Published in Education

An essay submitted by Andrew William Panton, M.A. Dip.Ed. as course work on the Diploma in Education Management course at Bristol Polytechnic 1973-74.

With reference to educational organisations, comment on the influences affecting the balance to be achieved between structural differentiation and integration.
In common with other organisations, educational institutions require a structure through which their activities, resources and formal authority may be both allocated and coordinated. Indeed, it is only by this conscious process of organisation structuring that their stated objectives are achieved. Such structuring involves two distinctive modes of operation: differentiation and integration. Because a school incorporates many variable and diverse activities, structural differentiation is required in order that its discrete objectives may be achieved. This differentiation necessitates the allocation of objectives, resources and authority into sub-units of the organisation. However, although every member of the organisation contributes something different, they must all contribute towards a common goal. Structural integration is therefore required in order to ensure that the efforts of all staff pull in the same direction. Integration involves the coordination, evaluation and central control of the activities of sub-units.

Until recently, most schools were structured according to tradition. The organisation was divided into academic departments, and the only coordination considered necessary was provided by the head master and his deputy. This traditional structure emphasised the mode of differentiation and implied an assumption that, if the discrete objectives of the school were attended to by the sub-units, the overall objectives of the school would be achieved. This assumption was of course unjustified, although it must be said that in the small schools of the past almost any organisation sufficed to ensure that a minimum level of effectiveness was maintained. In the past decade, however, the organisational landscape of schools has changed considerably. The existence of so-called 'senior management teams' in our schools of today indicates that there is now a strongly perceived need for integration as a significant element in the organisation structuring of schools. This change can be seen to have occurred as a result of the following four factors: the increasing size of schools, the gradual comprehensivisation of secondary schools, the introduction of management techniques and the blurring of the frontiers of subject disciplines. These four factors have contributed to a very fluid situation as far as the organisation of schools is concerned. Innovations abound. No longer can a head master take his school's organisation structure for granted; indeed its design is one of his most pressing responsibilities. Before arriving at the structure he thinks most appropriate for his school, a head master must attempt to answer the following two questions: what are the optimum amounts of differentiation and integration required? and what elements in the organisation should be subject to each mode of operation? These are the central problems of organisation structuring.

In assessing the balance to be achieved between differentiation and integration, many factors and influences have to be taken into account. Peter F. Drucker writes:

"In discussing organisation structure, we have to ask both what kind of structure is needed and how it should be built. Each question is important; and only if we can answer both systematically can we hope to arrive at a  sound, effective and durable structure." (Peter F. Drucker, 'The Practice of Management', p.190.)

Drucker was writing about the organisation of commercial enterprises, but the general principles of his theory apply equally well to the organisation of schools. He continues:

" ... the starting point of any analysis of organisation cannot be a discussion of structure. It must be the analysis of the business. The first question in discussing organisation structure must be: What is our business and what should it be? Organisation structure must be designed so as to make possible the attainment of the objectives of the business for for five, ten, fifteen years hence.

"There are three specific ways to find out what kind of a structure is needed to attain the objectives of a specific business: activities analysis, decision analysis, relations analysis." (Peter F. Drucker, ibid. p.190.) 

This triple analysis could be profitably undertaken by the head master or principal of an educational organisation as the first stage of an exercise in organisation structuring.

It is natural to expect that the objectives of a school, college or other educational establishment should be manifested in the activities that it encompasses; equally one would expect that the organisational structure would reflect, and be partly determined by, those activities. Until recently, however, an analysis of activities would have been very unusual in a school. The traditional assumption that the functions of a school were fulfilled by its subject departments would have been unquestioned. In fact, the activities could never have been adequately analysed by the departmental structure, as the socialisation and selection functions of the teacher's role have always been with him. Although in the past these functions were carried out informally and with a minimum of institutional support, the size and nature of our modern secondary schools have been instrumental in bringing about an increasing formalisation of many of the teacher's diverse tasks. The following are just some of the areas of activity for which provision has to be made in the school's organisational structure:

1.  Curriculum.                                       8.  Vocational guidance.
2.  Reports and evaluation.                    9.  Liaison with other educational institutions.
3.  Discipline.                                        10.  Extra-curricular activities.
4.  Pastoral care.                                   11.  Safety precautions. 
5.  Staff development.                           12.  Financial administration.
6.  Examination administration.             13.  Maintenance of buildings. 

This list makes it abundantly clear that the business of a school is wider than classroom teaching and the preparation of children for examinations, although it is still generally accepted that these are their primary functions. These non-teaching functions can basically be reduced to two areas of activity - pastoral care and administration. Pastoral care involves concern for the individual needs of each pupil, and might include private counselling, liaison with parents, vocational guidance and discipline. The administrative aspects of the school's task centre around the management of all the resources and facilities that support the educational process. It is evident from this activities analysis that considerable differentiation is required in a school's organisational structure to provide the expertise to cope with such a diverse range of tasks. The increasing size of secondary schools has compelled structural recognition of these non-teaching functions: one finds heads of pastoral departments and bursars in many comprehensive schools who attend to the counselling and  administrative aspects, respectively. In addition to these diversifications in the traditional structure of schools, an activities analysis into the academic work of the school might suggest that the old breakdown of subject departments requires some modification. The classics department, a traditional feature of the structure of the old grammar school, may be obsolete in a comprehensive. New curricular areas, such as humanities and drama, that combine the work of previous departments, may be worthy of departmental status in a modern secondary school. The dilemma of the senior drama teacher in Nailsea (Comprehensive) School was sensitively portrayed by Elizabeth Richardson in her book, 'The Teacher, the School and the Task of Management'. Although he had the use of the services of six members of staff, the lack of departmental status for his subject weakened its ability to compete for timetable space with other more established subjects. Activities analysis involves calculating not just how many bottles there are, so to speak, but how much liquid goes into them. For only by knowing the size and importance of each sub-unit can the status of these sub-units relative to each other be assessed and the structural components of differentiation be determined. This question directly affects not only the structure of the school's organisation, but also the prestige and salaries of posts. Thus, while an analysis of the various separate areas of activity undertaken by the school is vital to enable the head master to differentiate his structure, an assessment of the importance of sub-units has implications for their integration.

The second analytical tool, mentioned by Drucker, for an investigation of organisational structure is a decision analysis. The kind and subject matter of the vast majority of the problems that arise in a school have a high degree of predictability. The nature of the decisions which these problems entail should determine who in the school's structure should take them. Four characteristics affect the nature of decisions. One of them is the degree of futurity in the decision. For how long is the school committed by it? The decision as to which books to order from the local library for use in pupil assignments can easily be reversed and does not commit anyone, whereas the purchase of an expensive set of textboooks or teaching materials from a small annual grant for books is a decision that is certain to have long-term consequences as regards teaching methods. One would therefore expect the latter decision to be taken at a higher level than the former. What is really significant here is not so much the importance of the decision, but the extent to which it may be reversed. The next characteristic of decisions to be considered is the impact of them on other areas of the school. A decision that affects only one area of activity may be taken at the lowest level, but otherwise it should be taken at a place in the structure that enables a thorough consideration of its consequences on all areas likely to be affected. A question of teaching method, however important, can be appropriately resolved within a subject department, whereas as problems of curriculum development cut across the departmental structure of the school, and decisions in this area must be taken or coordinated at a higher level, either by the top management group or by a staff committee. In matters of pupil; subject options it would be necessary to consult both pastoral and academic authorities, as well as of course parents, and responsibilities in this field must also reside at senior levels within the school. Another important characteristic of a decision is the degree to which ethical and social values enter into it. As the reputation of the school may be at stake where such values are involved, the decision should move to a higher level. Questions of pupil discipline are good examples of situations where decisions are affected by both ethical and social considerations. Decisions on the type of punishment to be used, and appropriate instances where such punishments may be applied, should be taken by the school's top management, although the application of the rules once they have been laid down may be left to junior staff. That some local education authorities have banned the use of corporal punishment is a significant illustration of the tendency for disciplinary questions to be decided high up in the structure of educational organisations. Finally, decisions can be analysed as to whether they are recurrent, rare or unique. The recurrent decision requires the establishment of a rule or decision in principle at the appropriate level, but the routine application of the rule to specific cases can be delegated to lower levels.  The rare or unique decision has to be referred to a senior level in order that its full implications may be thoroughly pondered. Futurity, impact, ethical content and frequency are, therefore, the four criteria through which an organisation can determine the nature of a decision. Such an analysis enables the head master of a school to construct a decision-making paradigm, or algorithm, into which incoming problems can be fed, and through which they can be processed. Furthermore, this decision analysis is fundamental to the task of organisation structuring:

"Analysing the foreseeable therefore shows both what structure of top management the enterprise needs and what authority and responsibility different levels of operating management should have." (Peter F. Drucker, ibid, p.195.)

Clearly the main implications of decision analysis for the organisation structuring of the school concern the integration aspects of the task.

The third analysis of use in assessing what kind of structure is required is a relations analysis. Like the decision analysis it furnishes the head master with data of use in determining how much integration the organisation requires. Relations analysis involves a study of how managers interact in an organisation. In schools, the task of a head of subject department, a pastoral head or a head of house relates upwards to the top management group and downwards to the teachers who are his subordinates. But the task also involves sideways relations. Heads of subject departments will be closely drawn together over matters of curriculum development and inter-disciplinary enquiry, and may have a variety of other reasons, such as the progress of individual pupils, to cause them to liaise. The heads of pastoral sections, where the pastoral system is a horizontal one, will need to coordinate their plans, and in a vertical system heads of houses will wish to discuss matters of joint interest. Furthermore, pupil subject option questions will be of joint interest to both subject and pastoral heads, and pupil progress will obviously be of combined concern to both as well. It is vital that all necessary working relationships are catered for in the formal structure of the school. Integration here can be provided by the top management team or by staff committees. Relations analysis helps to clarify how these areas of the structure should be staffed.

The three analyses just described enable the head master to obtain information as to the purposes for which both differentiation and integration in the organisational structure of the school are required. The next question which has to be asked in an organisation structuring exercise is how the structure should be built. This involves a consideration of the operational requirements that the management structure of the school has to fulfil. Chris Argyris in his book, 'Integrating the Individual and the Organization', asserts that all business enterprises have three core activities: 1) Achieving objectives; 2) Maintaining the internal system; and 3) Adapting to the external environment. Argyris goes on to define the effective organisation as one that is able "to accomplish its three core activities at a constant or increasing level of effectiveness with the same or decreasing increments of inputs of energy". Although Argyris was talking about business organisations, this definition can, mutatis mutandis, be applied equally well to schools and other educational organisations. To be successful, the management structure of a school must be able to hold its own in all three of Argyris' core activities. This trilateral approach to management will have implications for the way in which the management structure will be built.

The first requirement of the school's management structure is that it should directly facilitate the achievement of the school's objectives or goals. In schools, it is all too easy to forget the primary tasks of the organisation. Subsidiary tasks have an insidious habit of taking over. For instance, the school management may become so obsessed with the problem of thieving in the bicycle sheds that the educational progress of the pupil is temporarily forgotten. It is also important that the efforts of individual teachers should be channelled into those directions that will ensure the fulfilment of the school's aims. Schools abound, however, with teachers whose efforts are not so directed. There is the teacher whose pedantic attendance to detail in certain areas, such as marking, is often a mechanism of defence against real educational problems. Then there is the teacher, often elderly, whose main energies go towards the preservation of the prerogatives of his subject discipline and of his professional status. There is also the irritating 'robber baron' type of teacher, who changes everything and irritates everyone, and then, having asserted himself at everyone's expense, moves on to another school. Another problem teacher is the type who believes that the teaching of his subject specialism is his only task. He will teach geography to the highest standards possible, but will leave management to others. This type is a most serious problem, as such teachers often include the most able. Their exclusive concentration on one of the sub-goals of the institution, and the consequent deflection of the school's primary aim that such an attitude entails, are some of the main dangers that can stem from structural differentiation, and it is important that the efforts of all sub-units should be synchronised with, and not be destructive of, the common aim of the school. If the sub-units of the school are too sharply differentiated, the consequence will be that the perspective of each department becomes too narrow. Ignorance of, and antipathy towards, the work of another department may follow. It is a clear function of structural integration to ensure that the operations of sub-units do not become dysfunctional to the school as a whole. Denys John, the head master of Nailsea School, has written of the dangers of "a gulf developing between heads of department and pastoral staff". He believes that:

"While large schools need pastoral staff as much as as they need heads of departments, everything possible should be done to unite senior staff members in both roles. There are already influences and expectations which operate all too powerfully to divide them." (Denys John, 'Senior Staff Roles in Secondary Schools", in 'Trends', No ?, p.4)

Elizabeth Richardson explains how such integration was eventually achieved in the middle school of Nailsea: 

"Once Clive Vanloo was given authority over the curricular arrangements for the fourth year, it had to be recognised that his role included the coordination of house affairs and therefore placed him on the boundary that enclosed all house boundaries. It was in recognition of that reality that he was officially redesignated as 'head of middle school' in April 1969. Thenceforward the house heads and their tutorial staff had to recognise, as did other members of staff, that his role could no longer be associated only with the curricular side of the school's work, but had to be associated also with the pastoral side". (Elizabeth Richardson, 'The Teacher, the School, and the Task of Management', pp.136-7.)

