HMI - Survey of Industrial Classes (1964)
This 7-page pamphlet set out the findings of a survey of courses for industrial groups provided by the London Joint Tutorial Classes Committee and by the London and Eastern Districts of the Workers' Educational Association in 1963-4.
The text of HMI Survey of Industrial Classes was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 27 June 2023.
Survey of Industrial Classes in Greater London, Hertfordshire and Essex (1964)
A Report by HM Inspectorate
London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1964
SURVEY BY H. M. INSPECTORS OF
Responsible Bodies in Greater London,
Hertfordshire and Essex
THIS SURVEY is confidential and may not be published save by the express direction of the competent authority. If published it must be published in its entirety.
CURZON STREET, LONDON, W.1.
This is a survey of courses for industrial groups provided by the London Joint Tutorial Classes Committee, and by London and Eastern Districts of the W.E.A. [Workers' Educational Association] during the session 1963-4. These courses (listed in the Appendix) form only a small but important part of the total programmes of the three Responsible Bodies and have largely grown up over the last ten years. Their variety makes precise definition difficult. The distinguishing characteristic of the classes included in this survey is that the community of the workplace rather than the residential community is the focus of organisation and provision. A particular purpose of this survey was to examine the possibilities and problems presented to Responsible Bodies by work of this type.
To establish a class on such foundations, it is clear that a Responsible Body must create a relationship with potential students different from that to which it is accustomed in catering for urban or suburban communities. The initial contact between the Responsible Body and the work-based group can take a variety of forms. Since all the courses seen took place either at the work place or in working hours, a clear prerequisite was some measure of interest, support or consent on the part of the managements concerned. The degree to which managements were directly involved in the provision varied greatly. In some cases, direct contact between the management and a Responsible Body brought the course into being; in others, the management may have done no more than consent to the holding of the class on the firm's premises. Frequently, and especially in the London area, the point from which development began was a contact between the Responsible Body and representatives of the workers' own organisations, including trade unions, shop stewards' committees and apprentices' associations.
The classes generated by these contacts varied as widely in length and intensity as those arising from more traditional forms of organisation, ranging from short pioneer courses of six meetings to tutorial classes, and including residential and summer schools.
It is possible to distinguish three broad categories of student grouping.
There were a number of groups who came together with a purpose related to their function and status within either the firm's hierarchy of management or withIn its collective bargaining structure. In three plants, belonging to large firms which are household words in such widely differing industries as printing, furniture making and motor vehicle manufacture, the students were nearly all shop stewards often from several unions. In other cases supervisory grades, on their own initiative but with management support, formed the main student body. In some classes the lines between these categories were blurred, but the general intention of exploring problems related to their status and function was shared, as in the case of class of supervisors in a public utility who were also
elected trade union representatives. It was generally groups of this kind that tended to undertake courses which made the highest demands in terms of duration and intensity.
A second category was provided by the groups which contained a broad cross-section of the works community. An Eastern District class studying musical appreciation and based on a large chemical works was a good exemplar of this type, bringing together individuals from the offices, laboratories and the production processes. This and one other of the District's classes did not in composition differ widely from the traditional W.E.A. class, but without the facility and focus of meeting on the works' premises, it is doubtful whether the classes would have formed at all. There were other groups, as at a department store and a large instrument-making company, whose students, although varying in status and function within the firm, fell short of a full cross-section of its employees.
Classes for apprentices and other young workers in training make up the third category. These formed a large proportion of the work of the Eastern District seen in the course of this survey; in London, they were considerably less significant than they had been in previous years. Nearly all these students were concurrently engaged in other part-time further education aimed at vocational qualifications. Nevertheless, when encouraged by their firms and inspired by their tutors, they were willing to give time (partly their own) to liberal education. In some cases, the students' organisation, often the apprentices' association, had undertaken all the arrangements for the course in traditional W.E.A. fashion.
The way in which the subjects of study were arrived at is of considerable interest. Managements involved in the formation of these classes showed a natural concern with this aspect. It has, nevertheless, been the conscious aim of all three Responsible Bodies to establish the students' traditional right, in consultation with the tutor, to exercise a real degree of choice for themselves. For some, perhaps most, of the managements concerned, this was a novel idea, especially where classes met not only on works premises but wholly or partially in working hours. It is a credit to all parties that these differences of approach were almost invariably resolved in such a way as to leave students' freedom unimpaired.
In view of what has already been said about the students, it is hardly surprising that some aspect of industrial relations or subjects clearly relevant thereto should be most frequently chosen for study by the adult groups. The choices of apprentices and trainees were more catholic, ranging more widely over the characteristics of contemporary society. The cross-section groups, on the other hand, often chose subjects, like music and modern languages, related to personal cultivation and leisure-time interests.
The staffing of this work makes considerable and unusual demands on the Responsible Bodies. In the first place, it is unusually expensive in the time of their officers and of those full-time tutors
with special interests and responsibilities for its development. The process of identifying needs, making contacts with both work people and managements and the often delicate negotiation involved invariably tend to be more time-consuming than in normal class provision. The effective animator of this type of work certainly needs a close knowledge of industrial structure (both formal and informal) and this is not easily come by. To this must be added the rarer quality of appreciating that the human links and cross-currents of a works community may be very different from its formal structure. Where provision for apprentices is concerned, a special sympathy with the outlook and aspirations of young people is demanded.
The timing of the classes gives rise to a further staffing problem since the great majority take place in or immediately after normal working hours but the extremes can vary even more widely. One class seen met at 10.15 in the morning; another, for the shop stewards of the night shift, at 10 p.m., finishing at midnight. While the full-time tutor could be expected to meet such unusual demands, it is obviously difficult to find part-time tutors who could do so.
