Dainton (1978)

Sheila Dainton worked in industrial education and training and as assistant to the director of Middlesex polytechnic before training as a primary teacher. Following ten years in Haringey primary schools she became primary adviser for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and, subsequently, the Association's education policy adviser.

The complete document is shown in this single webpage. You can scroll through it or use the following links to go to the various chapters:

Part One
Introduction (page 1)
I Technical education in 19th-century Britain (6)
II The state, science and technology, 1846-1889 (20)

Part Two
III MCC's TEC: Origins and Structure (50)
IV Technical education at a local level in Middlesex (71)
V The scholarship and grants in aid scheme (95)
VI The 1902 Education Act and its implications (114)
VII Conclusions (120)

Appendices (128)
Bibliography (135)

The text of Technical education in 19th century England was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 19 May 2024.

Sheila Dainton (1978)
Technical education in 19th century England

London: Sheila Dainton 1978
Sheila Dainton 1978; reproduced with her permission

[title page]


with particular reference to the work of the Royal Commission on Technical Instruction, and the implementation of the 1889 Technical Instruction Act in the County of Middlesex, 1891-1903

Special Exercise in Main Field History
for the Teacher's Certificate Examination, 1978

Sheila Dainton

[page iii]




Chapter I Developments in Technical Education in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Chapter II The State, Science and Technology, 1846-1889


Chapter III Middlesex County Council's Technical Education Committee: Its Origins and Structure

Chapter IV The Organisation of Technical Education at a local level in Middlesex

Chapter V The Scholarship and Grants in Aid Scheme

Chapter VI The 1902 Education Act and its implications for the Technical Education Committee

Chapter VII Conclusions

[page iv]

Appendix 1 Timetable of the Paris Municipal Apprenticeship School for Boys128

Appendix 2 Institutions and Towns in Britain visited by the Royal Commission on Technical Instruction

Appendix 3 Full text of the Technical Instruction Act, 1889

Appendix 4 1901 Census: figures relating to the employment of the inhabitants of the County of Middlesex


[page v]


Having worked in industrial training, and more recently at a College of Technology and a Polytechnic, I approached this special exercise with many pre-conceived ideas. Some have been proved wrong, others have been confirmed. My basic view was that technical education is very much the poor relation in the English education system. I can now see more clearly how attitudes moulded in the nineteenth century have helped to determine current thinking on the subject.

I would like to record my gratitude to the many people without whose help and encouragement this special exercise would have been impossible to complete. I am particularly grateful to the librarians at Sidney Webb School of Education, and the archivists at the Middlesex Section of the Greater London Record Office and the House of Lords Library, who have so willingly helped me to locate information. Mr J T Fielding, who worked for Middlesex County Council Education Department from 1925 to 1946, and who later served as Principal of Kilburn Polytechnic, gave me a lively, first-hand account of technical education in Middlesex during that time. Professor Gowing of Oxford University generously invited me to her fascinating lecture at the Royal Society, and prompted me to delve further into the background of technical education in the nineteenth century, and Michael Argles, at the University of Lancaster, has provided me with an indispensable list of source material. Charles Old, a former colleague, now Vice-Chancellor of Malawi Technical Institute, who at the age of seventy-one is still actively promoting technical education, spent many hours helping me to understand what technical education implied. Finally, my thanks go to two tutors at Sidney Webb School of Education, Mr J Alexander and Mr J Bromwich, both of whom have been encouraging, patient and helpful.

[page vi]


LCCLondon County Council
MCCMiddlesex County Council
NAPTSENational Association for the Promotion of Technical and Secondary Education
PPParliamentary Papers
RCTIRoyal Commission on Technical Instruction
TECMiddlesex County Council Technical Education Committee


Footnotes include name of author (where appropriate), title of publication and page references. Full information on each publication is contained in the bibliography.

[page 1]



Throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century, and particularly after 1870, technical education, technical instruction, and the teaching of science as an academic and applied discipline became the subject of debate and finally of legislation in Britain. During these years a precise definition of technical education was never arrived at, and the terms "technical instruction" and "technical education" were used indiscriminately. The commonly used term was scientific instruction, by which was meant the teaching of the principles underlying a subject and excluded any teaching of their application to industry. It was not until the 1880s that technical education had come to mean instruction of both a specific and a general nature (1).

In fact, technical education became synonymous with "modern" as opposed to "traditional" education. To some, it implied sophisticated research work which would advance the new science-based technology of the 1870s. Innovations in steel, electricity and chemicals, based on the scientific advances of the previous one hundred years, heralded vast economic potentialities. Through these key industries science began to affect the whole economy, and from about 1870 science, previousIy peripheral to technology and industry, became central to them (2). To others, technical education embraced everything from bee-keeping to typewriting, from embroidery to commercial arithmetic, as these subjects and many others which at first sight seem far removed from the concept of technology were sanctioned by the Science and Art Department as late as 1900 under the terms of the 1889 Technical Instruction Act (3).

(1) P W Musgrave, "The Definition of Technical Education, 1860- 1910", on The Vocational Aspect, May 1966, pp 105-11

(2) E J Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire, pp 172-4

(3) Middlesex County Council Technical Education Committee (TEC) Minute Book 1, p 3

[page 2]

Sir Philip Magnus, writing in 1888, considered the need for technical education in the following terms:

The cry for technical education, which has been called 'a vague cry', but which is daily growing stronger and more definite, is mainly a demand that the education which our children receive shall be such as to fit them for the work in which they are likely to be engaged, and that the subjects and methods of instruction adopted in our schools shall be determined with a view to this end. The cry for technical education is 'vague' because it has a different significance according to the source from which it emanates. It means one thing to the workman and another thing to the foreman, and again, something different to the manager or manufacturer (1).
C T Millis, Principal of the Borough Polytechnic Institute from 1892 to 1922, gave a more precise definition when, in 1925, he wrote that the object of technical education was:
to provide instruction in the principles of art and science applicable to industry and in the application of special branches of art and science to specific industries and employment (2).
The varied demands for technical education did not fit neatly into prescribed packages. It did not lend itself to simple categorisation, nor could it be reduced to the 'three Rs' or their equivalent, for its requirements were by their nature diverse.

(1) Sir Philip Magnus, Industrial Education, pp 16-17

(2) C T Millis, Technical Education, Its Development and Aims, p 2

[page 3]

Speaking at the inaugural address delivered at the opening of Finsbury Technical College in 1883, Philip Magnus, then Secretary of the City and Guilds of London Institute, explained the growing need for technical education in the following terms:

If I were asked to say what has given rise to the necessity of technical education in its narrower signification, as commonly understood, I should answer, the invention of the steam engine ... We might, if time served, trace back to the steam engine many of the changes which have been creeping over the beginning of a revolution that promises to sweep away much that is time-honoured in our methods of instruction (1).
Aside from the steam engine and all that it implied in terms of nineteenth-century industrialisation, there were wider and more pressing economic and political factors which provoked politicians, industrialists and educationalists to think seriously about the growing need for a skilled and educated labour force. However, mid-Victorian England was not under immediate economic pressure to improve the quality of its workers. Labour was plentiful and the population continued to increase; government intervention was discouraged by the widely held doctrine of laissez-faire; the ideal of the self-made man was applauded and encouraged by those advocating self-help along Smilesian lines (2).

To those who saw Britain's industrial might displayed at the Great Exhibition in 1851 it seemed impossible that she should ever be other

(1) Magnus, op. cit., pp 233-4

(2) M Gowing, "Science, Technology and Education: England in 1870", Records of the Royal Society, 1977, Vol 32, pp 71-90

[page 4]

than the foremost industrial nation. Britain was acclaimed the 'workshop of the world', the world's most advanced nation in terms of industrial technology. But to retain that position, those with foresight realised that changes would need to take place in the educational system if Britain was to hold her place in an increasingly competitive market. Even the austere and traditional Times recognised, in a leader published at the closing of the Exhibition, that:

Some think that we must effect a radical change in our educational system, that we must substitute a living science for dead literature, and distribute the honours and rewards of life in channels where they may fructify to the use of the nation instead of being limited to the learned professions , the military and naval services, and the residents of our universities (1).
By 1870 Britain was still the leading industrial nation. She produced nearly a third of the world's manufactures while the United States produced less than a quarter and Germany 13%. Moreover, late Victorian Britain seemed a creative period of reform with votes for the industrial working classes; legalisation of trade unions; open competition for the Civil Service and the first Act for publicly provided elementary schools (2). Yet the 'vague cry' for technical education persisted amidst the seemingly complacent government circles. Time and again the issue raised its head, was discussed at length, and then quickly forgotten.

The Paris International Exhibition of 1867 (3) was the alarm bell which first awoke the British Government's interest in technical education: the

(1) The Times, 13th October 1851

(2) Gowing, op. cit., p 75

(3) See Chapter II, pp 20-21

[page 5]

country's self-confidence wavered, arousing fears of vanishing supremacy based on hard facts which could no longer be ignored. Out of ninety classes at the Exhibition Britain was prominent in scarcely a dozen. The evidence was indisputable and the advocates of technical education became increasingly vocal, but the Government's response was tardy and cautious. It was not until twenty-two years after the Paris Exhibition that the Government passed a BiII which enabled the newIy created county councils to raise a 1d rate [one penny in the pound] for technical instruction. With hindsight, the 1889 Technical Instruction Act seems but a small concession to the educational requirements of a country whose technology was rapidly becoming more sophisticated and scientific: the Act came too late and made provision for too little.

In 1885 Lyon Playfair, then Secretary of Science at the Science and Art Department, posed the question:

How is it that we find whole branches of manufactures, when they depend on scientific and technical knowledge, passing away from this country in which they originated, in order to engraft themselves abroad, although their decaying roots remain at home? (1).
Playfair's question remained as pertinent after the 1889 Act as it had been before.

(1) Address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1885, cited in Gowing, op. cit., p 86

[page 6]


Developments in Technical Education in Nineteenth-Century Britain

It is difficult to talk about the 'organisation' of technical education in the nineteenth century: until the foundation of the City and Guilds Institute in 1878 there was no truly professional central agency devoted exclusively to the provision of technical education. Contemporary commentators and current historians surveying the development of technical education draw particular attention to the 'patchwork' growth of various independent movements who took upon themselves the initiative to provide for a vast area of theoretical learning and practical instruction which was largely ignored by the State (1).

Each succeeding movement throughout the nineteenth century was generally a development or an extension of the last, and for the most part where and when developments happened was left largely to chance and local enterprise. Until the 1880s technical education, under a variety of titles, resulted solely from the endeavours of individuals, or groups of enthusiasts who anticipated needs and responded to demands.

The Mechanics Institutes are generally recognised as forerunners in the field of technical education. Their originator and inspirer, Dr George Birkbeck, was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry at the Andersonian Institute, Glasgow, at the age of 23. Requiring apparatus for his lectures, Birkbeck went to a tinman's shop in Glasgow and explained to the workmen the principles of the action of the models he needed. He found the workmen so eager to learn that he invited them to his lectures, and later opened a mechanics class on Saturday evenings, extending the invitation to all who wished to attend. 75 workmen came to the first lecture, and in only three weeks the lecture hall was filled with over 300 people (2). Birkbeck had recognised the potential and enthusiasm

(1) The following authors draw particular attention to this point:

M Argles, South Kensington to Robbins, Millis, op. cit., P W Musgrave in Constant Factors in the Demand for Technical Education 1860-1960, British Journal of Educational Studies, May 1966, pp 173-187

(2) Millis, op. cit., pp 13-14

[page 7]

of the working class labour force and for a while at least this enthusiasm was harnessed and encouraged. This was no mean achievement at a time when class consciousness, and the rigid division between the classes, positively discriminated against the worker rising above his station in life.

By 1823 the Mechanics Institute idea was widespread in the country, and by 1850 there were 620 Institutes in England and Wales providing education for half a million people. However, their initial success was not to continue, for the lack of sound elementary education proved an insuperable barrier to relatively advanced instruction (1). What commenced as an essentially working class, trade-oriented form of education was taken over by clerical workers and the middle classes. Millis describes the Institutes' decline in the following words:

The ideas which the founders of the Mechanics' Institutes had in view were sound, but there were difficulties in making them successful for working men whose needs and educational limitations were not understood. Apart from the vital need of State aid for the upkeep of the Institutes, the bulk of working men were not sufficiently prepared by education to profit by the instruction, which consisted more of popular lectures than of definite class instruction. This want of education made the workmen diffident and shy, and they felt they were not wanted (2).
It is important to note that some Mechanics' Institutes did survive, for example those at Manchester and Huddersfield, and formed the basis of Technical Institutes later in the century (3). However, the limitations of elementary education in Britain at this time undoubtedly hindered

(1) Argles, op. cit., Magnus, op. cit., and Millis, op. cit. specifically draw this conclusion.

(2) Millis, op. cit., p19

(3 ) ibid, p 21

[page 8]

those who sought to further, or indeed to commence, their education at a later stage. Teaching was for the most part undertaken in schools run by the National Society and the British and Foreign School Society, where religious instruction and the 'three Rs' dominated the curriculum. The census returns of 1851 revealed that only about two-thirds of English and Welsh children entered a school at all, and even then absenteeism was a major problem (1).

Aside from the limitations of elementary education, the teaching of science and technology in institutions outside the elementary sector was also neglected. Augustus de Morgan, writing to The Times in 1832, stated that:

Among a people who depend for their political greatness on trade and manufactures there is not, generally speaking, in the education of their youth one atom of information on the products of the earth ... nor any account of the principles whether of mechanics or chemistry which when applied to these products constitute the greatness of their country (2).
In 1832 this comment came from an individual expressing a personal opinion. Over thirty years later this theme was reiterated in the findings of the Taunton Commission, when for the first time the State expressed its concern about the lack of science teaching in schools (3).

Even at university level the disciplines of science and technology failed to receive the respect which they deserved. These "educational finishing schools" (4) which in any event were few and far between, concerned

(1) J J and A J Bagley, The State and Education in England and Wales, 1833-1968, p 16

(2) Cited in Sir Eric Ashby, Education for an Age of Technology, Vol V, p 728

(3) Report of the Schools Inquiry Commission (Taunton Commission) 1868

(4) Gowing, op. cit., p 74

[page 9]

themselves primarily with "the liberal education of men of a privileged class who would later adopt suitable professions or else follow a life of leisure" (1). There was one exception - Cambridge with its mathematical tradition was the first university to pioneer the teaching of science and technology. The Clarendon and Cavendish laboratories were opened in 1870 and 1871, and in 1875 a Chair of Engineering was established. However, for the most part the educational ideal was the Christian gentleman; if he was a scholar then so much the better, but the predominantly classical tradition in the university sector determined the interpretation of scholarship. Private and public secondary education was trapped: the universities did not reward science and technology because they were not taught in schools, and the schools did not teach these subjects because they were not rewarded in the universities (2).

The first government support for technical education - as we now understand the phrase - had come in 1837, for art, not science. At the time no distinction was drawn between 'technical' and 'scientific' and the two closely related subjects were seen as a part of the same wide spectrum. Thus when the word 'science' or even 'art' is used, 'technology' is often implied but rarely stated (3).

In 1835 William Eward, a Liverpool MP, chaired a Select Committee "to inquire into the best means of extending a knowledge of the Arts and the principles of design among the people of the country" (4). The result was the foundation of Schools of Design in London and certain provincial cities, initially administered by the Board of Trade.

(1) D S L Cardwell, The Organisation of Science in England, p 46

(2) Gowing, op. cit., p 75

(3) J Blanchet, Science, Craft and State 1867-1906, pp 4-7

(4) Argles, op. cit., p 18

[page 10]

Eventually in 1852 a Department of Practical Art was established by the Board of Trade, and the following year science was tacked on to it. From 1856 this Department of Science and Art, based at South Kensington, came under the Privy Council Committee on Education. The Department's main object was industrial education for artisans, but it achieved almost nothing until 1859 when it launched a payment by results scheme to teach not technical skills but scientific principles. Localities were to establish science schools and teachers would receive a government payment for every paper passed by every artisan-class pupil in a national examination. Middle-class students could attend classes and take examinations but no payments were made on their results (1). The Department promoted art schools more actively than science schools and gave them a teacher training college and building grants long before science schools had them. Art, it was said, needed special accommodation, whereas anyone might teach science "in a garret or a cellar" (2).

Art classes were held mainly in the day, and were attended largely by "middle class ladies" (3) but most science teaching took place at evening classes after the students had engaged in a full day's work. Furthermore, the subjects taught under the payment by results scheme were rigidly defined by the Science and Art Department. At the outset, only six science subjects were sanctioned: practical plane and solid geometry, with mechanical and machine drawing; mechanical physics; experimental physics; chemistry; geology and mineralogy; natural history, including zoology and botany. Within ten years the total list of approved subjects increased to twenty-five, and attendance at Science and Art classes rose from 500

(1) Blanchet, op. cit., pp 57-62

(2) Samuelson Commission on Scientific Instruction, pp 1877-68, Vol 15, p 158, cited in Gowing, op. cit., p 73

(3) Blanchet, op. cit., p 63

[page 11]

in 1860 to 57,000 in 1880 (1). However, Professor Gowing is quick to point out that in 1868 only 15,000 students attended science classes - the remainder opted for art. She continues:

They (the classes) were most unevenly distributed both geographically and by subject. Most classes were in London, Lancashire, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with very few in Yorkshire and almost none in the North-East and the Black Country. Leeds, with a population of quarter of a million, had only one science class with 30 pupils. Geography was far more popular than chemistry (2).
Although the growth of science classes at first sight appears remarkable, in reality the provision was pathetically inadequate for an industrial population of millions. Whilst two nineteenth-century commentators applauded the work of the Science and Art Department (3), and whilst Millis goes so far as to conclude that they "stimulated the growing interest of working men in technology and science ... and were the chief means of satisfying the educational needs of the working population of the nation" (4), Argles, writing in 1964, is far from complimentary:
Throughout the forty years' existence of the science classes and examinations the syllabus did not include anything like manual training, and most of the syllabus was theoretical in character (5).
(1) Millis, op. cit., pp 24-5

(2) Gowing, op. cit., p 74

(3) Magnus, op. cit., and Millis, op. cit.

(4) Millis, op. cit., p 27

(5) Argles , op. cit., p 21

[page 12]

Improbably, a network of publicly financed secondary schools based on science and technology grew out of the Department of Science and Art (1). The Department wished in 1871 to sponsor not only the haphazard evening classes which remained its stock-in-trade, but also day science schools with integrated courses. A three-year course was planned which would give so-called organised science schools not only payments by results but also capitation and apparatus grants. SimultaneousIy, the new elementary school boards which followed the 1870 Education Act provided higher grade schools for children staying on beyond the normal age. They quickly saw the advantages of the science grants and higher grade schools frequently became synonymous with organised science schools. For years the number of organised science schools was very small - only three in 1885 - but by the late 1890s there were around 200 (2).

That an eagerness to learn existed amongst the working classes cannot be denied: Birkbeck had witnessed it at the beginning of the century. But the provisions made by the Science and Art Department appear to have been both inadequate and inappropriate for the industrial working classes. The dilemma which existed between teaching the theory of science and the practice of technology was to manifest itself later in the nineteenth century, when the seemingly inbuilt prejudice against State-aided practical, craft or trade-oriented training and instruction became increasingly apparent.

(1) Blanchet, op. cit., chapter 6

(2) Gowing, op. cit., pp 76-7

[page 13]

Whilst the Science and Art Department concerned itself almost exclusively with the teaching of theory rather than practice, further developments were taking place, independent of any form of State support, which encouraged and financed technical instruction, that is technical instruction as we would understand the term today. Reading about these movements, one gets the impression that they were more relevant, more dynamic and certainly more practically oriented than the science class schemes which originated in Whitehall. They had been founded of necessity by people with first-hand experience of industry; they were created to meet a growing demand; they were not tied down by stringent Government rules and procedures. Altogether, in the view of the writer, although far from perfect, they provided the nearest thing to 'technical instruction' that could be achieved within the context of nineteenth-century Britain.

Blanchet states that in many industrial towns throughout the country, technical classes were springing up largely as the result of local enthusiasm and enterprise. Woodwork, carpentry, turning, milling and many other craft-related skills were being taught to eager groups of workmen, usually in makeshift accommodation, with machinery which had been discarded by local factories (1).

Meanwhile, in London a Trades Guild of Learning was established in 1873, and in 1878 the City and Guilds of London Institute was formed. The Trades Guild of Learning, based at the Artisans' Institute in St. Martin's Lane, London, was founded in order to aid:

the systematic instruction of apprentices and workmen in the principles of art and science forming the basis of various handicrafts, and in the technical application of those principles to actual work (2).
(1) Blanchet, op. cit., pp 68-71

(2) Millis, op. cit., p 41

[page 14]

Both theory and practice were to be taught, and whilst the Government did not outrightly condemn this venture, it offered little support. In 1878 a series of letters passed between the Science and Art Department and the Artisans' Institute. The correspondence was prompted by the request of about 100 students from the Institute for financial assistance from the Department. The Department's reply states in no uncertain terms their attitude towards State aid for job-oriented instruction. In reply to the students' request, the Department wrote:

It is a question of whether such instruction should be afforded at the expense of the State, or defrayed by the workmen whose immediate interests and advancement in life are so directly concerned ... It has not hitherto been considered the function of the Science and Art Department to teach the practical application of science and art to industry ... Its aim has, on the contrary, been to aid the industrial classes in obtaining a sound and thorough knowledge of those branches of science and art which may be so applied, leaving it to the student to specialise his knowledge and to obtain his practical skill in the workshop or in the trade (1).
This theme recurs yet again in the findings of the Royal Commission on Technical Instruction (2), when the Commissioners concluded that the country's workshops were "the best technical schools in the world" (3). Attitudes towards technical instruction, indeed attitudes which still persist in some quarters, were being shaped in the 1870s. Skills and crafts could not be taught in 'academic institutions', they were to be acquired on the factory floor. The idea of State-run workshops seemed grossIy improper.

