Secondary Technical School
A Secondary Technical School was a type of secondary school in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 that existed in the mid-20th century under the Tripartite System
Tripartite System
The Tripartite System was the arrangement of state funded secondary education between 1944 and the 1970s in England and Wales, and from 1947 to 2009 in Northern Ireland....

 of education. For various reasons few were ever built, and their main interest is on a theoretical level.

The 1944 Butler Education Act
Education Act 1944
The Education Act 1944 changed the education system for secondary schools in England and Wales. This Act, commonly named after the Conservative politician R.A...

 promised a secondary schooling system with three tiers. In addition to grammar schools and secondary moderns
Secondary modern school
A secondary modern school is a type of secondary school that existed in most of the United Kingdom from 1944 until the early 1970s, under the Tripartite System, and was designed for the majority of pupils - those who do not achieve scores in the top 25% of the eleven plus examination...

, the government intended there to be a series of ‘Secondary Technical Schools’. These would teach mechanical, scientific and engineering skills to serve industry and science.

In 1944 these schools existed only on paper, and had not yet been built. But whereas the other two branches of the tripartite system would be built over the next decade, the technical schools barely materialised. At their peak, only 2-3% of children attended one. As a result, in most LEA areas, pupils were not selected from the eleven plus
Eleven plus
In the United Kingdom, the 11-plus or Eleven plus is an examination administered to some students in their last year of primary education, governing admission to various types of secondary school. The name derives from the age group for secondary entry: 11–12 years...

 as originally proposed, but from a separate, voluntary set of examinations taken at the age of 12 or 13.

Technical schools were a modest success, given their limited resources and lack of government attention. Their curriculum was well shaped for dealing with real world employment, and had a solid practical edge. The schools had good links with industry and commerce. In many ways, the technical school was the forerunner of today’s City Technology College
City Technology College
In England, a City Technology College is a state-funded all-ability secondary school that charges no fees but is independent of local authority control, being overseen directly by the Department for Education....


Other than a simple lack of resources, three reasons have been proposed for the failure of the technical school. Trade Unions
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 felt that technical education was their responsibility, mainly through the apprentice system. It is argued that they tried to undermine the technical school from the outset to preserve their own position. The second focuses on the difficulty of obtaining teachers who had skills in the relevant areas. The third reason is that the schools were consciously designed as being for those not suitable for high academic attainment. This meant that they had lower status than grammar schools and were seen as second best to them. They were used in many cases for borderline pass/fail results in the 11+.
In any case, some people believe that the failure to create the technical schools represents a lost opportunity in the history of British education.
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