Integration between the curricular and the pastoral aspects of the school's work was provided by a new post in the management team. However, just as structural differentiation can weaken the 'business performance' of a school by too sharp a focussing on the sub-goals of the institution, so also can it attenuate the school's ability to achieve its goals if it leads to a 'mushrooming' in the hierarchy of the organisation. For it is a cardinal organisation principle that a structure should contain the least possible number of management levels and forge the shortest possible chain of control. Drucker writes:

"Every additional level makes the attainment of common direction and mutual understanding more difficult. Every additional level distorts objectives and misdirects attention. Every link in the chain sets up additional stresses, and creates one more source of inertia, friction and slack." (Peter F. Drucker, ibid, p.200.)

A proliferation of posts in the school is likely to lead to a growth in the specialised nature of the work of most senior staff, a process which will be accompanied by centrifugal strains in the organisation. The specialised nature of a teacher's work may direct his vision and efforts away from the main objectives of staff consultation: 

"In any examination of the managerial structure of a school, the first question which must be considered is the role of the head and the manner in which he arranges for consultation with his colleagues and participation by them in the making of policy. Articles of Government in maintained schools place upon the head the ultimate accountability. But this does not imply that he should ignore the need to involve his colleagues in discussion about policy. Only by such discussion can staff members maintain and develop their stature as responsible professional people. However few policies are likely to be implemented successfully without the informed support of all the teachers involved. In the final analysis, this is going to mean that the entire staff group, however large, must participate in discussion." (Denys John. ibid.)

Staff consultation is an important integrating influence in the organisational structure of schools. The manner in which decisions shall be taken in the school can be systematically resolved. R.G.Owens in his book, 'Organizational Behaviour in Schools', suggests a 'Paradigm for Shared Decision Making'. The use of members of staff in setting the School's objectives and in subsequent decisions is an important method of motivating teachers. It is also important however that the senior management team of a school should not appear to be attracting to itself the rights and prerogatives that formerly belonged to the heads of departments or other posts in the organisational structure. Equally, a bureaucratisation that denies the practising teacher some of the freedoms he formerly held is undesirable. Wherever possible decisions should be taken by staff as a team, particularly in matters where previous rights may be affected. The sensitive treatment of personnel is vital to the success of an organisation, and the need to motivate staff in a positive manner is one of the most important influences affecting the balance between structural differentiation and integration. Too much differentiation will discriminate against the organisation, too much integration and direction will weaken the commitment of the staff towards the achievement of the school's aims.

Motivating the staff is one part of maintaining the internal system of the school; concern for staff development and for the progress of the individual teacher is another. Denys John has some interesting views on this need:

"The management of a school must obviously find ways of discharging this responsibility to offer opportunities to its staff to develop and grow. Three aspects of  this question may be worth mentioning. First,  the consultative procedures must be real. Effective participation which enables teachers to influence decisions also helps to ensure that they are well informed and aware of the issues. Secondly, the head (or a top management colleague) must devote time to the initiation of new members of staff, to discovering and utilising their particular skills and interests and to encouraging them to take advantage of particular courses of study. The same senior staff members may also be responsible for similar work with student teachers. At the same time he may be responsible for advising upon future career needs and perhaps promotion within the school of  more experienced teachers. Thirdly, the management structure of a school might well include a trainee level of responsibility. Such a grade of appointment (Burnham Scale 2 perhaps) could at one and the same time offer teachers in their third or fourth year of teaching some insight into the tasks of more experienced teachers as well as relieving those senior staff of the more routine aspects of the roles they discharge." (Denys John, ibid.)

Responsibility for staff development clearly enables structural differentiation if a member of the senior staff is to be designated to it. Such a post could be justified in a large school. However, staff development implies a limit on differentiation as too many specialised posts are likely to prejudice the training and testing of tomorrow's top managers, one of the essential functions of organisational structure. Although experience as a functional specialist may be necessary to a teacher early in his career, too great an exposure to a specialist will narrow him. He must also be put in positions where he can see the whole of the business of a school even if he does not carry much responsibility. The need for the head masters of the future to acquire experience of work involving integration earlier in their careers has important implications too for organisation structuring.

The third and final core activity of an organisation, according to Argyris, is the need to adapt to the external environment. In stable conditions it could be argued that this would present a school with few difficulties. However, in the last decade schools have had to contend with an unparalleled amount of change in almost every aspect of the educational enterprise. The need for an educational structure which is capable of managing innovation, and of responding to environmental instability, must be one of the head master's paramount concerns. It is all too easy for schools to be producer dominated, that is to produce what it is convenient for them to produce, and not to respond to society's changing demands. The continuous state of innovation that such such demands require necessitates changes in the managerial and organisational structure of the school. T.Burns and G.M.Stalker in their book, "The Management of Innovation", juxtapose two different types of management structure, identifiable at either end of a continuum: the 'mechanistic', or hierarchical structure, which is appropriate to stable conditions only, and the 'organic'or network structure, which is appropriate to changing conditions, which give rise constantly to to new and unforeseen problems. One of the weaknesses of mechanistic organisations is that differentiation follows structure: in times of great change such structures can become dysfunctional. The final integration of tasks, and the only comprehensive picture of the organisation, are the prerogative of the top of the hierarchy, while those members of the organisation who are carrying out the sub-tasks will tend to take a narrow view of the organisation and lack interest in its primary objectives. The problem arises that the man at the top of the structure is the only man to be able to initiate change, but he is largely insulated from the organisation's problems, and the specialised manager, while able to see many of the problems, lacks the overall or knowledge to enable him to take the action necessary to resolve them. In addition, the location of authority and control at the top of the hierarchy reduces subordinates' scope for initiative, and therefore their commitment.The characteristics of the organic structure are more suited to unstable conditions, encourage the teamwork approach, and reward individual enterprise. Authority, control and communication form a network, not a hierarchy, and responsibility is to the school as a whole, not to an immediate superior. The tendency in an organic structure for communications to be lateral, rather than vertical, is well illustrated by the system of committees in Denys John's school at Nailsea, which is described by Elizabeth Richardson. Such structures are stratified and the lead in joint decision-making will still fall to seniors. However, this will come not through the authority of office but through expertise, not just in a subject of discipline but through expertise, not just in a subject or discipline, but from ideas in the whole curriculum. Leadership in an organic structure involves looking for the team approach, and is characterised by the ability to work with a group of people. Curriculum development, and the related ideas of team teaching and inter-disciplinary enquiry, all require such an approach. The teamwork approach, characterised by the existence of a committee system within the school, is not only able to implement innovation effectively, but, due to the multi-specialised composition of its committees, is able to recognise and diagnose problems quickly, and to plan those changes that may alleviate them. The network structure is able to provide the necessary element of integration into the structure, while avoiding the crushing effects of a bureaucracy on individual initiative, and it is therefore likely to be more proficient than the mechanistic structure at enabling the school to respond to changes in its environment. 

The implications for the organisational structure of the school of the requirement to cater for the three core activities of all organisations have now been considered. The traditional structure of the secondary school, with its emphasis on differentiation, and with integration provided only at the top of the structure, is no longer fitted to cope with the numerous and diverse problems of today's large comprehensive schools. A new management structure is required that will focus on the three core activities of the organisation. In this new structure differentiation will always be necessary, but wherever possible such decentralisation should be federal and not functional. Subject departments will continue to be the basic sub-units of the school's resources (both staff and financial) so long, that is, as learning remains the primary objective. But the departmental structure should be subordinated operationally to sub-units that incorporate most of the school's functions. Upper, middle and lower schools, to which as much autonomy as possible in curricular and pastoral matters should be delegated, would provide a structure capable of fulfilling the necessary characteristics of the modern educational organisation. Only in such a horizontal structure can curricular and pastoral responsibilities be satisfactorily integrated. Although operational responsibility in the school would have been decentralised, the head of a section would have responsibilities across the whole range of the school's activities, and thus would provide him with excellent training for future employment as a head master. His position would enable him to integrate the curricular and pastoral activities of his section, and ensure that neither function could proceed independently of the other, and thereby distort the aims of the school. It is a very real danger today that too much of the teacher's expertise will be dissipated in pastoral or counselling work. The heads of these three horizontal sections would be in an excellent position to  integrate the curricular and pastoral work of teachers in their areas of responsibility. They could ensure both that pastoral activity was properly confined to supporting the learning process, and that the curricula provided for their respective sections were suited to the individual needs of pupils. This integrated approach should assist the school to achieve its overall goals. In addition, this federal decentralisation should be instrumental in helping the school to function effectively as regards its othe dnagersher core activities. The autonomy granted to sections and the encouragement of the teamwork approach should motivate teachers to greater efforts, while the horizontal structure of the school with its 'across the board' responsibilities should provide a greater responsiveness to change than is possible in a vertical structure. In addition, this structure would naturally facilitate staff development by involving teachers in a wide range of the school's activities. Such a structure would be complex in that it would necessitate the division of a teachers duties between section and department. For, although tutorial responsibilities could be limited to one section, the interests of most teachers will dictate that most of them will continue to teach throughout the school. The subject department will therefore be required to organise the learning process throughout the school. However, curricular policy should largely be left to the lower, middle and upper school sections. If subject departments were seen as providing a consumer service in support of these sections, rather than as having an independent operational existence of their own, the dangers of structural differentiation might be greatly reduced. Moreover, the diffusion of teaching duties throughout the school will also help to avoid any tendency for staff to ignore the needs of the other sections.

Just as differentiation in the school's structure is vital, so too is integration. Indeed, in the large school, the need for integration becomes more urgent. It is essential, however, that as much of this integration as possible should be provided by the practising teachers themselves rather than by a downbearing senior management team controlling the school on bureaucratic lines. Much of the necessary integration could be provided by a network of committees organised both within and across the boundaries of the horizontal sections. What, then, should be the composition of the senior management team, and what should be its functions? The team itself should be as small as possible, and should involve the minimum of structural levels. It would probably include the head master, the deputy heads, and the heads of the three sections previously discussed. Its main functions would be to ensure that all the task and group maintenance functions of the organisation are fulfilled, and that the work of the sub-units, both sections and departments, should be directly related to the aims of the school. Some key areas of the senior management team's responsibilities might be as follows: 

1.  Coordinating the activities of sub-units through an appropriate system of committees.
2.  Providing an information-seeking and monitoring service for the purposes of evaluation and innovation management.              
3.  Allocation and management of capitation grants to subject departments.
4.  Supply and maintenance of resources and facilities used by the school.
5.  Staff welfare and development.
6.  Public relations and liaison with other educational establishments.

Once they have ensured that the proper institutional support is provided, the members of the senior management team should interfere as little as possible in the processes by which the three sections seek to achieve their objectives. In short, they should ensure that the school is effectively managed, but not seek to fulfil all management functions themselves. As long, therefore, as structural integration is achieved primarily by teachers themselves working together as a team, rather than imposed upon them from above, it will be entirely beneficial.

A school which is decentralised into federal units, and which operates internally through a network control system that utilises the professional expertise of all members of staff, should be effective in fulfilling its core activities, and should achieve a satisfactory balance between differentiation and integration in its organisational structure. 


C. Argyris, 'Integrating the Individual and the Organization', (Wiley)

R.R. Blake and J.S. Moulton, 'The Managerial Grid', (The Gulf Publishing Co.)

T. Burns and G.M. Stalker,  'The Management of Innovation', (Tavistock Publications)

P.F. Drucker,  'The Practice of Management', (Heinemann)

D. John,  'Senior Staff Roles in Secondary Schools', (published in 'Trends')

E. Richardson,  'The Teacher, the School and the Task of Mangement', (Heinemann)

J. Walton (ed.),  'Curriculum organisation and design', (Ward Lock Educational)



Published in Education


The following notes were provided by Flight Lieutenant A.W. Panton, M.A. Dip. Ed. to students of English at the Education Centre at RAF Lyneham, Chippenham, Wilts between 1971 and 1974. For the circumstances in which this instruction occurred, please see the introduction to the item on this blog entitled "Strategy for Writing "O" Level History Essays", dated 4th February 2013. During this three year period Flight Lieutenant Panton prepared large numbers of RAF personnel to take the "O" Level examination in English Language. The courses were organised on a six monthly basis, with the examinations occurring in January and June each year. Lessons lasting approx, 90 minutes were offered to students on a weekly basis, but each lesson was held twice each week (i.e. on one morning and one evening) to enable airmen on night shift or absent on flying duties to attend one or other of the lessons. Sometimes as many as 50 examination entries were made in each six month cycle. In addition to "O" Level, airmen were prepared to sit the RAF Education Test in order to qualify for promotion (RAFET I for promotion to corporal; RAFET II for promotion to sergeant). English was a central component of these tests at both levels. In all these courses there was a need to provide personnel with some understanding of the building blocks of writing English, i.e. grammar, punctuation, sentence and paragraph construction. Teaching such concepts as these is never straightforward. Teaching grammar within the context of a single language is a particularly difficult and unrewarding task. At school grammar has by tradition been most effectively taught within the context of multiple language acquisition, i.e. English, Latin/Greek and French/German, as comparisons which pupils can readily make between these different languages aid the development of grammatical understanding. In the circumstances of adult education this is unlikely to be possible. At the same time, it is difficult to encourage adult students to make the necessary mental effort to correct any occasional grammatical 'howlers' that they may make, because, when a student's writing is approx. 80-90% correct, the incentive to make the effort to develop the understanding of grammatical concepts, which alone will facilitate a higher level of correctness, is likely to be absent. Nevertheless, Flight Lieutenant Panton strove to assist his students, many of whom were keen and willing to improve, and the notes set out below were offered to them in this context. The challenge was to give sufficient information to allow a student to develop the necessary understanding, without confusing him/her by unnecessary elaboration.