(1) Letter from the Science and Art Department, 21st March 1878, cited in Millis, op. cit., p 23

(2) Royal Commission on Technical Instruction, (RCTI) PP 1882, Vol 27 and PP 1884, Vols 29-31

(3) Ibid, 1884, p 514

[page 15]

After public pressure to apply their wealth to technical education, the City Livery Companies founded the City and Guilds of London Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education in 1878. The Institute's origins date back to the 1850s when, following the Great Exhibition, moves had been afoot to force the Livery Companies to take up the cause of technical education (1). Gladstone had suggested in 1872 that they should -

consider whether it was not in their power to make themselves that which they certainly are not now - illustrious in the country - by endeavouring resolutely and boldly to fulfil the purposes for which they were founded (2).
He was severely critical of their habit of "dealing out little sums of money to certain applicants and then having it recorded of them how much good work they had done" (3). One particularly effective group which attacked the Livery Companies was a band of Liberals who called themselves the City and Guilds Reform Association. Accusing the guilds of extravagance and greed, they applied pressure through Parliament in order to ensure that the guilds' wealth was not squandered away on lavish dinners and other elaborate but inconsequential events.

The guilds responded to this pressure. As a first step, prizes were offered to the top candidates in the Science and Art Department's examinations. Later the Goldsmiths Company made an annual award of two exhibitions and six travelling scholarships to the value of 100 each. It was the Clothworkers' Company which took the effective lead in promoting technical education. In 1874 the Company voted the sum of 10,000 to the recently founded Yorkshire College of Science in Leeds (now the University of Leeds) in order that a Department of Textiles could be built. Similar grants were later made to technical institutes at Bradford, Huddersfield and Keighley, all with the object of promoting textile education (4).

(1) F Foden, Philip Magnus, Victorian Educational Pioneer, pp 128-140

(2) cited ibid, p 128

(3) ibid, p 128

(4) ibid, pp 136-8

[page 16]

Following the Clothworkers' example, a committee of the twelve largest companies was formed in 1874 to discuss the possibilities of joint action. The committee resolved:

That it is desirable that the attention of the Livery Companies be directed to the function of education not only in the Metropolis but throughout the country, and especially technical education (1).
In 1878 the Livery Companies published their Report on Technical Education, and this report laid the foundations for the City and Guilds Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education. At last this form of education had been distinguished as a subject in its own right: it involved both the application of science to industry and was further extended to trade classes in purely vocational subjects such as cabinet making, plumbing and brickwork.

The Institute established classes on a nation-wide basis, but regional figures cited in the first report of the National Association for the Promotion of Technical and Secondary Education (2) indicate that, unlike the Science and Art classes, City and Guilds classes flourished in the large industrial centres of the country. In 1880, 24 subjects were offered for examination by the Institute, with 515 successful candidates. By 1900 the number of subjects had increased to 64, and 14,105 candidates were successful in examination (3). The Institute insisted on high standards of teaching, and a payment by results system was introduced.

(1) Foden, op. cit., p 141

(2) First Report of the National Association for the Promotion of Technical and Secondary Education in England and Wales, 1889, pp 40-41

(3) Foden, op. cit., p 138

[page 17]

In 1881 the Institute founded Finsbury Technical College in the City Road, London, where both full-time and part-time courses were offered, and in 1884 a higher level Central Institution, intended for the education of works managers, technical teachers, engineers and architects was established at South Kensington (1).

The work of the City and Guilds Institute had proved beyond all shadow of doubt that a national system of technical education was both possible and necessary. The education provided for by the Institute was both theoretical and practical, placing particular emphasis on trade and craft instruction. Philip Magnus, a lifelong advocate of technical education, and Organising Director and Secretary of the Institute from 1880 to 1888, vigorously defended the work of the City and Guilds, whilst taking the opportunity to attack the State for its lack of encouragement and cooperation:

The tenets of Free Trade were so scrupulously held and practiced that the schemes drafted by the Education Department avoided, as far as possible, all reference to the particular trades which they were undoubtedly intended to assist. The function of the State was restricted to the encouragement of the teaching of pure science, as equally applicable to all industries, and it was left to the Livery Companies of London, by their contributions to the City and Guilds Institute, to prepare courses of instruction directly applicable to the different trades in which artisans were engaged. This pedantic refusal on the part of the State to give trade teaching was one of the causes of our belated efforts to organise for this country a system of technical education; and to this cause is partly due the fact that the direction of technical education remains very largely in the hands of a body receiving no direct help from the State ... History will award no small measure of praise to the patriotic efforts of the Corporation and the ancient Livery Companies of London (2).
(1) Foden, op. cit. p 139

(2) Magnus, op. cit. pp 107-108

[page 18]

Up to this point, it appears that the aims and objectives of technical education on a national basis remained open to various interpretations. The fact that technical education was a growing national problem had been recognised by groups of individuals, who, through independent efforts and funding had promoted schemes of such education at a variety of levels. But a cohesive, State-aided national system had not emerged.

The letter from the Science and Art Department to the Artisans' Institute (page 13) provides the key to the Government's attitude: "it has not hitherto been considered the function of the Science and Art Department to teach the practical application of science and art to industry". Practical skills should be obtained "In the workshop or in the trade". At this juncture the State categorically refused all responsibility for practical training, leaving it to individual enterprise on the part of employers and individual enthusiasm on the part of employees. It offered no guidelines or recommendations on how practical skills and crafts should be taught.

The attitude of some employers further discouraged groups of workers from joining together to share the benefits of technical education. Professor Gowing states that British industrialists "disliked their workers meeting and swopping secrets" (1), a somewhat insular attitude at a time when the country needed to pool its expertise and resources in the face of growing competition. Workers themselves could be restrictive - for example, a class of plumber artisans compelled Finsbury Technical College to expel a labourer who had joined a class hoping to become an artisan (2).

(1) Gowing, op. cit., p 77

(2) Blanchet, op. cit., p 154

[page 19]

The aid given to the industrial classes in obtaining "a sound and thorough knowledge of those branches of science and art which may be so applied" was by definition theoretical, but because of the limitations of elementary education at the time, the industrial classes were frequently disadvantaged by not having the basic education which would equip them to understand the theory. Even when theoretical classes were available, many were "taught by a teacher who only knew the theory to pupils who had never seen a machine" (1).

The success of the City and Guilds Institute was due in no small part to the failure of the State to provide a practical alternative. Magnus' critical analysis of the situation (see page 16) reflected the view of those who, in spite of non-State aid, had forged ahead independently to ensure that not only the theory, but the applied practice of a skill or craft were taught outside the confines of the factory or workshop. Even so, much remained to be achieved in the field of technical education.

In determining why technical education was so neglected in the nineteenth century, three fundamental reasons emerge: laissez faire, self-help and Britain's confident but-short-sighted perception of herself as the world's leading industrial nation.

The doctrine of laissez faire is the commonly offered reason for non-Government intervention, but the concept implied an overall improvement rather than a general decline in standards and progress. In the case of technical education, the doctrine of laissez faire was positively working against progress. Individuals could do only so much, but not enough to meet the country's real needs. Self-help was an attitude of mind which Government used to its advantage in neglecting technical education, but

(1) National Association for the Promotion of Technical and Secondary Education in England and Wales, op. cit., p 22

[page 19a]

even the most enterprising and resourceful individuals needed encouragement and recourse to expertise in order to achieve their ends. Self-help becomes a limiting and restricted concept if it is assumed that the individual will achieve his ends independently of any form of professional help or guidance. Whilst the work of committed philanthropists and individuals cannot be ignored, the provision they afforded was small by comparison with what could have been achieved had the State acknowledged some responsibility for technical instruction.

The nineteenth-century concept of education involved books and learning; technical education and instruction implied a totally new approach to education. This form of learning involves working both with the mind and with the hands, and from the outset there appears to have been an inbuilt prejudice on the part of Government against assisting a mode of education which involved manual instruction. Technical education was relegated to an inferior status, if indeed it had a status at all. Government refused to acknowledge that technical education involved a national investment, an investment which in the long term would have paid dividends. In retrospect this attitude seems alarmingly short-sighted. Whilst educating the mind was acceptable, training the hands to accomplish work which would in the long term benefit the national economy seemed grossly improper.

In short, Government's attitude was at best short-sighted, at worst smug and conceited. The nation was living on its past glory, and giving little thought either to present needs or future potential.

[page 20]


The State, Science and Technology, 1846-1889

It was during the second half of the nineteenth century that Parliament, through the deliberations of Royal Commissions and Select Committees, became concerned with the teaching of science in secondary schools. The need for sound instruction in the discipline of science, with technology as a related discipline, gradually became linked through State inquiries over the twenty-five year period between 1864 and 1889. Recommendations for technical education evolved slowly, and for the most part arose as an offshoot of investigations by those concerned with the instruction of science in schools.

In 1864 a Schools Inquiry Commission (the Taunton Commission) was established with the purpose of looking at the work being undertaken in grammar schools. The Commission established a sub-committee appointed specifically to survey the nature of technical education in the country (1). On 15 May 1867, immediately after the Paris Exhibition, the sub-committee received a letter from Lyon Playfair. Playfair, who had been a juror at the Exhibition, expressed grave concern at "the position which England occupied in this great industrial competition"(2). Only sixteen years after Britain had been acclaimed the workshop of the world Playfair's account of the country's performance at the Exhibition indicates that Britain' s industrial supremacy had been short lived. His letter states:

I am sorry to say that, with very few exceptions, a singular accordance of opinion prevailed that our country had shown little inventiveness and made but little progress in the peaceful arts of industry since 1862. Out of 90 classes there are scarcely a dozen in which pre-eminence is unhesitatingly awarded to us. The one cause upon which there was most unanimity of conviction is that France, Prussia, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland possess good systems of industrial education for the masters and managers of factories and workshops, and that England possesses none (3).
(1) Report of Schools Inquiry Commissioners on Technical Education, 1867 (SICTE) PP 1867, Vol 20, pp 259-285

(2) ibid p 267

(3) ibid p 268

[page 21]

Playfair's letter was circulated to 'competent observers' asking for their views. Sixteen replies were received from industrialists, academics and politicians, and without exception the respondents expressed strong, and often emotional support for Playfair's sentiments (1). Typical of these replies is a long letter from James McConnell, a locomotives manufacturer of London, who concludes:

it requires no skill to predict that, unless we adopt a system of technical education for our workmen in this country, we shall soon not even hold our own in cheapness of cost as well as in excellence of quality of our mechanical productions (2).
Three major themes recur in the letters: inadequate scientific and technical education; the growing power of trade unions; and most emphatically the inadequacy of elementary education. The latter formed the basis of all other recommendations - without a thoroughly organised system of elementary education efficient technical instruction would be impossible to achieve.

The Taunton Commission reported in 1868. Its major recommendation was for a national system of secondary schools. It suggested an imitation of the Prussian school system: a classical Gymnasium for those proposing to go on to Oxford or Cambridge, and a Realgymnasium for the middle and lower middle classes, with science as an integral part of the curriculum. "We cannot consider any scheme of education complete which omits a subject of such high importance" the Commissioners concluded (3). The Commission further recommended that trade schools should be attached to Realgymnasium, where boys could be taught skills and trades as part of the curriculum.

(1) SICTE, op. cit., pp 271-5

(2) ibid, p 274

(3) Report of the Schools Inquiry Commission, 1868, vol 28, p 240 cited in W H G Armytage, Some Sources for the History of Technical Education in England, British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol 6, 1957

[page 22]

The recommendations were far-sighted, but totally unrealistic within the context of the British educational system of the 1860s. How could a national system of secondary schools exist when a similar elementary system had not yet been provided for? The Prussian system had developed many years previously: it was thoroughly pragmatic and geared to the economy of the country. Taunton's recommendations were both idealistic and premature. However, the Commission's conclusions reflect the growing concern for scientific and technical education, and whilst the recommendations did not result in government legislation, they at least prompted others to look further into the problem.

Following the work of the Taunton Commission, pressure was brought to bear on Parliament by Bernhard Samuelson, Liberal Member of Parliament for Banbury, who had also visited the Paris Exhibition. Armed with supporting evidence from the Taunton Commission, Samuelson persuaded Parliament to set up a Select Committee, with himself as Chairman, "to inquire into the Provision for giving Instruction in Theoretical and Applied Science to the Industrial Classes" (1).

The evidence given to the Committee brought out two points. The first was that lower wages and absence of industrial unrest on the continent enabled manufacturers to compete successfully with Britain for markets; the second, that in some industries this successful competition depended on a grasp of applied science among managers which had no parallel in England (2). In conclusion, the Committee stated that Parliament should "be urged to proceed without delay" in implementing the following recommendations:

(1) Report from the Select Committee on Scientific Instruction, July 1868, p 1 (SCSI), cited in Armytage, op. cit.

(2) ibid, pp 58-62, cited in Armytage, op. cit.

[page 23]

to organise secondary education;

to recognise instruction in natural science as an indispensable element in such education;

to provide for the central, provincial and local administration of existing funds, with due regard to the wants and capabilities of each branch of industry;

to press forward further measures for primary education. (1)

The Committee's report was followed by a deputation to the Lord President of the Council, urging upon him a thorough inquiry into the relation of the State to science. The deputation was successful, and in 1872 the Royal Commission on Scientific Instruction and the Advancement of Science (the Devonshire Commission) was appointed. The Commission issued eight reports between 1872 and 1875, and although evidence given before the Commission indicated that some advance had taken place in the teaching of science, the Commissioners felt compelled to record their opinion "that the present state of scientific instruction in our schools is extremely unsatisfactory" (2).

This picture compared most unfavourably with the evidence about scientific and technical education in Europe. Most advanced were the German States, and "tiny, poor, barren Switzerland" (3). They had universal elementary education, thorough systems of secondary education and universities, often side by side with polytechnics - and all publicly financed. The canton of Zürich had one university, one polytechnic, one training school, one school for the deaf and dumb, one veterinary school, 66 secondary schools

(1) SCSI, op. cit., pp 272-4, cited in Armytage, op. cit.

(2) Royal Commission on Scientific Instruction and the Advancement of Science, 6th Report, 1875, cited in Armytage, op. cit.

(3) Letter from B Samuelson to Lord Montagu, 16.11.67, PP 1867- 1868, Vol 54, Cited in Gowing, op. cit., p 76

[page 24]

and 370 elementary schools. All this for a population of 239,000 - about the same as Leeds, which had so little (1).

The evidence about education abroad made the Samuelson and Devonshire reports urgent and cogent. Together their recommendations on education were not dramatic, but they were systematic, ranging from elementary to higher education. Yet Parliament debated neither inquiry and the Government's promised statement on the Devonshire proposals was never made (2).

An interesting point which emerges from these government enquiries is the pre-eminence given to the study of science by the middle and upper classes. It appears that the main concern was with the education of potential managers, rather than with the training of skilled workers. The need for technical instruction had surreptitiously entered into the debate, but the State's role with regard to this need remained ambiguous. Whilst the Government had sponsored science education through the channels of the Science and Art Department, no effort had been made to make a similar provision for technical instruction - government refused to accept that technical instruction should be paid for by the State.

Other countries bore nearly all their education costs from central or local government. Britain was much richer than all of them until nearly the end of the nineteenth century, yet more parsimonious than any. In 1870 government expenditure was a much lower percentage of gross national product than in 1850; and in 1890 it was lower still(3). But collective expenditure was unpopular, and technical education, despite the pressure groups, had little appeal.

(1) Letter from Samuelson to Montagu, op. cit.

(2) Blanchet, op. cit., p 139

(3) A J Taylor, Laissez-faire and State Intervention in Nineteenth Century Britain, p 62

[page 25]

Finally, in 1881, a Royal Commission was appointed with a specific brief:

to inquire into the Instruction of the Industrial Classes of certain Foreign Countries in Technical and other subjects, for the purpose of comparison with that of the corresponding classes in this country; and into the influence of such Instruction on manufacturing and other Industries at home and abroad (1).
Between 1881 and 1884, the period in which the Royal Commission on Technical Instruction (RCTI) was investigating, there were actually nineteen Commissions in existence at one time or another; and, therefore, although the RCTI may in retrospect seem to be an important landmark in the history of technical education, to the Victorians it was just one of many (2).

The setting up of the RCTI seems to have been a rather haphazard affair. The matter was first raised in the House of Commons on 1 April 1881 by Anderson, a Glasgow MP, who pressed for a Royal Commission to visit Continental countries to study their technical education. Mundella, the Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education, was surprisingly unenthusiastic. He replied that "to appoint a roving Commission to travel all over Europe would be a very expensive and, I think, a needlessly tedious process" (3). He suggested that Bernhard Samuelson (who had chaired the Select Committee on Scientific Instruction, and sat on the Devonshire Commission) should, with some of his colleagues, undertake a free-lance enquiry.

(1) RCTI, op. cit., p 652

(2) M Argles, The Royal Commission on Technical Instruction, 1881-4, Its Inception and Composition, Vocational Aspect, June 1968, p 98

(3) Hansard, 1881, cited ibid, p 98

[page 26]

Argles concludes that the RCTI was "an ad hoc committee engineered by Samuelson and his friends in the House, with Magnus as a minor éminence grise and Mundella as an (outwardly) doubting accomplice" (1), and that the Commission was in fact what Mundella originally announced it would be: a free-lance enquiry by a small pressure group.

The members of the RCTI were Bernhard Samuelson (Chairman), Henry Roscoe, Philip Magnus, John Slagg, Swire Smith and William Woodall. Its secretary was Gilbert Redgrave. What had these six men in common? Three of them were Liberal MPs, and two of the other three became so at a later date. Four were enlightened and progressive industrialists, two (Roscoe and Magnus) were academics or educationists. All were passionately concerned with education, and some had had actual experience of educational administration (2). Thus the talents of the Commissioners combined first-hand industrial experience, academic excellence and political influence. Most importantly, they were, without exception, committed to the cause of technical education.

At the same time that the RCTI was collecting evidence, Britain was in the middle of the period which has posthumously been called the Great Depression. Although the debate surrounding the precise nature of the depression continues to this day (3), there can be no doubt that the threat which industrial competition from overseas markets presented to Britain's economy was a crucial factor in the minds of the Royal Commissioners (see pages 32-3).

(1) Argles, op. cit., p 99

(2) ibid, pp 99-102

(3) S B Saul, The Myth of the Great Depression

[page 27]

The precise relationship between the 'great depression in trade and industry', conventionally dated between 1873 and 1896, and the setting up of the RCTI in 1881 remains unclear. The Government's official inquiry into Trade Depression reported in 1886, and was initiated a year after the Commissioners on Technical Instruction issued their final report in 1884. A leading historian has written: "all the evidence agrees on the technological backwardness of much of British manufacturing industry - on leads lost, opportunities missed, markets relinquished that need not have been" (1). Most economic historians seek objective, primarily economic, explanations ranging from markets and tariff policy to the complexity of Britain's inherited industrial structure to explain the country's relative industrial decline (2). In this interpretation, education is scarcely mentioned, and it is impossible to draw a simple cause and effect line between education and economic strength. However, nineteenth-century advocates of technical education had consistently stressed the importance of the relationship between technical instruction and a healthy industrial economy (3).

For the purposes of their first report; the Commissioners limited their survey to technical instruction in France and Northern Italy. The Report gives little detailed information on technical education in Italy, but the Commissioners gave considerable attention to developments in France. The Commissioners noted that the rudiments of trades were taught

(1) D S Landes, The Unbound Prometheus, p 332, cited in Gowing, op. cit.

(2) Saul, op. cit.

(3) Magnus, op. cit., Millis, op. cit.

[page 28]

in French primary schools, so that all the children became accustomed to working with tools from a very early age. The Report states:

The instruction in the use of tools during the elementary school age, besides being of service to every child, whether destined to become a mechanic or not, will tend in the former case to facilitate the learning of a trade, though it may not actually shorten the necessary period of apprenticeship ... we should be glad to see this kind of manual instruction introduced into some of our own elementary schools (1).
It is significant to note that a similar form of instruction was introduced into a limited number of elementary schools in the 1890s. Magnus describes how, largely as a result of the efforts of the City and Guilds Institute, manual training in the form of woodwork teaching, was introduced into the curriculum of some elementary schools towards the end of the century. Teachers were trained at the City and Guilds Institute, and a National Association of Manual Training Teachers was formed in 1894 (2).

