenticeship programmes. The school was overseen by a board of governors with a membership of the Major of the Borough and people interested in technical education. School was open for boys between 12 and 13 with a four monthly entry for 50 with a maximum of 400 boys. Entry criteria included a proven commitment and experience in mechanical and artistic ability and a preference was given in some cases to sons of mechanics. Subjects taught included a wide range of instruction and techniques associated with wood and metal e.g. casting, electro-deposition, fitting, soldering, turning with extra tuition on carving, design, drawing, engraving, modelling, painting and printing. Half the week was devoted to practical work and the remaining half to general education. The instructors were experienced mechanics e.g. engineers, joiners and the general instruction given by qualified teachers.

The fee was 1 shilling (5p) a week for the first year then free for the second and third years. At the opening of the school Stanley suggested one way of covering the costs of the practical instruction was to make boxes of bricks, models of trucks and cranes and other toys to compete with those that were at the time being imported from Germany. He also suggested that the manufacture could be by recycling material from his own factory.

Other similar schools were established in other parts of the country e.g. Gloucestershire.

The school later became a Junior Technical School (JTS) – see the biography on this website.

The day Prepararatory Trade School for boys at the Cockburn High School, Leeds.

Opened in 1906 for boys wishing to become engineers. Again the training was meant to compensate for the disappearance of the then traditional apprenticeship. Entry was by labour certificate and for boys aged 13 or 14. The course lasted one year and strict regulations were in force to make certain the boys were still committed to the course and their intended occupation in engineering. Workshop practice, drawing, office work and practical mechanics occupied fifteen hours and another five hours for applied and workshop calculations and mathematics. Tutors and instructors were qualified and experienced practitors of engineering. The fee was 7 shillings (35p) a term. Equipment, books and stationery were provided free but other items e.g. for homework i.e. drawing apparatus etc were bought be parents. One pleasing aspect of the school was the involvement and support from local employers and that the boys easily found employment in the Leeds area.

The Holbeck Day Preparatory School Trade School, Leeds.

Opened in February 1906 and offering a two year course for boys wishing to enter the engineering trades. Aim was to develop manual dexterity skills and continue his general education.

The profile of instruction for the first year was:


Hours per week

Practical mathematics




Technical drawing


Metal work


Wood work




Physical education/Drill




In addition visits to local companies and works were organised.

The second year followed a similar pattern by at a more advanced level and students who showed a particular aptitude were encouraged to specialise even more in their chosen engineering discipline.

Entry was at thirteen after leaving elementary school and parents had to give an undertaking not to withdraw their child. A fee for the term was set at 7 shilling (35p) and £1. 1 shilling (£1.10p) a year. The school provided all books, instruments and equipment free of charge.

The Pre-Apprenticeship Day School at the Bootle Technical School.

Provided training for sons of artisans, tradesmen and others wishing to enter industrial occupations and led to entry to apprenticeships at 16. The course consisted of training in the elements of science applied to the local industries e.g. mechanical engineering and building trades and general education. The course lasted two years and successful students then entered apprenticeships at 16. The curriculum consisted of mechanical and geometrical drawing, applied mathematics and workshop arithmetic, elementary chemistry, mechanics and physics and practical and experimental lessons. English was also taught with an emphasis on good and clear expression. Ten hours per week were spent on workshop practice aimed at acquiring skills in metal work. Entry began at 13 and the boys had to have gained the VI th. Standard in a public elementary school. The weekly fee was 1 shilling (5p).

The Day Craft School at the Brimscombe Polytechnic, Near Stroud, Somerset.

Opened in September 1906 and arising from a proposal in 1901 to use the workshops at the Brimscombe Polytechnic to provide manual instruction to pupils from the local elementary schools. This proposal proved a success and the provision was extended to offering day craft classes for boys in order to train boys to enter the local industries that were predominately wood-working making such items as walking sticks handles, umbrellas. The skills required included carpentry, joinery, cabinet-making, wood-carving, inlaying and marquetry and wood staining. Drawing formed a significant part of the practical work and half the time was devoted to manual instruction and the other half to general education. The curriculum was matched to the needs of the local industries and the pupils. Other aspects taught included commercial geography, accounts, mensuration, and properties of materials, simple experimental science, essay writing and physical education. Entry was set for 12 year olds and the course lasted two years. The Board of Education (BoE) recognised the day craft school as a public elementary school. It proved a great success with local industry and highlighted the advantages of co-operation between managers, teachers, parents and employers. Its success established another school in Stroud.


Sadler. M. E. ‘Continuation Schools in England and Elsewhere’. Manchester. 1907.

Millis. C. T. ‘Technical Education Its Development and Aims’. Edward Arnold. London. 1925.

Millis. C.T. ‘Education for Trades and Industries’. Edward Arnold. London. 1932.


The Importance of Work Related Learning (WRL) for All

One of the most disappointing aspects of the Wolf Review was the recommendation that WRL should not be a statutory requirement for 14-16 year olds. Equally sad was that the government endorsed that recommendation and removed the funding from schools that has been successful in developing education business partnerships over the past few years. This decision is consistent with others of the government as it continues to narrow the curriculum and heavily prescribe and proscribe areas of it creating a bland and sanitised offering to the majority of 14 to 16 year olds. I find the decision perplexingly paradoxical as the government now seems committed to strengthen post-16 vocational programmes including apprenticeships. Evidence shows that stronger links between the education sectors and the world of work are valuable on a number of counts including:

  • The strengthening of links between education and work and teachers and employers
  • WRL programmes often create effective and lasting partnerships between schools, FE colleges and local employers which again improve students’ knowledge of post-16 opportunities
  • The contradiction of the often made accusation that the two sectors do not understand each other; such partnerships also helps to allay mutual suspicions between the sectors
  • That the various forms of work placement/shadowing/experience/sampling greatly assist learner decisions about post 16 education and work opportunities
  • WRL programmes help to strengthen the careers information, advice and guidance (CIAG) systems in schools
  • The statutory has certainly helped to develop education/business partnerships that lead to a wider range of activities; these help schools and employers bring students to a closer understanding and contact with the reality and vitality of different kinds of businesses and occupations.

Anyone who has worked in the school and college sectors knows that very often students have career or further/higher education aspirations that are unrealistic and the opportunity to experience or observe that occupation via a WRL programme can confirm or not that intention. A student might for example wish to work with old people, children or animals but after a placement realise that career was not for them –surely that cannot be a bad thing!

Many commentators have welcomed the decision to remove funding for WRL programmes which is surprising given the apparent government commitment to review and reform vocational education and training pre and post 16. These commentators see the removal of the statutory requirement as a positive development because it reduces the government intervention in schools but I fear even if this is true the decision will significantly weaken the fundamental importance of WRL at Key Stage 4. It will weaken CIAG programmes and most certainly cause a regression in education business links and partnerships undoing positive developments of the past decades. Key stage 4 should be about providing learning opportunities and experiences that help students decide on which route they should pursue post-16 e.g. the so-called academic or vocational pathway.