Notes on the following topics are set out below:

Parts of Speech;

Sentence Construction;

Punctuation of Sentences;

Punctuation of Dialogue;

Use of Apostrophes;

Paragraphs; and

"O" Level English Language Comprehension Notes.


1.  Nouns - words used to refer to somebody, something, somewhere. etc. Nouns can be classified as:

a.  Proper nouns (e.g. Jackson, Birmingham, Chelsea Football Club) refer to a particular person, place, thing. Proper nouns always begin with a capital letter.

b.  Common nouns (e.g. table, general, horse) refer to people and objects of which there are many.

c.  Abstract nouns (e.g. beauty, fear, extravagance) refer to things which have no physical being but are qualities which exist in men's minds.

d.  Collective nouns (e.g. committee, herd, squadron) refer to groups of people or things.

2.  Pronouns -  when the identity of a person or thing has been understood, it is oftern inconvenient to repeat the noun. A pronoun can then be used in place of a noun (e.g. I, you, he, she, it, one, we, they, me, him, her, us, them, this, that, and the possessive pronouns: my, your, his, hers, its, one's, our, their).

3.   Verbs - words, used to express 'doing', 'being', 'having'. Verbs have:

a.  Tense  Verbs can refer to pastpresent or future time. (A good test of whether a word is a verb is to see whether it can have tense forms.)

b.  Number  Does it have a singular or plural subject?

c.  Voice  Is the subject of the verb carrying out, or suffering, the action? If the former, it is in the active voice; if the latter, it is in the passive voice.

NB  (1)  A verb can be transitive or intransitive. If it can be followed by an object, it is transitive, e.g. the boy threw the ball. If it cannot take an object, it is intransitive, e.g. the boy shouted. Intransitive verbs (e.g. come, go) cannot have a passive voice.

(2)  Many verbs are compound e.g. am striking, will be going, will have been completed. Compound verbs are made up of more than one word, but grammatically they are a single unit. The additional words are known as verbal auxiliaries.

4.  Adjectives - words used to describe a noun or pronoun, e.g:

a. The man is big.

b.  The big man.

c.  He is big.

5.  Adverbs - words used not only to describe verbs but also adjectives and other adverbs, e.g:

a.  He ran quickly.

b.  He ran in a very relaxed style.

c.  He ran really quickly.

NB.  Most adverbs are formed by adding '-ly' to the end of an adjective.

6.  Conjunctions - words that join together words or clauses.

a.  The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.

b.  He ran up the hill, but then sat down.

c.  Because he was tired, he sat down.

d.  I shall go home when I feel tired.

NB  'And', 'but', 'or' and 'nor' are co-ordinating conjunctions that join together clauses intocompound sentences (e.g. example b. above). Other conjunctions are subordinatingconjunctions and introduce subordinate clauses within complex sentences (e.g. examples c. and d. above).

7.  Prepositions - words, usually short, which indicate the relationship of two things: e.g:

a.  The man was on the table.

b.  I have come from London.

NB  Prepositions often introduce short phrases: e.g. In the middle of the night.

8.  Interjections - exclamatory words, e.g. Oh!, Alas!, Hello!. They are always followed by an exclamation mark (!).

NOTE - It is not possible to include in the above categories (a) Verbal Adjectives; (b) Verbal Nouns; (c) Infinitives:

a.  Verbal Adjectives (or Participles) are formed from a verb, have the sense of action, etc, of a verb, but are grammatically adjectives. They are also often used to introduce phrases: e.g:

1.  Singing as he went, the ploughboy walked to market. ('Singing' is a present participle.)

2.  He died unlamented ('Unlamented' is a past participle.)

b.  Verbal Nouns (or Gerunds) are formed from a verb, have the sense of action, etc, of a verb, but are grammatically nouns, eg.

The girl's singing was beautiful.

c.  Infinitives are the root or basic form of a verb, and are another type of verbal noun, eg.

I prefer to walk.



1.  Definitions

a.  A sentence is a unit of words, containing at least one main clause. It is situated between two full-stops.

b.  A clause is a unit of words containing a finite verb.

(1)  A main clause contains the main verb and may be a sentence by itself. It must make sense as a separate unit of grammar (i.e. have a subject and predicate, or complete naming and telling parts).

(2)  A subordinate clause tells you more about something in the main clause. Anadjectival (subordinate) clause tells you more about a noun or pronoun. Anadverbial (subordinate) clause tells you about the main verb. A subordinate clause can never make grammatical sense by itself, and is always attached to a main clause.

c.  A phrase is a unit of words not containing a verb. It is usually introduced by either apreposition or a participle. Phrases can occur in either main or subordinate clauses, where they do the work of adjectives or adverbs. Like a subordinate clause, a phrase can never make sense on its own.

2.  Types of sentence

a.  Simple sentence - consisting of a main clause only, e.g. I ran down the road.

b.  Compound sentence - consisting of two or more main clauses, e.g. (1) I ran down the road, but then I collapsed. (2) I awoke, rushed out of the house, and then ran down the road. 

c.  Complex sentence - consisting of a main clause and one or more subordinate clauses, e.g. When I awoke, I ran down the road, which was a mile long.

d.  Compound-complex sentence - consisting of more than one main clause plus any number of subordinate clauses, e.g. When I awoke, I ran down the road, which was a mile long, but then I collapsed because I had not had eaten breakfast.

NB. (1) One can always use short sentences to good effect, e.g. Then, I collapsed.

(2) Phrases can be inserted  in any of the above sentences, but without changing their type, e.g. a. Singing happily, I ran down the road. b. Without having had breakfast, I ran down the road. 

3.  Summary 

Sentence construction techniques provide the writer with the tools with which to join together his ideas. In an essay situation, the writer has the following options available within each sentence:

a.  Short sentences;

b.  Phrases introduced by prepositions or participles;

c.  Subordinate clauses introduced by subordinating conjunctions; and

d.  Co-ordinating conjunctions that join main clauses together in one sentence. 

4.  Considerations of style         

An attractive style of writing would produce variety by including all of these methods of connecting ideas. However, there are particular reasons for using each of these structural tools. Short sentences are useful to heighten drama or for the purpose of emphasis. Phrases are preferable to subordinate clauses where the latter would sound clumsy due to their length, but a subordinate clause is a more powerful means of expression than a phrase. Co-ordinating conjunctions are appropriate to join things which are not specifically related to each other in any particular way, but, where such a relation is present (e.g. time, cause, result, purpose, condition, concession), it is preferable to employ a subordinate clause.               



1.  Full-stops.

Full-stops are used to complete sentences, unless a question or exclamation mark is more appropriate.

2.  Commas.

The main purpose of commas is to analyse sentences into their component parts. The following observations are relevant in this context:

a.  It is not always necessary to insert commas for this purpose in the case of short sentences, e.g. I ran down the road and then stopped. However, commas should always be employed in long sentences, and/or where confusion might otherwise occur, e.g. Once midnight had struck, Sir Toby always maintained that he was up early, not late. 

b.  It is usual to separate a main clause from a subordinate clause with a comma when the subordinate clause comes first, e.g. Because he needed the money, the man slipped the petty cash into his pocket, but it is not necessary to do so when the main clause comes first, e.g. The man slipped the money into his pocket because he needed the money. N.B. The former sentence emphasises the cause more than the latter. 

c.  As commas create a slight pause in a sentence, they provide emphasis, eg. He reached the tape first but, because he was exhausted, he fainted immediately afterwards. N.B. If you have one comma with the 'because' clause, you must have another. The rule is either two commas or none. If the two commas had been omitted there would have been less emphasis on the cause of the fainting.

d.  In the case of adjectival clauses, commas are used when the clause adds information but is not necessary to distinguish the noun it describes, e.g. He ran down the road, which was a mile long. Where the adjectival clause is essential in distinguishing the noun it describes a comma should not be used, e.g. Of the two routes available to him, he ran down the one which was pointing towards Norwich. N.B. If any difficulty is experienced in determining whether the comma is needed or not, it is always possible to exchange the word 'that' for 'which' when the comma is not appropriate, but such an exchange is not possible when the information added by the adjectival clause is incidental and the comma is needed.

3.  Semi-colons.

It is possible to use semi-colons to separate parallel expressions that would normally be separated by commas with a co-ordinating conjunction, e.g. 'In the morning it was too cool for him to sit outside without his coat; in the afternoon it was too hot for him to be able to sit outside at all.' The semi-colon is also commonly used to divide items in a list introduced by a colon (see 4 below). In general, however, the use of semi-colons is an obsolete practice and it is preferable to avoid it.

4.  Colons.

The employment of the colon as a punctuation stop, so common in the King James' Bible, is now completely obsolete and it should not now be used in this way. Its incidence is now largely confined to its use at the beginning of a list of items, e.g. 'The headmaster decided that in future corporal punishment of pupils would be employed only in the following circumstances: insolence, including the use of foul language, directed towards members of staff; serious instances of bullying of other pupils; and bringing the school's name into disrepute by abusive behaviour towards members of the public on the way to and from school, or on school trips.' Notice the use of semi-colons to separate the items in the list of offences. 

5.  Question Marks.

It is important to remember to end a question with a question mark. A question mark is grammatically necessary even when the words used seem more like a request, e.g. 'Will you please stand back?' On the other hand a question mark must not be used when the question is in reported speech, e.g. 'Ask him who said that.'



Dialogue can be punctuated in four ways:

Type A:  The boy said, "Cricket is my favourite sport".

Type B:  "Cricket is my favourite sport," said the boy.

Type C:  "Cricket is my favourite sport," said the boy, "because it requires so much thought as well as skill".

Type D:  "Cricket is my favourite sport," said the boy. "It is a pity that some people don't enjoy it."

NB.  The actual spoken words (quotation) are always in inverted commas. The rest of the sentence is called the explanation.

Notice the following points:

1.  There is always a comma between the explanation and the quotation, and the quotation, or both parts of the quotation, where the explanation is inserted between them, always begins with a capital letter. 

2.  In Type D, two sentences are required because the actual spoke words would have been spoken in two sentences.

3.  The full-stop at the end of Types A and C falls after the inverted comma, because the sentence which it ends includes the explanation as well as the quotation. The full-stop at the the end of Type D falls before the inverted  comma, because the sentence which it ends is all within the quotation, i.e. the inverted commas.

Question and exclamation marks have the force of commas or full-stops - whichever is appropriate.


a.  "I love cricket!" said the boy. (Comma)

b.  "Do you love cricket too?" asked the boy. (Comma)

c.  The boy said, "I love cricket!" (Full-stop)

d.  The boy asked, "Do you love cricket too?" (Full-stop)

If a new paragraph is begun in a piece of dialogue or direct speech, it is customary to renew the inverted commas at the beginning of the new paragraph. Whenever a new speaker speaks, there is always a new paragraph.



1)  Apostrophes ( ' ) are used to show possession. To indicate possession the name of the possessor is followed by 'apostrophe s'. When the name of the person or thing that is in possession ends in an 's', the 's' after the apostrophe is left out if that word is plural and may be left out if it is singular.


a.  The boy's room.  (The room of the boy.)

b.  The boys' room.  (The room of the boys.)

c.  The man's room.  (The room of the man.)

d.  The men's room.  (The room of the men.)

e.  James' room.  (The room of James.)
f.  James's room.  (The room of James.)

NB.  The apostrophe is never used with the possessive pronouns 'his' or 'its', but is used with the impersonal 'one's'.

2)  Apostrophes are also used to indicate contraction (i.e. letters left out), usually in the punctuation of dialogue. The apostrophe is put in the place where a letter or letters have been omitted.


I'll  (I shall not.)
You'll  (You will not.)
He'll  (He will not.)
She's  (She is.)
It's  (It is.)
Isn't.  (Is not.)
Don't.  (Do not.)
Can't.  (Cannot.)
Won't.  (Will not.)
Shouldn't  (Should not.)



1.  The paragraph is the unit of the essay.

a.  A paragraph consists of a number of sentences arranged in order to form one unit dealing with one topic.

b.  The main thought in a paragraph is expressed in the topic or key sentence. It should be easy to find the main thought in a well-written paragraph, and to express that thought in a title.

c.  The sentences in a paragraph should follow one another in logical order, and should vary in length and structure. The result will be an attractive style.

2.  Paragraphs develop the essay.

a.  When paragraphs are combined to form an essay, the clear, logical development from one paragraph to another is if great importance.

b.  In a narrative essay, the opening paragraph sparks off the action. In a descriptive essay, the opening paragraph draws the outline of the scene. In an explanatory essay, the opening paragraph sets out the first stage in the explanation. The paragraphs that follow must then continue the sequence, each serving as a link between the preceding paragraph and the subsequent one until the final paragraph is reached. The final paragraph brings the essay to a logical or definite conclusion.

c.  The first sentence in a paragraph should make clear to the reader the position of that paragraph in the sequence of the essay as a whole. This sentence will be the topic sentence and will act as a guide-post to the rest of the paragraph.



A.  Comprehension Technique.

1. Comprehension means understanding of the passage set. Your task is to demonstrate such an understanding, and you should not include anything else.

