1. Science and Art Department
During the 19th century the development of technical education occurred largely at the instigation of the Science and Art Department of the Board of Trade, formed in 1853 as an expanded version of the Department of Practical Art. Three years later the Science and Art Department was transferred to the Education Department but continued to function independently. It was not fully absorbed until the formation of the Board of Education in 1899.
The Science and Art Department was responsible for administering grant-aid to art schools from (1856) and to schools of design and technical schools (from 1868). This system of 'South Kensington grants' encouraged the teaching of science, initially through evening classes. From 1859 the department examined science teachers but took no part in their training. Until 1865 art school staff were required, in order to earn government recognition, to teach elementary school children.
Surviving correspondence between the Board of Trade and schools of design is in BT 1. Minutes of meetings of the Science and Art Department between 1852 and 1876, when they were discontinued, are in ED 28. The more important files relating to the Royal College of Art are with the establishment files (browse by hierarchy from ED 23/16), with later material (post 1944) in ED 167. ED 29 contains the Building Grant Files (see below). Correspondence and papers relating to art and science buildings are in WORK 17, with plans in WORK 33.
Technical education was considered by several Royal Commissions in the latter part of the last century. The Royal Commission on Scientific Instruction and the Advancement of Science (Devonshire Commission), appointed in 1870 and producing eight reports, examined the work of existing institutions giving scientific instruction. For full details see the Parliamentary Papers website (institutional subscription required) and search for papers HC 1882 xxvii; 1884 xxix, xxx, xxxi. A further Royal Commission on Technical Instruction (Samuelson Commission) reported in 1884 (HC 1882 xxvii; 1884 xxiv, xxx, xxxi). This investigative activity led in part to the Technical Instruction Act 1889, which permitted local authorities to levy rates to aid technical or manual instruction. The distribution of aid was controlled by technical instruction committees of the recently formed county or county borough councils. The new councils began to provide technical instruction both by day and evening classes. Additional financial aid was provided by the Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act 1890, which diverted 'whisky money' from publicans to local authorities for assisting technical education or relieving rates. It was administered through the Science and Art Department. The bulk of the papers relating to the provisions stemming from this Act has been destroyed; surviving files are in ED 46.
2. Education Act 1902
By the end of the nineteenth century a variety of forms of continuative education was available, whether technical, part-time, adult or further education, provided by a variety of bodies. It included day-release, evening schools, mechanics institutes, schools of art, polytechnics, university extension lectures, tutorial classes and various forms of working men's colleges and courses. With the passing of the Education Act 1902 changes were made in the conditions governing the award of parliamentary grant to encourage the expansion of technical education. Technical and continuative education became associated as Local Education Authorities (LEAs) took over most of the evening continuation schools, whether previously run by school boards, technical instruction committees or private bodies. Codes of Regulations governing the recognition of various forms of continuative, technical and further education were issued by the Board of Education for grant purposes.
Payment of a special grant for practical instruction in domestic subjects was first authorised under the Code of Regulations for Elementary Schools in 1875 and foreshadowed similar arrangements for other practical subjects. New provisions were introduced in 1906 awarding grants for each course of instruction. Papers relating to the provision of these courses in both elementary and secondary schools are in ED 70, with the LEA complementary series of files in ED 96.
3. Trade Schools and vocational courses
The need for preliminary technical education for young persons in preparation for employment in particular trades had been accepted from the end of the 19th century. These 'Trade Schools', which provided courses for boys and girls for two or three years after leaving public elementary schools, were recognised by the Board of Education in 1913 along with the Regulations for Junior Technical Schools. These Regulations were subsequently incorporated in the Regulations for Technical Schools, Schools of Art and other forms of provision for Further Education in 1914 and succeeding Regulations until the Education Act 1944 established the schools as an integral part of secondary education. Files on these schools are in ED 98.
The provision of technical education by means of day or evening classes or part-time or full-time vocational courses was regarded, for the purposes of the Regulations for Technical Schools 1905 and subsequent Regulations for Further Education 1926, as constituting a 'school' (until the term was redefined by the 1944 Act). One hundred and 11 such 'schools' existed by 1912 and files on them are in ED 82. Some subsequently sought recognition as Junior Technical Schools (ED 98).
Between 1920 and 1987 Joint Committees with representatives from technical colleges, professional bodies, the Board of Education and its successors, and teachers' organisations were established to oversee curricula and the award of National Certificates and Diplomas in vocational subjects. In 1967 the Haslegrave Committee was appointed to review this system. Following its recommendations, in 1973 responsibility passed to the Technician Education and Business Education Councils and the Joint Committees gradually disbanded. Minutes and papers of the Joint Committees are in ED 182. The proposal to set up the Haslegrave Committee is in ED 46/917 and ED 163 contains its minutes, papers and evidence. A copy of the report is in ED 163/35 with comments and implementation files in ED 212/52-55 and 117-119.