The London Tutorial Classes committee has a full-time staff tutor in industrial relations. He receives some help from other full-time colleagues, but both as organiser and tutor he has been a key figure in the development of this work over the past few years. He would probably be the first to admit that the growth in his authority and skill as a teacher of industrial relations is inseparable from his intense activity in promoting and tutoring classes for industrial groups. Much of his organising work is carried on in close co-operation with the W.E.A. London District, which staffs all courses of less than sessional length.
The Eastern District of the W.E.A. employs a tutor-organiser for industrial personnel. During the session covered by the survey, this post was being held on a temporary basis by a young graduate in music. He was able to work from a sound foundation of classes and contacts built up over previous years. This R.B. [Responsible Body] attaches great importance to work of this type, and the District Secretary gives it his vigorous personal support.
With only a small core of full-time teaching staff available, the Responsible Bodies must depend on part-time tutors for the manning of a substantial number of classes. They have had varied success in doing so. Even though most of the classes are within daily travelling range of London the Responsible Bodies have had difficulty in meeting the demands generated by even the present level of work. Of the eight tutorial and sessional classes provided by the London Tutorial Classes committee, only two are taken by part-time tutors, three of the Committee's full-time tutors sharing the remainder. The further problem must be faced that a number of the present pioneer classes are likely to develop into courses of a length and quality which merit the services of the best university extra-mural tutors. In addition, the Responsible Body has asked each of its eight resident staff tutors to promote at least one industrial class in the area for which he is responsible. If all, or even a sizeable proportion of these plans come to fruition, it is difficult to see how the resultant classes can be adequately organised and staffed from the present seriously strained part-time tutor resources. There has been no lack of vigour in recruitment, as witness a useful one-day
conference attended by a number of existing and potential tutors for this type of class.
It is unlikely that courses for apprentices, on the other hand, will develop comparably in intensity or duration. As has already been observed, the students are normally engaged in other studies. Nevertheless, their enthusiasm for work of this kind, when once aroused, has shown itself to be enduring. Even in short courses, however, the tutorial skill needs to be considerable, and the work is exacting. One tutor expressed the view that he probably spends "more energy on one class at this level than on double the time with adults". The two best part-time tutors seen were not only young themselves but were able to share with their students some of the excitement of the research in which they were engaged.
In view of the fact that nearly all these classes are sited on works premises, they inevitably take place in rooms not designed for this type of work. In such cases, the responsibility often rests with the tutor to make the best use of the environment and such teaching aids as are available. As with many traditional responsible body classes, however, he will often need to supplement the latter from other sources. Those longer courses seen, which had been staffed by a university extra-mural department, had a good supply of books. The provision of books at shorter courses was more haphazard, but tutors often made vigorous and not unsuccessful efforts to encourage their students to read and buy for themselves periodicals, pamphlets and paperbacks. Little use appeared to be made of duplicated abstracts and other material for class study prepared by the responsible bodies at the tutors' request, although some tutors had made considerable efforts to provide teaching material from private sources.
Despite the considerable variety in the setting, type, duration and intensity of student effort called for in these courses, their quality was generally good, and in some cases remarkably vigorous and searching work was achieved.
There seemed to H.M.I. to be two features which informed the best work. One was the attitude of the students. Here were men who "belonged to themselves" and had come to see the relevance of academic study to issues of not merely parochial interest, but of broad significance for the whole field of human co-existence and co-operation. Integral to this was the feeling of participation and almost of self-government in the choice of the form and theme of their studies, which was often in contrast with the actual forms of decision-making both in industrial organisations and in the trade unions to which they belonged. It must be said, however, that this situation was most fully realised with adult students. Some of the courses for apprentices had gone some way towards it, but it could not really be expected that the younger students could bring the same degree of experience or coherence in identifying their own interests. The value of the work to them lay rather in its stimulus and challenge to undertake further education for reasons of individual and personal development.
The second feature was the role of the tutor in relation to students of this kind. From observation, it seemed essential that he should have a sympathetic understanding of their view of the contemporary scene, both social and industrial. Of equal importance was his expertise in canalising live but often discursive interests into purposeful and disciplined enquiry. This involved far more than instruction or the unilateral imparting of information. It was essentially an exchange in which the students were, through progressive opportunities, learning to organise their thoughts and knowledge and express them effectively; the tutor in turn was deepening his own knowledge and understanding of the substance of the subject he taught. While this was especially true of industrial relations, some elements of this process were present in classes studying psychology, the mass media, international relations and music.
1. This work is a genuine and welcome advance because it brings into classes students who would not otherwise come into contact with a form of adult education which has much to offer them. At best, it has reproduced, in a new setting, the progress towards adult studentship which has characterised the practice of responsible bodies since their earliest days. This consists in the advance of a self conscious group of potential students through introductory excursions to more demanding weekly classes and ultimately, in some cases to experience of residential adult education in various forms.
2. Even the present demand for this provision is barely sustained by the resources available. Each class involves time spent in negotiating to obtain the conditions under which it can be formed. The class must then be provided with a tutor. From this survey there is much evidence to suggest that the negotiation and teaching need often to be united in the hands of the same person, and that the possibilities of development are most fully realised when that person is a full-time tutor or tutor-organiser.
3. The responsible bodies concerned all believe that there is a growing demand for this type of provision and that they are best fitted to meet it. The evidence of this survey would appear to lend strong support to their contention.
TUTORIAL CLASSES COMMITTEE