2.  You must be relevant. Make sure that you answer the question directly.

3.  Be straightforward and concise.

4.  Be grammatical. Write in sentences unless directed otherwise.

5.  Write answers in your own phraseology.

6.  If you quote a word or short phrase from the passage, use quotation marks.

B.  Summary (or Precis) Writing.

1.  Read through the part of the passage in question and jot down very briefly in rough the points relevant to the particular topic. Separate these points by dashes or hyphens.

2.  From your notes and as far as possible without looking at the original write a rough draft of the summary in your own words. This does not mean that you must avoid using words that you would naturally use just because they are in the original, but it does mean that you should not lift 'parrot-fashion' from the passage.

3.  Count the number of lines/ words.

4.  If you have used too many words you may be able to rephrase parts of your summary more economically; but do not try to make do with fewer words than you need to express yourself adequately, for it is much better to omit some less important idea than not to be clear. If you have words to spare, they might be used to link the ideas more clearly or to include some points previously omitted.


(1)  Direct speech should always be converted to reported speech.

(2)  Writing expressed in the first person should be recast in the third person.

(3)  Decide on a title and then place it at the top.



Published in Education


The following piece of guidance was written by Flight Lieutenant A.W. Panton, M.A., Dip. Ed. in 1973 when he was a station education officer at RAF Lyneham, Chippenham, Wilts. For more information about the circumstances in which such guidance was produced, please look at the introduction to the item on this blog entitled "Strategy for Writing "O" Level History Essays, dated 4th February 2013. For RAF personnel wishing to achieve the 5 "O" Levels minimum qualification for commissioning, the General Paper was a relatively straightforward subject to attempt.


The Examination
Why do a self-study course?
The objectives of this course
Schedule of work

The need for planning your essays
The structure of an essay
The choice of essays
The types of question
Planning the essay
Writing the essay

A.  Specimen examination paper
B.  Example of a General Paper essay


1.  As its name implies, the General Paper is not an examination of any specified syllabus. Its intention is to test candidates' maturity of thought and expression in answering questions of contemporary interest. In discussing these problems you are not required to reel off facts and figures in great quantities, but you are expected to be able to demonstrate a general awareness of some of the problems or issues which face modern society.

2.  The Examination.  The General Paper examination, which is 2 hrs. 30 mins. in length, is divided into THREE sections, each consisting of six essay questions. You have to answer ONE question from EACH section. The subjects of each section are as follows:

A.  Political/ social/ economic

B.  Scientific/ environmental

C.  Cultural.

You have 50 minutes in which to answer each question. A specimen of an examination paper is at Annex A to the course notes.

3.  Why do a self-study course?  Although a regular class, which students could attend regularly, would be preferable educationally, a self-study course is well suited to the General Paper as no particular course of study is to be tested. Even in a regular class, it would be pointless for a lecturer to provide you with information on particular subjects; we must assume as a pre-requisite of this course that you are reasonably well informed about matters of topical interest. A self-study course is therefore both an appropriate and convenient means of preparation for this examination.

4.  The objectives of this course.  As you have previously passed "O" Level English Language, you have indicated that your English grammar is at least adequate for this examination, and there is no specific content for you to learn or master. What remains is essay-writing technique. You will already have written essays for "O" Level English Language, and will therefore have some experience of what such answers require. However, the General Paper requires a rather more refined essay technique: you will need  to analyse the different requirements of different types of question, to plan your answers in such a way that that provide appropriate answers to particular questions, and to express  your ideas so as to bring out clearly the points you make. Finally, it is to be hoped that in doing these things you will acquire a deeper insight into some of the problems or issues of our age, and hence improve the quality of your thought. The objectives of the course are summarised as follows;

a.  to enable you to analyse the different requirements of different types of essay question;

b.  to enable you to plan your essay answers in such a way that they provide appropriate answers to particular questions;

c.  to enable you to express your ideas so as to bring out clearly the points you make; and

d.  to enable you to acquire a deeper insight into some of the problems or issues of our age.

5.  Schedule of work.  This self-study course contains notes on the 'strategy for writing General Paper essays', a specimen examination paper, and an example of a General Paper essay. Your first task is to read the notes very carefully and thoroughly. When you have done this, you will be required to answer at least TWO of the essay questions from EACH section. A reasonable essay would amount to two and a half to three pages of the exercise book provided with the course. You will be expected to complete those SIX questions - you may do more if you wish - a week before the mock examination that will be set to test your readiness to sit the paper. The week after the mock examination there will be debriefing and revision class, and the examination proper will follow a week after that. Dates and other relevant details are attached in the covering letter that comes with this course.

NOTE:  Although this is a self-study course, you are welcome, in the case of difficulty, to seek advice or assistance from the education officer in charge of the course.


6.  A specimen of a General Paper examination paper is attached at Annex A to these notes. As you will see, these essays require you to present a case or argument in written form. This argument has to be both well thought out and well expressed. In addition, it should not be one-sided, as politicians' arguments so often are, but show both sides of a question. However strongly you may feel concerning a subject about which you are writing, it is advisable to express your self with moderation, and not to over-simplify matters or descend to abuse.

7.  The need for planning your essays.  The writing of an essay involves three distinct processes. These are as follows:

a.  Planning the essay;

b.  Thinking about how to express your ideas; and

c.  The physical act of writing.

Many people try to do all three processes simultaneously; the result is usually a poor piece of writing. The reason for this is simple: if you try to do all three processes at the same time, the quality of each will suffer. Although it is reasonable to do processes b. and c. together, it is essential to separate the planning stage. Indeed, the key to the writing of a competent essay lies in the planning of it.

8.  The structure of an essay.  An argumentative essay contains the following components: an introduction; the mainstream or central paragraphs, and the conclusion. The characteristics of each component are shown below: 

a.  Introduction

(1)  Should EITHER answer the question clearly and then indicate how the answer will be substantiated OR outline how the answer is to be reached. (Which method you adopt will depend on the type of question you are answering. For 'The types of question', see para. 10.)

(2)  Should cover any important preliminary points which cannot be conveniently fitted in elsewhere. (For instance the meaning of a word in the question might need to be clarified.)

(3)  Should be brief and should not include details.

(4)  Should be stimulating.

b.  Mainstream (or central) paragraphs

(1)  Should contain the central points or factors of the argument.

(2)  Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence, which both makes the point of the paragraph and shows the relevance of it, and of the details which follow, to the question.

(3)  The details within each paragraph substantiate or illustrate the points made in the topic sentence.

(4)  Paragraphs should be linked if possible, and should follow one another in the most effective order.

c.  Conclusion

(1)  Should EITHER reinforce the answer given in the introduction by summarising the argument presented in the essay, OR tie together the threads of the essay in such a way as to produce an answer to the question. (Which method you adopt will depend on the type of question you are answering. For 'The types of question', see para. 10.) 

(2)  Could contain a final clinching point in support of your argument.

(3)  Should be clearly and concisely written, and should be stimulating.

9.  The choice of essays.  The choice of which essays from each section you should answer is obviously largely up to you, but as a general guideline it is wise to choose those that afford you the best opportunity to write from personal interest, experience, knowledge or involvement. However, the type of question is also an important factor to consider. These types we shall now examine.

10.  The types of question.  In the General Paper, questions are EITHER controversial (i.e. they require you to present both sides of a prominent question concerning which people disagree) OR they demand an explanatory answer. If the question is controversial, it can require EITHER a delayed or an immediate verdict. Examples of these THREE types of question can be found in your specimen examination paper in Annex A at the end of these notes:

a.  Controversial: delayed verdict:

Sect. A: 2,3,4; Sect. B: 7; Sect. C: 14,16,18.

b.  Controversial: immediate verdict:

Sect. A: 1,5; Sect. B: 8; Sect. C: 15.

c.  Explanatory:

Sect. A: 6: Sect. B: 9-12; Sect. C: 13,17.

NOTE:  Although you may think that questions A: 2 and 3, and B: 7 do not require any verdict, it is nevertheless desirable to attempt one at the end of the essay. You will notice that the spread of questions is not even. Controversial questions are frequent in sections A and C; those requiring explanatory answers predominate in Section B.

11.  Planning the essay.  It is particularly important in the General Paper to plan your essays with care. In "O" Level History and Geography your essay answers will largely have been pre-packaged in your minds beforehand, but, as you cannot anticipate any of the questions in the General Paper you must therfore prepare your answers in the examination room. Because of this, you are given a generous allocation of 50 minutes to each question; of this you spend at least 15 minutes planning your answer. How you plan an essay is a personal matter, but you will have gathered already that different types of question demand different types of answer. Your planning will obviously reflect these differences. Laid out below is a suggested procedure for you to follow when planning your essays. You should remember that paragraphs are the structural units of your essay; each mainstream paragraph should contain one major topic contributing to your answer. 


1.  Decide which type of question you are answering, and bear in mind the exact wording of the question.

2.  Jot down on rough paper all your thoughts on the subject under discussion. For a controversial answer these thoughts will consist of points both FOR and AGAINST the statement at issue; for an explanatory question they will be the points or factors that your answer will contain. (NOTE: you must expect these thoughts to occur to you in a random rather than a logical order.) 

3.  Form the topics or themes of your paragraphs from the points you have jotted down. A number of points will probably have something in common, which is of importance to the answer. That common factor will be the topic of a paragraph. Groups the points together under this topic, which will become a paragraph heading; the points will become the details contained in that paragraph. (The paragraph heading will be translated into a topic sentence, when the essay is written.)

4.  Add any further details that may occur to you while you are forming your paragraphs.

5.  Decide on the most suitable order for your paragraphs, and list the headings accordingly.

6.  Decide the contents of your introduction and conclusion in the light of the type of essay you are planning. Note that you must plan the introduction as well as the conclusion AFTER the mainstream paragraphs have been planned, for you obviously cannot plan an introduction to something which you have not yet thought out.

When completed, your rough plan should resemble the formats laid out below. These formats include the number of paragraphs, the paragraph headings, and the details of the paragraphs. A typical General Paper essay might have 4-6 paragraphs: 1 for the introduction; 2-4 for the mainstream; and 1 for the conclusion. A format is shown below for each of the THREE types of essay answer: 


1.  Controversial: delayed verdict:

Introduction ...... (Show how answer will be reached)

(Points 'for')

1............... (Paragraph heading: details) .................. 

2................(Paragraph heading: details)...................

(Points 'against')

3................(Paragraph heading: details)....................

4................(Paragraph heading: details)....................

Conclusion .........(A statement of reasoned answer + ? clinching point.)

2.  Controversial: immediate verdict:

Introduction..........(Provide answer by a clear statement, and then show how it will be substantiated.)

(Points 'for')

1................(Paragraph heading: details)....................

2................(Paragraph heading: details)....................

(Points 'against' - See note below)

3................(Paragraph heading: details)....................

4................(Paragraph heading: details)....................

Conclusion.............(Summary of argument + ? clinching point)

NOTE:  Although you have stated your view in then opening paragraph, the rules of debate require you to cover the points that might be raised in opposition to your case. By mentioning them you will demonstrate that you are aware that they do present difficulties. However, in this type of essay you are advised to try to make light of the points 'against', or at least to show that in comparison with the points 'for' your case, they are insignificant. 

3.  Explanatory:

Introduction.............(General coverage of answer)

(List of the factors presented in explanation)

1................(Paragraph heading: details)....................

2................(Paragraph heading: details)....................

3................(Paragraph heading: details)....................

4................(Paragraph heading: details)....................

Conclusion...............(Summarise answer in the light of above analysis)

Before you commence the writing of any General Paper essay you should have before you a plan closely resembling the above formats. The existence of a plan will not enable you to concentrate fully on the writing and expression of your ideas , but will also give you the confidence that comes from knowing exactly where you are going and what you are going to say. A coherent plan will also help you to avoid repetition of points, or the need to add something in at the last moment when it should have been included at an earlier point in the essay. Such flaws are almost unavoidable in the absence of a plan. In order to practise the planning of essays, you are asked to include a rough plan at the head of each practice essay in your exercise book. An example of a rough plan can be seen at Annex B to these notes.

12.  Writing the essay.  You should write the essay following your plan exactly; the time for thinking about content had now passed, and at this point you should concentrate exclusively on how best to express the ideas you have before you. Express yourself precisely and with vigour. The more carefully you think out your ideas, the more likely you are to choose the right words to express them. Clear thought and clear language go together. Do not put your point of view too strongly, for if your argument is a sound one, powerful language will be unnecessary. The requirements of formal writing apply; as your ability to express yourself is one of the factors to be tested in the examination, you must expect to be penalised for errors of grammar, punctuation and spelling. By thinking out the structure and content of a sentence before you begin to write it, you can avoid mistakes in sentence construction. Such dangers also arise from sentences of excessive length. Variations in the length and structure of your sentences can contribute towards an attractive writing style. It is also preferable that you express your views impersonally (e.g. 'It is felt by many that ... '), rather than in the first person (e.g. 'I think that ... '). To illustrate these many points an example of a General Paper essay is included at Annex B to these notes.

Annexes to notes on 'Strategy for writing General Paper essays:

A.  Specimen of a General Paper examination.

B.  Example of a General Paper essay.


Time allowed: Two and a half hours.

You MUST answer ONE question from EACH of the following THREE sections.


1.  Do you agree that, as far as Great Britain is concerned, the days of the railway are numbered?

2.  What are the arguments for and against equal pay for women?

3.  'Education should be removed entirely from the realm of politics.' Argue the case for and against this statement. 