The French also operated a system of Apprenticeship Schools, which combined advanced elementary education with technical instruction. The objects of these schools was to train workmen as distinguished from foremen or managers. Boys (and in two instances girls also) entered these schools at 15, and aside from being taught general subjects (see Appendix 1) the pupils were also taught specific trades such as bookbinding, typesetting,

(1) RCTI, op. cit., p 666

(2) Magnus, op. cit., pp 145-8

[page 29]

optical instrument making, printing and engine fitting (1). The Commissioners noted particularly that all manual instruction was supported by relevant theoretical study, and this is evident from the timetable set out in Appendix 1:

No apprentice is allowed to commence any work whether complete in itself, or a part of a machine, without having previously made a sketch, or a drawing of it to scale, so that the pupil must necessarily acquaint himself with its proportions and connections, and understand fully the nature of what he is doing (2).
Thus it can be seen that the French conception of technical education within the school system was well in advance of English thinking on this matter. Young children were taught practical skills from an early age, and were later given an opportunity to develop these skills towards a particular craft. Both the theoretical and practical aspects of technical education had been integrated into the State-aided school system. The French did not rely solely on the generosity and hard work of philanthropists in order to train their labour force: their attitude appears to have been pragmatic, based on the reality of a growing industrial economy.

Although the French were not renowned for their progressive attitude towards State-aided education (3), the RCTI's first report gives details of educational expenditure in various French towns (4) which indicate that the French government was certainly more generous in this connection than their English counterparts. An interesting comparison is drawn between the

(1) RCTI, op. cit., pp 665-670

(2) ibid, p 670

(3) Gowing, op. cit., p 82

(4) RCTI, op. cit., pp 657-8

[page 30]

educational budget of the Municipality of Lyon, which had a population of 342,815 in 1881, and Manchester, with a population of 393,676 in the same year. The Commissioners state that these figures represent the allocation of government funds to education. The following table has been extracted from the Report:

Shelter schools and primary school buildings62,000
Technical or professional instruction4,600
Higher instruction12,000
Municipal drawing schools and sundries3,500

School Board rate18,600
Loans for purchase of land and erection and furnishing of buildings23,100

The Commissioners noted that in Lyon money was allocated by the Ministry of Public Instruction, whilst the State also loaned 'huge sums' to advance education (1).

These figures are interesting, but are open to various interpretations. In essence they suggest that in two industrial towns with a similar population (Manchester's population being 14% higher than that of Lyon) over three times as much money was being allocated to primary and secondary education in Lyon as was being expended in Manchester in 1881. However, several facts are not made clear: for example, the comparative cost of living; the extent to which Manchester was receiving grants from the Science and Art Department; and the role of non-state education in both Manchester and Lyon.

(1) RCTI, op. cit., p 658

[page 31]

Nevertheless, what is immediately apparent is that the Ministry of Public Instruction in France allocated specific sums for 'technical or professional instruction, higher instruction and municipal drawing schools'. Manchester did not receive similar state aid for technical education.

The first Report of the RCTI was issued in February 1882. The Report took the form of a survey based on French education, and the Commissioners explained that they did not feel "sufficiently informed to present trustworthy conclusions as to the value of the institutions we have seen" (1). They continue:

We wish it to be distinctly understood that if we have not in this Report made any recommendations for the improvement of the instruction of our own artisans, beyond that of the introduction of manual work in some of our ordinary elementary schools (see page 28), it is not because we are not fully alive to the need of greatly improving their general and technical training, but because we are at present only at the outset of our mission (2).
In spite of these rather guarded remarks, the Commissioners' enthusiastic description of the French system, and the detail in which it is spelt out, indicate that they were impressed with much of what they had seen. However, they were not convinced of the advantages of Apprenticeship Schools, and conclude that such skills (the skills cited by the Commissioners are predominantly traditional craftsman skills) could equally well be learnt in a factory. This conclusion reflects the attitude of the Science and Art Department (see pages 14 and 18), and it would appear that in this respect at least, attitudes remained unchanged. The State refused to acknowledge any responsibility for the training of individuals for a particular craft or skill beyond the provision of a science-oriented theoretical background, and the RCTI endorsed this attitude.

(1) RCTI, op. cit., p 681

(2) ibid, p 682

[page 32]

The second Report of the Royal Commission on Technical Instruction, published in 1884, surveyed a wider area (1). The Commissioners visited secondary and evening schools in France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Holland, Italy and the United States. They also inspected trade and technical schools (sometimes known as polytechnics) and technical universities in Germany and Switzerland. The work of Continental industrial establishments - cotton spinning and weaving, the woollen industry, the silk industry, engineering and dyeing works, paper mills and printing factories - was investigated in some detail. The Commissioners also took evidence in various centres in Great Britain. (A list of institutions and towns in Great Britain visited by the Commissioners is given in Appendix II.)

The Commissioners include in their conclusion to the Report a brief but perceptive account of why, in their opinion, England was leading the world in industry at the time of the Great Exhibition, and how continental countries were later able to compete successfully with England: (2)

The beginnings of the modern industrial system are due, in the main, as we have indicated, to Great Britain. Before factories founded on the inventions of Watt, or Arkwright and Crompton, had time to take root abroad, and whilst our own commerce and manufactures increased from year to year, the great wars of the early part of this century absorbed the energies and dissipated the capital of Continental Europe. For many years after the peace we retained almost exclusive possession of the improved machinery employed in the cotton, woollen and linen manufactures. By various acts of the last century, which were not repealed until 1825, it was made penal to enlist English artisans for employment abroad; the export of spinning machinery to foreign countries was prohibited until the early years of Your Majesty's reign. Thus when less than half a century ago, Continental countries
(1) Royal Commission on Technical Instruction (RCTI) PP 1884, Vols 29-31

(2) ibid, pp 506-7

[page 33]

began to construct railways and to erect modern mills and mechanical workshops, they found themselves face to face with a full-grown industrial organisation in this country, which was almost a sealed book to those who could not obtain access to our factories.

To meet this state of things, foreign countries established technical schools like the Ecole Centrale of Paris, and the Polytechnic Schools of Germany and Switzerland, and sent engineers and men of science to England to prepare themselves for becoming teachers of technology in those schools.

Technical High Schools now exist in nearly every Continental State, and are the recognised channel for the instruction of those who are intended to become the technical directors of industrial establishments. Many of the technical chemists have, however, been and are being trained in the German Universities. Your Commissioners believe that the success which has attended the foundation of extensive manufacturing establishments, engineering shops, and other works on the Continent, could not have been achieved to its full extent in the face of many retarding influences, had it not been for the system of high technical instruction in these schools, for the facilities for carrying on original scientific investigation, and for the general appreciation of the value of that instruction, and of original research, which is felt in those countries.

It is important to mention at this point that the continental countries which had developed a system of technical education were able to base it upon state-supported compulsory schooling. Indeed, the reforms introduced by the Education Act of 1870 in Britain had already existed in most of the German States since the 1820s (1). In addition, day-release trade schools and a system of continuation schools existed in nearly all towns in the countries visited by the Commissioners.

The Commissioners devoted the largest section of their Report to events on the Continent - the section on English educational establishments is only one-third the length of that on continental establishments. At the outset of the section on institutions in England, the Commissioners state: (2)

(1) Ashby, op. cit., p 723

(2) RCTI, op. cit., p 393 (2nd Report)

[page 34]

We now proceed to notice some of the more important kindred institutions which we have inspected in the UK. As most of these are sufficiently well known, we have dealt briefly with this branch of our subject.
The Commissioners applauded the work of School Boards in many large towns (Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Liverpool and London are cited in the Report) where higher elementary schools had been established, offering both science and art as subjects (1). The Science and Art Department also received praise for sponsoring the development of science and art throughout the country:
In nearly all the great industrial centres ... flourishing schools of science and art of various grades, together with numerous art and science classes exist, and their influence may be traced in the productions of the localities in which they are placed (2).
Here it can be seen that the nineteenth-century analysis of the situation differs radically from the conclusions drawn by twentieth-century observers. Gowing and Argles (see page 11) are both vehemently critical of the work of the Science and Art Department; the RCTI offers nothing but praise.

The Commissioners made particular mention of a workshop school, run by Messrs. Mather and Platt in Manchester. This "unique institution" was a private evening technical school, established and supported by the firm for the benefit of their apprentices (3). After the apprentices had spent a day in the factory, they were offered the opportunity of attending evening classes on the factory premises, where both practical and theoretical subjects were taught. All the instruction was related to the type of work being undertaken in the factory, and the idea of bringing the school to the workshop,

(1) RCTI, op. cit., pp 400-402 (2nd Report)

(2) ibid, p 401

(3) ibid, p 429

[page 35]

where lessons were provided free of charge, was a 'major innovation' in the view of the Commissioners.

However, it would appear that Mather and Platt's enlightened attitude was the exception rather than the rule. According to Professor Gowing (1) British industrialists and entrepreneurs wanted neither to "pay rates nor dip into their own pockets" to provide training for their employees. She gives two main reasons for this: firstly, and simply, a meanness on the part of industrialists; secondly the inbuilt fear of workers rising above their station in life. She further states that British industrialists lacked the true entrepreneurial enterprise which their continental counterparts successfully cultivated. Imagination and foresight were qualities rarely found in British industrialists of the late nineteenth century.

The RCTI inspected the work of the Mechanics' Institutes, some receiving small grants from the Science and Art Department, and others existing entirely on voluntary subscriptions. The nature of the facilities offered by the Mechanics' Institutes varied greatly from town to town, but a common feature was the provision of a library and reading room. Writing about the Institute at Kendal, the Commissioners observed:

The Mechanics' Institute has 130 members, a reading room, and a library of 7,500 volumes. Musical entertainments are given in the winter months, and classes are held in singing and French (2).
Singing lessons and French classes are certainly a far cry from Birkbeck's Saturday morning classes at the beginning of the nineteenth century (see page 6). What originated as a serious attempt to harness the ability and enthusiasm of the industrial working classes had in some cases developed

(1) Gowing, op. cit., pp 81-2

(2) RCTI, op. cit., p 483 (2nd Report)

[page 36]

into the provision of library facilities, and a middle-class orientated "leisure centre". Singing and French would certainly not have fitted into Birkbeck' s scheme of things.

The work of the prototype English polytechnic, Quintin Hogg's Young Men's Christian Institute in Regent Street, London, is detailed at length in the RCTI's second report (1). The polytechnic, incorporated in 1838, had originally served as a gallery where the public could view scientific and technical equipment (2). By the 1860s public lectures were held at the polytechnic, but its development as a trade school did not commence until 1882 when Quintin Hogg took over the premises. Hogg had for many years previously run a ragged school in London, which because of its growing size was forced to move into new buildings. He was essentially a philanthropist, whose aims were more humanitarian and Christian than pragmatic. The biography of Hogg, written in 1904 by his daughter, states (3):

He entered education as a form of philanthropy ... It must be remembered that education always played a very prominent part in Quintin Hogg's philanthropy. He realised the comparative uselessness of trying to develop the spiritual side of his lads alone, and felt very strongly that for any permanent good to be accomplished, their physique and minds must also be cultivated.
Typical of Hogg's attitude towards education is the fact that when the Regent Street premises were acquired in 1882, the first function held in the building was not a trade class, but a bible class (4).

(1) RCTI, op. cit., pp 409-414 (2nd Report)

(2) E M Wood, A History of the Polytechnic, p 19

(3) E M Wood, Quintin Hogg, A Biography, pp 128-9

(4) Wood, op. cit., A History of the Polytechnic, p 39

[page 37]

In 1883 the Polytechnic Young Men's Christian Institute had 2,000 members, with 1,200 applicants awaiting admission. It appears that the Institute was as much a boys' social club as an institution of learning, where a certain number of trade classes were offered as activities (1). Quintin Hogg gave evidence before the RCTI (2):

He explained that one of the great attractions of the Institute was the gymnasium, which was largely patronised, and for which members paid an additional fee of 6d per quarter year. He encouraged them to come in their working clothes directly after leaving work, and to spend the whole of the evening at the Institute ... In addition to the teaching in the weekdays, the largest adult Bible Class in the world (Mr Hogg believed) is held on the Sunday when he has an average attendance of 650 young men in one class.
It is abundantly clear that the word 'polytechnic' as used in England in the nineteenth century, had a meaning entirely different to that used on the continent. Continental polytechnics were integrated into the State system of education; they were concerned not with recreation and sound Christian ethics, but with advanced science and technology. The English interpretation of the word was altogether less specific:
In England it (the word Polytechnic) was first applied to a peculiar type of institution that endeavoured to combine recreation and the development of an interest in popular science (3).
(1) RCTI, op. cit., p 412 (2nd Report)

(2) ibid, p 413

(3) Wood, op. cit., A History of the Polytechnic, p 21

[page 38]

The sharp contrast between the thinking behind the English educational system and that which existed in many continental countries can further be illustrated by reference to what the Germans called 'Schulwesen' - the school idea. Schulwesen illustrates that the Germans had a highly structured overall conception of the purpose and function of education at all levels. It presents a clearly defined system, with alternative routes for specialist education and training, and displays a high degree of State involvement with education (1).

Dr Bauernfeind, Director of the Munich Polytechnic, provided the RCTI with a diagram of the Bavarian educational system (see page 39) which shows how the scheme was thought through. It illustrates the comprehensive provision for all stages and grades of education for children and young people from the ages of six to twenty-two (2). There was a ladder from the elementary schools into secondary schools, on to the university or polytechnic. Fachschulen, or special training schools, Baugewerschulen for the training of workmen and apprentices in the building trades, and lndustrieschulen, all provided further education for those who could benefit. For those children who left school at thirteen there were in the State 244 continuation schools, which provided a part-time compulsory three-year course of general and commercial education.

On page 39a is a somewhat idyllic diagram published in 1920 by Middlesex County Council's Education Committee (3). The 'map' illustrates the scheme of education for Middlesex under the 1918 Education Act. This was produced some thirty-five years after Dr Bauernfeind presented the chart of the Bavarian system to the Commissioners. The theme behind the Middlesex

(1) RCTI, op. cit., p 423 (2nd Report)

(2) ibid, p 414

(3) Middlesex County Council Education Committee, Scheme of Education for Middlesex under the Education Act, 1918, published 1920, Vol. 21, p 72

[page 39]

The Bavarian Education System in 1884

[click on the image for a larger version]

RCTI Second Report, op. cit., p 414

[page 39(a)]

Middlesex County Council Education Committee, Scheme of Education for Middlesex under the Education Act, 1918

[click on the image for a larger version]

Middlesex County Council Education Committee Minutes, Vol 21, March 1920

[page 40]

plan, with long meandering paths on pastoral routes leading to the grandiose castle at the top of the hiII, displays vividly the difference in conceptual thinking between educationists in Middlesex in 1920 and those in Prussia in 1884. It suggests that Middlesex was at least thirty years behind Prussia in terms of educational thinking, and that the school idea' was only beginning to emerge in Middlesex in the 1920s. This analogy could further be extended to the entire British educational system, if not in detail then at least in conception.

The Commissioners were particularly impressed with the German model of education and a large proportion of the Report is dedicated to a detailed analysis of the German system, which is described with enthusiasm and praise. However, their recommendations had to be made against the backcloth of the British educational system in 1884, and realistically, they state:

It is not desirable that we should introduce the practice of foreign countries into England without considerable modification (1).
Under the circumstances, it would have been impossible to suggest the wholesale transportation of the German, or indeed any continental model of education. Other considerations also had to be borne in mind: the cautious attitude of the State towards encroaching on the field of education; the fact that secondary education was not yet compulsory under the British system; the resources which the State was willing to allocate to education in general, and technical education in particular.

(1) RCTI, op. cit., p 514 (2nd Report)

[page 41]

In the event, the Commissioners were reasonable but cautious in their recommendations (1), and overall they were' strongly persuaded' that good secondary schools were the foundation of a system of scientific and technical instruction, and that the existing schools were insufficient and inadequate. The central themes of the recommendations were:

that drawing, with metalwork and woodwork, should be encouraged in the elementary schools;

that science and art classes should be established and maintained by school boards and local authorities;

that in these classes the science subjects should be made more practical, and that the grant for buildings should be increased;

that science in teacher training colleges should be increased and made more efficient;

that scientific and technical instruction should be greatly increased in the endowed secondary schools of the country;

that school boards (local authorities where there are no school boards) be empowered to establish, conduct and contribute to the maintenance of classes for young persons and adults under the Science and Art Department.

Encouraged by what they had seen at Mather and Platt's workshop school (see pages 34-5) the Commissioners made a further recommendation which, whilst not requiring legislation, encouraged employers and trade organisations to offer educational facilities for their employers. They suggested that trade schools should be attached to works, or groups of works, and that employers and trade organisations should contribute to the maintenance of classes.

(1) RCTI, op. cit., pp 537-540 (recommendations) 2nd Report

[page 42]

Although the Commissioners strongly supported the development of technical education in Britain, they were equally adamant that the Imperial Budget was providing sufficient funds:

Hence it will be necessary to look in the main to local resources for any large addition to the funds required for the further development of technical instruction in this country (1).
The Commissioners insisted that the introduction of manual work at elementary schools should not shorten the period of apprenticeship (2), and with regard to any form of post-elementary technical education, they stated: Every student should take advantage of practical instruction in our workshops, which are really the best technical schools in the world (3). The RCTI's advocacy of a unified system of elementary and secondary education was a response to one of the crying needs of the time - yet the cry had been made many times over many years and little had been achieved. The cost of technical education, it was decided, should rest with the localities, and not with central Government. Nothing on the scale of the continental polytechnics was suggested, and the notion of State-run workshops was not encouraged.

(1) RCTI, op. cit., p 538 (2nd Report)

(2) ibid., P 534

(3) ibid., p 535

[page 43]

The RCTI's second report was published in May 1884. Philip Magnus, writing about the immediate impact of the Report, states:

The Report was published in 1884 and was widely circulated at home. It was reprinted and still more widely circulated in America, and was for many years the recognised work of reference on all questions connected with technical education ... Its suggestiveness and the moderation of its proposals commended it to the consideration of Government departments, of manufacturers and of the professional and trade societies (1).
The Report was recorded by The Times, and a leader was devoted to considering the implications of the Report:
There is a fashion in education, as in pictures, and dress and china. Technical education is the fashion at the present; ... Public fashion in this respect agrees for once with the highest public interests. With the whole world competing for the supply of the universal market, it is vital to Great Britain that its artisans should understand how to march straight to their industrial goal by the shortest and most certain routes. Beyond a doubt the ordinary public appliances of education have not hitherto aided them as a body very efficiently in the race ... At last, however, a serious commencement has been made of a national edifice of technical education (2).
The need for technical instruction could no longer be ignored, or so it would appear. The RCTI had produced weighty and substantial evidence; Magnus tells us that the report was widely read; even The Times endorsed its recommendations. However, what resulted was not a flurry of activity at Government level - amazingly, the Report, like the Samuelson and Devonshire reports before it, was not even debated by Parliament (3).

(1) Magnus, op. cit., p 94

(2) The Times, 16th May 1884

(3) Blanchet, op.cit., p 152

[page 44]

However, the advocates of technical instruction were not to be silenced, and in 1886 a pressure group, the National Association for the Promotion of Technical Education, was formed (1). The Association was founded mainly on the initiative of Sir Henry Roscoe, for promoting legislation in favour of technical education, and for supplying information on the subject to local authorities. The Duke of Devonshire was its President, Henry Roscoe was a Vice-President, and Philip Magnus was a member of the Executive Committee. The Association was therefore able to benefit from the knowledge and expertise which these three men had devoted to the cause of technical education in previous years, and the work of the Association was inevitably linked with the findings of the RCTI.

The Association existed for twenty years, during which time it published quarterly volumes which furnish a history of the development of technical (and later secondary) education up to 1906. The first major work of the Association was to provide a comprehensive survey of technical instruction available in Britain in 1889, something which the RCTI had failed to do in 1884 (2). With eight Members of Parliament among its Vice-Presidents, the Association's influence brought considerable pressure to bear on Parliament to legislate in favour of technical education. Indeed, all the secondary sources cited in the bibliography which survey the Association's work confirm that its chief triumph was the passage through Parliament of the Technical Instruction Act of 1889.

(1) P Magnus, Educational Aims and Efforts, pp 111-112

(2) First Report of the National Association for the Promotion of Technical and Secondary Education in England and Wales, 1889

[page 45]

"An Act to Facilitate the Provision of Technical Instruction" was passed by Parliament on 30th August 1889 (1). (The full text of the Act is quoted in Appendix III.) At last, nearly twenty years after the Devonshire Commission had been appointed, an Act had been passed allowing the county councils, created under the 1888 Local Government Act, to raise a 1d rate for technical instruction. But the Act was a dead letter, mainly because, according to Professor Gowing, ratepayers found elementary education expensive enough (2).

Then quite suddenly manna came from the skies: the whisky money. In 1890 the Government produced a bill to eliminate superfluous public houses after imposing a new duty on beer and spirits to pay the necessary compensation. Attacked both by teetotallers and the liquor trade, the Government was in danger of falling when Roscoe, an M P and Vice-President of the NAPTSE, saw his chance. He moved, successfully, that the duty money should go to county councils for technical education, and under the terms of the Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act of 1890, about 700,000 a year was made available (3). The Technical Instruction Act could have its effect after all.

The Technical Instruction Act was permissive rather than compulsory. Local authorities were empowered, but not compelled, to supply, or aid the supply of technical instruction, but the climate of public opinion was such that the Act's provisions began to be put into effect by many county councils almost immediately (4).