Sadly the current school educational reforms are reinforcing and perpetuating the myth that the best route is HE and degrees. The messages from ministers and policy makers are contradictory even paradoxical: they want on one hand to rebalance the economy and place greater emphasis on apprenticeships and vocational disciplines and yet propose a significant retrenchment to a narrower core curriculum for 14 to 16 year olds. The country urgently needs to increase numbers of students pursuing technical, commercial and vocational programmes especially at the higher levels and reduce the continuing academic drift which is being encouraged by the coalition government.

(First published by University of Warwick in March 2013

The Richard Review of Apprenticeships

The Richard Review of Apprenticeships

Published in November 2012 this independent review makes a number of important recommendations in regard to apprenticeships. The more significant recommendations include:

  • Apprenticeships need to be ‘redefined’ having lost the essential link between the employer and the apprentice in recent times
  • The main focus should be on ‘outcomes’
  • Should be ‘more employer focused’ and with government funding to employers
  • Apprenticeships ‘should be industry led’
  • Industry standards’ are essential throughout the programme and defined by the employers
  • A new set of qualifications should be developed matched to the industry standards defined
  • Apprentices ‘should achieve level 2 in English and Mathematics’ on completion of the programme
  • Assessment regimes should be simplified and be less bureaucratic
  • Apprenticeship programmes must be promoted in a more positive way by government and employers with better quality of information to prospective apprentices
  • Pre-Apprenticeship programmes/traineeships should be expanded

The review accurately identifies the bureaucratic nature of assessment for qualifications and an obsession with box ticking characterised by ‘micro-level prescription’ often associated with government interference. Many current on-job training or retraining programmes are not strictly apprenticeships but are labelled as such. The review argues that training to improve the skills of a person who has been employed for some time or who is not yet ready to start employment should not be called an apprenticeship. It also highlights the massive variation in length of the programmes, in some cases just three months and it proposes a minimum duration of one year. The review repeatedly stresses that the future regulation of the frameworks should be light touch. This point is mentioned several times in the review and has already attracted concern from amongst awarding bodies particularly in regard to the approval of training providers whether in the public or private sectors. Clearly any training provision must be of the highest quality with the rigorous application of industry standards so any mention of light touch must be viewed with some caution. The programmes should provide a greater emphasis on outcomes, subjected to industry standards and be targeted on apprentices entering employment or are engaged in occupations that require significant and continuous training.

I hope that the government takes on board the review at this critical time if it is serious about rebalancing the economy as apprenticeships are an essential component. The technical and vocational education and training system of which apprenticeship frameworks are becoming an important part could further ensure the provision of relevancy and highly qualified people to contribute to the country’s economy. They need to be managed with a high sense of purpose and commitment though. The apprenticeship frameworks and associated qualifications must be flexible, responsive, and relevant and fit for purpose underpinned with robust delivery. Apprenticeship must form an important part of a suite of technical, commercial and vocational programmes. Sadly the vocational qualifications system is still seen as second class and all the traditional problems and negative perceptions that have bedevilled it for decades are still currently evident in government political and policy commentary*. Apprenticeships together with the vocational qualifications system must as from now been seen as equivalent to so-called academic qualifications including at higher levels and these viewed as of equal status to university awards should be explicit.

Overall the review has many good points but I feel it still lacks a fundamental analysis of what the frameworks should look like in the future. For example I would have liked to see more detail on how the programmes would be flexible enough in order to recognise and cope with the uncertain times associated with austerity, high youth unemployment and a volatile employment climate. Apprenticeships should play a major part in any rebalancing of the economy. Attention is also needed to the part key professional bodies like the CIPHE and other employer organisations would play in the development and operation of the apprenticeship programmes in the future. Hopefully the government will implement the findings and this will trigger a more thorough reform of this important element of the skills agenda.

(First published in the Education and Training Magazine (ETM) for Plumbing lecturers Spring 2013. SNG Publishers Ltd.).

Information on Colleges and Training Providers


Updated November 2016.

1582 Edinburgh University founded

1592 Trinity College Dublin founded

1596 Gresham College founded.

In 1613 Robin Hood Society founded by H. Middleton.

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

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

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

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

In 1752 Kendal Academy dissolved.

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

In 1763 Kensington Academy founded by J. Elphinston.

1777 Naval academy founded in Chelsea.

In 1781 Manchester Lit and Phil founded.

In 1783 The College of Arts and Science Manchester founded.

In 1786 Manchester Academy founded.

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

1791 Naval academy founded in Gosport by W. Burney.

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

In 1798 Adult School founded in Nottingham the first.

In 1818 Leeds Lit and Phil founded.

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

1823 Liverpool Mechanics and Apprentices’ Library opened.

1823 Glasgow Mechanics’ Institution founded.

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

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

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

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

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

In 1826 100 Mechanics’ Institutions by 1850 approximately 700.

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

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

In 1829 Kings College School founded.

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

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

In 1831 Kings College opened attained University status in 1836.

In 1831 University of Durham projected and chartered in 1837.

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

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

In 1835 enrolments at Salford evening schools were 526.

In 1835 enrolments at Bury evening schools were 151.

In 1836 enrolment at Liverpool evening schools were 548.

In 1836/37 Brougham Institution founded Liverpool.

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

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

In 1838 Engineering Department established at Kings College London.

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

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

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

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

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

In 1838 enrolments at Birmingham evening schools were 563.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1846 Peoples Instruction Society Birmingham founded.

In 1846 Royal Naval College founded.

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

In 1848 Masham Mechanics’ Institution founded by John Fisher.

In 1849 Brighton Working Men’s Institute founded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1851 there were 438 evening schools.

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

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

In 1851 Night schools received funding for the first time.

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

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


No. of Institutions

Subscribing Members

Volumes in libraries



























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

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

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

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

In 1853 the Midlands Institution founded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1860 Westminster Working Men’s Club founded.

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

In 1861 Liverpool School of Science founded.

In 1861 Notting Hill Working Men’s Hall founded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1865 Ovenden Naturalists’ Society in Halifax was founded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1870 Blackheath Proprietary School London founded.

In 1871 Royal Indian Engineering College Coopers Hill founded.

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

In 1872 Crystal Palace School of Practical Engineering established.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1883 Toynbee Hall founded.

In 1884 Central Institution at South Kensington founded.

Brunner Mond encouraged and offered their employees technical education.

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

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

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

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

In 1888 Manchester Central Higher School opened.

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

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

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

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

In 1891 Battersea Polytechnic founded

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1894 South Eastern Agriculture College Wye admitted first 13 students

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1899 Ruskin College opened.

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

In 1899 Brewing introduced at Birmingham University.

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

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

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

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

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





Number of Evening Schools Recognised by BoE




Number of Students




Source: Statistics 1902-06. Cd3255. BoE.

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

In 1902 Biochemistry introduced at Liverpool University.

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

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

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

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

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

In 1904 the London Polytechnics comprised:

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

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

The Sir John Cass Institute. Jewry Street.