4.  Do you think that Britain still has a role to play East of Suez?

5.  Is there a case for the abolition of Opinion Polls?

6.  What do you think should be done to stop football hooliganism?


7.  Exploration below the sea may well bring richer rewards than exploration on land. Discuss this statement.

8.  Electronic computers are sometimes referred to as electronic brains.

9.  Scientists are working to improve human fertility, yet all nations recognise the need to control world population. How do you reconcile these two facts?

10.  What solutions would you suggest to combat Britain's every increasing water shortage?

11.  How would you attempt to attract more boys and girls to careers in science?

12.  What success has attended recent efforts to cut down the pollution of the atmosphere?


13.  Why do you think the 'Western' is still the most popular type of film?

14.  Can we afford not to have censorship of drama and literature?

15.  Do you agree that television is destroying reading as a pastime?

16.  Should minority languages be preserved? State the case for and against.

17.  In recent years, several national newspapers have disappeared. Suggest reasons for this.

18.  Is any music worthy of the name being produced today? Illustrate your answer with suitable examples.


'Discuss the case for introducing the referendum into our political system.'

1.  PLAN

Introduction:  Confusion with Common Market issue; state intention to consider cases 'for' and 'against'; issue is referenda v. general elections.


(1)  Political dangers of referenda:  Instability; anarchy; lack of respect for govt. abroad; general elections provide stability and democracy; blackmail in France; lack of confidence in MPs; electorate too ignorant.

(2)  Operational difficulties of referenda: Public have no alternatives; over-simplification of issues; the actual wording; distortion in Norway; general elections lead to reasonable atmosphere; high cost.

(3)  Arguments in favour of referenda:  More democratic; useful where part system fails to reflect public opinion; for issues of great importance; high polls; education and media.

Conclusion: Final judgement difficult; tradition important; potential dangers can be overcome; referenda might be desirable in some circumstances; Govt. and border poll.

NOTE:  For the sake of clarity this plan is very elaborate. In your plans, which are of course written in rough, you will no doubt employ your own shorthand and abbreviations.

ESSAY (NOTE: Topic sentences are shown in italic script; links to the previous paragraph or paragraphs are underlined.)

One of the more interesting of recent political controversies has been the question of whether referenda should ever be used to decide issues of vital national importance. This question became for a time inextricably bound up with the argument concerning British entry to the Common Market, but it is a political issue in its own right. As in most political controversies, a balance sheet of advantages and disadvantages must be drawn up and considered before a rational judgement can be made. In Britain the argument centres around the comparison of referenda and general elections as instruments of political consultation between government and people.

The opponents of referenda cite a host of dangers and abuses that their introduction might bring to our political scene. Regular employment of the referendum to determine public approval of government policy might lead to a succession of short-lived governments. The consequent state of instability might deteriorate into anarchy and cause a lack of respect for out government overseas. In contrast, the traditional system of a general election every five years ensures conditions for stable government, while leaving the people ultimately in control of their own destiny. The referendum might become a means by which a government could bulldoze through controversial legislation by blackmailing the electorate with the threat of resignation in the event of a negative outcome. The late General de Gaulle was criticised for using referenda this way in France. Referenda also imply a lack of respect for our elected representatives in Parliament, who are, it is maintained, better informed than the ordinary citizen and the more able therefore to take important decisions on our behalf.

Apart from the dangerous consequences, which it is alleged referenda might bring, there are also various operational difficulties that militate against their introduction. Because a referendum usually demands a 'YES/NO' answer, it gives the people no opportunity to state alternatives to the policy on which it is voting. The result tends to be an over-simplification of complex issues. Furthermore, the matter of the wording to be referred becomes a matter of critical importance. By concentrating on one question, a referendum may encourage demagoguery, and the distortion that comes from over-emotionalising a political issue. This was demonstrated in last year's referendum in Norway on the Common Market issue, where the xenophobic tendencies inherent in most people were fully exploited by opponents to Market entry. Finally, the high cost and inconvenience of regular referenda are further arguments against their use.

In spite, however, of the reasons that can be brought against the use of the referendum, there are positive factors in its favour that must be considered too. The referendum is certainly a more democratic instrument than a general election, and can show, as a general election can never do, just what the wish of the electorate is on a clear-cut issue. This could be particularly valuable in a situation where an important political controversy is not adequately reflected in the party political system. The Common Market issue in Britain succeeded in cutting across party lines. In situations like that, particularly where a matter of overriding national importance is involved, a strong case can be made out for testing public opinion through a referendum. Referenda also seem to produce higher polls than general elections do, something which increases their democratic value. In addition, the increasing availability of public education and the news media suggest that as time goes on the ordinary citizen will become more able to decide important issues for himself.

A final judgement on this question is difficult; strong arguments can be produced both for and against the use of referenda. Opponents are right to stress the importance of traditions which have served us well in the past.  Unless circumstances require it, we should be wary of change. However, the need to be cautious with regard to political innovation should not lead to a refusal to innovate.The political dangers of referenda can easily be exaggerated, but, if care is taken, these can be avoided. In certain circumstances, where an issue vital to our nation's future is at stake, a referendum could be desirable. Has not our present government admitted as much, by holding recently, in conditions of particular difficulty, a referendum on the border issue in Northern Ireland?


1.  Note that the introduction makes clear that both sides of the argument will be considered before a conclusion is reached. The reference to the Common Market issue is an attempt to introduce a topic of current interest, and the statement concerning general elections covers an important preliminary point that might have caused confusion elsewhere.

2.  In the three mainstream paragraphs, you will see that the paragraph headings of the plan have been translated into topic sentences at the start of the paragraphs. These sentences show the position of the paragraph in the essay as a whole and relate the details that follow them to the question. Also, by alluding in some fashion to the content of the previous paragraphs the topic sentences provide a link between the paragraphs.

3.  In the conclusion a brief summary of the main points is attempted, a qualified verdict is suggested, and a final clinching point - the N. Irish border poll - is included both to emphasise the conclusion, and, by bringing us back to the very recent past, to make a final impression on the reader.



Published in Education


Flight Lieutenant A.W. Panton, M.A. Dip. Ed. served in the Royal Air Force Education Branch from 1970 to 1974. Influenced by the RAF School of Education at RAF Upwood, Ramsey, Hunts, the Branch emphasised the importance of a technological or systematic approach to education. In preparing for his promotion examinations to Squadron Leader in November 1973, Flight Lieutenant Panton prepared notes on the following subjects set out below. These notes give a flavour of the kind of systematic approach which was encouraged within the Education Branch at that time. Where some of the points below may appear opaque, at this distance in time it is not necessarily possible for them to be adequately clarified now.
1.  Objectives.  Intended terminal behaviour of students will affect method. Different aspects of instructional task will also involve different methods.
2.  Subject Matter.  Stability of content. Verbal or manipulative? Symbolic or Non-Symbolic? Easy to assimilate or not?  
3.  Target Population.  Class Size. Aptitudes. Experience. Educational level.
4.  Instructional staff.  Numbers. Ability.
5.  Facilities.  Accommodation. Equipment. Aids. 
6.  Time.  Total course time. Time of day.
7.  Costs.  Interlinked with all factors. However investment in one method should offset other costs.
1.  LecturePros: speed, large class size; content under control of instructor, versatile. Cons: comminuication one way, limited sense appeal, passive audience, student reaction hard to gauge, useless for skill teaching. Uses: introductions, general surveys, indicate rules and policies, recapitulation and summaries. 

2.  DemonstrationPros: dramatic appeal, shows relations between steps, saves time by reducing explanation. Cons: limited class size. Uses: illustration of manipulative skills, operation of equipment, safety procedures and principles.

3.  Student performancePros: realistic application of knowledge, student confidence, student participation, reduces wastage through error, method of evaluation. Cons: outlay of equipment and resources. Uses: teaching manipulative skills, operation of equipment, safety drills, teamwork.

4.  Programmed Instruction.  Pros: meticulous preparation ensures effectiveness; self-pacing of students; forced response and immediate feedback guarantee attention, improve retention and eliminate errors; instruction is standardised; frees instructor from routine and repetitive tasks. Cons: difficulty and cost of programme writing; few programmers around; unsuitable for unstable content; self-pacing causes timetabling problems. Uses: free-flow training and instruction; remedial instruction; filling in gaps, consolidation and practice.

5.  Discussion.  Pros: should stimulate; student participation leads to better retention; use of students' knowledge. Cons: difficult to control, take time, require small selected groups.Uses: problem solving, supplement other methods, application of theory to particular situations.

6.  Assignment.  Pros: can reduce need for classroom capacity; capitalise on individual interests, provide a detailed coverage; motivation. Cons: difficulty in defining objectives, hard to evaluate, no use for standardisation. Uses: advance study, provision for student differences, enrichment.

7.  Tutorial Method.  Pros: one-to-one teacher/pupil ratio very effective; student participation; easy to diagnose student needs. Cons: demanding; expensive use of resources.Uses: teaching of highly complex skills, operation of dangerous and expensive equipment.

8.  Seminar.  Pros: student participation, adaptive instruction. Cons: expensive, difficult to evaluate. Uses: guidance in advanced study, exchange of information.

9. Lesson.  Pros: highly flexible, uses many methods, cooperation between instructor and class. Cons: small groups, students have to keep pace with instructor, adults prefer other methods. Uses: elementary levels, novice instructors, practical skills.

10.  Role Playing / Stimulation.  Pros: interest, motivation > retention, realism. Cons: preparation, effects of gaming. Uses: practice in controlled conditions, special training, team training, interest.


A.  Extrinsic motivation - involves context factors (Maslow) imposed on task or student by teacher or external agents. Assoc. with Maslow's 3 lower order needs - physiological, safety and belonging, and with Herzberg's hygiene factors. By removing causes of environmental dissatisfaction from environment, teacher can bring student to minimum acceptable level of learning. Methods of extrinsic motivation:

1.  Show purpose of instruction and connection with external goals.

2.  Organise teaching and its institutions well. Sound policy.

3.  Adopt relaxed teaching style.  Warmth of approach > friendship, identification.

4.  Fair distribution of praise and blame. Gives security and order.

5.  Comfortable classroom conditions. Lighting, temperature and ventilation, size of classes, seating, audio-visual aids.

(Connected with McGregor's X Theory of Management.)

B.  Intrinsic motivation - involves content factors (Maslow) inherent in task or student. assoc.with Maslow's 2 higher order needs - esteem  and self-actualisation, and Herzberg's motivators. Such motivation leads to positive results. Methods of intrinsic motivation:

1.  Encourage curiosity and interest. Make use of elements of realism and variety and surprise > interest = self-actualisation.

2.  Use discovery methods. Desires for challenge and autonomy are strong and lead to sense of achievement and recogntion.

3.  Use activity methods.  Encourages desire to express oneself and to take responsible part in a group. Role-playing and discussions.

4.  Proper use of rivalry and competition.  Group competition methods preferable. Competition > confidence, self-respect and esteem.

5.  Set high standards. Demonstrate examples of high craftsmanship. We learn by initiations, and the standards we expect are set by what we see.

(Connected with McGregor's Y Theory of Management.)


A.  General categories (Powell)

1.  Aids which amplify the mechanics of the transmission and reception of sensations: e.g. microphones, projectors (hardware).

2.  Aids which contribute to the teaching/ learning process: e.g. diagrams, models, gramophone records (software).

B.  Functions of AV aids

1.  Invite cooperation and challenge.

2.  Promote perception: by attracting and holding attention.

3.  Promote understanding: supplement verbal information (very important in technical subjects); illustrate relationship between rule and application by directed observation; illustrate relationship between parts of a whole; promote transfer of training; provide reinforcement or knowledge of results.

4.  Promote consolidation: help retention - use of summaries. 

C.  General categories of AV materials (Davies)

1.  Criterion materials:  have to be described, interpreted, identified, etc, by student to show that he has learned: e.g. pictures, maps, real objects.

2.  Mediating materials: help students to gain insight or knowledge of phenomena: e.g. diagrams, transparencies, graphs.

D.  General categories of AV media (Davies)

1.  Enrichment media: provision optional.

2. Necessary media: to realise learning task, whether cognitive, affective, or psychomotor: provision obligatory.


1.  Chalkboard.  The most important aid for general teaching of cognitive objectives. Can be used for (a) drawings, diagrams, maps, graphs, (b) technical words, key words, definitions, (c) summaries and outlines, (d) problems. Drawing and diagrams should be simple. Complex ones such as circuit diagrams should be given on note-sheets. Chalkboards very versatile and intimate.

2.  Felt Board, Plastigraph Board. Useful alternatives to chalkboard. Can be used with large groups. Display of material the matter of a moment, but less versatile than chalkboard.

3.  Magnetic Boards.  Useful for showing effect of moving shapes to different positions, for traffic problems, work study, and economics problems, etc. Can also be used like chalkboards.

4.  Overhead Projectors. Another alternative to chalkboards. Strong visual appeal. Transparency only has to be prepared once. Overlays can build up picture by degrees. Teacher can write facing class.

 5.  35mm. Slide Projectors. Can show individual slides or film-strips. Greater detail possible than in OHP transparencies. Useful for both cognitive and affective objectives. Tonal range of slide makes them preferable to prints and they have enrichment value.

6.  8mm. Loop Projector. For concept films. Easy to present and to integrate, films on casettes can be replayed, and useful for individual project learning.