(1) Technical Instruction Act, Statutes at Large, 52 and 53 Vict., 1889, pp 384-400

(2) Gowing, op. cit., p 77

(3) Blanchet, op. cit., pp 403-5

(4) Ibid, p 405

[page 46]

Paragraphs 1(d) and 2 of the Act spell out the amount of autonomy given to local authorities regarding the nature of the provision of technical or manual instruction they considered appropriate. Administration was to be via Technical Instruction Committees, which were to be represented on the Governing Body of any school or college providing technical instruction.

This was the first legislation which put a branch of education into the hands of local government representatives; it was also the first occasion on which a branch of education other than elementary education could be aided from the rates (1).

The devolution of responsibility for technical instruction to local authorities is a crucial issue. The Act does not contain a statement which suggests that its implementation should be related to the national state of Britain's industrial development in 1889. Rather, it implies that under the Act technical instruction was to be designed to meet local needs.

Furthermore, the degree of autonomy which was given to local authorities afforded the authorities the freedom to pursue technical instruction at a level which they themselves would determine. The development of technical instruction at a local level depended very much on the enthusiasm and expertise of local authority members and those appointed to the Technical Instruction Committees (2). Some authorities, London County Council for example, forged ahead with foresight and vigour, whilst others were less dynamic (3).

(1) Blanchet, op. cit., p 405

(2) ibid., p 406

(3) Reports of the National Association for the Promotion of Technical and Secondary Education.

[page 47]

Paragraphs 3 and 8 indicate the role of the Science and Art Department under the Act. Grants were made only for the teaching of subjects recognised by the Department, although local authorities were entitled to request that additional subjects be sanctioned when it was considered that "such a form of instruction is required by the circumstances of its district". The Act included a categorical statement that technical instruction should not include teaching the practice of any trade or industry or employment: the inclusion of manual instruction referred to the teaching of general manual skills rather than job-related skills.

Thus whilst the Government went to great lengths to describe what technical instruction was not, there is little to suggest that much progress had been made in ascertaining precisely what technical instruction was. In this respect, the Act has been widely criticised. Professor Gowing states:

Technical subjects were stretched to include most secondary school subjects but not classics, religious education or literature (1).
Sidney Webb, writing in 1901, went further:
... technical education has been so defined as legally to include every subject of study except theology, Greek and Shakespeare (2).
(1) Gowing, op. cit., pp 77-8

(2) S Webb, "The Education Muddle and the Way Out", Fabian Tract No 106, cited in W Van Der Eyken, Education, The Child and Society, p 57

[page 48]

And Musgrave confirms this view:

"Technical instruction under the 1889 Act came to mean the 20 or so subjects already examined by the Department before 1889 together with any other subjects sanctioned by the Department in a minute laid before Parliament. Many of these subjects sounded very practical, but teaching beyond the basic principles was contrary to the Act (1).
The 1889 Act was followed by an amending Act of 1891, whereby local authorities were empowered to make provision for technical or manual instruction supplied in a school or institution outside its district in cases where "similar provision cannot be so advantageously made by aiding a school or institution within the district". Local authorities were further empowered by the Act to provide scholarships for students ordinarily resident in the district at schools or institutions within or outside that district.

In the face of growing competition from overseas, and with the support of volumes of well-documented information on many advanced continental systems of technical education, the Government finally acknowledged that it had a responsibility to make some provision for technical instruction. However, in the light of what had gone before, the 1889 Technical Instruction Act appears to be but a small concession to the real needs of the country. Although the Government actually passed the Act, in so doing it delegated the responsibility of providing for technical instruction to the newIy formed county councils, and confused rather than defined the concept of technical instruction.

(1) Musgrave, The Definition of Technical Education, op. cit., p 29

[page 49]

According to Blanchet, the fact that the Act was implemented happened more by accident than by design (1). Without the substantial windfall of whisky money, it is uncertain whether any local authorities would have been courageous enough to levy a 1d rate for technical instruction. The Government had in effect washed its hands of any direct responsibility for technical instruction. This could be an indicator of the Government's confidence in the county councils, but it seems unlikely. How could the Government be seen to sponsor a national system of technical instruction at a time when similar provision for secondary schooling had not been made? Throughout, the Government had been hesitant, cautious and tentative: the Technical Instruction Act of 1889 reflects this attitude entirely.

The late Victorians, sometimes portrayed as creative administrative reformers, emerge in this story as patchers, improvisers and procrastinators. The Government was still resting on the laurels of the Great Exhibition, and admiring from afar its self-made industrial and engineering heroes. The nature of technology was rapidly changing, but the Government's attitude towards aiding and cultivating these changes was complacent and, for the most part, negative.

(1) Blanchet, op. cit., p 404

[page 50]



Middlesex County Council's Technical Education Committee: Its Origins and Structure

Middlesex County Council was created in 1889 following the Local Government Act of 1888. The former geographical County of Middlesex had included the whole of London north of the River Thames, and the County was administered from Clerkenwell. From 1889 the seat of County administration was situated at the Middlesex Guildhall, outside the administrative County boundary in Parliament Square, Westminster (1).

The administrative area of the newly created London County Council (LCC) included parts of the geographical counties of Middlesex, Surrey and Kent. The area of Middlesex administered by the LCC was also the area with the highest concentration of population, industry and commerce. Thus under the 1888 Act, both the size and the character of the County changed significantly. Previously an area which included growing industrial and commercial centres, it was transformed into a County existing very much in the shadow of London. In the last decade of the nineteenth century, Middlesex, with no significant industry and an inadequate internal transport system, was largely dominated by London. Middlesex, and the east of the County particularly, became a service County to the capital, supplying both labour and materials (2).

Until 1903 there was no significant industrial development in the area covered by the newly created County. The County's productions were almost entirely agricultural, not manufactured. Only small local industries had developed in the County in the nineteenth century. For example, there

(1) C Radcliffe, Middlesex, pp 74-5

(2) M Robbins, Middlesex, pp 43-58

[page 51]

was a wax candle factory at Teddington, a tannery and glue-boiling plant at Brentford, and a small-arms factory at Enfield, but the only useful raw material to be found in the county was brick earth, and the brick and tile industry based in Willesden supplied London with basic building materials (1).

In spite of slow industrial development in the county, the population increased by nearly 36% between 1891 and 1901(2), whilst the overall population of England and Wales increased by only 12% (3):

England & Wales

During this decade, Middlesex was providing an overspill area for the population of London, with large numbers of people moving out to the urban districts of Tottenham, Willesden, Ealing and Edmonton in the east of the county (4). However, in spite of the large number of people travelling daily into London to work, the census statistics for 1901 indicate that the largest category of employees in the county were females engaged in domestic work; the second largest category were males employed in the building trades (see Appendix IV).

(1) Robbins, op. cit., p 51

(2) Figures taken from Middlesex County Yearbooks for 1891 and 1901

(3) A Wood, Nineteenth Century Britain, p 449

(4) Robbins, op. cit., p 50

[page 52]

Transport in Middlesex at the end of the nineteenth century made it easier to travel from Middlesex into London than from one part of the county to another. The arterial road system had not been developed, but seven major railway lines ran through the county, and a system of workmen's trains, running from various centres in the county into London, provided cheap and efficient transport. By the end of the century there were fifteen 2d return trains running from Middlesex into London (1).

Such was Middlesex at the end of the nineteenth century: a newly created county council, overshadowed by London, and certainly with no immediate or pressing incentive to make large-scale provision for technical instruction. The problems Middlesex faced in interpreting and implementing the Technical Instruction Act were succinctly expressed by Benjamin Gott, the Organising Inspector of Technical Education in Middlesex, when in 1898, he made the following observations about developing the provision of technical instruction in the county:

Large numbers of the working male population go to London for business, having often to travel considerable distances to and from work.

The difficulty of travelling in Middlesex, except to and from London, is considerable.

There are few important industries in the county.

A considerable proportion of the population are engaged in commerce, i.e. the distributing rather than the manufacturing of goods (2).

(1) A A Jackson, Semi Detached London, pp 22-4

(2) Middlesex Technical Education Committee (TEC) Minute Book 7, p 9

[page 53]

Middlesex County Council's Technical Education Committee (TEC) held its first meeting on 28th April 1892, three years after the Technical Instruction Act had been passed by Parliament. The time lapse between the passing of the Act and its implementation at a local level was not unusual: London County Council, for example, did not establish a similar committee until 1893, and still other counties were forming such committees as late as 1895 (1). The Act came at a time of national administrative reorganisation; each newly created county council was concerned with establishing the machinery necessary for the effective administration of their county's affairs. Technical instruction was but one of many aspects of council administration.

The Technical Instruction Acts and the Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act were noted by Middlesex County Council shortly after they had been passed by Parliament (2). No comments are minuted, and no action was taken until the Council received its first payment of the whisky money in 1891. Thus whilst the Council were prepared to ignore the provisions made by the 1889 Act, immediately they received 20,300 whisky money, they were forced to acknowledge some responsibility for technical instruction.

In the first instance, matters relating to technical education were referred to the Council's Finance Committee. No specific reason is given as to why the Finance Committee assumed this responsibility: certainly they were no more and no less qualified to plan the provision of technical instruction than any of the Council's standing committees. In fact it appears

(1) NAPTSE Yearbooks, 1893 and 1895

(2) Middlesex County Council (MCC) Minute Book 2, p 89; MCC Minute Book 3, p 18

[page 54]

that the initial responsibility for planning a scheme of technical instruction for the County became theirs only by default. Part of their function was to advise the Council on the allocation of the County's resources. As, from 1891, the whisky money became a part of those resources, so by extension technical instruction became a part of their responsibilities.

Whilst the Council remained complacent, government legislation had not passed unnoticed by those already involved with technical instruction in the County. Indeed, it would appear that the Council responded more to the pressure of local demand than to the Act itself. The Finance Committee noted that between November 1890 and October 1891, 23 applications for grants in aid of technical instruction had been received by the Council (1). The applications came from a wide variety of bodies, and provide evidence of the broad spectrum of subjects which - at least for Middlesex - could be defined as technical instruction.

Letters were submitted by the Middlesex Dairy Farmers Association, the County Museums Association, school boards, local boards, the British and Foreign School Society, the Middlesex Bee-Keeper's Association and the Middlesex Horticultural Association. The letters were acknowledged but applicants were informed that grants would not be made available until the Council had formulated an official policy on technical instruction (2). It may be expected that those directly concerned with education would be eager to lay claim on the whisky money, but the applications received from outside the traditional education sector - bee-keepers, dairy farmers and the Horticultural Association - suggest a long-established and well-organised rural community, concerned to improve its standards of training.

(1) MCC Minute Book 3, p 253

(2) ibid, p 254

[page 55]

Significantly, the small industrial community made no claims at this stage, and no mention is made of them in the early minute books.

In February 1891 the County Council formally acknowledged the need to consider the implications of the Technical Instruction Acts. It was resolved that the Finance Committee should report "as to the best means of dealing with any future grant arising out of the Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act", and that they should further consider:

the best means of affording instruction in agriculture, horticulture, and fruit culture to males, and plain cooking, sewing, house cleaning and nursing to females within the county (1).
The Clerk of the Council was requested to draw up a list of existing institutions offering technical instruction in Middlesex and London (unfortunately, this list was not published), and the Finance Committee were to recommend "what steps, if any, should be taken to promote technical instruction amongst the inhabitants of Middlesex" (2). The inclusion of "if any" in this sentence suggests that the Council were quite prepared to make no provision if the Finance Committee so recommended.

Most significantly, the list of subjects suggested for instruction reflects the Council's perception of technical education as required by Middlesex. Although industry was scarce in the County, needs and demands could have been sought out at a local level. Furthermore, the County accommodated a large number of people who were actively engaged in commerce and industry in London. Yet the Council's interpretation of the situation reflects only the rural aspect of the County, whilst also recognising the number of females employed in domestic service.

(1) MCC Minute Book 3, p 226

(2) ibid, p 227

[page 56]

It is evident from the Finance Committee minutes that some members were more eager than others to forge ahead with a plan for technical instruction. In July 1891 County Councillor Garrett proposed a motion that a circular letter should be sent to all school boards, institutions offering science and art classes and all local boards requesting information on the nature of the demands for technical instruction. The circular was to include a list of possible subjects - including carpentry, printing, typewriting and electrical engineering - and respondents would be asked to state what other subjects they thought would be most suitable to the needs of their locality (1). The motion further suggested that respondents should put forward:

the names of a few ladies and gentlemen who, if requested, would be willing to serve on local committees under the Council, and whether any voluntary financial aid can be obtained (2).
The final request exemplifies an attitude towards the financing of technical instruction which was to persist during the early years of the TEC. Although provision for technical instruction had been made through the granting of whisky money, the Council appear to have been reluctant to spend this source of income. Rather, they were seeking "voluntary financial aid" at a time when over 20,000 had been made available by the government for the purposes of technical instruction.

Whilst Councillor Garrett's proposals in this respect reflect the Council's attitude, the general theme of his motion, suggesting immediate and positive action, ran counter to the Council's approach to technical instruction. His motion was defeated unanimously (3).

(1) MCC Minute Book 3, p 221

(2) ibid, p 222

(3) ibid, p 224

[page 57]

In October 1891 the Finance Committee presented its first full report on technical instruction to the County Council. It was noted that 35 institutions, schools or classes in Middlesex offered technical instruction, but no information was given on the nature of the demands for technical instruction (1). The report continues with pessimistic caution:

Your Committee are informed that, in many other counties where schemes for technical instruction have been adopted, the results which have attended the operations, and the expenditure of considerable sums of money, have not been satisfactory, or fulfilled the anticipations of the Council promoting the schemes ... Your Committee are extremely desirous that, in the event of any sums being appropriated for technical instruction in Middlesex, the money should be carefully and wisely expended, and that large sums should not be frittered away in some scheme of distribution which may not be productive of any practical good (2).
Although it is encouraging to see that the Finance Committee had looked outside Middlesex before making these recommendations, it is possible that they sought only confirmation of their pre-conceived attitudes. Their analysis of the situation in no way conforms with the picture presented by the NAPTSE in their 1891 Year Book (3). The Association offered nothing but encouragement and praise for the Councils who had made an early undertaking to provide technical instruction, and nowhere is it suggested that these schemes were in any way inappropriate or extravagant.

The most positive recommendation to come from the Finance Committee was that a sub-committee should be established, comprising the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of both the County Council and the Finance Committee, together with representatives of each parliamentary division, whose sole purpose was to propose a scheme of technical instruction -

(1) MCC Minute Book 3, p 256

(2) ibid, p 257

(3) NAPTSE, op.cit., 1891 Year Book, pp 5-7

[page 58]

which will be likely to meet any requirements of the County, to produce the best results, and to involve an economical expenditure of the funds which the County has power to apply for the purpose (1).
Once again, the emphasis is on the "economical expenditure of funds", and it is quite clear that from the outset, Middlesex County Council's attitude towards technical instruction was far from generous. Doubtless the County's ratepayers were only too pleased that the whisky money was being used to subsidise rates, but in the meantime, letters continued to arrive, requesting grants in aid of technical instruction (2). The letters were acknowledged, but still no financial aid was forthcoming. Indeed, the Finance Committee included in its report a resolution, subsequently adopted by the Council, that:
no part of the proceeds of the Beer and Spirits duties to which the Council is entitled in respect of the current year be apportioned to technical instruction (3).
The sub-committee on technical instruction held its first meeting in December 1891, and by February 1892 they were able to present a list of subjects which they considered "covered the range of technical instruction requirements in Middlesex" (4). No information is given on what criteria were used, who was consulted, and how the final list was arrived at.

(1) MCC Minute Book 3, p 259

(2) ibid, p 261

(3) ibid, p 262

(4) ibid, Book 4, p 23

[page 59]

The recommendations of the sub committee were accepted by the Council, and a letter was immediately sent to the Science and Art Department requesting that the subjects listed below be sanctioned under clause 8 of the Technical Instruction Act as being "required by the circumstances of the district" (1).

Bee Keeping
Metal Work
Leather Work
Laundry Work
Domestic Economy
  (including nursing)
Poultry Keeping
Book Keeping
Modern Languages
Commercial Geography
Commercial Arithmetic
Wood Carving
Electrical Engineering

In the following month, the Council received confirmation that all these subjects had been sanctioned (2).

Within only a year, the concept of technical education in Middlesex had expanded to include commercial subjects, craft skills, and engineering. Whilst the need for training in 'domestic subjects' had been acknowledged from the outset, the simplistic notion that "agriculture, horticulture and fruit culture" (see page 55) would form the basis of instruction for the working male population of the County had been proved wrong. Although bee-keeping, poultry keeping and horticulture were included in the list, they are outnumbered by the emphasis on commercial subjects. A true picture of the needs of the working population of Middlesex was beginning to emerge.

(1) MCC Minute Book 4, p 45

(2) ibid, p 63

[page 60]

The Technical Education Committee was appointed in March 1892, and the Committee were entrusted with:

the completion of a scheme for Technical Education, and the control and supervision of the working of such a scheme as the Council may approve (1).
The Committee was duly elected, and comprised sixteen members: the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the County Council, together with two members from each Parliamentary Division within the County (2).

No further terms of reference were issued to the TEC, and the outline of its work, as stated in (1) above, seemingly gave the Committee carte blanche to innovate, implement and control technical education within the County. The only restriction was that their scheme should meet with the approval of the County Council. No apparent limitations were placed on the Committee in terms of expenditure, the nature of the technical education to be provided, or the machinery which they were to establish to ensure effective control of their scheme.

The Science and Art Department had sanctioned the teaching of nineteen subjects "required by the circumstances of the district" (3) without question, although it is important to note that thirty-five subjects of a more general nature had already been granted a similar sanction and were being offered by schools and other institutions throughout the country (4).

(1) MCC Minute Book 4, p 65

(2) ibid, p 67

(3) Technical Instruction Act, 1889, clause 8 (see Appendix lII)

(4) Blanchet, op. cit., p 245

[page 61]

There was no reason why Middlesex should not apply for additional subjects to be sanctioned as demands arose: the fact that the Science and Art Department approved all nineteen of the subjects initially requested suggests that the Department would have been generously amenable to further proposals. Middlesex patently failed to take full advantage of this fact.

The TEC met for the first time on 28th April 1892, and held monthly meetings until it became a part of the MCC Education Committee in 1903, following the 1902 Education Act (1). For the first five years, the Committee did not appoint a permanent official, advising, planning and directing technical education within the County. This role was performed jointly by the fourteen county councillors elected to the TEC, and the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Council. No matter how well-intentioned the members of the TEC were, their commitment to technical education was not necessarily either an informed or a full-time one. Membership lists of the various Council standing committees show that most TEC members also served on other committees (2), and they undoubtedly had personal business matters, or even full-time employment to attend to. Furthermore, there is little evidence to suggest that the TEC sought advice from other counties who were undoubtedly faced with problems akin to those confronting Middlesex with regard to technical instruction.

It was not until 1898 that the TEC subscribed to the NAPTSE (3), by that time a nationally recognised source for information on English technical education. After the appointment of Benjamin Gott in the same

(1) TEC Minute Book 1, p 1 and TEC Minute Book 15, p 160

(2) MCC Minute Book 4

(3) TEC Minute Book 6, p 207

[page 62]

year (see pp 67-70) the Committee's approach became more expansive, but for the first five years the TEC's attitude towards its work was predominantly parochial and insular.

Middlesex County Council were empowered to reject the TEC's recommendations, but not once did this happen: the composition of the TEC ensured that a

moderate line was adopted at all times. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the County Council, together with county councillors serving on other Council committees, were fully aware of the Council's overall attitude, and would therefore be unlikely to recommend schemes which their Council would reject. Thus it can be seen that whilst ostensibly the TEC were given almost total freedom, in reality that freedom was limited by the nature of the Committee's membership.

The committee structure of the TEC, and the relationships between the various committees, is illustrated in diagrammatic form on page 63. The structure changed in 1898, with the general sub-committee assuming increased responsibility.

During its ten-year life-span, the work of the TEC falls into three main categories: introducing and administering a scholarship scheme; aiding and modernising endowed secondary schools within the County; and providing a system of part-time day and evening classes in subjects approved by the Science and Art Department. In fact, the provision of technical and manual instruction per se formed only part of the Committee's work: in the broadest possible terms, technical instruction became a method by which a diverse range of post-elementary education could be improved and extended.

[page 63]

[page 64]

The Committee set out to achieve these objectives by spending a portion of the annual whisky money allocated to the County, and by keeping their power to levy a penny rate for technical instruction strictly in reserve. The frugality with which the whisky money was spent, and the caution with which the TEC always kept well within their estimated annual expenditure, can be seen from the table on page 66. At no stage was more than two-thirds of the whisky money spent on technical instruction, the remainder being applied to rate relief. Whilst at a national level the government's attitude towards technical instruction can, in part if not in whole, be ascribed to the widely held doctrine of laissez faire, a similar explanation was no longer valid at a local level. Money had been made available, and with or without the 1d levy, Middlesex was fully entitled to spend that money on technical instruction. Instead the County chose to apply the money both to technical instruction and rate relief.

In 1898 Benjamin Gott, the Organising Inspector of Technical Education, presented a report on the present provision of technical instruction in the County with suggestions as to how the work should be extended (1). Here, for the first time, a representative of the TEC outlined precisely how much whisky money had been allocated to Middlesex, and how much was in fact being spent on technical instruction.