4. Technical colleges
Higher technical education involving prolonged courses of study was encouraged by the provision of a fixed annual grant to technical institutions. The work and organisation of those institutes, subsequently described as Technical Colleges (i.e. Colleges for Further Education as defined in the Regulations for Further Education 1926 and 1934), are reflected in the Technical College Files (ED 90). These papers also contain information on Grouped Course Certificates, a scheme initiated in 1907-8, and on applications for approval of National Certificate courses, which replaced the earlier scheme after the First World War. ED 182 contains the records of Joint Committees which administered National Certificate and National Diploma courses until the 1980s.
5. Evening institutes
The merging of evening continuation and evening technical school provision after 1902 resulted in LEAs and other managing bodies providing, within the terms of the Regulations, part-time day and evening courses, including day continuation classes and courses at works schools and elsewhere in a variety of vocational, domestic, art and general subjects. The files on these Evening Institutes, as they became known after 1926, are in ED 41; few papers survive prior to 1918.
6. Day continuation schools
The Education Act 1918 (Fisher Act) and the Education Act 1921 provided for compulsory part-time attendance at day continuation schools by school-leavers between 14 and 18. The system only ever came into partial operation and attendance reverted to the voluntary system as practised before 1918. Information on the provision, organisation and curriculum of the schools, together with correspondence and minutes on various local arrangements, is on the day continuation school files (ED 75).
7. Tutorial classes
Tutorial classes evolved from the fusion of interests of the Workers' Educational Association and the University of Oxford in a movement to expand facilities for adult liberal education. The classes were recognised by the Board of Education in Regulations of 1908/9 and grant-aided. Papers relating to such recognition before 1924 have been destroyed; ED 73 contains the subsequent files, including material on university extension courses and lectures. Files on vacation courses, designed as short residential courses of one or two weeks' duration, provided by 'Responsible Bodies' and subject to the same regulations and conditions as tutorial classes, are in ED 76.
Part of this same university extension movement led to the establishment of residential facilities. The first such college to provide a one year course of liberal adult education was Ruskin College, Oxford, founded in 1899 to promote higher education among working men and women. Direct grants to these colleges began after the First World War, and were subsequently embodied in the Adult Education Regulations 1924 and Further Education Grant Regulations 1946. Surviving files are in ED 68, though few are extant prior to 1930.
8. Inspectors' reports
Some of Her Majesty's Inspectorate (HMI) reports on various technical schools, further education classes and colleges appear on the files of the individual institutions, but in general inspectors' reports for further educational establishments are in ED 114.
9. Developments since 1944
Major changes occurred after the Second World War. Junior technical schools, commercial schools and schools of art were fully integrated into the revised system of secondary education. At the further education level, ED 155 and ED 46 contain papers on local authority schemes for the establishment of county colleges. The need for greater collaboration between the universities and local authorities was acknowledged by the Percy Committee on Higher Technological Education (papers ED 46/295-296) and resulted in the establishment of national colleges providing training in specialised fields, developed from within existing institutions, with support from particular industries. ED 165 contains files on the policy decisions leading to the establishment of these colleges and recording their development and progress.
10. Robbins Committee
Until 1956 colleges offering further education were organised on a three tier system of regional, area and local colleges, with titles varying according to local preference and tradition. The white paper of that year on technical education (Cmd 9703 - see Parliamentary Papers website - institutional subscription required) proposed a four tier system, with colleges of advanced technology. In 1963 after the report of the Robbins Committee on Higher Education (papers in ED 116, ED 117 and ED 118; HC 1962-3 xi-xiv) these colleges, already removed from LEA control and financed by direct grant, were upgraded to technological universities, with degree-awarding status. ED 168 contains the files on major establishments.
11. Other technical colleges
Papers of other colleges in the technical field are in: ED 166 Major Direct Grant Establishments; ED 167 Major Art Establishments; ED 174 Agricultural Education Files. Also, the papers of the National Training College of Domestic Subjects (ED 164) have been presented to The National Archives. The College was founded in 1873 to promote knowledge of cookery, became a limited company in 1888, extended its range of subjects in 1902 and closed through lack of funds in 1961.
12. Henniker-Heaton Committee
The Henniker-Heaton Committee was appointed in 1962 to investigate opportunities for young people under eighteen to be released from work to attend technical education courses (day release). Minutes and papers of the committee are in ED 46/1008-1010, and ED 204/4 contains a copy of its report.
13. Adult education
The broad issue of non vocational adult education, including its financing and administration, was considered by the Russell Committee. It was set up in 1969 and reported in 1973. Adult Education: A Plan for Development (ED 175/25) covered all aspects of adult education and encouraged partnership between statutory and voluntary bodies. Agenda, minutes, papers and evidence submitted are in ED 175. Records of the Adult Literacy Resource Unit, set up in 1975, and its successors the Adult Literacy Unit and the Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Unit are available in FL 1-FL 3. After 1995 when it became the Basic Skills Unit records have been transferred to the University of London Institute of Education.