7.  16mm. Film Projector. Very important for affective and pyschomotor objectives. Can be used to orientate attitudes or to consolidate learning. Usually films should be shown twice. As they take over from teacher they must have high merit.

8.  Wireless, record-players, tape recorders. Have cognitive and affective value. Tape-recorder has psychomotor value. Tape/slide synchroniser units now available for standard presentations. Sound/slide systems also available. Casettes, like loop films, can be used for individual learning.

9.  3-D models.  Mock-ups, cutaways and large models. Useful for cognitive and, in the case of large models, affective objectives. large models often very expensive.

10.  Television.  Can be used for films, but lacks visual appeal of film projectors. CCTVs and VTRs have tremendous possibilities for training. Video casette recorders also.

11.  Teaching machines. Use programmes. Valuable for remedial and individual learning, e.g. reading. Can incorporate sound and loop films.

12.  Simulators.  Used where training on real equipment is too expensive or dangerous, e.g. emergency landing of aircraft. Represents real situations. Students have control  and conditions can be varied. Not only used for psychomotor skills but also for cognitive (chain and m-d learning) and affective objectives. Difficult to integrate.

13.  Language laboratories. Useful for sequential, cumulative development of language skills, each small skill
building on the last. Weak when used as an adjunct to grammar program.


1.  Aim.  The overall aims must be ascertained. Training objectives essential in training. These may be cognitive, affective or psychomotor. Aims may affect content and method.

2.  Objectives.  With academic exams. syllabi and past papers specify content and relative weighting. In training a task analysis is required to give objectives.

3.  Content. This will be derived from objectives minus student knowledge calculated from preliminary test. Relative importance of items must also be decided from past papers or task analysis.

4.  Sequence. Learning must be planned to achieve most effective learning in shortest possible time and to cut out duplication and omission. In skill training logical order comes from job performance. In academic or theory teaching the best psychological order (instructional logic) must be found. This will proceed from what student knows to required knowledge, and from simple to complex. Relationships between objectives that the student must know may be by association or discrimination. Sequence must establish the latter. In sequencing a subject  with a logical or natural order the matrices and flow diagrams of programmed learning are useful.

5.  Criteria.  The most appropriate tests have to be selected. Types of test: essay, MCOQs, short answer questions, practical/manipulative, practical written, oral/aural. Tests should be held (a) when an objective has more than one other objective dependent on it, (b) when concepts or combinations of concepts have to be mastered, (c) often enough for previously learned material not to be forgotten. The characteristics of tests that have to be considered are validity, reliability, ease of preparation and ease of marking. Tests ought to be reliable, valid and compatible with learning situation. In skill training validity and reliability are essential. Essays are valuable when flexibility is required.

6.  Instructional plan. The teaching method then has to be selected. Types available: lesson, lecture, demonstration, student peformance, programmed instruction, discussion, project, tutorial, seminar, simulation. Factors influencing choice: objectives, subject matter, target population, instructional staff, facilities, time, costs. Sense appeal (75% sight, 25% hearing) dictates desirability of certain methods. When method has been determined, time has to be allocated to syllabus items on the basis of total time available, item complexity and student ability.

7.  Resources. The provision of resources then has to be planned: books, paper, AV aids, note handouts, past papers, course plans, etc.

8.  Environment. Classroom or lecture hall has to be available, quiet, light, clean, tidy and have enough chairs. It also has to be suitable for the instructional method selected.


A.  The Classroom (Theory) Lesson

1.  Introduction - arouse interest and focus attention. Should provide a motive for learning. Should relate to previous learning. Should list objectives and lead smoothly into development phase.

2.  Development - teaching phase. Should aim to present subject matter in manner most easily absorbed and retained. heavy emphasis on participation by question and answer technique. Any questions? 

3.  Recapitulation - tests recall of what has been learned. Monitors success of development phase. In a lengthy development phase, intermediate recapitulations are advisable.

4.  Application - involves application by students of principles and procedures learned. Could lead into homework, including test of earlier phases. 

5.  Conclusion - apart from recapitulation and application, conclusion should allow for student queries, the provision of references and setting of homework, and indication of future lines of instruction.

B.  The Skills Lesson

1.  Introduction - arouse interest and focus attention. should provide motive for learning and and relate to previous learning. Should list objectives and lead smoothly into development phase.This explanatory phase should be 10% of lesson.

2.  Development phase - this involves a demonstration, carrying out the whole procedure step-by-step in the correct job sequence. This phase, which involves both talking and demonstrating, takes up 25% of the lesson. It can include a second demonstration.

3.  Recapitulation - a second demonstration,as above. 

4. Application (imitation) - involves student performance, practice of the skills under supervision and appraisal of the students' work. Student practice should take up 65% of lesson.


1.  Definition - a form of instruction/ learning, in which the following factors are present: (a) clear statement of the objective; (b) itemised and tested material is presented in frames; (c) students follow a sequence of frames fitted to their individual needs; (d) frequent responses from students are required; (e) immediate feedback is given before the student proceeds to the next frame.

2.  Characteristics - (a) PL is an individual learning process in which students accept a wider measure of responsibility; (b) students proceed at their own rate; (c) it requires an active response from student and provides immediate knowledge of results; (d) student is more often successful and his motivation is thereby increased; (e) subject matter is programmed in such a way as to shape learning in a particular manner.

3.  Uses:

a. Remedial instruction, providing training in infrequently practised skills;

b. Filling in gaps caused by late arrivals and absences.

c. Acceleration of able trainees, permitting early completion;

d. Providing common background for subsequent instruction;

e. Consolidation of learning by practice;

f. Provision  of advanced or broader work in a particular field of study; and

g. As a control in the study of learning situations.

4.  Advantages: (a) pre-testing, self-pacing, forced response and immediate feedback characteristics lower failure rate; (b) they also improve retention rate; (c) elimination of unnecessary material, self-pacing and forced attention cuts time; (d) instruction is standardised; (e) no special facilities are required, except teaching machines where used; (f) can be effective in the absence of an instructor; (g) can meet individual or group needs; (h) can be used for classes of any size; (i) frees instructor from repetitive teaching tasks and frees him to devote time to difficult tasks.

5.  Disadvantages: (a) commercial programmes rarely match particular instructional objectives and have to be prepared locally or by contract; (b) only a few trained programmers are available; (c) programmes are very costly, involving either training of programmer, writing and testing of local programmes, or very costly contracts; (d) unsuitable where subject matter is unstable or subject to radical and frequent change; (e) cause admin. and organisational problems: viz. different completion times causing timetable difficulties, and problems in assigning students to jobs at end of training.


A.  Linear Programmes

1.  Theory:  stem from instrumental conditioning theory of B.F.Skinner. This has 3-fold process: simplification
> reward > reshaping simple into complex responses. Skinner sees rewards as means of getting repetition of correct responses, and thus means of effective learning.

2.  Implications of theory for programmed learning

i.  We must proceed in small steps in order to adjust the pace of conditioning to behaviour of individual. Too much too soon will lead to learning breakdown.

ii.  We must move slowly so as not to impose too difficult a discrimination task on student whose capacity at outset is limited.

iii.  We must anticipate difficulties and modify approach, relating it to student behaviour.

iv.  We must not reinforce behaviour incompatible with desired learning.

3.  Characteristics: a body of info. is broken down into a sequence of small steps leading logically through subject. Increments of information that students have to absorb from one frame to another are limited. Common element is discriminative stimuli. The more often a student is correct - wrong answers to be avoided - the more he is motivated. Students write down or construct responses. Skinner believes this deepens thought.

B.  Branched Programmes

1.  Theory:  stems from differential school of psychology, to which Norman Crowder belongs. This school believes that learning occurs by exposing students to new material. Learning occurs in a variety of ways depending on abilities of students and nature of subject.

2.  Characteristics:  Crowder uses responses of student to control order of presentation of material. To attain control he uses MCOQs, though constructed answers could be used. Small steps of linear programmes are considered an insult. More ambitious steps are followed by remedial sequences of frames if necessary. An able student will progress much faster than a weak one.

3.  Purposes of MCOQs:

i.  test understanding;

ii.  to select remedial sequence if response is incorrect;

iii.  practice of concept;

iv.  to keep student working actively;

v.  to motivate student when response is correct.


1.  Different domains:

a.  Cognitive objectives: information and knowledge;

b.  Affective objectives:  attitudes, values, feelings, emotions;

c.  Psychomotor:  skills involving neuromuscular coordination.

2.  Definitions:  'A precise description of intended terminal behaviour'. 'A training objective written in performance terms is a statement of what the student must DO to show that he has learned; it will contain a statement of the conditions under which the performance must be carried out, and a statement of the conditions under which the performance must be carried out, and a statement of the standards to be achieved'.

3.  Different types of learning objectives:

a.  Training objectives differ from the task analysis to the extent that we can consider on-the-job-training and the value of experience in improving performance.

b.  Course objectives are derived from training objectives by the deduction of the required entry behaviour.

c.  Enabling objectives will define the path to be followed towards the attainment of the terminal objectives.

4.  Defects of traditional syllabi:  a. give no guidance to students or instructors as to conditions or standards; b. cannot be tested save in random fashion; c. list contents only. d. are teacher centred; e. over-training = wastage; under-training = ? danger.

5.  Characteristics of objectives:  a. they are written in behavioural or performance terms, using a precisely worded vocabulary of behavioural verbs; b. include a statement of conditions; c. include a statement of standards; d. synonymous with criterion; e. related to task analysis in the case of training. In the case of education, anything on the syllabus should be capable of justification (N.B. affective objectives cannot be directly tested, but could inform teaching methods.(Performance syllabi are both job-related and student centred).

6.  Advantages: a. instructors are clear about standards; b. students know 'what' they are required to learn and can monitor progress; c. objective testing is possible; d. training is efficient.

7.  An example: 'Given a mild steel block approx. 1/8'' oversize, the student must be able to file it down to specified dimensions within a tolerance of 0.002". All faces must be parallel and square to each other and square to the front face'.


1.  Elements of training:

a.  Input: body of entrants to be trained to a certain level.

b.  Processing: training carried out in a variety of ways over varying periods and using variety of resources.

c.  Output: a trained body of men.

d.  Feedback: experience gained reflected in future selection standards and form of training.

2.  Functions of Systems Approach: To identify, understand and control the interrelationships of the 4 elements and of the processes of which they are contained.

3.  Process of training:  a. instructional system is a compound of interacting, interdependent process. Weaknesses are attributable to absence or misapplication of these processes or the failure to coordinate them. The main processes are:

a.  Job and behavioural analysis:  the preparation of job specifications on the basis of a task analysis, the job specifications indicating the required performance levels.

b.  Statement of training objectives:  the declaration in behavioural terms of training objectives based on the performance requirements; and the design of criteria by which the effectiveness of training can be assessed in relation to those objectives.

c.  Definition in target population:  the calculation of the standards of skill and knowledge possessed by entrants to training.

d.  Design of the training course:  choosing content and sequence; selecting instructional methods, and designing achievement tests to provide immediate feedback on the effectiveness of training.

e.  Implementation of the training course: the processing of instructors, students, time and resources.

f.  Evaluation of training effectiveness: the establishment of an evaluation system to provide long-term feedback from the field on the effectiveness of the overall training system.

4.  Need for the Systems Approach: only by a thorough understanding of the interrelationships of the training processes can the training be controlled so as to stabilise output regardless of input variables.

                              THE 4 INTERRELATED ELEMENTS OF TRAINING

            >      UNTRAINED STUDENTS      >          TRAINING            >          GRADUATES           >      
      i                    (INPUT)                                (PROCESSING)           i     
      i                                                                            i                           i
      i                                                                            i                           i
      i                                                                            i                           i
      i                                                          <                i                   FEEDBACK                                                                                  


1.  Purpose.  Object clear. Keeps to subject but deals with interesting points. Keeps an eye on the clock.

2.  Cognitive validity. The degree to which a teacher possesses and reflects a valid, systematic cognitive structure of concepts and principles of subject. Skilled demonstration. Knows his staff. Instruction backed by experience.

3.  Care.  Preparation of lesson and materials good. Sense of balance and proportion as to what is covered.

4.  Interesting.  Uses drama in proper places. Introduces variety. Timing.

5.  Enthusiasm.  Keen. Infects class with enthusiasm. (Modelling force.)

6.  Warmth.  At ease. Confident. Pleasant voice. Natural. Be reinforcing. (conditioning and modelling force.)

7.  Control of class. Fair. Firm. Friendly. Respected. See  students' viewpoint.

8.  Manner. Voice.  Stance.  Lack of irritating mannerisms.


1.  Functions of oral questions:

a.  To make class think:
i)   to rouse curiosity and interest.

ii)  to lead class by logical steps to building up a body of knowledge. Learning can be shaped in this way as in a programme.   

b.  To test and confirm knowledge:

i)   to test the assimilation of initial knowledge and the rate of learning.

ii)   to revise and consolidate at the end of a piece of instruction.

iii)  to evaluate learning and the success of instruction either in the long-term or short-term.

2.  Factors to consider in oral questioning:

a.  Name last.

b.  Spread of questions.

c.  Match questions to ability in order to encourage in order to encourage feeling of participation.

d.  Phrase questions carefully.

e.  Use wrong answers as feedback.

f.  Give praise and encouragement.

g.  No big steps from one question to another.

h.  Answers must be heard. Repeat if necessary.

