20 FEBRUARY 2018

The history of
Adult Learning in Inner London
from the late 1800s to the present day.

Member Christine Jones, who has been engaged with Adult Learning (AL) for 40 years, both as a student and as a professional, talked about the changes which have taken place in Inner London since the late 1800s.

Before 1900 there were 80 evening schools offering the same curriculum as day schools. By 1904 this number had risen to 395.

In 1888 County Borough Councils were created and in 1889 the Technical Instruction Act empowered local councils. In 1904 the London County Council became the education authority for the education needs of London.

A major reorganisation took place in 1913 aimed to “lift evening education to another place” converting evening schools to Institutes. There were 242 Institutes for men and women (not mixed) which also offered vocational training. From post WW1 through to post WW2, there were ongoing structural changes to the services available to Institutes, leading to the introduction of Youth Centres.

The number of places available for adults peaked in the mid-1970s but by 1981 the number of Institutes had fallen from 31 to 20.

The LCC was devolved in 1986. ILEA was abolished in 1990 and education became the responsibility of individual boroughs. In 1988 higher education was taken out of ILEA responsibility, followed by further education colleges in 1992.

In 1880 Croydon, adult schools were run by the Quakers. In 1945 there were 10 classes with 214 students and by 1946 there were 24 classes with 450 students. The first full programme, offering services across the Borough, was published in 1949/50. A mixed programme offering vocational courses plus 0 level maths and some languages was introduced in the 1970s.

Today, CALAT Croydon are the adult education providers offering more than 500 part-time courses in three venues across the Borough. These are a mix of academic, pre-vocational, vocational and recreational.

All local authorities are under pressure to cut funding which, inevitably, may impact adult education but, as a former AL professional, Christine remains optimistic for the future: “AL offers both economic and social benefits to individuals, local areas and communities as a whole.”

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