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

South of the Thames:

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

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

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

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

1906 Elmham Watts Naval School (Norfolk) opened.

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

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

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

In 1907 Naval Architecture introduced at Newcastle University.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1909 Belfast College became Queens University of Belfast.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1918 there were 51 Central Schools in London.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1920 Day Continuation School opened in Rugby.

In 1920 Boots’ Day Continuation School founded in Nottingham.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

England England Wales Wales


































































Source: BoE Annual Reports.

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

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

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

IN 1930 Technical College , Sunderland linked with Durham University.

In 1930 there were 10 JTSs in London for girls.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Does not include students on Commercial subjects


Number o Students

Number of Courses




Arts (76), Preliminary (537) and

Science (379)






Architecture and Building






Chemistry and Chemical Trades






Printing and Photography






Food and Drink Trades



Physical Training



Optics, technical



Leather Industries



Music trades



Boot and Shoe Manufacture



Naval Architecture



Clothing Trades (2)









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

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

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

In 1933 Harriot Watt College Edinburgh linked with Edinburgh University.

In 1933 there were 317 LEAs.

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

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

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

Engineering – Boys 47.9%, Girls 22.9%.

Clerical Boys -4.2%, Girls 19.8%

Distributive trades – Boys 30.0%, Girls 8.6%


Institutional – Boys 3.0%, 0.9%

Private – Boys 0% , Girls 16.3%

At home – Boys 0%, Girls 10.9%

Building trades – Boys 3.4%, Girls 0%

Printing – Boys 1.6%, Girls 1.5%

Agriculture – Boys 1.6%, Girls 0%

Laundry – Boys 0%, 9.0%

Corset manufacture – Boys 0%. Girls 5.2%

Miscellaneous – Boys 8.3%, Girls 4.9%.

In 1934 Percentage Participation among Different Age-Groups:
















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

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

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

Types of School

Number of Schools




Junior Technical




Junior Technical






Junior Housewifery




Junior Commercial










Source: Educational Pamphlet No. 111 BoE. 1937.

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

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

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

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

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







Art Schools



Technical Colleges



Evening Institutes



Day Continuation Schools






Adult Education






Grand total:


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


Sec. School



















General Subjects









Foreign Languages



























Practical Subjects









Physical Training


















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

Junior Schools- the BoE classified Junior Schools as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1939 there were 16 farm institutes with 774 students.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In1946 between 1946 and 1964 53 art institutions closed.

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

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

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

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

In 1947 there were 37 farm institutes.

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

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

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

In 1948 the National College of Rubber Technology opened.

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

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

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

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

In 1952 Hatfield College of Technology opened.

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

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

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

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




Other Technologies

Internal degree



External degree

















Grand total




Source: PRO/Ed 46/753. MoE.

Technical College Students as Percentage of University Students in 1949:


Pure Science





Degrees, HNCs and HNDs



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


Major establishments


Evening institutes








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

General science

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


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


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


4,750 200 4,950 6,300


4,000 800 4,800 6,100


2,600 550 3,150 3,700


2,800 200 3,000 2,400


1,600 20 1,620 2,300


1,050 50 1,100 1,900

Nature study

350 400 750 400


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

Subjects related

to manufacturing



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

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

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

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


Of founding


















Rubber Technology/1948






Heating and Ventilating/1948












Food Technology/1951












Royal College of Art

/1837 as School of Industrial Design












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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Technical Colleges


Technical Institutes


Colleges of Technology, Art and Commerce


Colleges of Further Education


Colleges and Schools of Commerce


Colleges of Art


Schools of Art and Craft






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

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

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

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

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

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




Evening classes

Subjects of a general education value:









All others




Subjects related to specific occupations:









Book, paper and printing








Clothing and textiles








Food and drink








Miscellaneous manufacturing




Building and construction




Commercial, professional, personal services and miscellaneous




Total (excl. Art)




Courses in art establishments




Grand total:




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

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

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

1956 100 sandwich programmes with 2,300 students,

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

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

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

Proportion of Population in Various Institutions in 1959 for Males:




Teacher Training Colleges















































  • Technical, Commercial and Art Colleges and Evening Institutes.

Proportion of Population in Various Institutions in 1959 for Females:




Teacher Training Colleges



Evening Only*











































  • Technical, Commercial and Art Colleges and Evening Institutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1966 30 Polytechnics created from existing colleges.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part-time – 268,000 (79% M). (21% F).

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

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

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

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

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

In 1978 there were 16 tertiary colleges in existence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1987 Garnett College incorporated.

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

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

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

In 1992 University of Greenwich founded.

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

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

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

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

1998/99 60 colleges of art and design inspected.

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

In 2001 there were 70 NTOs.

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

In 2002 there were 310 specialist schools.

In 2002 there were 26 colleges in Wales.

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

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

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

In 2009 there were 203 academies.

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

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

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

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


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

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

Facts and Figures

Update August 2018.

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

In 1560 250,000 tons of coal mined.

In 1620 35,000 tons of pig iron produced.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1750 £86,000 worth of cotton produced.

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

In 1754 over 2,000 Charity Schools established.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1797 Gold standard suspended restored  in 1821.

In 1798 Newspaper regulation and newspaper taxes increased.

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

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

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

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

In 1800 Adult literacy in England 53%.

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

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

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

1801 English spoken by 20 million people.

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

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

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

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

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

In 1810 250,000 tons of iron produced.

In 1810 10 million tons of coal mined.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1819 Hazelwood School founded (1819-1837).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1825 22.0 million tone of coal mined.

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

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

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

1828 Between 1828 and 1853 the price of books halved.

In 1829 Grand General Union of Operative Spinners founded.

In 1829 16 million tons of coal mined.

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

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

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

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

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

In 1830 Stephenson produced his Planet locomotive.

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

In 1830 700,000 tons of iron produced.

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

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

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

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

In 1831 2,850,000 houses in Britain.

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

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

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

In 1832 Value of British exports £36 million.

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

In 1833 Potters Union membership numbered 8,000.

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

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

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

In 1835 ‘Chambers’ Educational Course’ published.

In 1835 340,000 textile workers.

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

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

1836 London Working Men’s Association founded.

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

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

In 1839 State grant for education £30,000.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1844 Rochdale Pioneers store established.

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

1847 teachers certificates first instituted.

1848 Railway mileage 4,600.

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

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

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

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

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

In 1850 Value of British exports £71 million.

In 1850 570,000 textile workers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1851 2.7 million tons of pig iron produced.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1851 1,100 teachers had obtained teacher certificate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1851 Estimated percentage of the British labour force:

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

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

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

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

In 1851 438 evening schools in Scotland.

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

In 1854 64.7 million tone of coal mined.

1855 Tax on newspapers abolished.

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

1856 Coal mined was 65 million tons

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

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

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

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

















Clerks etc.









Manchester Working Men’s Colleges Enrolments in 1858 Terms:





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












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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1862 3,450 university students in Scotland.

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

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

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

In 1863 Membership of Friendly Societies around 200,000.

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

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

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

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

In 1867 212 Science Schools with 10,230 students.