On a national level it appears that Middlesex was one of the least generous authorities. In 1897, 827,000 had been allocated to all county councils from the Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Fund, and a total of 752,000 had been spent across the country on technical education.

(1) TEC Minute Book 6, pp 189-195

[page 65]

The amount allocated to "general county purposes" (rates, etc) in the whole of England was 75,000, and the greater part of this was confined to only three counties: London, Middlesex and Gloucester (1).

By 1898, 94 of the 100 counties and county boroughs were devoting all their whisky money to technical education (2). The figures on page 66 indicate that Middlesex did not conform to the national norm, and at no stage did the Council expend all the available money on technical education. In the same year 70% of all authorities were levying a 1d rate in aid of technical education: Middlesex was never included in this number (3).

The penny-pinching attitude adopted by MCC in 1891 (see pages 57-8) was reflected by the parsimonious attitude of the TEC. It is difficult to determine precisely why this attitude prevailed. A possible reason is that membership of the TEC comprised elected county councillors: representatives of local districts elected largely by ratepayers. To be successful in re-election, they were obliged to adopt policies which would please their electors. Under the circumstances, any outright recommendation that the total amount of whisky money should be spent on technical education would have proved inauspicious; it was politically expedient to support the policy that a portion of the whisky money should be applied to rate relief. Even so, Gott's figures suggest that the majority of other councils did not have this problem, or that if the problem existed they chose to come down firmly on the side of technical instruction.

(1) TEC Minute Book 6, p 190

(2) ibid, p 192

(3) ibid, p 193

[page 66]

Expenditure on technical education in Middlesex, 1892-1903

Estimated and Actual expenditure figures extracted from TEC Annual Reports to MCC (TEC Minute Books for appropriate years).

Whisky money figures taken from Annual Report of MCC Finance Committee (MCC Minute Books for appropriate years).

[page 67]

Reference has already been made to Benjamin Gott, the man appointed as Organising Inspector of Technical Education in Middlesex in 1898. His influence can be seen from the date of his appointment, and before looking in detail at the TEC's work, the implications of Gott's appointment will first be considered. In July 1897 the Special Sub-Committee recommended that:

steps be taken with a view to obtaining the services of a competent educational expert, with experience in the work of organisation, with a salary of 300 per annum, and that it be referred to the Scholarship Sub-Committee to draw up a list of his duties (1).
After five year's work, the TEC recognised the need to appoint a full-time expert to coordinate its work from the centre. Technical education was by this time a permanent feature of the work of MCC, and the agreement to this appointment confirms the fact that technical education had finally become a serious part of the Council's work. The professionalism and expertise which the Committee lacked was at last acquired in the person of Benjamin Gott.

The post of Technical Education Organising Inspector was advertised in The Times, The Athenaeum, Nature and the County Council Times in October 1897. Applications were invited from candidates who were to be qualified -

as regards all questions connected with technical and secondary instruction, and who must have had experience in educational training and the work of organisation (2).
(1) TEC Minute Book 5, p 202

(2) ibid, p 230

[page 68]

Eighty-two applications were received from all over the country. Applicants ranged from those holding similar posts with other councils to teachers, instructors and university lecturers (1). Benjamin Gott was chosen from eight short-listed candidates. Aged 32, Gott gained a first class Science Tripos from Cambridge in 1886. He taught in board schools in Bradford, and after working for three years as senior science master at Cheltenham Grammar School, was appointed headmaster of Science and Technical Schools in Cheltenham (2).

Gott took up his post with MCC in January 1898, and was made responsible for overseeing the work within the purview of the TEC (3). Although he was required to "carry out the directions of the TEC" (4), the indications are that Gott did not wait to be directed, but took upon himself considerable initiative, anticipating events rather than awaiting instruction.

The most notable evidence of Gott's presence appears in the form of reports, summaries and recommendations in the minute books. Up to December 1897 there is one TEC minute book for each year. After Gott's appointment minute books cover six and sometimes only four-month periods. The quantity of minutes and reports produced by the TEC at least doubled after January 1898, and the additional contents stem largely from reports initiated by Gott.

Only a month after his appointment, Gott presented reports on five areas of the TEC's work, together with a general policy paper on centralisation and the appointment of lecturers (5). The keynote throughout is uniformity:

(1) TEC Minute Book 5, pp 235-7

(2) ibid, P 235

(3) ibid, p 239

(4) ibid

(5) TEC Minute Book 6, pp 28-56

[page 69]

uniform methods of teaching, uniform rates of payment for teachers, uniform fees and uniformity of local committee administrative procedures. Whilst he recognised that the nature of technical education within the County was necessarily diverse from district to district, he sought to introduce systems which would encourage professionalism and efficiency. The general policies which he proposed would help to unify the work of otherwise disparate groups of people, functioning largely in isolation.

Aside from his regular monthly reports to the General Sub-Committee, Gott was responsible for producing the first Technical Instruction Directory for Middlesex in 1899 (1). The Directory, thereafter published annually, set out the aims and objectives of technical education under the 1889 Act. It listed the facilities offered at various centres and gave comprehensive coverage of all the work within the purview of the TEC.

As an employee of the County Council, Gott was delegated to attend meetings and conferences outside the County, representing the County' s interests and reporting back on developments in technical education at a national level (2). He therefore operated at both a local and a national level, on the one hand visiting classes, inspecting equipment and looking in detail at specific areas of local work, on the other attending national conferences on behalf of the TEC. The range of his work was enormous, and he undertook each task with informed enthusiasm and expertise.

(1) TEC Minute Book 6, pp 87-96

(2) ibid, Book 7, pp 367-9; Book 10, pp 231-2; Book 12, p 101

[page 70]

Such was the volume of work generated by Gott that in 1899 a full-time assistant was appointed (1), and in the following year a shorthand typist was also engaged (2). When, in 1901, the General Sub-Committee proposed that Gott's salary should be increased to 400, it was reported that Gott "has been continually occupied in his work from nine in the morning until ten and eleven at night" (3). That Gott was appointed Secretary to the County's Education Committee in 1903 confirms the Council's confidence in this remarkable man (4). However, it must be remembered that no matter how enthusiastic and professional was Gott's attitude, he was confronted with a group of essentially cautious people who did not share his enthusiasm for technical instruction. Ultimately he was responsible to the TEC, and time and again they proved the major stumbling block in implementing his proposals.

(1) TEC Minute Book 8, p 241

(2) ibid, Book 10, p 303

(3) ibid, Book 12, p 89

(4) MCC Education Committee Book 1, p 1

[page 71]


The Organisation of Technical Education at a local level in Middlesex

The TEC's first major task was to consider the most appropriate means by which the working population of the County could be given the opportunity to receive instruction in the subjects sanctioned by the Science and Art Department. It has already been seen that Middlesex covered an area where people were engaged in a variety of occupations ranging from agriculture to industry (see pages 50-51). To the east of the County were the densely populated areas of Willesden, Acton, Hornsey, Tottenham and Enfield where, aside from local industry, the working population travelled to London and were employed mainly in commerce or industry. The west of the County remained predominantly rural. Thus technical instruction had a different significance for individual areas: many subjects relevant to Tottenham and Willesden would have been inappropriate in rural Staines or Uxbridge.

Classes would, of necessity, be offered on a part-time basis, mostly in the evenings, and the sixteen TEC members could not realistically assume total responsibility for the detailed organisation and administration of technical instruction at this level across the County. It was clear from the outset that if such provision was to be made, the Committee would be required to delegate a large amount of work. This had already been hinted at when the Council's Finance Committee were considering the case for technical instruction (1).

The TEC decided that the most efficient means of providing technical instruction at a local level would be achieved by dividing the County into districts, and enlisting the assistance of local representatives who were to be responsible for the day-to-day administration of classes (2).

(1) MCC Minute Book 3, p 220

(2) TEC Minute Book 1, pp 5-11

[page 72]

It was agreed that the County' s Urban and Rural Sanitary Authorities should be grouped together within the seven parliamentary divisions of the County. Fifteen local committees were formed: three within the Enfield parliamentary division, and two in each of the remaining six parliamentary divisions (1). The table on page 73 illustrates how this was achieved.

The TEC resolved that the membership of each local committee should comprise the County Aldermen and County Councillors residing within the district who were not members of the TEC (usually four on each committee) plus an apparently unrestricted number of "other suitable persons" whose names were put before the TEC for consideration (2). In 1894, members of the TEC were also made ex-officio members of their local committee (3).

Two points emerge from the composition of local committees. Firstly, the central core of each committee comprised County Council members who were bound to represent the interests of the Council. Thus the Council's influence and interests percolated right down to grass roots level. The second point concerns the "other suitable persons" chosen to serve on local committees. The TEC clearly made the point that local committees should be thoroughly representative in character (4). Here was an excellent opportunity to bring a degree of expertise, enthusiasm and commitment to the work of the TEC.

(1) TEC Minute Book 1, p 6

(2) ibid, p 9

(3) ibid, Book 3, p 298

[footnote 4 is missing]

[page 72a]

Location of Technical Education Committee Local Committees

[click on the image for a larger version]

Local Committee boundaries taken from map: Middlesex Parishes and Districts, 1890 Pf/2/20, Greater London Record Office, Middlesex Section.

Other information from map of the Administrative County of Middlesex, 1900 in M Robbins, Middlesex.

[page 73]

TEC Local Committees Established in 1892

Note: the total population derived from these figures differs from the 1891 census figures given in the Middlesex County Year Book (560,112 and 542,818 respectively).

[page 74]

No evidence is minuted on the background and experience of the additional committee members. However, they were chosen (and not elected) by Council members, and judging by the Council's cautious attitude towards technical instruction, it is unlikely that the representatives held views radically different from those of the Council. No stipulation was given as to their term of office, and the minute books indicate that the majority of local committee members appointed in 1892 served in this capacity until 1903 (1).

That a certain amateurishness of approach was to be found in the method of choosing additional members is well illustrated. Sir William Stephenson, Chairman of the Uxbridge Local Committee, proposed to the TEC that the incumbents of the nine parishes within the district be co-opted to constitute the "other suitable persons" on his committee. In response, the TEC asked Sir William "whether he cannot get gentlemen other than clergymen to act on the local committee" (2). In the event, four of the nine additional members on the Uxbridge local committee were clergymen (3). Although this is an extreme case, each local committee, without exception, appointed at least one clergyman.

Although this evidence is insufficient to draw totally negative conclusions about local committee membership, it at least offers some indication as to how those responsible for technical instruction in Middlesex perceived their role. Clergymen were appointed at a time when there was a crying need for industrial and commercial expertise throughout the country.

(1) TEC Minute Book 1, pp 52-4; Book 15, p 47

(2) ibid, Book 1, p 50

(3) ibid, pp 52-4

[page 75]

Although no ruling was made that the membership of local committees should be exclusively male, it appears that this was to be the case: nowhere is reference made to a female member. When in 1892 Wood Green Local Committee sought the TEC's approval to appoint ladies to its committee, the TEC recommended that special ladies' sub committees should be formed to oversee the work relating specifically to girls' classes (1). There is further evidence to suggest that women made a significant contribution in this respect. In his annual report for 1897, the Chairman of Harrow committee stated:

My Committee are very grateful for the kind help that has been received from the ladies of the district, who have given an eye to the domestic classes. Without such aid this branch of work would be well nigh impossible (2).
Remembering that women in domestic service formed the largest single category of employees in Middlesex in 1901 (see Appendix lV), and also that four of the subjects sanctioned by the Science and Art Department were exclusively for women and girls, it is surprising that women were relegated to serve only on sub-committees. Whilst the church was well represented in Middlesex's scheme of technical instruction, traditional nineteenth-century attitudes towards women prevailed: they remained in the background, quietly and discretely assisting and organising. Their work was somewhat patronisingly acknowledged ((2) above), but they were never chosen to represent the interests of their district. The TEC ensured that its policy making committees were exclusively male.

(1) TEC Minute Book 1, p 49

(2) ibid, Book 5, p 198

[page 76]

With their motley membership, and paid secretarial assistance, the fifteen local committees were instructed to:

make the necessary arrangements for lectures and classes, and generally to superintend technical education within their district (1).
As local committees became more active, their work became more systematised and clearly defined, but it was not until July 1898 that a formal list of the duties of these committees was prepared by Benjamin Gott. In fact, much of this work had been carried out previously, but from 1898 local committees had clearly defined terms of reference:
to arrange courses of instruction which shall meet local requirements;

to make necessary arrangements for classes, taking care that the times and places at which the classes are held are suitable for the students attending classes;

to make these arrangements well known by means of handbills, etc;

to be responsible for the safe custody of apparatus;

to visit classes regularly and to see that all arrangements are properly carried out;

to see that no alteration is made to the timetable without the sanction of the local committee;

to see that the secretary or teacher enquires into the cause of absence from lessons, with a view to securing regularity of attendance;

to make arrangements for examinations;

to keep accounts and to furnish to the TEC such information as may be required (2).

(1) TEC Minute Book 1, p 9

(2) ibid, Book 7, p 296

[page 77]

This list indicates the degree of professionalism which Gott required of local committees. He was particularly concerned with absenteeism, and also about last-minute changes in the timetable (1). He viewed technical education as a service to the local community, a service which should be organised along professional and well-structured lines (2). However, when classes were being held in as many as fifteen different centres on one evening in one local district, it can be seen that full-time supervision of these classes was impossible. The most local committees could do was to make regular inspections of classes, delegating considerable responsibility to the class teacher.

Although the primary purpose of each local committee was to provide classes in technical instruction across its district, the task was administratively complex and time-consuming, and involved considerably more than enrolling students, employing teachers and providing classes. Local committees spent much of their time, particularly in the early years, establishing procedures and dealing with the seemingly trivial but nevertheless important details which arose from day to day. There were many problems, sometimes peculiar to one district, or occasionally common to all districts, which the TEC were required to resolve. The following examples illustrate the type of problems which arose, and the extent to which local committees were limited in their autonomy.

(1) TEC Minute Book 7, p 293

(2) TEC Minute Book 6, pp 87-8

[page 78]

In 1892 a lengthy discussion is minuted concerning the provision of refreshments to lecturers at the Southgate teaching centres. The local committee felt that refreshments should be made available to "ladies unacquainted with the locality" but initially the TEC refused to sanction this expenditure. County Councillor Maylor, Chairman of the Southgate local committee, pursued the question further, making the point that lecturers taught for up to six hours without a break. "Surely" he wrote to the TEC, 'the caretaker can provide plain tea at 1/- [one shilling = 5p] for the lecturers concerned". The TEC finally conceded the point and refreshments were provided (1).

No sooner had this matter been resolved than a further question arose: that of travelling expenses for lecturers requiring transport from one centre to another during their evening's work. The Accounts Committee noted that claims for cab fares were being paid by local committees, and the matter was brought before the TEC. After much discussion, it was resolved that "in reasonable circumstances" cab fares should be reimbursed by local committees (2).

In 1897 the TEC received a letter from dressmaking students at Harrow, complaining that their teacher "frequently arrives late for classes, and sometimes does not arrive at all" (3), and in the same year a group of students at Edmonton complained that a teacher had given a lesson on air and water instead of the advertised lecture on light and air (4). Ealing local committee were reprimanded by the TEC for the unnecessary expenditure incurred by heating workshops during the autumn months of 1894 (5).

(1) TEC Minute Book 1, p 109

(2) ibid, pp 111-112

(3) ibid, Book 5, p 313

(4) ibid, p 71

(5) ibid, Book 3, p 331

[page 79]

The little information available about the accommodation used for technical classes suggests that, for the most part, school buildings and local halls were used. Booking arrangements had to be made, and local committees were responsible for negotiating with caretakers, ensuring that equipment was maintained, classrooms adequately heated and fees paid for the hire of rooms. Reporting to the TEC in 1897, the Chairman of Harrow local committee stated:

Again requests by the local committee have been met liberally in the matter of hire of rooms. Persons having control of the buildings have, as a rule, been only too pleased to let at a nominal cost, and to defray the cost of light, fuel and cleaning (1).
Other local districts were not so fortunate: up to 1895 a chronic complaint from the Willesden local committee concerned the lack of suitable accommodation in their district (2).

For the purpose of financing the work of local committees, the Council agreed to the TEC's recommendation that a sum (700 in 1892) should be made available to each parliamentary division within the county, and that this sum be allocated to the local committees within the parliamentary divisions in accordance with their population (3). The 700 was to cover all expenses incurred by committees, excluding payment of lecturers in 'domestic subjects' for women and girls, grants to endowed schools and the scholarship scheme. The money was allocated at quarterly intervals throughout the year by the TEC's Finance Committee.

(1) TEC Minute Book 5, p 199

(2) ibid, Book 1, p 228; Book 2, p 79

(3) ibid, Book 1, pp 9-10

[page 80]

The income of local committees was supplemented from two sources: students' fees and grants from the Science and Art Department. In 1898 Gott surveyed the fees charged by local committees, and the results reveal that each committee had independently determined a scale of fees. Five committees made no charge; two charged standard fees for all classes; the remaining seven charged between 1/- and 6/- [5p - 30p] a term (1). It appears that whilst some committees had made a decision not to charge any fees, the scale of fees used in the remaining districts was entirely arbitrary. So much depended on the attitude adopted by each committee: Willesden increased its annual income by nearly 200, whilst other committees vigorously defended their right not to charge fees, on the grounds than many of the poorer students would be unable to pay (2).

Although occasional students' correspondence with the TEC indicates that they were 'extremely grateful for the technical instruction facilities' made available to them, there is evidence that not all students were entirely satisfied with their local committee's financial arrangements.

On 13 November 1894 twelve members of the Teddington wood-carving class wrote to the TEC indicating their concern that, although their classes were free, they were being exploited by their local committee (3). It appears that the Teddington committee provided the wood necessary for their work, but at the end of term the students were charged the market price for the finished product. Their letter states:

(1) TEC Minute Book 6, pp 30-32

(2) ibid, Book 7, p 99

(3) ibid, Book 2, p 379-380

[page 81]

Whilst we fully appreciate the advantages conferred upon us by means of this class, we do not believe that Middlesex County Council, which has given us free technical education, intends that a profit should be made by the local committee out of our labours (1).
The matter was brought before a full meeting of the TEC, where it was resolved that the students should pay only for the cost of the wood (2). Although no further evidence is cited, this incident indicates that there were ways and means by which local committees could supplement their income, irrespective of whether or not they charged fees.

As part of his drive towards uniformity (see pages 68-69), and in an effort to reduce absenteeism and irregular attendance at classes, Gott recommended to the TEC that standard fees should be paid by all students, "as they are less likely to discontinue attendance at classes once they have paid a fee" (3). The implication was that fee-paying students would be more eager to get their money's worth. However, the General Sub-Committee did not endorse this recommendation, arguing that many regular attenders could ill-afford fees, whilst there was little evidence to suggest that fee-paying students necessarily attended classes regularly (4). Further discussion on payment of fees is not minuted, but there is evidence that by 1901 a general policy had been agreed. The Middlesex Technical Education Directory for that year states:

(1) TEC Minute Book 2, p 379

(2) ibid, Book 3, p 19

(3) ibid, Book 8, p 23

(4) ibid, p 69-70

[page 82]

Except in the case of domestic classes, which may be free, fees must be charged for all classes, the amount of these fees being settled by local committees (1).
A compromise had been arrived at, but Gott' s earlier recommendations were never fully implemented. In the light of the TEC's penny-pinching attitude, its policy on fees was uncharacteristically liberal. It could have insisted from the outset that each local committee should charge fees, thus extending the opportunity for less whisky money to be spent on technical education. Instead, the matter was left to the discretion of local committees until 1901 when, largely through Gott' s initiative, fees were made compulsory for most classes.

The second source of income - Science and Art Department Grants - is more problematic. At first sight the procedure appears to be clear cut. Each local committee was empowered to make independent claims to the Department for an annual grant in respect of subjects taught which had the Department' s sanction. Up to 1899 this procedure was followed, but seemingly not by all committees. From 1899 to 1903, the TEC submitted a central claim, and grants were channelled back to local committees, the amount received relating directly to the number of approved subjects taught within each district.

A survey of Science and Art Department grants received between 1897 and 1900 reveals that two local committees, Brentford and Southgate, did not receive any form of grant (2). Furthermore, up to 1899, two other committees failed to receive grants. Whilst the total grant received

(1) TEC Minute Book 12, p 242

(2) TEC Minute Book 5, p 21; Book 7, p 335; Book 10, p 97

[page 83]

by all committees increased from 489 in 1897 to 916 in 1900, rightly indicating an increase in the provision of technical instruction, there is no apparent reason why certain committees were not in receipt of grants. Certainly they were entitled to make claims, as their annual returns indicate that many of the subjects taught had been sanctioned by the Department (1). The possibility of a 'nil return' has been considered, but in previous circumstances when this was the case, it was clearly stated. A possible reason for this could be lack or organisation at a local level: the application for grants involved complicated administrative work. It is also significant that neither Brentford nor Southgate charged fees up to 1901 - this may simply have been due to administrative incompetence.

No mention is made of this somewhat confusing state of affairs in the minute books, and whilst it would be presumptuous to assume that these facts slipped by unnoticed (particularly in the light of the TEC's general attitude towards expenditure), it is also necessary to note that apparently the TEC took no action to ensure that local committees claimed the money to which they were entitled. Although no reason is given as to why the TEC took over the function of making a centralised claim to the Department in 1889, an obvious conclusion to be drawn in the light of this evidence is that the Committee were concerned that the County should receive its full entitlement in the form of grants, and therefore assumed responsibility from the centre. However, this does not explain why, in 1900, two committees still received nothing.