3.  Questions to avoid:

a.  Questions that lack obvious answers.

b.  Questions which have several equally good answers.

c.  Questions that call for 'Yes' or 'No' as an answer.

d.  Questions that have two possible answers.

e.  Questions that the class cannot answer.

f.  Trick questions.

g. Questions that are mainly tests of the power of expression.


1.  Advantages:

a.  Marking is more rapid and does not require skilled examiners.

b.  No subjective element in assessing answers.

c.  Once constructed, exam. can be given to 1,000s with little difficulty.

d.  Large number of short items enable a sampling of whole syllabus.

e.  Not confined simply to facts but can be used for testing higher order strategies.

f.  Not dependent on candidates' facility in writing essay answers.

g.  Difficulty level consistent from exam. to exam. Pre-testing avoids ambiguity. 

2.  Disadvantages.

a.  Construction is very elaborate and involves use of psychologists and need for external validation.

b.  The choice of questions and responses introduces subjective element.

c.  Discrepancies will be found in 2 or more tests on same candidate - attributable to particular choice of questions as well as to variations in candidates.

d.  Appear to be too easy and to involve speed and guessing.

e.  Questions on higher order strategies difficult to construct and artificial, and success in them depends mainly on familiarity with the medium.

f.  Writing may be educationally valuable but doing objective tests cannot be.

3.  Procedure for making objective tests.

a.  A team should be collected: subject experts and psychologists trained in testing techniques.

b.  Content of exam. should be mapped out and weighting decided.

c.  Preliminary pool of draft items for consideration > leads to item bank.

d.  Selection of 1.5 as many questions as required  for validation.

e.  Validation on 300-500 similar pupils to test discriminability, frequency of choice and length of paper.

f.  Elimination of unsatisfactory items and construction of final exam.

g.  Statistical assessment of each exam. and adjustments of item bank.

4.  Conclusions.

a.  Objective MCOQ tests not completely objective or reliable.

b.  But more objective and systematically prepared than conventional ones.

c.  Most natural tests should be applied. Facts better tested by objective tests than by essays.

d.  Objective tests most appropriate where large numbers (100+) are to be examined.

e.  Objectives tests useful where candidates are not fluent writers and where short items can be used.

f.  Useful for lower order strategies and higher order ones in science and technology.

g.  Essay form superior at advanced level where higher order strategies are to be tested, fluency in writing can be assumed, examiner ration is high, and students are unpractised at objective level.


1.  Standardisation.

a.  The task - the problems, the instructions used and the time - should be the same for all candidates.

b. Test must be capable of numerical assessment, and the method of scoring must be the same for all candidates.

2.  Reliability.

a.  The test should measure accurately whatever it is measuring, and scores should not rely on chance.

b.  An estimate of reliability can be produced by:

1) repeating the exam.

2)  using parallel exams.

3)  comparing two halves of the same test.

c.  Tests can be made more reliable by:

1)  increasing length.

2)  designing them to produce a wider range of scores.

3)  several examiners marking same papers.

3.  Validity.

a.  The test should measure what it is supposed to be measuring.

b.  Validity must be assessed by comparing test with some external  measure, and that must depend on the purpose of the test. An attainment test can be compared with the results of another method. A predictive test must be compared with future results (Technical validity).

c.  The test must measure whether the candidate can carry out the activities which were the objectives of the course (Content validity).

d.  Estimates of validity can be assessed by:

1)  comparing results with those of another exam. of proven validity.

2)  comparing results with an exam. of another type.

3)  comparing results with own assessments of students' abilities.

e.  Exams. can be made more valid by:

1)  adequate identification of objectives to be assessed by exam.

2)  a sound selection of objectives to be assessed in particular exam.

3)  the selection of a suitable method of examining.

4)  clear relationship between course objectives and exam. items.



1.  Scorer unreliability:

a.  Different examiners have different standards.

b.  Different examiners look for different qualities.

c.  An examiner differs in mood, and accuracy of interpretation from time to time.

2.  Content unreliability (or invalidity):

a.  Poor sampling of content in conventional exam. leads to question spotting and a chance factor is involved. Large variation in papers results.

b.  Poor question format and ambiguous instructions lead to unreliability.

3.  Temporal unreliability:

a.  Sickness and fatigue affect results on different occasions.

b.  Degree of application varies.

c.  Recency of revision affects results.


1.  Advantages:

a.  Based on pupils' work over a period of time, not on one day.

b.  Reflect normal work under everyday conditions.

c.  Teacher can teach what he considers appropriate without reference to mind of examiner.

d.  Can take into account student performance over a number of dimensions, including enthusiasm, creativity and team-work.

e.  Avoid the need for revision and for the overload of facts beyond what is required for understanding.

2.  Disadvantages:

a.  A teacher cannot set aside his own reactions to pupil, although these may be irrelevant.

b.  Assessments can be variable, particularly where they concern middle range pupils.

c.  Teachers rarely teach pupils over the whole range of a field of study at one time. In consequence memory has to be relied upon.

3.  Methods of overcoming defects:

a.  Required scholastic performance should be itemised, and assessments should be given for items independently.

b.  Assessments should be made by ranking in order of merit.

c.  Assessments should be made by more than one teacher and totalled.

d.  To avoid halo effect, assessments should be made on separate occasions and without reference to previous assessments.


1.  Criterion-based tests: certify whether or not a student has obtained knowledge, and skills required for a certain level of proficiency. (RAF trade tests are of this type.)

2.  Predictive tests:  assess capacity for a future job. Aptitude and intelligence tests measure capacity not attainment. (RAF recruitment tests are of this type.)

3.  Normative tests:  a device to grade students in an order of merit. Such tests will be more concerned to discriminate than to test. Useful for selection purposes.

4.  Diagnostic tests:  identify particular weaknesses of individual students at the beginning of a course. Progress tests at intermediate stages of courses can give feedback as to effectiveness of instruction as well as
on students' progress.

5.  Learning functions:  tests can assist in the learning function, not only by providing a spur to student, but also by providing a spur to student, but also by providing knowledge of results to assist student to see what he is supposed to be learning, and providing both him and instructor with a monitoring device.



Published in Education

A dissertation submitted by Andrew W. Panton, M.A, Dip.Ed., Dip.Ed.Mgt., to the University of London Institute of Education in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in the Organisation and Management of Education in September 1980.

At this time the author was Assistant Education Officer for Secondary Schools at Ealing London Borough Council. From 1977 to 1979 he had been Professional Assistant in the Further Education Division of the same LEA. Because of his previous links with FE college principals, the author was able to boost the linked courses provided by the colleges to the middle band pupils of 14-16 and non-A Level sixth form students by the simple device of disaggregating into FE lecturer hours four to five secondary curriculum support posts which were at his disposal. This not only allowed colleges to continue to offer part-time linked courses to secondary school pupils - these FE links with schools, previously financed through surplus resources in the colleges, were by then at severe risk because of financial constraints - but facilitated the employment on them of more experienced senior and full-time lecturers, thus improving the quality of the provision.

Although he had never taught in a further education institution himself, the author became so interested in the circumstances of this sector during his time as Professional Assistant (FE) that he decided to devote his MA dissertation to the arrangements made for teaching in FE colleges and the ways in which lecturers were utilised in these institutions. 
1.  The Powers and Responsibilities of Central Government.
2.  The Partnership between Central and Local Government.
3.  The Financing of Further Education.
4.  The Position of Colleges. 
5.  Course Approval and validation.
6.  The Pooling of the Costs of Advanced Further Education.
7.  Teachers in Further Education.
1.  Theoretical Considerations
a.  Resources as inputs
b.  The costing of resources.
c.  Supply and demand
d.  Economies of scale
e.  Class size considerations
f.  The place for objectives.
2.  Factors associated with the Allocation of Teaching Resources
a.  The grading of teaching posts
b.  Conditions of service
c.  Student hours
d.  Contact hours
e.  Class size
f.  Full-time equivalent staff
g.  Full-time eqivalent students
h.  Student/staff ratios
3.  Methods of Allocating Academic Staffing Establishments in Further Education
a.  Staff grade/contact hour system
b.  Staff grade/student hour system
c.  Student/staff ratios
d.  Class size ratio 
1.  Academic Staffing Formulae
2.  Further Thoughts on Teaching Commitment Schemes of Allocation
3.  Pooling Committee Memorandum on Student/Staff Ratios 
4.  Cost Efficiency Indicators in Further Education Staffing
5.  Assessment of the Pooling Committee's Work

This dissertation sets out to consider some of the many issues involved in the resourcing of education in the public sector, and looks in particular at the questions which are relevant to the allocation and utilisation of academic or teaching staff, the salaries of which form between 50 and 60% of the budget of most colleges of further education. The first part considers the pattern of power and authority in the field of further education and demonstrates how responsibilities are widely diffused between central and local governments, colleges, and validating bodies. Also considered are the complex arrangements for the pooling of costs of advanced further education amongst all local education authorities. 
The second part considers the allocation of teaching resources by local education authorities to colleges of further education. After consideration of some general aspects of the resource process, a number of factors integral to the allocation of teaching staff are examined. The requirements of the Burnham Further Education Salaries Document are discussed and the difficulties of calculating full-time equivalents, both staff and students, are explained in some detail. Four methods of assessing teaching staff establishments of colleges are then set out with critical observations.
The third part of the dissertation concentrates upon the utilisation and monitoring of these resources within the colleges themselves. The question of whether internal staff allocations should be determined on the basis of student load or teaching commitment is considered in depth. The influence of the Pooling Committee on the allocation and utilisation of staff is discussed in this part, and the criticisms of its exclusively quantitative approach are described. 
While a number of provisional conclusions are listed by the author in a brief conclusion, the main purpose of this dissertation is to delineate the complexities involved in resourcing this most diverse sector of the education service and to demonstrate the difficulties of applying simple administrative solutions to this process.   
                                                                      PART  A.       
The provision of further education in England and Wales is governed by legislation on both education and local government as a whole. Only two education acts, the Education Act 1944 and the Education (No. 2) Act 1968, have considerable relevance to further education. The bulk of legal requirements is laid down by Central Government in the form of Statutory Instruments, authorised by general acts. By means of such of these as the 'Further Education Regulations 1975 (SI No. 1054)' and regulations on student grants and teachers' salary scales, the Department of Education and Science (DES) can to a marked degree guide the development of the further education service.

Apart from legislation, the DES provides advice and guidance to local education authorities (LEAs) by means of circulars and administrative memoranda. Of these the latter are most numerous, being usually concerned with routine matters or statements of procedures. Circulars, the other of these non-legislative means of formal communication between the DES and local education authorities, are somewhat ambivalent. They may make recommendations, ask for information and invite discussion, but they do in fact carry the full weight of the DES and, in general, local education authorities are expected to follow the guidelines laid down in them. Additional advice to LEAs and colleges of further education may be sent in the form of circular letters. Indeed changes of policy are often heralded by this means, e.g. ACL 1/78 on ordinary residence qualifications for FE awards, and FECL 1/80 on course approvals.


The relationship between central and local government is traditionally described as a 'partnership'. To use a familiar cliche, education is said to be 'a national service, locally administered'. However, this is in fact a considerable over-simplification. Although national policy on education is determined by the Secretary of State for Education and Science, normally following thorough consultation, the implementation of such policy generally concedes to local education authorities a sufficient area of discretion to enable them to develop local policies which raise them above the status of mere administrative agents of central government. The Education Act 1944, by establishing the Secretary of State and the local education authorities in their present roles, largely prescribes the the terms of this relationship between central and local government. The Act gave the Secretary of State the duty 'to secure the effective execution by local education authorities under his control and direction, of a national policy for providing a varied and comprehensive educational service in every area'. While this implies a strong element of central responsibility, the powers of the Secretary of State are in fact limited to those laid down in the Act.

With regard to further education, the duties and responsibilities are set out in Section 41 and the 1944 Act:

'Subject as hereinafter provided, it shall be the duty of every local education authority to secure the provision for their area of adequate facilities for further education'.

Further education is then defined as follows:

'(a)  full-time and part-time education for persons over compulsory school age; and

 (b)  leisure-time occupation in such organised cultural training and recreative activities as are suited to their requirements, for any persons over compulsory school age who are able and willing to profit by the facilities provided for that purpose'.

Sections 41 and 42 also provide that local education authorities should prepare schemes of further education for the approval of the Secretary of State. In practice this has turned out to be a 'once-and-for-all' requirement as the Secretary of State has not thought it necessary to seek updatings of such schemes.

Thus the local education authorities are expected to manage their own affairs within the prescribed area of powers and responsibilities, although the Secretary of State has, in extremis, the rights to intervene under Sections 68 and 99 of the 1944 Act.

The terms of the partnership between central and local government may be illustrated by two examples of a strong use of the Secretary of State's powers. The Education (No. 2) Act 1968 gave effect to the Weaver Committee's recommendations on the liberalising of college government. For colleges of education the Act was quickly enforced as local education authorities accepted for these colleges the guidelines laid down by the Secretary of State for the instrument and articles of government. However, the DES' proposals in respect of colleges of further education were not acceptable to local education authorities, and it was nearly two years, after discussions between the Department and LEAs, before guidance on the implementation of the 1968 (No. 2) Act was issued in Circular 7/70. The first new articles of government were not approved until 1971, and in 1975 there were still some authorities which had not implemented the requirements of the Act.