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

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

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

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

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

1870 Coal mined was 110 million tons.

1870 Railway mileage 13,600.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actual Expenditure on Education and Science between 1871 and 1890:


Education Spend (£)

Science and Art Spend (£)




























Source: ED 23/71.

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

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

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

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

In 1872 42 million spindles at work in cotton mills.

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

In 1875 Agricultural Engineers Association founded.

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

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

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

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

In 1876 school leaving age was 10.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1883 Tonnage of shipping launched 1,250,000

In 1884 number of companies 9,344.

In 1886 Tonnage of shipping launched 473,000.

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


Whisky Money given to L.C.C.


Amount spent on technical education £










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

1888 Trade Union membership stood at 750,000.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1891 tramway system created in Leeds – Roundhay Park.

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

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

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

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

In 1893 school leaving age was 11.

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

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

In 1894 Agricultural Education Association founded.

In 1885 first tramway system started in Blackpool.

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

In 1891 tramway system created in Leeds – Roundhay Park.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1899 school leaving age was 12.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1900 polytechnics in London increased to 8.

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

In 1901 population of UK 38.237 million.

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

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

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

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

1901 Number of people employed in agriculture 1.3 million.

In 1901 contribution to national income from coal 6%.

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

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

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

In 1904 500 polytechnic students were studying for London degrees.

In 1904 ATTI founded.

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

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

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

in 1905 236 million tons of coal mined in GB.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1910 4% of children attended grammar schools.

In 1910 Provincial universities produced 500 to 600 graduates.

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

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

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

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

In 1912 111 Trade Schools existed in Britain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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










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

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

In 1914 47.000 cars in Britain.

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

In 1918 school leaving age was 14.

In 1920 650,148 cars on British roads.

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

In 1921 population of UK was 44.027 million.

In 1921 220,000 students attended technical colleges.

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

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

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

In 1922 APTI founded initial membership 70.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1925 1,500,000 cars in Britain.

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

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

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

In 1926 Unemployment rate was 12.5%.

In 1928 Unemployment rate was 10.8%.

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

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

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

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

In 1930 About 45% of jute goods exported.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1931 population in Britain 43,000,000.

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

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

In 1932 Unemployment rate was 22.12%.

In 1932 8.25 million pairs of boots and shoes exported.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1935 Average worker earned approximately 62shillings 50 pence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1935 12 Universities increased to 44 by 1965.

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

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

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

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







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

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

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

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

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

In 1937 11% of children attended grammar schools.

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

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

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

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

Mode of attendance






Part-time day









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

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

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

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

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

In 1938 444,877 cars manufactured in Britain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




































































In 1945 from 1945 to 1952 teachers’ certificates awarded:

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1948 manufacturing contribution to national economy was 41%

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1951 population of UK 50.287 million.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1953/54 APTI membership 230.

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

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

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

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

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

In 1954 Membership of ATI 240.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OND – 2 years full-time.

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

ONC – 3 years part-time.

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

  1. City and Guilds:

Intermediate Certificates -2/3 years part-time.

Final Certificates – 1/2 years part-time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total number released of all ages 309,255.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Employment by Sector in UK in 1961 and 1978:


Number in 1961


Number in 1978


% change 1961to 1978

Total employed :




H.M. Forces




Civilian employment




Agriculture, forestry and fishing




Mining and quarrying












Gas, electricity, water




Transport and Communications




Other services




Total central government




National health




Total local authorities








Health and social services




Total Central and Local government (excl Forces)




Public corporations




Total public sector (excl. Forces)




Total public sector (incl. Forces)




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enrolments in these courses for 1954/55:

Mode of attendance

Advanced courses

Senior Courses

Junior Courses





Part-time (own time)




Part-time (released)








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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1971 population of UK 55.928 million.

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

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

In 1974 6,500 subject entries for the CEE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1978 there were 149,989 full-time equivalent students in polytechnics and 41,914 full-time equivalent students studying advanced programmes in other institutions.

In 1979 there were 26,000 employees in Jobcentres and Employment Offices and another 9,ooo in Skillcentres and approximately 1,400 civil servants employed at MSC. There were 600 Jobcentres.

In 1979 approximately 40% of the 700,000 school leavers who found employment received no training and only 20% received 8 weeks or less training.

In 1979 1 in 8 people entered HE – in the 1960s it was 1 in 17 and by 1994 it was 1 in 3.

In 1980 some 90,000 young people began apprenticeships-10% fewer than in 1979.

In 1980 there were approximately 73,000 members of NATFHE, Approximately 1,000 of Association of Agricultural Staffs (AAS),  500 for Association of College Principals and Approximately 2,600 for Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AACE).

In the 1980s participation rate of 17 year olds in education and training were: West Germany full-time 50% and part-time 47%, Japan full-time 90% part-time 0%, France full-time 63% and part-time 12% and in UK full-time 33% and part-time 35%.

In 1980 manufacturing share of economy was 26%.

1980s Since the early 1980s 28 major pieces of legislation related to vocational, FE and skills training enacted with little or no impact or improvement.

In 1980 there were approximately 140,000 students on link courses (links between schools and colleges).

In 1981 unemployment rate was 6.3% with 35% of all unemployed under 25.

In 1982 500 companies involved in Young Enterprise(YE) – YE enabled young people to set up an company, sell shares and market a product to mirror real business practice.

In 1984 in Britain approximately 9% of workers benefited from job-related training and by 1990 this had risen to about 15% but these increased were from a relatively low base. (HMSO Training Statistics 1991).

In 1985 expenditure per FT equivalent student in Universities £5,170. Polytechnics £ 3,150 and Voluntary and Direct Grant Colleges £ 2,950. 

In 1986 the staying on rate for post-16 year olds in England was approximately 46%.

Staying-on Rates in Various Countries in the 1980s:

Full-time education and training

16-yr olds


17-yr olds


18-yr olds


16-18-yr olds

UK (1988)





W. Germany (1987)





France (1986)





USA (1986)





Japan (1988)





Source: Statistical. Bulletin 1990.

In 1985 over 50% of British companies did not offer any formal provision for management training.

In 1985 700,000 youth school leavers had entered the YTS – 4,000 managing agents involved and approximately 160 Information Technology Centres (ITECs) had provided 6,000 places.

In 1985/86 approximately 50,000 people had benefitted from support of the Open Tech.

In session 1985-86 expenditure per FTE student in universities was £5,170, £3,150 in Polytechnic and £2,950 in voluntary/direct grant colleges . (Note in maintained schools net recurrent institutional expenditure per pupil was £1.040). DES Bull 14/87. 

In 1986/89 52% of the work-force received no training in Britain (Training Agency 1989). In Britain about 36% of workers possessed some form of vocational qualifications the figure in Germany was 67%.

In 1986 about 20% of British managers held degrees or professional qualifications in Germany the figure was 63% and in America 85%.

In 1987 Participation rates of F-T education in Britain 50% (16 year olds) and 35% (16-18 year olds)

In 1987 only 30% of companies in Britain possessed a training plan and only 19% of those establishments made any assessment of the benefits of training and only £5 attempted to gauge the benefits against cost. (Training Agency 1989).