(1) TEC Minute Book 10, pp 39-40

[page 84]

Inevitably, the subjects taught across the County varied from district to district. Whilst all local committees made full provision for the four domestic subjects to be offered, the number and size of other classes was determined by local demand. In 1892 each local committee was requested to list the subjects appropriate for its area (aside from domestic subjects). Willesden's return lists twelve subjects, embracing commerce, agriculture, engineering and trade skills, whilst Teddington listed only butter making, elementary gardening, poultry keeping and bee-keeping (1).

By the end of 1892 all local committees were providing instruction in subjects other than the domestic subjects, but the districts to the east of the County bordering the LCC boundary - particularly Tottenham, Chiswick and Willesden - offered the widest variety of classes (2). This was where the demand for technical and commercial (rather than agricultural) education predominated: in the densely populated regions bordering London.

The subjects listed as being in demand by local committees in 1892 total 32 (3), yet two years later in its annual report to the Council, the TEC state that only the following classes were held (4):


(1) TEC Minute Book 1, pp 100-101

(2) ibid, p 261

(3) ibid, pp 100-101

(4) ibid, Book 3, p 69

[page 85]

From this information, it is clear that there was a considerable gap between the demand determined by the Finance Committee in 1892 (see page 59) and the response to that demand. Although in 1892 there was a notable demand for commercial subjects, by 1894 only shorthand and typewriting were offered, and then only in certain districts. When this list is compared with the subjects sanctioned by the Science and Art Department as being "required by the circumstances of the district" (page 59) it is evident that nine of the subjects originally listed - including four commercial subjects - were not offered by local committees.

The 1894 returns further indicate that the most highly subscribed subject was cookery, with 899 students across the county; typewriting appears at the bottom of the list with only 10 students. The popularity of classes varied considerably from one district to another: there were 69 nursing students at Hornsey and only 6 at Uxbridge; 36 plumbing students at Willesden and 2 at Hendon; 41 woodcarving students at Tottenham and 3 at Enfield (1).

However, the pattern was to change over the next six years. Similar returns for 1898 show a marked growth in commercial classes (2). For example, the number of typewriting students had risen to 379, and classes in commercial arithmetic attracted 432 students. Whilst the domestic and agricultural classes decreased in number, commercial and technical classes expanded. By 1900 the number of subjects

(1) TEC Minute Book 3, pp 69-70

(2) ibid, Book 7, pp 205-7

[page 86]

offered throughout the County had increased to twenty-one: four additional commercial subjects were taught, and classes were also offered in chemistry, science and electricity (1). By 1902 this number had increased to 23 (2), the Science and Art Department (and after 1900 the Board of Education) having sanctioned instruction in millinery, book-keeping, brickwork, bookbinding, turnery, enamelling and photography between 1898 and 1901.

The following table shows the growth in student numbers from 1895 onwards (3):

YearNumber of centres at which classes were heldTotal number of students attending classes

(1) TEC Minute Book 10, pp 107-8

(2) ibid, Book 14, p 399

(3) figures extracted from TEC annual returns to MCC for appropriate years

[page 87]

These figures indicate a steady growth in the total number of students: during the seven year period between 1895 and 1902 enrolments increased by over 100%. However, the number of centres at which classes were held rose by only nineteen. This accords with Gott's policy of centralisation: wherever possible, local committees were requested to increase the size of their classes and centralise the work within their district. In some districts classes had been given to only three or four students, but in 1899 the TEC reserved the right to close any class if attendance fell below ten (1).

Little information is available on the students attending local committee classes. When the format of class registers was being drawn up in 1892, it was decided to delete the 'occupation' column (2). However, Gott carried out an independent investigation on the occupations of students attending Willesden Polytechnic in 1900 (3).The occupations are listed under sixteen headings, including engineers, shop assistants, gardeners and plumbers. It is evident that those employed in the local building trade were widely represented, as were clerks, most of whom were presumably working in city offices. However, teachers formed the single largest group, and in his report Gott makes the point that "they attend a variety of classes, notably in commerce and science" (4). It is not made clear whether the teachers were attending classes purely for their own advancement, or whether they were studying in order to teach these subjects in schools. The latter possibility seems unlikely though, as advanced classes were not offered.

(1) TEC Minute Book 9, p 129

(2) ibid, Book 1, p 56

(3) ibid, Book 11, 72

(4) ibid, p 73

[page 88]

Although no similar statistics are available for other districts, that students represented a wide cross section of the local community had previously been confirmed by the Chairman of Harrow local committee:

Nearly every station in life has been represented by the persons attending the classes, and one and all seem to have taken a great interest in the work (1).
From the outset, the TEC had agreed that local committees could award students with "certificates of attendance and proficiency" (2). Annual prize-giving ceremonies were held in most districts, and as the work of local committees developed, Gott recommended that wherever possible, syllabuses should be designed in accordance with those of the appropriate professional examining bodies (3).

In 1900 a total of 1,157 Middlesex students received awards from one of the following examining bodies: Science and Art Department; City and Guilds of London Institute; the Society of Arts and Chamber of Commerce; and Pitman's Institute (4). The total number of students in that year was 10,762 (see page 90), and it appears that approximately one out of every ten students attending local committee classes gained a certificate from an external examining body - although it is possible that a number of students entered for more than one examination. Tottenham and Willesden Polytechnics achieved the highest pass rate, entering 285 and 322 successful students respectively (5).

(1) TEC Minute Book 8, p 79

(2) ibid, Book 1, p 391

(3) ibid, Book 7, p 77

(4) ibid, Book 11, pp 378-379

(5) ibid, p 379

[page 89]

Whilst local committees were developing the purview of their work to include an increasing number of commercial and technical subjects, it would be neglectful not to mention a subject of great importance in Middlesex - bee-keeping. This activity crops up time and again in the TEC minute books, and although the subject had been sanctioned by the Science and Art Department in 1892, it was not offered by any local committee. The Middlesex Bee Keeper's Association had written to the County Council in 1891 requesting a grant in aid of their work (see page 54), and although the Association continued to correspond with the TEC, financial assistance was not forthcoming until 1901 (1).

In a report of that year, Gott noted that nineteen other technical education committees had agreed to supply grants in aid of bee-keeping instruction. According to the figures which the Middlesex Association presented to the TEC, bee-keeping in Middlesex was indeed a growth industry (2):

Produce in honey (lbs)36,000133,000

Gott concluded that this was an industry "well worth cultivation" and the TEC agreed to allocate 50 a year to the Association, who in return were to provide a series of lectures and demonstrations on bee-keeping across the county (3).

(1) TEC Minute Book 13, p 75

(2) ibid, p 76

(3) ibid

[page 90]

Mention has already been made of two polytechnics - Willesden and Tottenham - which had been established in Middlesex. They were founded in accord with the TEC's policy of centralisation, a policy which had been advocated since 1892 (1). The major problem in implementing this policy was one of accommodation, and even when suitable accommodation had been found, lengthy correspondence ensued concerning the purchase price and conveyancing procedures.

By 1895 Willesden committee had centralised their work in the Town Hall at Kilburn, but the building proved totally unsuitable (2). In the following year a building became vacant in Priory Park Road, Kilburn, and was purchased by the County Council for 3,400 (3). The figures and reports presented by Willesden local committee indicate that the Kilburn Polytechnic, which afforded almost total centralisation of classes within the district, facilitated an enormous expansion of work. In 1897 the Grove House Estate was purchased for centralised work in the Tottenham district (4), and in 1898 the freehold of Chiswick School of Arts and Crafts was purchased by the County Council (5). Within the course of four years three polytechnics had been established by the TEC. In 1899 Gott proposed that similar institutions should be established at Harrow, Hounslow, Hornsey and Enfield (6), but this scheme was not to come to fruition within the lifespan of the TEC.

(1) TEC Minute Book 1, p 223

(2) ibid, Book 3, p 12

(3) ibid, Book 4, p 71

(4) ibid, Book 5, p 40

(5) ibid, Book 7, p 311

(6) ibid, Book 9, p 299

[page 91]

No indication is given as to what resources were used to purchase polytechnic buildings. The purchase price is not included in the returns of the Accounts Sub-Committee, although the costs are listed in the MCC Finance Committee reports. It is possible that the capital used was part of the residue whisky money, but this is not entirely clear.

Throughout the life of the TEC, and even after Gott's appointment, there is little evidence of cooperation or consultation between local committees. It appears that they functioned as independent local units. As transport from one part of the county to another was difficult, it is understandable that this should be the case, although nowhere is it suggested that classes offered by local committees were exclusively for those resident within the area. In 1898 the General Sub-Committee noted that:

As the County Council are providing efficient science and technical classes at Willesden and Tottenham, it would be as well to point out to other local committees the advisability of bringing these classes to the notice of their students (1).
but no further information is given on the interchange of students between one district and another.

A similar situation obtained with regard to the appointment of teaching staff. Where, in a predominantly rural county, were qualified teachers and instructors to be found? Again, no evidence is available as to where the staff were recruited from, and it can only be assumed that many staff travelled out from London to teach at Middlesex's evening classes. Shortly after his appointment Gott noted "the difficulty of finding teachers who are in touch with their trade, but at the same time good teachers" (2), and

(1) TEC Minute Book 6, p 371

(2) ibid, Book 7, p 198

[page 92]

suggested that the TEC should build up a pool of well-qualified central staff to serve local committees. This proposal was regarded as "difficult to administer" by the General Sub-Committee (1) and for the most part teachers were appointed by local committees at independently determined salaries.

However, by 1902 Middlesex County Council had appointed 23 staff to the TEC. The staff were paid from the TEC's central fund, and taught at centres across the county. The first central appointments to be made were for teachers of the domestic subjects (2). In 1898 ten shorthand and typewriting teachers were employed by the Council (3); in 1900 two art masters joined the central staff (4); and in 1901, after considerable pressure from local committees, the central establishment was increased to 23 with the appointment of a County Instructor in Horticulture (5).

(1) TEC Minute Book 7, p 200

(2) ibid, Book 1, p 343

(3) ibid, Book 7, p 14

(4) ibid, Book 10, p 39

(5) ibid, Book 12, p 111

[page 93]

Within the course of ten years the Technical Education Committee, largely through the efforts of local committees, had laid the foundations of a system of 'higher education' within Middlesex. Those denied the benefit of secondary education had at last been offered an alternative, but an alternative by no means equal to the comparative luxury of full-time post-elementary education. To take advantage of that alternative, students were required to devote their time, and usually a nominal sum of money, but if they were sufficiently motivated, the facilities for learning - if somewhat limited - were available. In spite of scarce financial resources, the problem of adapting classrooms into workshops, appointing suitable staff and establishing the administrative machinery necessary for the provision of technical instruction, much had been achieved by the local committees.

The essentially local nature of these committees is apparent throughout. Some were more active than others, although it is clear that the activity of local committees stemmed primarily from their response to local demands. Where the demand had been recognised, and particularly where polytechnics had been established, technical education flourished. In many areas where there was seemingly little local demand the provision of classes was scaled down accordingly. The population gravitated towards the districts in the east of the County, and by extension the proximity of London largeIy determined the nature and locality of technical education in Middlesex.

At the outset the emphasis was on the 'domestic subjects' and it appears that the TEC had little foresight into precisely what they were expected to provide. The list of subjects approved by the Science and Art Department increased, and the classes offered indicated that although Middlesex was "predominantly rural" (an oft-quoted phrase used to describe the County in many County history books) a large sector of the population were

[page 94]

engaged in business, commerce and industry within the metropolis. Within ten years the TEC' s interpretation of technical instruction had changed. The emphasis was no longer on horticulture, poultry keeping and bee-keeping, but on shorthand, commercial mathematics and industry-oriented skills. Nevertheless, the range of classes remained varied: from millinery to modern languages, from cookery to commercial geography. The County was not to become a thriving centre of industry and commerce overnight, and the provision of technical instruction in Middlesex reflected the diverse occupations of the working population of the County in the last decade of the nineteenth century.

[page 95]


The Scholarship and Grants in Aid Scheme

Whilst the classes organised by local committees provided facilities for part-time technical instruction for the working population of the County, the 1891 Technical Instruction Amending Act (see page 48) enabled technical education committees across the country to offer full-time scholarships at secondary and other post-elementary institutions within or outside their county. Scholarship holders were expected to follow courses with a scientific or technical bias, but as technical education had been so widely interpreted, it was possible that scholars could follow the normal secondary school curriculum, providing that it included science subjects. Although it is not directly stated, it appears that this section of the Act was designed more to encourage the study of science in secondary schools than to aid technical or manual instruction.

There were no organised science schools in Middlesex (1): had this been the case, the County's scholarship scheme could have been based on providing scholarships to these schools, where the curriculum was oriented towards the sciences rather than the arts. In fact, it appears that the County's scheme, as originally conceived by the TEC, basically provided a means by which boys, some of whom would otherwise have completed their education at the elementary stage, could continue their studies at secondary or grammar schools. In 1893 fifteen County scholarships were offered for competition to boys wishing to attend selected secondary schools. By 1902, Middlesex supported a total of one hundred and twenty eight scholars, the scheme having been developed to include teacher training, modern language and gardening scholarships. The scholarship scheme expanded, but in so doing it moved further and further away from manual or technical instruction.

(1) TEC Minute Book 1, p 351

[page 96]

Responsibility for organising the scholarship scheme was given, in the first instance, to the Special Sub-Committee (1). By the end of 1892 a Scholarship Sub-Committee was appointed, and in 1898 scholarships became the responsibility of the General Sub-Committee (2). The Special Sub-Committee's first task was to survey secondary and grammar schools within and outside the County in order to establish which schools provided the most appropriate facilities for the proposed Middlesex County Scholars. School headmasters were to be interviewed, in order to ascertain:

whether it would be feasible to found at these schools scholarships for the benefit of the children in aid of whose advancement the technical instruction grant ought to be applied (3).
The Committee visited thirteen schools, including one in London and two in Surrey. Reporting back to the TEC, the Committee stated that all the schools included science, modern languages, classics and commercial subjects in their curriculum. However, the standards of teaching varied considerably from one school to another, and in all cases laboratory and workshop facilities were "of a very poor standard":
Whilst the teaching of the theory of science and the principles of sound, light and heat is generally of a high standard, laboratories and workshops consist of classrooms, many of which have not been properly converted, with inadequate apparatus and unsuitable equipment (4).
(1) TEC Minute Book 1, p 49

(2) ibid, p 349, ibid, Book 7, p 21

(3) ibid, Book 1, p 109

(4) ibid, p 111

[page 97]

Thus it would appear that although science had entered the school curriculum, emphasis was still placed on theory rather than practice: a reflection of earlier nineteenth-century attitudes towards practical instruction outlined in Chapter 1.

Overall, the Committee's report is pessimistic. The general standard of science and technical education was low, and the Committee were only able to recommend five schools - one outside the County - where scholarships might "with advantage " be founded. Each of these schools was given a grant to improve laboratory and workshop facilities, and the TEC reserved the right to withdraw the scholarships if the money was not appropriately used within the following year (1).

The TEC faced a dilemma. Having decided to institute a scholarship scheme, it found that there were few suitable schools within the County at which scholarships could be founded. At this point, another aspect of the TEC's work becomes relevant. Under section 1(d) of the 1889 Act, technical education committees were empowered to make grants to secondary schools and other institutions in order to "aid the supply of technical instruction" (see Appendix III). In order to operate the scholarship scheme, the TEC had, perforce, to make grants to schools. Whether or not this would have happened independently of the scholarship scheme cannot be surmised, but is is clear that in proposing such a scheme the TEC, by accident rather than design, committed itself to aiding science and technical instruction in secondary schools. Before looking at the detailed provisions of the scholarship scheme, it would seem pertinent to look briefly at this aspect of the TEC's work.

(1) TEC Minute Book 1, p 113

[page 98]

The TEC made its first direct payments to secondary schools in 1893. Five schools (Latymer School, Edmonton, Enfield Grammar School, the Lower School of John Lyon, Harrow, Tottenham Grammar School and Tiffins School, Kingston, Surrey) were each given 100 for the immediate improvement of their workshop and laboratory facilities, and it was further agreed that an annual sum, not exceeding 200, should be paid to each school for the general improvement of workshop and teaching facilities (1).

In accordance with section 1(e) of the 1889 Act, the TEC were entitled to be represented on the governing bodies of all schools and institutions to whom they allocated grants. Here was an opportunity for the Committee to become instrumental in formulating the policies of secondary schools and other educational establishments in the County. TEC members could make themselves, and the work of the Committee, known to headmasters and other governors who were largely to determine the nature of post-elementary education in Middlesex. However, the appointed TEC governors made neither written nor oral reports to the Committee. Where they could have been innovating development, the absence of reports suggests that they performed only the basic duties required of them.

(1) TEC Minute Book 1, p 113

[page 99]

Over the course of the next ten years similar grants were made to other schools and institutions, sometimes in the form of a block grant for a specific purpose, and on other occasions in the form of a regular annual sum (1). A significant feature of the 'grants in aid' scheme is that at no stage did the TEC actually suggest to an institution that it might profitably benefit from financial assistance. In all cases grants were received only after the institution or school made a written application to the Committee requesting, and on occasion demanding, help. Assistance was not always forthcoming. Following the initial application, TEC representatives inspected the institution, and recommendations were subsequently made to the main Committee.

All the evidence indicates that, in this respect at least, the TEC were responding to pressure rather than directly influencing change. The Committee's illiberal attitude, its outright meanness, and its unimaginative approach is nowhere better exemplified than in the way it failed to promote technical instruction in schools and other institutions. All manner of alternatives present themselves. The Committee could have allocated a portion of its annual grant to such work, and circulated appropriate institutions informing them that this money was available. Using their discretion (which they undoubtedly had, according to the apparently informed way in which they selected scholarship schools), funds could have been apportioned to deserving institutions. They could have actively sought out and encouraged institutions to provide efficient technical instruction. Instead, they sat back and waited.

(1) Figures given in TEC Annual Reports to MCC

[page 100]

Many applications were received between 1893 and 1902, the most persistent coming from St. Peter's Institute, Staines. In December 1893 the Institute made an application for a grant of 100 (1). Committee members visited the Institute and subsequently reported that there were approximateIy 300 students on the roll, most of whom worked at a large factory in the area. The work of the Institute was both social and educational, run much along the lines of Quintin Hogg's Polytechnic (see pages 36-7):

There is a gymnasium, a band, football and boating clubs ... the existence of these induces a large number of youths who would not otherwise do so to attend the classes. The subjects vary from session to session and include drawing and chemistry. The application is to enable additional classes to be started ... in metal working, steel turning and brass finishing ... for the benefit of youths working in a neighbouring factory (2).
For five months the matter was raised at the TEC's monthly meeting, but on each occasion it was referred, without explanation, to the following meeting. A detailed report had been provided, and there is no evidence that further information was required. An attitude of reluctance, if not belligerence, is suggested by the Committee's non-action on this matter. However, in May 1894 it was finally agreed that "an annual grant in the region of 100 should be paid to the Institute over the next few years" (3).

Four years later, in 1898, the TEC received a petition, signed by over 200 "leading figures" in Staines. The petition demanded a grant of 500

(1) TEC Minute Book 2, p 189

(2) ibid, p 190

(3) ibid, p 408

[page 101]

to effect modifications and additions to the buildings which would enable the Institute to offer a wider range of subjects (1). The focal point of the petition - that more technical classes should be provided - was largely ignored by the TEC, who felt that the 100 annual grant was "adequate for the circumstances of the district" (2). It appears that events at St. Peter's Institute did not receive Gott's attention, possibly because he had only been in post for two months when the petition was received, but in the light of his general attitude towards technical instruction, it seems unlikely that Gott would have supported the TEC's action on this issue.

Overall, the grants in aid scheme is the least satisfactory of the provisions made by the TEC. Although expenditure in this area increased from 800 in 1893 to approximately 9,000 in 1902 (3), there is little evidence that much thought was given to the way in which the money was being used. Of the 9,000 allocated in 1902, over 6,000 was received by the three polytechnics in the County, and there is no doubt that the TEC, and Gott in particular, encouraged the work and expansion of these institutions. But whilst the polytechnics were expanding, secondary schools and smaller institutions were largely neglected.

At the outset, the underlying purpose of these grants was to ensure that the County could offer scholarship places at schools mainly within Middlesex. With this objective in mind, the TEC sought in ensure that selected schools were suitably funded. Decisions on grants other than

(1) TEC Minute Book 6, p 33

(2) ibid, p 34

(3) ibid, Book 2, p 70; Book 14, p 285

[page 102]

those made to polytechnics and secondary schools were made in an arbitrary fashion depending, it seems, very much on the mood and inclination of the Committee, and the persistence of those requesting grants.

In 1893, the first County Scholarship examinations were held. Fifteen scholarships were offered, through open competition, to boys aged between eleven and thirteen (1). The scholarships, tenable for three years, included school fees, the scholar's railway fare to and from his school, and 10 a year maintenance. It was specified that candidates must have resided in the County for three years, and should have achieved the 5th standard in the Education Code.

