English Further Education policy up to 1993
: the changing roles of central and local government and local Further Education consequences

  • A. B. Webster

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy


Local authorities were involved in Further Education (FE) from 1889 to 1993, but it was not until 1944 that LEAs were obliged to provide facilities for FE. This study considered economic, political and social factors when examining changes in the roles of central and local government and other policy changes. Such factors included national economic policies, recessions, two World Wars, and changes in dominant political views. Policy changes and local implementation were examined by analysing contemporary national and local documents. The Local Education Authority (LEA) chosen for investigation in this study was Worcestershire which, after the reorganisation of local government in 1974, joined Herefordshire and the County Borough of Worcester to become the County of Hereford and Worcester. The Worcestershire FE College selected was Redditch College, which merged with North Worcestershire College in 1988 to form North East Worcestershire College.

Changes in the relationship between central and local government were brought about by legislation and from 1964 by the introduction of agencies, such as the Manpower Services Commission. These agencies were established as one way of increasing the number of skilled workers. However, they also reduced the LEAs‟ control of FE, because they had to approve some FE college courses and provided funding. The advent of the Audit Commission in the mid-1980s further reduced the LEAs‟ control of the FE sector and ensured LEAs focused more closely on efficiency measures than they had previously. Legislation in 1968 and 1988 reduced the proportion of governors who could be LEA representatives. The movement away from local control exercised by elected politicians meant that central government had greater control over the implementation of FE policy. From the 1980s the Conservative Government‟s policy included developing a quasi-market in FE, while from the mid-1980s a new business discourse was found in both national and local FE documents.

Since the 1860s governments have frequently regarded an inadequately skilled workforce as the reason for Britain becoming less economically competitive. One solution offered was raising the school leaving age, so that more pupils would be able to benefit from a scientific or technical education. It took from 1918 to 1972 for the school leaving age to be raised from 14 to 16. Compulsory part-time day courses for school leavers until they were 18 were proposed in 1918, and also recommended in 1943 and 1959, but they did not materialise. With the constant decline of manufacturing, fewer unskilled jobs and the increased complexity of skills required, the 2008 Education and Skills Act planned that by 2015 16 and 17 year olds would have to undertake some form of education or training until they are 18. The analysis in this study suggested some of the problems that might be encountered. While there was government exhortation for a more qualified workforce, there was less enthusiasm for making it compulsory that FE lecturers should have a teaching qualification. Some explanations were offered for this state of affairs until 2001.
Date of Award2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
  • University of Worcester
SupervisorKate MacDonald (Supervisor), Frank Crompton (Supervisor) & Anton Polan (Supervisor)

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