In 1987 approximately 100,000 (about 20%) of British school-leavers entered jobs that offered no training. By contrast 93% of West German school leavers entered apprenticeships, further schooling or university.

In 1987/88 Number of HE women students in Polytechnics 148,000 FT and 84,000 PT and in Universities 133,000 and 59,000 respectively.

In 1987/88 Number of HE men students in Polytechnics 157,000 FT and 151,000 PT and in Universities 188,000 and 73,000 respectively.

In 1987 52% of the workforce received no formal training. (CBI).

In 1988 45.6% of entrants to universities and polytechnics were female.

In 1988 the staying on rates in UK were: 50% for 16 year olds, 35% for 17 year olds and 20% for 18 year olds. Giving 35% for 16 to 18 year olds. c.f. these figures with those of Japan namely 92%, 89%, 50% and 77%. Also compare with France 78%, 68%, 52% and 66%. (DES 1990).

In session 1989/90 full-time participation rate at 18 for Scotland was 25% (i.e. entry to HE) compared with 17% for the whole of the UK.

In 1989 school leavers highest qualification with 2 or more GCE ‘A’ level 15%, 1 GCE ‘A’ level or equivalent  40%, Low level below O level 35% and no qualification 10%.

In 1990 only 1 in 200 school leavers became graduate engineers and just 3% of school leavers had GCE ‘A’ Mathematics and Physics.

In1992 20% 0f people employed in UK were over 50 years of age.

In 1995 43% of 16 year olds in education and training were in FECs and 6th form colleges (approximately 450 colleges).  14% of 16 year olds in education and training were on work-based provision.

1995 there were180 NTOs/Lead Bodies/Occupational Standards Councils.

In 1996/97 enrolments in Wales was 191,000 with approximately 50% studying ‘A’ or ‘AS’ levels comprising Full-time 17,625 (Male) and 20,569 (Female), Part-time and Block release 17.566 (M) and 28,785 (F), Part-time evening and other 17,029 (M) and 31,716 (F). (FEFCW 1996/97).

In 1996 approximately 70% of full-time teachers of engineering possessed a teaching qualification.

IN 1996 GNVQ registrations exceeded 180,000 with achievement rate of approx. 55% compared with 70% for BTEC National and ‘A’ level.

In 1996 approximately of engineering teaching delivered by part-timers.

In 1996/97 there were 75,600 students on AMAs in England and Wales -these increased to 87,700 in 1997/98.

In 1997 manufacturing contribution to national economy was  approximately 20%.

In 1997/98FEFC returns showed a 3% decrease in numbers between sessions 1997/98 and 1998/99.

In 1997 Number of Employees by Occupation:


Number (x000)


Managers and administrators



Professional occupations



Associate Professional and Technical



Clerical and secretarial



Craft and related



Personal and Protective



Sales and related



Plant and Machine Operatives



Other occupations






Source: Business Strategies Ltd 1997 in Labour and Skill Trends 1998/99.

In 1998 there were 82,000 MAs started.

In 1998 14 million people held an NVQ level qualification.

In 1998 the year activity survey showed an increase of 0.6% stay on in f-t education at 68.5% and was 82.1 moved to some form of learning after completion of compulsory education and an increase of 7.8% of young people in employment with a planned programme of on and off job training.

In 1998 by the end of 1998 65 NTOs had been established.

In 1998 RDAs went live. (On 1st April).

In 1999 there were 81 approved sectors for AMAs and 50 for FMAs.

1999 51 frameworks for National Traineeships were approved and recruited 54,900 trainees.

In 1999 5% of degree entries held BTEC ONC/OND qualifications this increased to 9% in 2009 (HESA 2010).

In 1999 there had been 223,000 students (January) but 101,000 (43% had left New Deal.

In 2000 enrolments in Welsh Colleges post-16 were: 25% on full-time, 40% on block-release and 3.5% on open and distance learning. 60% of the students were female and 25% under 19. (FEFCW).

In 2000 participation rates were: Full-time education 70.7% (Age 16) and 58.1% (Age 17), Government supported training 8.2% (Age16) and 11.1% (Age17),

Employer funded training 3.1% (Age 16) and 5.6% (Age17), Other education and training 4.8% (Age16) and 5.6% (Age17). Totals 86% and 79.9% respectively.

Note at 18 the figure was 60.2% (36.8% full-time).

In 2000 by the end of August number on New Deal were on the following options: 77,800 young people in f-t education and training. 35,800 on the voluntary sector option and 34,100 on the environmental task force option. (DfEE).

In 2000 NTOs represented companies with a workforce size as follows: Over 1 million employees – 5 NTOs. Between 750,000 and 1 million – 2 NTOs. Between 500,000 and 750,000 – 3 NTOs. Between 200,000 and 500,000 – 16 NTOs. Between 50,000 and 200,000 – 27 NTOs and <50.000 – 15 NTOs.

In 2000 enrolments in FE sector (1/11/2000) was 2,334,800 compared with 2,424,400 in 1999 (1/11/1999).

In 2000 between 2000 and 2002 HE expenditure increased from £5.4 billion to £5.8 billion.

In 2000 level 1 and entry level to FE up 81.9% since 1994 – and represented over 26% of the total provision (17.3% in 1994). Level 2 up 29.1% since 1994 and represents 31.3% of total provision (29.3% in 1994), Level 3 up 3.7% since 1994 and represents 39% of total provision (a decline from 46.2% in 1994) and levels 4,5 and HE down 50.3% and represented only 2.9% of total provision (7.2% in 1994).

In 2000 there were 3,722,610 businesses in UK – of these 70% (>2.6 million) were sole traders. <7,000 were large companies (250+ employees) , 25,000 were medium sized companies (50-249 employees) and the rest were small enterprises. Large company providers provided 25% of private sector employment and 49% of turnover.

In 2000/01 number of FE colleges was 491.  Number of 6th Form Colleges 104. Number of Universities 109 and other HE Institutions 57.

In 2001 there were 1,007 Jobcentres in the UK.

In 2001 it was estimated that the workforce would require a level 3 qualification – this is yet to be achieved. (In 2001 only 43% held level 3 qualifications).

2001 figures for HE comprising 33% were mature students (i.e. over 30 years) and 25% new entrants were entering with non-traditional entry qualifications e.g. GNVQs and BTECs.

In 2001 between 2001/2 and 2003/04 funding for Adult Basic Skills increased from £253 million to £403 million.

In 2001 there were approximately Union Learning Unions representing 66 different unions.

In 2001 population of UK 59.618 million.

In 2001 there were several thousand learning centres and 2,500 private sector training organisations, 600 – 1000 learning material developers/publishers, 600 awarding bodies, 70+ NTOs and over 400 colleges in England.

In session 2004/05 there 25 FE institutions in Wales employing 14,695 staff.

In 2005 in 2005/06 number of apprenticeships were 99,500 (<19). 75,200 (19-24) and 300 (>25) – 122,800 at level 2 and 52,100 at levels 3/4.

In 2006 over 25% of the workforce were over 50 years of age.