Mr George Buckle, a master at the Borough Road College, Isleworth, was appointed examinations officer, and was required both to prepare and mark papers (3). As a condition of employment, Buckle submitted annual reports to the TEC on the outcome of the scholarship examinations. He performed this task with meticulous detail, analysing results by subject and by geographical area, giving harsh criticism where he considered appropriate, and always presenting a thorough and comprehensive report. Examinations were held annually at a centre in each of the seven parliamentary divisions of the County. Notices giving details of the scholarships and dates of examinations were sent to all school boards, elementary schools and school attendance committees in the county (4).

(1) TEC Minute Book 1, p 315-17

(2) ibid, p 315

(3) ibid, p 188

(4) ibid, p 315

[page 103]

Aside from the work of local committees, it appears that this was the chief means by which the public in Middlesex learnt of the TEC and its work. Scholarships were very much the prestige part of the Committee's work: a disproportionate amount of time, effort and expenditure went into a scheme which, initially at least, provided only fifteen scholarships.

The most significant point to emerge from the first scholarship examinations is the candidates' choice of subjects and the subject groupings. Freehand drawing and arithmetic were compulsory, but there was a choice between geography or history, and English grammar or elementary science. Geography and English proved by far the most popular subjects (1):

SubjectGeographyor HistoryEnglishor Science
No. of

That history and geography should be offered as alternatives seems quite logical. Under the payment by results system geography had been more widely taught than history: it was an easier subject in which success could be calculated in advance, for it comprised mostly rote learning in the form of memorising maps, names of towns and cities and other material which did not involve the application of written skills. History proved a more difficult subject to teach under the payment by results system: it involved a more thoughtful approach to learning, and the application of written skills. However, it is more difficult to understand why candidates

(1) TEC Minute Book 1, p 375

[page 104]

were given a choice between English grammar or science. The former had been a standard subject on the elementary school curriculum for many years, the latter was a relatively new subject. One was a science, the other an art subject. Whilst scholarship holders were to attend schools where the teaching of practical science and technology formed an important part of the curriculum, the indications are that science was much neglected both in elementary and secondary schools. Scholars were selected on their general ability rather than on their aptitude for science and technology.

When the scheme was first introduced, teachers were eager to enter as many candidates as possible. However, in 1896 the number of candidates had dropped by 92, and Buckle commented that:

In former years the work of a large percentage of the boys showed that their attainments were not of a kind to enable them to benefit by the secondary education offered through the scholarships. In recent examinations the proportion of incapables is very small, and the candidates as a body show both greater knowledge and increased power in expressing it ... Teachers now calculate more closely the chances of success of their pupils, and those whose fortunes are desperate are discouraged from entering (1).
Each year Buckle's report stressed that although the number of candidates had decreased, the overall standard had improved. Whilst in 1893 two of the fifteen scholarship holders obtained an average mark below 60%, in 1900 the average mark of all scholarship holders was above 65% (2). The following table shows the total number of candidates for each year, and the average marks (in percentages) obtained in scholarship examinations (3):

(1) TEC Minute Book 7, p 221

(2) ibid, Book 1, p 375; Book 10, p 239

(3) Figures extracted from Buckle's reports to the TEC for the appropriate years

[page 105]

It is interesting to note that the two compulsory subjects, Drawing and Arithmetic, averaged the highest and the lowest marks respectively. Drawing in fact comprised mostly drawing from objects and technical drawing, and again was a subject well taught under the payment by results system. However, the same theory should apply to the teaching of mathematics: an answer was either right or wrong, and although Buckle consistently emphasised the overall low standard of mathematics, it is difficult to understand why this was so. A further point of interest is that the average marks for the two least popular subjects, science and history, are higher than the alternative subjects, English grammar and geography. Whether a sliding scale had been adopted to encourage children to take these subjects is not known, as at no stage does Buckle clarify how "standards" were arrived at. Thus whilst one can speculate about the significance of these figures, it is difficult to draw any specific conclusions.

[page 106]

At first sight the figures suggest an overall improvement in the standard of elementary school teaching in Middlesex in the last decade of the century, but this impression could be misleading. It has already been noted that teachers were becoming more selective in entering candidates, thereby improving the average marks. Also, it was suggested by Gott that the more enthusiastic schools in the County were training their pupils specifically for the scholarship examination (1).

Little information is available about the boys' backgrounds, or their subsequent careers. However, in 1894 Buckle listed the scholars' parents' occupations, and from this list it is clear that the boys came from both working and middle-class homes (2). Although a letter from one grateful father in 1896 indicates that his son would have left school at twelve had it not been for the "kind generosity of the County Council" (3), it is not possible to draw the conclusion that scholarship boys came exclusively from poor families. At no stage was it stated by the TEC (or indeed by the 1889 Act) that the parents' income should be below a certain level, and it may well be the case that scholarships were as much a subsidy to middle-class children's schooling as the only method by which boys from poor homes could enter secondary education. In this instance, the Act clearly failed to include a general incomes policy in its scholarship provisions. Although it was the case that scholarships provided an incentive for some working class children, equally they were providing a subsidy for post-elementary middle-class education.

(1) TEC Minute Book 9, p 71

(2) ibid, Book 2, p 249

(3) ibid, Book 4, p 86

[page 107]

In 1896, when the first group of scholars were in their final year at secondary school, the scholarship scheme was extended to include a higher scholarship. The scholarship, offered by a competitive examination to all final-year county scholars, was tenable for two years at the City and Guilds of London Institute (1). The immediate fate of the first higher scholarship boy on completion of his course was not a happy one, and highlights the peculiar difficulties at this time of entering the engineering profession on the strength of educational achievements at non-graduate level (2). The scarce distribution of industry in Middlesex compounded the difficulty.

In October 1898 the City and Guilds Institute wrote to the TEC requesting that they extend Walter Jeffrey's scholarship to a third year. Their letter states that Jeffrey had qualified at eighteen as a mechanical engineer, but could not find employment in Middlesex. The Institute wished him to qualify as an electrical engineer, for which it was claimed they could guarantee employment. Jeffrey's father also wrote to the TEC stating that his son could not get a mechanical engineering apprenticeship without payment of a large lump sum as a premium, and that he would receive practically no wages during his apprenticeship. It appeared that his son would be forced to take a job as a clerk, for which the Board School 7th Standard, attained before Jeffrey took up his first scholarship, was an adequate qualification. The TEC adopted an uncharacteristically generous attitude, granting Jeffrey 25 (half the sum of the higher scholarship award) which allowed him to continue his studies for a further year (3).

(1) TEC Minute Book 3, p 232

(2) C L Old, The Engineer and Society in Victorian Britain, pp 9-10

(3) TEC Minute Book 4, pp 231-32

[page 108]

In 1898 the boys' scholarship scheme was further extended in an attempt to encourage scholarship holders to enter teaching. Each junior scholar was given the opportunity of continuing his training at a teacher training college, subject to him becoming a teacher in Middlesex at the end of his training. The scholarships were of 30 a year, tenable for two years at "any suitable training college", and there is no indication that the boys were obliged to study technical subjects (1). It appears that in this instance the TEC were concerned with raising the number and standards of the County's teaching establishment: technical and scientific instruction were peripheral to the scheme, and the TEC were becoming increasingly concerned with other forms of post-secondary education.

The question of secondary school scholarships for girls was raised in 1893, but the matter was dropped on the grounds that no suitable schools were available for scholars (2). It was typical of the TEC's attitude that no suggestion was made to improve existing facilities at girls' schools in the County. However, an alternative proposition was agreed in the following year, when ten teacher training scholarships were offered to girls. The scholarships, 25 a year for two years, were tenable at "training colleges or other institutions supplying efficient technical instruction" (3). In this instance, technical instruction meant the domestic subjects, which were widely taught to girls in elementary schools, and the scholarship girls were obliged to teach in Middlesex elementary schools at the end of their training. Scholars

(1) TEC Minute Book 7, pp 25-6

(2) ibid, Book 1, p 110

(3) ibid, Book 2, pp 279-280

[page 109]

were selected from those who had been awarded the highest marks in the Queen's Scholarship Examination, and in 1894 ten "Middlesex girls" (as they are referred to in the Minute Books) took up places at colleges in Middlesex, London and Cambridge (1).

By 1900 the total number of scholarship places had more than doubled, and the total cost - 300 for fifteen junior scholars in 1893 - had increased to approximately 1,710 a year. The scheme had been extended to include girls, although "Middlesex boys" had the advantage over the "Middlesex girls", who were awarded 5 a year less than the boys. Whether this was positive discrimination or simple oversight is hard to say, but it seems unlikely to be the latter.

In 1900 the Middlesex scholarship scheme was revised. The origins of the changes made can be seen in a report presented by Gott in 1899 (2). In the introduction to his report, Gott states:

If all boys and girls are to have equal opportunity to obtain a sound general education, it becomes necessary to have a comprehensive system of scholarships offering an opportunity to any specially able boys or girls in elementary or other schools to equip themselves for their life's work, by obtaining a sound secondary education (3).
Gott stressed that these scholarships should be made available both to boys and girls: "I would point out the increasing number of posts in professional and commercial life which are now being filled by females" (4).

(1) TEC Minute Book 2, p 394

(2) ibid, Book 10, pp 71-79

(3) ibid, p 71

(4) ibid

[page 110]

Whilst it is worthy of Gott to pursue the issue of equality of opportunity, it is quite clear that total equality was impossible given the rigid class structure of nineteenth-century Britain: equality was an unrealistic concept at that time. Secondary education could be bought by those who could afford it; working class children had to be academically superior to their middle class counterparts in order to gain access to post-elementary education, and even then the provision was small and highly competitive. Gott also implies that there should be equal provision for both girls and boys, but in the event this was not to be the case.

The Report proposed that whilst the existing teacher training scholarships should continue, the scheme should be expanded to include twenty junior scholarships (12-16 years), twenty intermediate scholarships (16-18 years) and five senior scholarships (18-20 years). Gott made the point that such a scheme had been successfully initiated by the London Technical Education Board in 1896, and he saw no reason why Middlesex should not imitate their scheme (1).

The proposals were carefully costed, and presented to the General Sub-Committee, but they were immediately referred back to Gott for modification, on the grounds that the scheme was too costly (2). The original scheme was rejected at a time when over 13,000 of the available whisky money was being used for rate relief (see page 66). The proposed scheme would have cost 3,190; the modified scheme cost 2,244.

(1) TEC Minute Book 10, p 75

(2) ibid, p 97

[page 111]

Twenty-one junior scholarships were awarded (fifteen for boys and six for girls); there were seven intermediate scholarships (five for boys and two for girls) and the one higher scholarship remained (1). Only twenty-eight school scholarships were being offered throughout the County, and those were not exclusively for children who would otherwise have been denied the opportunity of secondary education. London had six hundred junior scholars, seventy intermediate scholars and five senior scholars in 1900 (2); Middlesex's provision was pitiful by comparison.

In spite of its meanness, the TEC made one small concession to local requirements. The County School of Gardening at Edmonton had written to the TEC requesting that a small number of scholarships should be made available to boys "who might otherwise be deprived of the opportunity of study" (3). Three scholarships of 15, tenable for two years, were granted and it was left to the Principal of the School to determine which students were to receive assistance.

In an effort to improve the standard of modern language teaching at a local level, Gott suggested that some form of scholarships should be made available to teachers employed by local committees. His recommendations had been rejected by the General Sub-Committee until 1902, when it was finally agreed that a maximum of three exhibitions should be awarded to modern language teachers (4). The exhibitioners, chosen

(1) TEC Minute Book 10, pp 170-71

(2) ibid, p 75

(3) ibid, Book 11. pp 393-4

(4) ibid, Book 14, pp 76-7

[page 112]

by Gott, were to reside at an approved centre in France or Germany for a period of not less than four weeks during the summer vacation. The exhibition took the form of payment of fares, plus 12 towards the cost of residence. It was hoped that "the language benefits derived from these visits will improve the standard of modern language teaching throughout local districts in the County" (1). That these exhibitions were finally awarded was no mean achievement - Gott had pressed for them for four years. But they were only awarded because one individual persistently badgered the TEC.

The TEC's scholarship scheme, and its grants to endowed schools and institutions, reflects a meanness and lack of imagination which was characteristic of the Committee's attitude towards technical instruction throughout. Whilst at a local level committees were prepared to take some initiative, at a County level, the TEC remained cautious and penny-pinching. By 1902 scholars and exhibitioners receiving financial assistance from the TEC numbered 128; in London the number of school scholarships alone amounted to nearly 700 in 1900. London was spending all its whisky money on technical instruction, and applying the 1d rate (2). Unlike the majority of County Councils, Middlesex was spending less than two-thirds of its whisky money, keeping its power to levy a 1d rate strictly in reserve. With Sidney Webb as its Chairman, the London Technical Education Board was both progressive and generous; Middlesex TEC was conservative and parsimonious by comparison.

(1) TEC Minute Book 14, p 17

(2) ibid, Book 10, p 75

[page 113]

Had Middlesex been more enterprising, the TEC would have taken advantage of the opportunities which existed in the LCC's secondary schools. Sidney Webb had encouraged the interchange of students in counties adjoining London (1), and the Act made full provision for scholars to attend schools outside their county. The TEC patently failed to exploit this opportunity.

The TEC were a group of novices in the field of technical education who worked for five years without expert and professional guidance. By the time Gott was in post, the foundations of their work had been laid. The most he could do was to build on ground prepared by amateurs who were concerned more with economy than with technical instruction.

Although the London Technical Education Board had been slow in implementing technical instruction under the 1889 Act (see page 53) between 1893 and 1895 their time was purposefully spent. The Board was formed in 1893, and for two years it met at regular intervals, discussing, debating and ultimately determining a scheme for London (2). This was their period of planning, researching and of formulating a long-term policy which could be effectively implemented after 1895. Middlesex TEC characterised the opposite approach, initiating a scheme with little foresight, with a degree of reluctance, and certainly with no overview of future growth and development. Until Gott's arrival in 1898 developments in Middlesex were haphazard and shortsighted. Even after this date far-sighted plans were tempered by the TEC's cautious attitude.

(1) TEC Minute Book 5, p 22

(2) Blanchet, op. cit., p 331-2

[page 114]


The 1902 Education Act and its implications for the Technical Education Committee

In 1903 the work of the TEC drew to a close. The Education Act, passed by Balfour's Government in 1902, required Middlesex County Council to re-structure and expand the provision of all levels of education, and particularly post-elementary education, in the County. Under the 1902 Act, school boards were abolished and their responsibilities were transferred to two kinds of local authority - Part II and Part III authorities. Part II authorities were the county and county borough councils that took responsibility for both elementary and secondary education; Part III authorities were those non-county borough and urban district councils that took responsibility for elementary education, but left the administration of their secondary education to the appropriate county council (1). Middlesex County Council was a Part II authority, and within the County there were twelve Part III authorities.

As the TEC had been the only Council committee concerned solely with education, they were charged with the responsibility of drawing up an overall plan for the development of elementary, secondary and technical education, and teacher training within Middlesex. The Committee welcomed the new legislation which finally recognised the need for a national system of secondary education, for so much of their work over the previous ten years had been restricted by the inadequate provision of post-elementary education. Indeed, from the enthusiasm and eagerness expressed by TEC members when discussions on the 1902 Act were taking place, it is difficult to imagine that it was largely the same group of people who had somewhat reluctantly generated a scheme of technical education in Middlesex over the previous ten years. Their attitude towards the 1902 Act suggests

(1) J S Maclure, Educational Documents in England and Wales, p 149

[page 115]

a group of people dedicated to the cause of education, who were prepared to go to great lengths to ensure that "the County of Middlesex makes the finest provision for education in the country" (1). Technical education, it would seem, had been a burdensome and uninspiring area of work; formulating an overall policy for education presented the TEC with a real challenge. Their ideal, that all education in the County should come under one single authority, was opposed by those who preferred to retain a degree of local independence for elementary education, rightly theirs under the Act. But in spite of this, the justification for a predominantly centralised County scheme of education could not be questioned.

The TEC were now to consider all forms of education, of which technical instruction was only a small part. Their immediate concern was not so much to produce a new scheme of technical instruction, but to structure elementary and secondary education in Middlesex with a view to improving general educational standards. By implication, the growth of technical instruction was an integral part of the overall plan, and because of their acquaintance with technical and science-oriented teaching in Middlesex schools, a large part of the Committee's discussions on the 1902 Act centre around ways in which this area of work could be improved. Technical instruction, which had previously developed in isolation, could now become an integral part of the elementary and secondary school curriculum.

(1) TEC Minute Book 15, p 50

[page 116]

In December 1902 the Board of Education issued Circular 470, which outlined the powers and duties of County Councils under the Act. It stated that Councils were to "promote the coordination of all forms of education", and with reference to higher (including technical) education, they were to:

consider the needs of the area and to take such steps as seem to them desirable after consulting the Board of Education to supply or aid the supply of education other than elementary (1).
In the light of this circular, Gott immediately prepared an overall plan for Middlesex (2). The central theme of this plan, which later proved to be the major bone of contention, was that the County Council should assume responsibility for both elementary and secondary education, persuading Part III authorities within the County to surrender their autonomy under the Act. Gott recommended:
The education authority should be in charge of primary and secondary education, because the greatest difficulty Middlesex County Council have had to contend with in connection with technical instruction is the inefficiency of elementary education. Our elementary schools are filled with students whose knowledge of elementary maths, science and drawing is not sufficient for them to properly benefit from a course of technical instruction (3).
Gott's thinking was dominated by his experience in the field of technical instruction, and the emphasis was now on planning an overall elementary school curriculum for the County which would give children a sound grounding in science and technical subjects. The major task ahead was that of persuading Part III authorities to surrender their autonomy for elementary education to the County's proposed Education Committee.

(1) TEC Minute Book 13, p 101

(2) ibid, pp 137-142

(3) ibid, p 139

[page 117]

A meeting was convened between representatives of the TEC and borough councils. Its purpose was to convince Part III authorities that a centralised scheme of elementary education would be of greater benefit than a fragmented scheme. The meeting lasted for three hours, and from the outset it was quite clear that the Council were not to achieve their objective. Part III authorities remained unconvinced of the advantages of one single educational authority for Middlesex: they preferred local autonomy, and the freedom which that autonomy implied (1).

The scheme for Middlesex County Council Education Committee, including Part II and Part III authorities, was published in March 1903. The Education Committee was organised into sub-committees to administer the various branches of education within the County: Elementary Education, Higher Education (secondary, technical and further education and teacher training), Finance, and Sites and Buildings. Alderman Regester, the TEC's first Chairman, was elected Chairman of the Education Committee, and Gott was elevated to the post of Secretary (2). Robert Morant, Permanent Secretary at the Board of Education, and the éminence grise behind the 1902 Act, addressed a letter to the Clerk of Middlesex County Council informing him that the Education Act would come into force on 1st June 1903, and that local education authorities should carry out their duties from that date (3).

(1) TEC Minute Book 13, pp 78-109

(2) MCC Education Committee Minute Book 1, p 1

(3) TEC Minute Book 15, p 160

[page 118]

The work of the Technical Education Committee had come to an end, the Technical Instruction Acts had been repealed, and the TEC's function was to be carried out by the Higher Education sub-committee. Through local committee work, and through their scholarship and grants in aid scheme, the TEC had already become involved in secondary and further education and teacher training. This was how they chose to interpret the Technical Instruction Act, and although at first sight it might appear that technical instruction would be neglected amidst other forms of post-elementary education, in fact the 1902 Act defined and sanctioned work which the majority of technical education committees had already undertaken (1). Technical instruction had come to mean much more than the teaching of craft skills.

The TEC's influence did not die. The Higher Education sub-committee included eight members of the TEC (2), and the man largely responsible for laying the foundations of technical education in Middlesex continued to direct the pattern of education in the County until his retirement in 1928. He was knighted in 1926, and at a ceremony to mark his retirement, Sir Benjamin Gott reflected:

When I came I was put into a room with a table and a chair, and I do not think the officials knew what I had come for, but I knew (3).
(1) NAPTSE Year Book, 1902, introduction, pp 1-5

(2) MCC Education Committee Minute Book 1, p 15

(3) Middlesex County Times, 21st January 1928, p 3

[page 119]

In appointing Benjamin Gott Organising Inspector of Technical Education in 1898, the TEC had acquired the services of a man of vision who was to devote the remainder of his working life to promoting education in Middlesex. Mr J Fielding, a retired Principal of Kilburn Polytechnic, who was working in the MCC Higher Education Department in the 1920s, still has vivid memories of Benjamin Gott:

I recall Gott as a short, stout, bald man with a clipped moustache, rushing from office to office, with his jacket off and his shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He came to the office to work, not to issue orders from on high. He spoke to everyone, junior clerks, office cleaners, and senior county officials, and always showed respect and concern for individuals. He would call meetings at a minute's notice, and would use anyone who showed the remotest interest in education as a sounding board for his latest idea.

When we left the office at 6.00 in the evening, one light was always on, and it sometimes remained on till after midnight. It was the light in Sir Benjamin's office. His energy was boundless. He was a man of great integrity, and in spite of the mass of paper work which he had to deal with, he retained an imaginative and far-sighted approach to education (1).

It is sad to reflect that during the first ten years of his work with Middlesex, much of Benjamin Gott' s effort was wasted.

