Secondary Education in England, 1870-1902: Public Activity and Private Enterprise

By John Roach | Go to book overview
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8

‘Our new Secondary Education…’

The phrase at the head of this chapter was used in the report of the Bryce Commission to describe the scientific and technical education which had grown up under the aegis of the Science and Art Department (DSA), founded in 1853 (BC I:102-3). The Charity Commissioners had, as we have seen, supported such studies in a number of endowed schools, though the old endowments could make only a minor contribution to solving what had become a major national problem. The sense that Britain was falling badly behind its European neighbours and commercial rivals was first clearly expressed in the 1860s, for example, by a parliamentary select committee in 1868 under the chairmanship of the Cleve-land ironmaster, Bernhard Samuelson.

Two royal commissions—on scientific instruction (Devonshire, 1870-5) and on technical instruction (Samuelson, 1881-4)—had recommended more science teaching in schools (see pp. 33-4), and by the early 1880s there was growing interest throughout the country in technical education. In 1887 the National Association for the Promotion of Technical (and Secondary) Education (NAPTSE) was founded. Its secretaries were the chemist Henry Roscoe, who had been a member of the Samuelson Commission, and the Liberal MP, A.H.D. Acland, who was to be Vice-President of the Committee of Council in the Liberal governments of 1892-5. The National Association was an important pressure group, and its journal, the Record, is a mine of information on new developments. Only a year after its creation came the establishment of the county and county borough councils (1888), which, through their technical instruction committees, were to play such an important part in the progress of education during the 1890s.

In the discussions of the time ‘technical’ education was interpreted in very wide terms. One major area was that of the further education of working adults, usually in evening classes. A major landmark here was the foundation of the City and Guilds of London Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education, incorporated in 1880, the technological examinations of which set new standards for technical and trade training. The London Polytechnics, beginning with Quintin Hogg’s

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