In session 2007/08 there were 4,360,700 FTE numbers of  students in FE in England.  Corresponding figures for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were 223,500, 386,600 and 131,800 respectively.

In Session 2008/09 number of students in FE Institutions was 5.6million.

In 2008/09 Student numbers in Science, Engineering and Technology Apprenticeships in England were composed as follows:

Science and related subjects 2,636 (level2) 3% and 4,131 (level3) 5%.

Technology and related subjects 9,000 (level2) 12% and 6,425 (level3) 8%.

Engineering and related subjects 65,436 (84%) and 72,000 (level3) 87%.

Mathematics and related subjects 4,890 (level2) 6% and 5,309 (Level3) 6%.

2009 Learning and Development survey highlighted issues associated with skills namely:

61% employers said new employees from schools/colleges/universities lacked business skills and commercial awareness.

60% employers said employees were weak in communication skills.

55% employers said employees generally lacked work ethic among new employees and

43% lacked customer service skills.

In 2009 in 2009/10 number of apprenticeships were 116,800(<19). 113,800 (19-24) and 49,100 (>25)  – 190,600 at level 2 and 89,200 at levels 3/4.

In 2009 in 2009/10 3.4 million achieved a government funded FE qualification – 1.3 million at level 2 and 674,600at level 3.

In 2009/10 % of employers reporting skill shortages/gaps – hotels/catering 11%, manufacturing 9%, construction 7% and utilities 9%.

In 2010 88% of 16 year olds and 76% of 17 year olds in England were in full-time education.

In 2010 in England 8% 0f employers offered apprenticeships.

In 2010 fewer than 20% of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland studied any kind of mathematics after taking the GCSE qualification.

In 2010 overall 13% taking ‘A’ mathematics in England Wales and Northern Ireland the figure in Scotland was 23%.

In 2010/11 13.3% of central government revenue spent on education.

In 2011 Between 2011 and 2015 employment increased by 20% in the creative industry/economy.

In 2012 there were 1.07 million 16 to 24 year olds classified as NEETs. 5700,000 unemployed and 502,000 economically inactive.

In 2011/12 there were 402 FE Colleges. Number of 6th Form Colleges 95. Number of Universities 126 and number of other HE Institutions 36.

In 2011 in session 2010/11 there were 4.9 million learners who enrolled for publically funded FE courses in the UK.

In session 2012/13  there were 44,216,600 FTE numbers of students in FE in England. Corresponding figures for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were 211,300, 256,590 and 141,700 respectively.

In session 2012/13 £86.6 billion spent on education – £13.6 b on tertiary and £36.5 b on secondary.

In 2013 Minimum wage for apprentices increased by 3p per hour to £2.68. (October).

In 2013 60% of young people are not prepared for the workforce. CGLI

In 2013 It was expected that Traineeships can last between 6 weeks and 6 months and would include work preparation, English and mathematics and work experience placement with an employer.

In 2013 employers stated that 59% of young people do not have the correct attitudes for he workplace.

In 2013 1 in 6 young people are not in education, employment or training (NEETs).

In 2013 the SFA funded over 1,000 colleges , schools and training providers with a budget of £4 billion per year.

In 2013 just 11 in every 1,000 employees in England were apprentices compared with 39 in Australia and 40 in Germany.

In 2013 it is expected (hoped?) that approximately 15% of apprentices will progress onto Higher Education.

In 2013 Between 2013 and 2022 apprenticeships are estimated to contribute £3.4 billion of net productivity to the UK economy.

In 2013/14 the UK spent £2.5 billion a year on out-of-work benefits for the under 25 year olds. Also 14% of young people were classified as NEETS. Number of students in session 2013/14 FE Institutions 4.5 million – a decrease from 5.6million in session 2008/09

In 2014 estimated that over 1 million new science, engineering and technology professionals will be required in the UK by 2020.

In 2014/15 there were 670,000 apprentices

In 2014 Number of FE students studying P-T work based programmes or college study (aged <19 years olds) – 1,200,000 (England). 63,000 (Wales). 79,000 (NI) and 11,000 (Scotland).

In 2015 26 million people employed in manufacturing in Britain compared with 6.6 million in 1980.

In 2015 54% of British exports came from manufacturing

In 2015 20,000 unfilled graduate positions in IT industries in spite of 30,500 studying computer sciences in universities. 16.4 % increase in engineering graduates since 2005 – but still to low to satisfy demand. European Statistical Office projected that by 2060 there will be only 2 people of working age (15-64) in the EU for every person over 65. 25% of people in employment in UK over 50 years of age. 683,000 young people (16-24) unemployed – June/August figures. 187 standards established for the Trailbrazer Apprenticeship programmes.  A number of surveys identified that for every 1£ spent on apprenticeships there was an economic return of £26-£28. Since 1995 amount that British companies spent on training has fallen year by year. 19% of university graduates are working in non-graduate jobs – a figure that is predicted to rise further. CIPD survey showed that in the UK 22% of jobs required no more than a compulsory – level school – second in the OECD.  SMES employed 60 of people in private sector companies.

In 2015 UK trade deficit in manufacturing goods approximately £120 billion.

In 2015 1,300 qualifications offered in Britain – crazy in spite of many reviews to reduce the number.

In 2015 OECD ranks Britain 28th in 33th in countries in terms of developing intermediate skills.

In 2015 Royal Academy of Engineering reported that Britain would need an additional 800.000 graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by 2020.

In 2015 manufacturing share of economy was 10% a figure continuing to decline. Proportion of exports from manufacturing for Britain 44%. 61% of parents preferred their children to undertake high quality degree apprenticeship programmes. University students receive £6,000 more funding per year than vocational students – namely £8,400 compared to £2,150. In UK manufacturing represents approximately 11% compared with 21% in Germany.

In 2016 2.6 million people employed in manufacturing a figure continuing to decline (20,000 per  quarter). UK needs 69,000 new engineers per year to meet demands of industry (IET). Companies with a payroll>£3 million will be required to pay 0.5% of their wage bill to fund the national  Apprenticeships programmes with a minus £15,000 allowance. 46% of all UK employers will require high level skills and also 70% of all newly created jobs will require high skills. More than £450 billion of UK GDP relies from engineering/manufacturing. Surveys show 59% more people required in people management/production-related technical skills, 53% in craft and technician, 52% in sales and marketing and 47% in IT and software skills over the next three years. Government statistics identify 150,000 shortage of carpenters and 75,000 project managers along with other key  trades in construction industry.

Hard to find vacancies for manufacturing was 35% compared with 30% in 2011. This figure has remained approximately the same for the past few years.

2017 Recent survey again highlights the poor standard of teaching in the key subjects because of teacher shortages. Only 33.3% of physics teachers have a degree in that subject and 20% of mathematics teachers. Productivity levels declined again and now the country occupies 25th place in the international league table of developed nations – reasons given lack of investment in Research and Development by employers (R and D) and in vocational and technical training. Two depressing examples of the inability of this country to address yet alone resolve these long standing problems!

In 2017 Construction provides 7% of the UK  economy’s GDP and 6% jobs.

