The evolution of technical education in nineteenth century England.

  • P. Keane

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis is concerned to show that, in the development of educational provision in England during the nineteenth century, the need for adequate technical education was a continuing incentive to change and growth, and that the role of the state in education during this period was by no means as clear-cut as has been widely supposed. The ending of statutory apprenticeship in 1814 did not mean the complete ending of state involvement in technical education. Far from it : the state maintained close supervision of various categories of apprenticeship (paupers, industrial training, etc.), and gave encouragement (moral, and increasingly, physical) to several voluntary educational movements (mechanics' institutes, the denominational societies). Nor did the important Education Act of 1870 mark, a sudden return of the state to the field of education : laissez-faire had long since been eroded by state support for teacher training, examinations, the Great Exhibition, and similar institutions. Moreover, much remained to be done after 1870 : it took a further generation of campaigning on behalf of technical education to produce a system with a substantial and well-equipped provision for technical education from school to universities. The tradition, based upon the experience of apprenticeship, that the only effective training for industry was practical, took a long time to wear down. By the time that technical education had become securely established, the machinery by which the state dispensed and supervized educational policy had itself come to require urgent overhaul, and in the consequent reform of educational administration in 1902 and the revised definition of spheres of education which followed the Balfour Act of that year, technical education declined in importance compared with the general extension of secondary education. A renewed stress on 'liberal' education and the tendency of technical education to continue its emphasis on practical training led to a more rigorous distinction between different types of secondary education, in which technical education suffered a decline in prestige.
Date of Award1970
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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