(1) From a recorded interview with Mr J Fielding, 18th June 1977

[page 120]



In seeking to evaluate the success or failure of Middlesex County Council's Technical Education Committee, it is important to establish criteria by which the Committee's work can be judged. If time and space permitted, and if other sources of information were readily available, the generally pessimistic tone of the conclusions drawn throughout the second half of this special exercise might be modified. In the first instance, most of the information has been drawn from minute books, which are, by the nature of their language and the presentation of their material, restrictive and limited. How carefully were the minutes edited before they were presented for signature? how deliberately selective and biased are their contents? how much was debated which was never recorded? These, and many similar questions face the researcher when she is working from such sources of information.

Whilst a vast amount of the material contained in the minutes has necessarily been excluded from this text, even that which remains appears overburdened with administrative detail, much of which could be discarded as trivia. Yet this is the impression given by the minute books, and the constant emphasis on administrative detail reflects their tone throughout. Many fundamental questions remain unanswered: who were the teachers? did they have any part in formulating the curriculum in the early days of local committees? where were the industrialists, and why were they not more vocal? was the scholarship scheme really providing opportunities for poorer children? what type of employment did the scholars enter? Most importantly, where is a definitive statement on Middlesex's attitude towards technical instruction? Negative conclusions have (perhaps wrongly) been drawn in the absence

[page 121]

of further information. However, the justification for these conclusions rests with the overall impression of the TEC, as they are represented in their minute books. Their obsession for detail and their overriding concern for economy prevented them from perceiving technical instruction in its widest perspective. One is left with the impression that the TEC, with the exception of Gott, failed to get down to grass roots level: they remained detached and aloof from the reality of technical instruction in Middlesex. Here were a group of senior council officials, holding monthly meetings to discuss technical instruction at offices outside the County boundary in Westminster. The location of their meetings in itself removed them from the reality of Middlesex.

Various alternatives present themselves as a means by which the findings of this special exercise could have been further developed. By contrasting Middlesex with a similar county a more sympathetic interpretation may have evolved. Constant comparison with London in many ways presents an unfair picture, for London was beyond doubt the most progressive Technical Education Board. Yet London's influence cannot be ignored. A detailed study of the London Technical Education Board's minutes might have explained why Middlesex made such frugal provision for technical education: it could well be the case that many Middlesex people pursued courses of technical instruction in London before they returned home from work. Others who worked in Middlesex may have chosen to go into London for classes, knowing that the facilities were superior to those of Middlesex. Whilst it would have been injudicious for the TEC to commit itself to a statement to the effect that they were only too pleased to relinquish a large part

[page 122]

of their responsibility for technical instruction to the London Technical Instruction Board, the possibility that this attitude pertained must be borne in mind.

Looking to the future, a detailed study of the Higher Education sub-committee might also place the work of the TEC in a new perspective. The fact that Middlesex Polytechnic, now the largest polytechnic in the country, is situated in the east of the County with sixteen sites spread around the Boroughs of Hendon, Enfield and Barnet, is not without significance (1). The optimist could argue that the seeds of this Polytechnic were sown by the TEC. Likewise , Kilburn Polytechnic (which has now merged with Willesden Polytechnic) is a thriving centre of learning. Retaining the characteristics of the old-style polytechnics, it offers a variety of practically-oriented courses in technology and commerce (2). But no matter what generous reflective attitudes may be developed, the fact remains that in the last decade of the nineteenth century, Middlesex was one of the least ambitious, most conservative counties with respect to the provision it made for technical instruction. Synonyms for mean and cautious have been exhausted in attempting to describe the TEC's attitude.

If blame is to be apportioned on the basis of the material which has been researched, it would seem fair to start with the terms of the 1889 Technical Instruction Act. In the first instance, the Act was permissive rather than compulsory, and it may be concluded that Government had

(1) Committee of Directors of Polytechnics, Committee Papers, 1977/St/51

(2) Kilburn Polytechnic Prospectus, 1977

[page 123]

made a negative decision to acquiesce to the demands of a pressure group, and not a positive decision to vigorously encourage technical instruction. The Act in itself was a compromise, and Middlesex in turn made further compromises. At its crudest, the Technical Instruction Act had been formulated without plan or method, and Middlesex interpreted the Act likewise. Many attempts had been made to look at the nature of the problem of technical instruction, but after years of investigation and enquiry, Government proposed a scheme which, in the event, did little to cater for the problems which had been identified.

Government schemes are all very well, but in order to implement a scheme, effective machinery must be established. Bearing in mind that county councils had only been created one year before the Technical Instruction Act was passed, was it reasonable to assume that all county councils were either ready or sufficiently expert to implement the Government's scheme? Having delegated the responsibility for technical instruction to county councils, Government made no attempt to monitor their progress: whisky money was duly allocated, and from that point Government washed its hands of further responsibility. Newly-created county councils became self-monitoring, and it could be argued that Middlesex was not yet ready to assume this responsibility. It was left to an independent pressure group, the pressure group who were responsible for legislation on technical instruction, to monitor further developments. But the NAPTSE were essentially a group of spectators: they had no legal power to force county councils to take any action whatever.

[page 124]

The key to determining the success or failure of the Act rests with the interpretation of technical instruction. It has already been stated that the words 'instruction' and 'education' were used indiscriminately: the Act used the word 'instruction', yet county councils created technical 'education' committees. On one level, technical instruction could be interpreted as the application of science to industry - in this connection, Millis provides an adequate definition (see page 2). Much emphasis had been placed on the teaching of science, which was logically seen as a prerequisite to the application of technology. Yet the Technical Instruction Act permitted an entirely new definition of technical instruction.

In formulating the Act, Government faced two basic alternatives. On the one hand, it could have chosen to interpret technical instruction along the lines which the City and Guilds Institute had previously adopted, and in so doing promoted both practical and theoretical craft instruction. Instead, basing its interpretation on the work of the Science and Art Department, Government chose to offer a wider definition whereby technical instruction embraced the study of 'modern' as opposed to 'traditional' subjects. Although the word 'technical' was still used, its former meaning became largely redundant under the terms of the Act. 'Technical' now meant modern languages, commerce, science, teacher training, and where local demands so required, other subjects such as agriculture. It also embraced technology, but this was only a part of the new, 'modern' education.

It would be unfair to criticise Middlesex for misinterpreting technical instruction: an interpretation had already been implied by the wording of the Act. Although Middlesex can rightly be accused of meanness

[page 125]

and lack of enterprise, the nature of the education provided for under the Act was similar to the provisions made by other county councils: only the quantity of that provision can be questioned. However, the original definition of technical instruction, and the crying need for State support in this area remained pertinent. Government patently failed to make adequate provision for the teaching of craft skills, and Middlesex failed to compensate in any way.

Thus whilst criticism must be levelled against Middlesex, in the final analysis the TEC only reflected Government's ill-defined, tentative approach. Britain had achieved so much in the early nineteenth century with so little education that she felt no need to create the educational infrastructure which her potential competitors were building in advance of their industrialisation.

In her address to the Royal Society, Professor Gowing pointed to two fundamental reasons to explain why science and technology were so neglected in Victorian Britain (1). In the first place, the problem was quite simply that of money: neither the State nor industrialists were prepared to subsidise technical instruction. Even when the Samuelson Report of 1868 recommended that some money should be made available, they were quick to point out that State aid should be temporary, and that its complete withdrawal would best demonstrate its success.

The second reason cited by Gowing is England's obsession with social class. Whilst the importance of training artisans was finally acknowledged, those ranking below or above that status were largely ignored. No provision was made for either managers or workmen to be educated

(1) Gowing, op. cit., pp 80-86

[page 126]

and trained at the State's expense. The great public schools for the upper classes retained a strong bias in favour of the classical and literary culture, and when public or grammar schools introduced a 'modern' side, it was despised as inferior and commercial, a fit preparation only for the lower walks of life (1). Eminent engineers rapidly acquired high social positions and great influence, but as individuals, without raising the status of their profession. Gowing continues:

In some other European nations class divisions were as rigid, and in France, for example, much more bitter. But in no other Western country did the class differences prevent scientific and technical education from permeating national life (2).
In the light of what was said before 1889, and what has since been said about technical instruction, Victorian attitudes persist. The issue of resources and the problem of social class and social values identified by Gowing remain. In higher education, the polytechnics, created deliberately to provide a wide range of full and part-time courses with close links with industry have, with only a few exceptions, increasingly shed their 'low level' work and developed arts courses in profusion (3). Technical education has unashamedly been relegated to an inferior status. Britain's upper and middle classes show that same lack of sustained interest in technological education which was characteristic of their nineteenth-century forebears. The old academic pecking order has retained its vigour and new institutions are drawn irresistibly into line.

(1) Royal Commission on Secondary Instruction, PP 1872, Vol 25, question 1734, cited in Gowing, op. cit., p 82

(2) Gowing, op. cit., p 84

(3) Bryan Davies MP, letter to The Times Higher Education Supplement, 28th January 1977

[page 127]

Technical education retains its advocates; the relationship between industry, education and the State is widely debated; industrialists continue to accuse educationalists of failing to produce people whose skills and knowledge equip them for life in an industrialised society. The pessimistic words of Dr Michael Fores of the Department of Trade and Industry appropriately conclude this special exercise:

To the aristocrat in all of us Britons, the market is really rather a nasty place, unless it deals in historical relics or obvious necessities like food. I still think that our culture is faulty because it biases a ranking of occupations, by esteem, too far away from making useful artefacts, and too near to the fine arts and science too.

Arnold Toynbee, in his last book, claimed, as a true upholder of British cultural assumptions, that feelings, thoughts, institutions, ideas and ideals are all "more important manifestations of human nature than technology". And so we slip from crisis to crisis (1).

(1) Dr M Fores , letter to The Times Higher Education Supplement, 9th March 1977

[page 128]


Appendix I

Timetable of the Paris Municipal Apprenticeship School for Boys

[click on the image for a larger version]

[page 129]

Appendix II

Institutions and towns in the UK visited by the Royal Commissioners on Technical Instruction

University of London
Kings College
Normal School of Science and Royal School of Mines, South Kensington
Museum of Practical Geology
National Art Training School
Science and Art Department
City and Guilds of London Polytechnic
Young Men's Christian Institute
Royal Indian Engineering College
Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Crystal Palace School of Engineering
Barrow in Furness
Glasgow Edinburgh
Ireland (Dublin, Cork and Belfast)

[page 130]

Appendix III

Statutes at Large, 52 and 53 Vict. 1889. pp 384-388


30th August 1889

1 Power for local authority to supply or aid the supply of technical instruction

(1) A local authority may from time to time out of the local rate supply or aid the supply of technical or manual instruction, to such extent and on such terms as the authority think expedient, subject to the following restrictions, namely:-

(a) The local authority shall not out of the local rate supply or aid the supply of technical or manual instruction to scholars receiving instruction at an elementary school in the obligatory or standard subjects prescribed by the minutes of the Education Department for the time being in force;

(b) It shall not be required, as a condition of any scholar being admitted into or continuing in any school aided out of the local rate, and receiving technical or manual instruction under this Act that he shall attend at or abstain from attending any Sunday school or any place of religious worship, or that he shall attend any religious observance or any instruction in religious subjects in the school or elsewhere: Provided that in any school, the erection of which has been aided under this Act, it shall not be required, as a condition of any scholar being admitted into or continuing in such school, that he shall attend at or abstain from attending any Sunday school or any place of religious worship, or that he shall attend any religious observance or any instruction in religious subjects in the school or elsewhere;

(c) No religious catechism or religious formulary, which is distinctive of any particular denomination, shall be taught at any school aided out of the local rate, to a scholar attending only for the purposes of technical or manual instruction under this Act, and the times for prayer or religious worship, or for any lesson or series of lessons on a religious subject, shall be conveniently arranged for the purpose of allowing the withdrawal of such scholar therefrom;

(d) A local authority may, on the request of the school board for its district or any part of its district, or of any other managers of a school or institution within its district, for the time being in receipt of aid from the Department of Science and Art, make, out of any local rate raised in pursuance of this Act, to such extent as may be reasonably sufficient, having regard to the requirements of the district, but subject to the conditions and restrictions contained in this section, provision in aid of the technical and manual instruction for the time being supplied in schools or institutions within its

[page 131]

district, and shall distribute the provision so made in proportion to the nature and amount of efficient technical or manual instruction supplied by those schools or institutions respectively;

(e) Where such other managers of a school or institution receive aid from a local authority in pursuance of this section, the local authority shall, for the purposes of this Act, be represented on the governing body of the school or institution in such proportion as will, as nearly as may be, correspond to the proportion which the aid given by the local authority bears to the contribution made from all sources other than the local rate and money provided by Parliament to the cost of the technical or manual instruction given in the school or institution aided;

(f) If any question arises as to the sufficiency of the provision made under this section, or as to the qualification of any school or institution to participate in any such provision, or as to the amount to be allotted to each school or institution, or as to the extent to which, or mode in which, the local authority is to be represented on the governing body of any such school or institution, the question shall be determined by the Department of Science and Art: Provided that no such provision, out of any rate raised in pursuance of this Act, shall be made in aid of technical or manual instruction in any school conducted for private profit; and

(g) The amount of the rate to be raised in any one year by a local authority for the purposes of this Act shall not exceed the sum of one penny in the pound.

(2) A local authority may for the purposes of this Act appoint a committee consisting either wholly or partly of members of the local authority, and may delegate to any such committee any powers exercisable by the authority under this Act, except the power of raising a rate or borrowing money.

(3) Nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to interfere with any existing powers of school boards with respect to the provision of technical and manual instruction.

2 Provision for entrance examination

It shall be competent for any school board or local authority, should they think fit, to institute an entrance examination for persons desirous of attending technical schools or classes under their management or to which they contribute.

3 Parliamentary grants in aid of technical instruction

The conditions on which parliamentary grants may be made in aid of technical or manual instruction shall be those contained in the minutes of the Department of Science and Art in force for the time being.

[page 132]

4 Provisions as to local authorities

(1) For the purposes of this Act the expression "local authority" shall mean the council of any county or borough, and any urban sanitary authority within the meaning of the Public Health Acts.

(2) The local rate for the purposes of this Act shall be-

(a) In the case of a county council, the county fund;

(b) In the case of a borough council, the borough fund or borough rate;

(c) In the case of an urban sanitary authority not being a borough council, the district fund and general district rate, or other fund or rate applicable to the general purposes of the Public Health Acts;

(3) A county council may charge any expenses incurred by them under this Act on any part of their county for the requirements of which such expenses have been incurred.

(4) A local authority may borrow for the purposes of this Act -

(a) In the case of a county council, in manner provided by the Local Government Act 1888 (51 & 52 Vict. c. 41):

(b) In the case of a borough council, as if the purposes of this Act were purposes for which they are authorised by section one hundred and six of the Municipal Corporations Act 1882 (45 & 46 Vict. c. 50), to borrow:

(c) In the case of an urban sanitary authority not being a borough council, as if the purposes of this Act were purposes for which they are authorised to borrow under the Public Health Acts.

5 Audit of accounts of aided schools

Where the managers of a school or institution receive aid from a local authority in pursuance of this Act, they shall render to the local authority such accounts relating to the application of the money granted in aid, and those accounts shall be verified and audited in such manner as the local authority may require, and the managers shall be personally liable to refund to the local authority any money granted under this Act, and not shown to be properly applied for the purposes for which it was granted.

6 Audit of accounts of urban sanitary authority

The accounts of the receipts and expenditure of an urban sanitary authority under this Act shall be audited in like manner and with the like incidents and consequences, as the accounts of their receipts and expenditure under the Public Health Act 1875.

7 (Relates specifically to Ireland)

[page 133]

8 Meaning of technical and manual instruction

In this Act -

The expression "technical instruction" shall mean instruction in the principles of science and art applicable to industries, and in the application of special branches of science and art to specific industries or employments. It shall not include teaching the practice of any trade or industry or employment, but, save as aforesaid, shall include instruction in the branches of science and art with respect to which grants are for the time being made by the Department of Science and Art, and any other form of instruction (including modern languages and commercial and agricultural subjects), which may for the time being be sanctioned by that Department by a minute laid before Parliament and made on the representation of a local authority that such a form of instruction is required by the circumstances of its district.

The expression "manual instruction" shall mean instruction in the use of tools, processes of agriculture, and modelling in clay, wood, or other material.

9 Extent of Act

This Act shall not extend to Scotland.

10 Short title

This Act may be cited as the Technical Instruction Act 1889.

[page 134]

Appendix IV

Census return 1901

Analysis of the figures relating to the employment of the inhabitants in the County of Middlesex. Figures apply to all persons of both sexes of 10 years of age and upwards engaged in the different classes of employment.

Class of OccupationMalesFemalesTotal
Building Trades366701436684
Food and Lodging20605473625368
Miscellaneous work17609119018799
Metals and Machines1414318914332
Agriculture and Horticulture1202270612728
Paper, printing, etc698314568439
Precious metals56797546433
Wood, furniture etc58473356182
Textiles, fabrics, etc331027066016
Brick, Glass, etc20131142172
Gas, water and electricity209312094
Skin and leather15502711821

Figures taken from Middlesex Technical Education Committee Minute Book 14, p 182

[page 135]


1. MS Primary Sources

Greater London Record Office, Middlesex Section:

Middlesex County Council Minutes, Vols 1-22, 1889-1902
Middlesex County Council Technical Education Committee Minutes, Vols 1-15, 1892-1903
Middlesex County Council Education Committee Minutes, Vol 1, June-December 1903

2. Printed Primary Sources

(a) Greater London Record Office, Middlesex Section:

Middlesex County Council Education Committee Minutes, Vol. 21, 1920
Middlesex County Yearbooks, 1891-1902
National Association for the Promotion of Technical and Secondary Education in England and Wales Yearbooks, 1892-1903

(b) House of Lords Records Office:

Report of the Samuelson Inquiry Commissioners on Technical Education, 1867, PP 1867, Vol 20
Reports of the Royal Commissioners on Technical Instruction, PP 1882, Vol 27, and PP 1884, Vols 29-31
Technical Instruction Act, Statutes at Large, 52 and 53 Vict., 1889
An Act to Amend the Law Relating to Technical Instruction, Statutes at Large, 55 Vict., 1891
Local Taxation (Customs and Excise Act), Statutes at Large, 53 and 54 Vict., 1890

[page 136]

(c) British Museum Newspaper Library:

The Times, 13th October 1851 and 16th May 1884
Middlesex County Times, 21st January 1928

(d) Polytechnic of Central London Library:

Magnus, P, Educational Aims and Efforts, London: 1910
Magnus, P, Industrial Education, London: Keegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1888
Wood, E M, Quintin Hogg, A Biography, London: Nisbet & Co., 1904

3. Secondary Sources


Argles , M, South Kensington to Robbins, London: Green & Co., 1964
Ashby, E, Education for an Age of Technology, in Singer, C, et al, A History of Technology, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958
Bagley, J J and A J, The State and Education in England and Wales, 1833-1968, London: Macmillan, 1969
Cardwell, D S L, The Organisation of Science in England, London: Heinemann, 1922 (revised edition)
Foden, F, Philip Magnus, Victorian Educational Pioneer, London: Valentine Mitchell, 1970
Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire, London: Penguin, 1977, (revised edition)
Jackson, A A, Semi Detached London, London, George Allan & Unwin, 1973
Maclure, J S, Educational Documents, England and Wales, 1816 to the Present Day, London: Methuen, 1973, (revised edition)
Millis, C T, Technical Education: Its Aims and Development, London: Edward Arnold & Co., 1925
Radcliffe, C, Middlesex, London: Evans Brothers Ltd., 1939

[page 137]

Robbins, M, Middlesex, London: Collins, 1953
Saul, S B, The Myth of the Great Depression, 1873-1896, London: Macmillan, 1969
Taylor, A J, Laissez-faire and State Intervention in Nineteenth-Century Britain, London: Macmillan, 1972
Van der Eyken, W, Education, The Child and Society, London: Penguin, 1973
Wood, A, Nineteenth Century Britain, 1815-1914, London: Longman, 1973 (revised edition)
Wood, E M, A History of the Polytechnic, London: Macdonald, 1965

Articles, Journals, Periodicals, etc.

(a) Published

Argles, M, "The Royal Commission on Technical Instruction, 1881-1884, Its Inception and Composition", in The Vocational Aspect of Secondary and Further Education, Vol XI, No 23, 1959, pp 97-104
Gowing, M, "Science, Technology and Education: England in 1870", in Records of the Royal Society, Vol 32, 1977
Kilburn Polytechnic Prospectus, 1977
Musgrave, P W, "Constant Factors in the Demand for Technical Education, 1860-1960", in British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol XIV, No 2, May 1966, pp 173-87
Musgrave, P W, "The Definition of Technical Education, 1860-1910", in The Vocational Aspect of Secondary and Further Education, Vol XVI, No 34, 1964, pp 105-11
The Times Higher Education Supplement, 28th January 1977 and 9th March 1977

(b) Unpublished

Blanchet, J, Science, Craft and State, 1867-1906 (PhD thesis)
Committee of Directors of Polytechnics, Committee papers 1977, St/51

[page 138]

Old, C L, The Engineer and Society in Victorian Britain, paper presented to the Council of Engineering Institutions, 1965

(c) Oral evidence

Interview with Mr J T Fielding, 18th and 19th June 1977