In 2017 Productivity rate lags , on average, 18 points behind the other G7 nations.

In 2017 Of the 490,000 apprenticeships started in 2016-2017 54% were female however only 8.1% were studying engineering.

In 2017 Number of applicants to study languages continues to decline. UCAS figures showed that number of applications declined from 19,620 in 2012 to 15,140 in June 2017 who wanted to study European languages.

In 2017 A CBI survey of teenagers regarding their view of the importance of social/key skills gave the following results:

Strong work ethic 14%, Communication skills 12%. Team working 6%, Self-confidence 6%, Social skills 4%, Leadership 4%, Problem Solving 3% and Creativity 3%.

A depressing set of figures.

The survey also highlighted the importance of work experience was rated at just 20%

In 2018.

The current skills gap during 2017-18 has cost the country £.6.3 billion (Open University’s Business Barometer. 61% of companies have stated the skills gap is getting worse. More than 33% of workers in England do not hold suitable qualifications for the jobs they do. Also 9 million adult workers possess low qualifications. There are approximately 70,000 interns employed in England – 15,000 do not receive any money or their work. Employers from April 2017 with a total payroll had to pay an extra 0.5% into the training account – this increased the levy on individual employers to £15,000 per year. Apprenticeships now require a minimum of 20% training off the job. The construction industry contributes £110 billion per annum representing about 7% of GDP. The OECD has ranked the UK 16th out of top 20 countries in terms of its provision of technical education. OECD further predicts if nothing is done to improve it will rank 28th thy out of the 33 OECD countries for intermediate countries. Employers have indicated that 25% of vacancies are proving difficult to fill. A third of England’s 16-19-year- olds have low basic skills. There are currently 11,600 degree apprenticeships. 65% of employers have found that graduates lack the interpersonal skills to manage people. UCAS have stated that 49% of school leavers will apply to study at university from September 2018.

According to the Engineering UK State of Engineering the country requires at least 124,000 engineers and technicians with core engineering skills and an additional 79,000 roles that require some engineering knowledge and skills alongside other skill sets. Also stated that there is a 59,000 of engineering graduates and technicians to fill these roles. Only 12% of UK’s professional engineers are females a survey in 2016 showed the UK was placed 58th out of 86 countries for gender diversity among engineering graduates. 71% of SMEs never accesses any form of government support, Over 50% of small businesses have less than £1,000 in cash flow. SMEs that employ less than 250 staff account for 5.5million (96%) of all UK businesses

The Untapped Potential of Museums and Libraries

Museums and libraries share a common ancestor with technical colleges through the Mechanics’ Institutions of the 19th century which offered workers the opportunity to improve their skills and acquire new scientific and technological knowledge. It’s also worth reminded that their history includes 19th century endowment by wealthy entrepreneurs who wanted to contribute to the education and cultural enrichment of the population across all ages and classes. Clearly with such a historical heritage it seems natural to more fully exploit the benefits that these different organisations can each offer to engender a learning society and a culture of lifelong learning. With the rapid development of the internet and accessing information online there are now many exciting opportunities to develop a powerful networked information society exploiting and networking the respective strengths of libraries, museums and educational institutions. After all each organisation offers excellent learning environments which are further enhanced as they develop more self-directed approaches to learning both formally and informally.

Sadly the real potential and benefits of working together has yet to be fully realised by these sectors. Although it must be said that many museums especially the national and larger regional museums do make substantial educational provision but much more can be done particularly during this period of austerity and retrenchment. An excellent example is Eureka – The National Children’s Museum which is an interactive educational museum for children up to the age of 11 and based in Halifax in West Yorkshire and founded twenty years ago and encourages parental involvement by way of learning through play. Museums and libraries can provide a rich fund of archived information for research – collecting and displaying a wider range of archived material, information and objects than could possibly be present let alone be accommodated in the average classroom. They can provide contexts e.g. historical/social etc, make links with everyday life and the world of work. Students can visit to carry out investigative work for assignments and with the increasing use of the Internet in education in education, most libraries and museums now offer additional knowledge, information and data in a variety of formats to the remote on-line user. The resources available in the libraries and museums are often very extensive and complement what the educational institutions possess and most certainly can add value to the overall experience of the learners. Resources range from the provision of rare and precious objects, practical information, lists of the learning resources that are available, on-line exhibitions, detailed information about their collections and on-line events. Museums and libraries can represent massive and valuable reservoirs of information for students and the wider community. The rapid developments in information and communication technology have created real opportunities to establish interactive experiences for the learners either individually or in teams.

Too often people in the past, libraries and museums have been perceived as boring, dull, distant places and at times exclusive and elitist but surely nothing could be further from the truth – they can be exciting, attractive, add value to students learning and even be inspirational. Libraries and museums possess a wealth of learning resources that could be more fully exploited by educational institutions if stronger strategic partnerships were formed. These could bring about many benefits not only in education but also to the wider community. Even in these times of austerity the key success factor is the effective management of the partnerships which must be conducted in an open and equitable manner in order to bring about value for money and a win- win result for all parties. This means sharing some staff roles across the three types of institutions and in adopting the principle of reciprocity, educational institutions could provide opportunities for staff exchange as well as courses for library and museum staff; indeed shared staff training would be a must.

Such partnerships would provide people whether in study or not with more extensive learning opportunities that would improve and expand their range of skills and quality of life in general and bring subjects and ideas to life.  Key questions need to be addressed including what information resources are required to support the learner and the new models of learning? The staff would also need to become more versatile and adopt multi-disciplinary skills, work more in teams across institutions and manage and utilise the new technologies.   The respective partners could develop extensive integrated networked information systems. This coordinated approach could bring about many benefits and make a major contribution to the effectiveness of learning and teaching in the education and training sectors. The strategic partnership could also forge much stronger links with the community across all age groups and possibly recapture the mechanics’ institutions philosophy and some of the more open-minded Victorian entrepreneurialism!

Nov 2012


Functional Skills and Apprenticeships

Functional skills are back on the agenda and will form part of the new apprenticeship frameworks which were introduced in September 2012. They will comprise applied skills in English, mathematics and communication technology (ICT). The skills can be taken as stand-alone qualifications and will be embedded within certain programmes of study and will eventually become a mandatory component of Apprenticeships in England replacing the equivalent key skills. Functional skills in Apprenticeships are available in:

  • English which will comprise three distinct components namely: speaking, listening and
  • communication; reading; writing.
  • Mathematics – which will comprise three interrelated process skills to be assessed:
  • representing (selecting the mathematics and information required to model a situation); analysing (processing and using mathematics); interpreting and communicating the results of analysis
  • ICT – which will comprise three interrelated skill areas: using ICT systems; finding and selecting information; developing, presenting and communicating information.

The term functionality has been introduced into educational and training jargon. In curriculum development functionality is equally as important as context, (see article on this website), to which it is closely linked especially in the teaching and learning of vocational and technical subjects. The curriculum developers leading this initiative have adopted the term ‘functional subjects’ to ‘represent a set of learning experiences that provide people with skills and abilities in order for them to be more effective in everyday life, the workplace and educational settings’ (QCA).

Functional skills are critically important to enhance and enrich the apprenticeship programmes in order to better prepare the learners to cope with the challenges in work and real- life contexts. They must also be about developing personal, flexibility, self-management, learning, problem solving, working in a team and thinking skills.

This latest version of functional skills follows a succession of attempts to introduce basic, key and generic skills. This latest attempt will present learning providers and learners with a number of new challenges. The key issue, as it always has been, even before the introduction of basic skills is how to make the subject material relevant and interesting to the learner.

An awful lot has been written about this but many of authors of these guides have little direct experience of teaching technical students and often approach the subject in an academic and clinical fashion.  Also many of the current text books can tend to present an academic bias to the subjects. Tutors have had a long and worthy track record of teaching the additional skills, competences and knowledge components required in practically orientated programmes long before these recently defined skills were formally introduced. Teaching the application of mathematics, science and communications to ,say, hairdressing, horticultural, Institute of Meat, construction, painting and decorating students etc can be very challenging – yes I have been there and I am not Wilt!

It must be remembered that many learners can be hostile to these subjects as they often perceive their programme choice as not requiring additional subjects like mathematics, science etc. Also they could have had bad experiences at school with these subjects. So the skill for the teacher has always been to make the subject content interesting and pertinent to the learner.

The key issues in introducing functional skills are self evident and include:

  • Making a particular skill relevant and meaningful to the learner
  • Delivering where possible the topic in real work situations and environments or at least in realistic working environments (RWEs) based on the learning providers’ premises. Simulation has a number of limitations. Actual work places and to a lesser extent RWEs are ideal environments that offer opportunities for learners to develop, practise, transfer and apply these functional skills.
  • The major challenge with the introduction of functional skills is that the context and content must be realistic and derived from the realities of life and the work place and equally important applied to those realities.
  • Learners must gain an understanding of ‘functionality’ both in terms of the ‘how’ and of the ‘why’. Functional skills must involve such elements as reflection, critical thought, reasoning, and problem solving. Process and thinking skills must be at the heart of this development.
  • Maximising learning activity as much as possible on employer premises e.g. achieve a realistic balance between on and off-job activities.
  • The specification for the functional skills must not be too prescriptive in terms of contexts and situations. Tutors should have the freedom and flexibility to reflect relevant contexts.
  • The assessment regimes must also reflect realistic work contexts and not be over-prescriptive. Effective and sustained learning will not be achieved through inflexible pedagogy, simulation or a pre-occupation with testing and assessment.

If managed and delivered in a considered and sympathetic fashion functional skills will add great value to the apprenticeship and other training programmes..

The Challenges of Introducing Environmental Issues into the Skills Agenda

I know it is stating an obvious fact that education and training must play a significant part in addressing the critical issues currently confronting this planet including those associated with the environment. These include energy, food and water shortages and the consequences of global warming, pollution control, land reclamation and over population. Clearly in spite of a number of sceptics and some who are still in denial of these facts many recognise the dangers.  There is a growing consensus that science and technology can provide some of the solutions as well as creating many new jobs and occupations. In spite of the current austerity, recession and high unemployment especially amongst young people this is surely the time to accelerate investment to create the skills to tackle these issues.

Some of the essential challenges and changes that will be required in all sectors of education and training include:

  • The urgent need for greater awareness of the importance of ecological issues
  • New managerial and organisational structures in institutions
  • Fundamental reviews and reforms of the existing curriculum
  • Introduction of multidisciplinary subjects and programmes
  • Higher profile and importance of scientific (both biological and physical), technical and mathematical subjects;  and hence a significant increase in the number studying these subjects
  • Development of a new set of skills that will match and satisfy the occupational needs of these ecological subjects’
  • Move away from the current linear economy to a circular one with a much greater commitment to recycling and hence reduce waste.

New skills will need to be developed and applied to the existing and emerging scientific and technology knowledge base. These changes will present many daunting challenges for education and training institutions that will include radical reviews and reforms in the way they are managed and organised. The curriculum has to be relevant, up to date and fit for purpose which means that it must involve new qualifications and awards for multidisciplinary subjects and more enlightened methods of assessment. This will require fundamental changes to the way subjects are taught and learnt.

The majority of the curriculum in institutions is still located within a collection of conceptual boxes which create constrictive and confining boundaries. Boundaries not only in terms of subject content but also the way the institutions are managed e.g. separate departments, division and faculties. If the challenges are to be tackled effectively these existing structures must change fundamentally. Specialist departments must cooperate and work more closely together and understand holistically the nature of the challenges that confront them. Parochial and historical practices need to be buried in order to achieve an effective set of reviews and reforms.

Environmental and ecological studies will require a more enlightened approach recognising the fusion of key disciplines such as built environment, construction, engineering, management, facilities management, mathematics and the physical and biological sciences. It has to be multidisciplinary and can no longer be boxed into separate subjects or disciplines. An energy technician represents a good example of this multiskilled and multidisciplinary approach. These individuals need to acquire competence, knowledge, skills and understanding to appreciate the scientific and technological aspects of their occupation. In addition the technician must be aware of the legal aspects of pollution control and management as well as energy conservation and management. Therefore the energy technician needs a curriculum and experience that is truly multidisciplinary and utilises fully an institution’s expertise and resources.

One major concern is the continued reluctance of many to pursue courses that involve scientific, technological and mathematical content. Enrolments in courses and programmes have continued to decline over a number of decades and various campaigns to increase enrolments have largely failed. Coupled to this is that colleges and universities have downsized, merged or even closed departments in many technical disciplines e.g. construction, engineering and physical sciences. Also successive governments in this country have operated insensitive funding regimes which discriminate against higher cost lower recruiting technical and practically based subjects preferring instead to fund lower cost and populist subjects.

In addition, as the country lost its manufacturing base young people in particular perceived construction, engineering and science as fields not offering secure careers and that in turn deterred them from studying these disciplines. Therefore if attitudes to the study of scientific and technical subjects are to be encouraged to change it will need to be recognised that part of the strategy to succeed will have to be linked to increasing the capability and capacity of institutions to cater for growth in these scientific, technological and ecologically oriented courses. This would need long term recognition and commitment from successive parliaments.  It will not be a quick fix. A whole series of strategies needs to be introduced including:

  • Comprehensive systems of careers information advice and guidance (CIAG) at all education sectors to encourage students to pursue these courses
  • The  courses and programmes need to receive adequate resources i.e. financial, physical and human
  • More credibility and appropriately qualified and experienced teachers need to be recruited supported with effective CPD programmes
  • Awarding bodies need to create new qualifications and awards – CGLI have already made a good start with their green skills qualifications initiative
  • Establishment a parity of esteem between technical and the so-called academic subjects
  • Produce more highly qualified crafts/trades people, technicians, technologists , and environment scientists

The challenges are immense but if successfully implemented could greatly contribute to tackling one of the major problems facing this country and the world.

First published on the City and Guilds Centre for Skills Development website in Winter 2012.