Another example of the working of the partnership between central and local government is the recent reduction in the number of teacher training places. In 1972 a Government white paper, following the 1972 James Report on 'Teacher Education and Training', proposed amalgamations and asked that consultations begin locally. While these consultations and negotiations were taking place, the statistics of a falling birthrate combined with a declining economic situation persuaded the Secretary of State to make further cuts in the programmed number of teacher training places. Consequently in 1977 the Secretary of State announced that, instead of the 75,000-85,000 places projected as a target in the 1972 White Paper, the target would be only 45,000. As a result, the DES required that the number and pace of amalgamations be stepped up. The reduction in the number of student places and the number of amalgamations that then occurred were probably greater and effected more speedily than if local initiative had been the prime determinant of action, but even by 1978 plans for many colleges had yet to be agreed due to the power of local authorities to shape events.


Of all central government controls over the direction of further education in England and Wales, the most powerful is its finance of the education system.

The 1944 Act provided for grants from central government to local authorities to support the education service, but the present procedure was determined by the Local Government Act 1966. This act introduced the Rate Support Grant (RSG), which is a method of supporting local government expenditure financed through revenue raised by local rates. The local authority associations negotiate with the Department of the Environment concerning the amount of 'agreed relevant expenditure' for the coming financial year, and the total support which central government will find. (In 1980-81 this amounts to 61%.) In respect of further education, agreed relevant expenditure will include the number of places for non-advanced further education and for discretionary awards. Arrangements for advanced further education are agreed separately from the RSG negotiations and will be considered below. The unusual aspect of this system of central government support of local government expenditure is that, while the total expenditure negotiated is based upon components for the different services and for different items within such services, it is not tied to these components when the RSG comes through. Thus, while in the past Secretaries of State for Education have been able to claim that they have secured sums in RSG to meet special purposes, they have no power to ensure that the money is even spent on education, let alone the particular area designated by the DES. A good example of this frustration for central government is the vain attempts of the recent Labour Government (1974-79) to encourage an increase in provision for the in-service training of teachers, including further education lecturers.

Building for further education has to be approved by the DES under the 'Further Education Regulations, 1975'. LEAs submit lists of building projects with their justifications, and the DES selects, in the light of national and local needs, certain of these projects, for which it then gives approval, under the 1933 Local Government Act, for LEAs to raise capital loans either through the Public Works Loans Board or on the private market.

In addition to revenue received in respect of the rate fund account and capital loans raised for building purposes, the further education service benefits from various additional sources of income. Tuition fees for courses of further education are one such source. The DES makes recommendations about levels of fees for particular categories of students and types of courses, and each year these recommendations for full-time courses are embodied in official circulars from the Department, following consultations with the local authority associations. In general, LEAs follow these guidelines, although for some years authorities in the London and Home Counties area have charged fees above the level recommended nationally. With regard to authorities providing further education to students resident in other authorities, the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1953, as amended, provides for 'recoupment' of tuition fees under arrangements approved annually by the Inter-Authority Payments Committee. Some authorities make 'free trade' agreements with their neighbours for, mainly, part-time courses, although the London Government Act 1963 makes free trade for all further education courses mandatory among London authorities. Further income is provided from courses organised under the auspices of the Industrial Training Boards and the Manpower Services Commisssion (MSC), and 'full-cost' courses provided for particular clients on a 'short full-time' basis. 

With regard to the MSC, courses provided under the Training Opportunities and Youth Opportunities Programmes have grown so substantially in comparison with traditionally funded courses of non-advanced further education that both the DES and LEAs have become somewhat alarmed. LEAs have felt, with some justification, that central government grants which might otherwise have been available under RSG have been diverted to support the MSC. That this is so no doubt reflects the fear of central government that at a time of economic retrenchment LEAs, if left to their own devices, would not take sufficiently speedy action to provide suitable course for the unemployed.

A final, though often forgotten source of revenue and custom for colleges of further education is the provision of mandatory awards approved annually under the 'Local Education Authority Awards Regulations'. Mandatory Awards are made for students undertaking degree or degree equivalent courses approved as such by the DES. Such awards comprise course tuition fees and means-tested maintenance grants for students, and the DES reimburses LEAs for 90% of expenditure on such awards. Grants for non-designated advanced courses and for non-advanced courses are made at the discretion of LEAs. It is no secret that levels of discretionary grants have declined greatly in recent years due to financial constraints, with many  LEAs now making no provision of this nature at all. This situation increases the disparity between support given to students on designated and non-designated courses, and indicates clearly the way in which demand for further education can be stimulated or depressed by grant arrangements. In addition, the provision of mandatory awards for degree and equivalent courses has exacerbated the tendency, already present for other reasons, for colleges of further education to increase provision for advanced courses at the expense of courses at a lower level.


Just as patterns of responsibility are diffused between central and local government, so at local level duties are divided between maintaining LEAs and the college authorities themselves.

The extent to which college expenditure is independent of the local authority varies from one authority to another. In general, a college's level of freedom is positively related to the amount of advanced work it undertakes, this being particularly so in the case of polytechnics. The extent of such independence is determined particularly by the powers of its governing body, approved under the criteria of Circular 7/70, and partly by the spending power remitted to the governing body by the maintaining LEA. Circular 7/70 recommended that governors should have the freedom to spend under certain budgetary headings and to be able to exercise 'virement' within these. While the 'virement' granted by LEAs is usually limited to items within headings (i.e. teaching staff, ancillary staff, staff training, educational equipment), some articles of government allow 'virement' across such headings. Finally, however, it is the LEA that has ultimate responsibility for the finances of a college, and all the financial procedures of a college as well as its annual budgets must be approved by it.

Another area of importance in which the relative powers of LEAs and colleges are involved is the question of academic responsibility. In general, articles of government charge LEAs with the duty to decide the general educational character of a college, a power which it may exercise at committee level through control at new courses. The academic responsibilities of a local education authority are also defined by its duty under the 1944 Act 'to secure the provision for their area of adequate facilities for further education'. 'Adequate facilities' must include provision of appropriate courses as well as premises and equipment. While local education authorities, therefore, bear a responsibility for the courses of colleges. Under Circular 7/70, academic responsibility is divided between the governors, the principal, and the academic board, the chairman of which is the college principal.

By way of summary, it should be emphasised that a college is in all its aspects a responsibility of the LEA. When considering the extent of autonomy it will allow a college, a LEA will remember that it has responsibility for the financial  procedures and the premises of a college, and that it is the employer of all staff, both teaching and ancillary. However, some of the LEA's functions can be delegated to a college and its governors, and, following Circular 7/70, articles of government for colleges allow freedom to spend within certain limits and to direct the academic progress of the college.


Each local education authority is empowered to approve courses of non-advanced further education further education in its colleges, although under Regulation 7 of the 'Further Education Regulations, 1975', it is expected to avoid duplication of courses provided by neighbouring authorities. Under Regulation 8 of the same regulations the provision of all advanced courses proposed by LEAs is subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, who is advised in this area by the Regional Staff Inspector (RSI) of HM Inspectorate.

With regard to course approval, an important role is played by the nine Regional Advisory Councils for further education (RACs) established in 1946. While their statutory powers are very limited, the influence of these bodies is considerable. They have advisory bodies on non-advanced further education and ensure that the requirement of Regulation 7, described above, is met. They also consider all applications to start new advanced courses and make recommendations upon them prior to passing them to the RSI. Indeed under Circular 10/76 the Secretary of State delegated to RACs some of his course approvals power, e.g. in respect of all part-time courses of advanced further education below degree level. In making their decisions or recommendations on course approval, the Secretary of State, the RSIs, the RACs and the LEAs, will take account of, inter alia, estimated student numbers, the extent of neighbouring provision, the national and local demand for the course and the availability of resources.

Once a course has been approved, as required, it still has to be validated by the appropriate examining body. Degree courses in polytechnics and colleges of further education are validated by the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA), which received its charter in 1964. While the CNAA grew out of the former National Council for Technological Awards, which was concerned primarily with technical and commercial subjects, it now validates a a variety of arts degrees including B.Ed degrees. The previous decade has seen a growth of CNAA degrees and postgraduate certificates in Education in preference to the university validated courses, more common in the former colleges of education. Advanced and non-advanced courses in the fields of technical and commercial education are validated by the Technician and Business Education Councils (TEC and BEC) established in 1974 to replace the Joint Committees of the DES and professional bodies for the national diploma and certificate schemes. Other qualifications at the craft and commercial skills levels are validated by the City and Guilds of London Institute, the Royal Society of Arts, the London Chamber of Commerce and the six regional examining bodies attached to the RACs. The recently established MSC has also played a notable part in the design and approval of courses which it finances in colleges of further education.

While responsibility for designing, approving and validating courses of further education is widely diffused, the decisions taken and the standards set by these bodies have very considerable consequences for the resources required in colleges. For instance, the CNAA, before approving a course proposal, will inspect the facilities of the college and vet the qualifications of the relevant staff, as well as considering the academic content and structure of the course. Local authorities and colleges wishing to provide a particular course have to satisfy the standards of the appropriate validating body.


Advanced further education (AFE) has special financial arrangements outside the normal RSG and inter-authority recoupment procedures. In 1959 an Advanced Further Education Pool was set up by regulations to spread, as equitably as possible, the cost of AFE among providing LEAs and those providing little or no AFE. In 1968 a Pooling Committee was established 'to consider and keep under review the arrangements for pooling educational expenditure with particular reference to teacher training and advanced further education'. This committee is an advisory body only and, although serviced by the DES, is composed of finance officers representing the local authority associations. In 1974 the Advanced Further Education Pool was amalgamated with the Teacher Training Pool to form the TT and AFE Pool.

The financial arrangements of the Pool very briefly work as follows. At the end of each financial year the proportion of the total running costs of a college attributable to poolable AFE work is separately calculated. The amount to be recouped  by each college is calculated by the following formula:

Teaching hours in respect of AFE work / Teaching hours of all work x Total net running costs of the college.

When all AFE recoupment claims have been received the DES calculates the size of the Pool, to which each LEA is then required to contribute. Since 1974-75 contributions are charged pro-rata with 69% based on school population and 31% based on non-domestic rateable value, these figures deriving from an attempt to make each LEA's contribution to the combined Pool match as closely as possible to its aggregate share of the two previous pools. Once an authority's overall net contribution to or receipt from the Pool has been determined, the RSG is adjusted accordingly.
Many criticisms of the AFE pooling mechanism have been made. These are listed in an article by Lewis and Allemano (1972) (See Reference 1), the most thorough existing study of the Pool and its consequences. The major complaint, one common to all pooling schemes, is that it divides the burden of cost and accountability. Not only, it is alleged, does this encourage a lack of cost effectiveness, but it may reduce the determination of a LEA to assess the quality of the service provided. Local authorities without AFE have been inclined to think that they have been committed to extravagant expenditure by authorities with colleges undertaking such work, whereas the latter feel that the amount of administrative resources which they devote to running AFE institutions, and for which no claim from the Pool is possible, is an unfair burden. Lewis and Allemano's study concluded that the providing authorities did have cause for a genuine grievance, but Pratt et al. in a more recent work in 1978 (See Reference 2) find that their analysis does not justify this conclusion. Pratt et al. believe that no clear patterns emerge from information so far available and conclude that 'there are disparities in the system of recoupment, some authorities do well, others badly out of the Pool; further investigation of this aspect would be worthwhile'. Pratt et al. do however suggest that one reason for the confusion over the consequences of AFE pooling is that the use of teaching staff hours as a proxy for recoupment provides an unreliable basis. They question the assumption that costs divide themselves in the ratio of staff time on advanced courses to total staff time. In fact because of the sophisticated equipment often required on AFE courses and the higher salaries which the Burnham salary system requires it is likely that the costs of teaching on advanced courses will be underestimated in relation to non-advanced work. Indeed it may well be that it is the extent to which the recoupment formula based on teaching staff hours does present a fair division of costs that determines whether a providing authority gains or loses from the pooling arrangements in force.

While it remains unclear who, if anyone, have been the beneficiaries of the AFE Pool, there has been a general concern at both national and local level that the 'open-ended' nature of the expenditure to which it has committed LEAs has had an inflationary effect. The previous government set up the Oakes Committee to advise on the 'Management of Higher Education in the Maintained Sector'. The Oakes Report (1978) recommended the setting up of a National Body to determine necessary AFE provision and to plan future developments. With regard to recoupment it proposed that a proportion eventually reaching 15% of total costs should be met by providing LEAs and the balance should be pooled as at present. It also suggested differential funding arrangements for AFE according to institutions: programme finance for polytechnics and other colleges with over 90% advanced work and 'per capita' finance for others. The Oakes recommendations have not been taken up. One obvious shortcoming of the Report is its virtual disregard of the problem of accountability. While providing LEAs would have been expected to pay for their involvement in AFE, their powers would have been reduced and passed to a National Body, the members of which would have no financial stake in the system nor be accountable to the electorate for the service provided. Other difficulties are the complexity of the financial arrangements suggested and the additional layer of bureaucracy which the creation of a National Body would have entailed. at steps were being taken to restrict 

While the Oakes Report has not found favour, the present government in line with its general policy of constraining public expenditure has taken steps to end the 'open-ended' commitment of the AFE Pool arrangements. In December 1979 the Secretary of State predetermined the quantum for the AFE Pool in 1980-81 at £375 million at November 1979 prices. Any additional expenditure incurred will now have to be met by providing LEAs from their own rate-fund accounts. Allocations to LEAs from within the quantum were determined by halving the difference between their percentage shares in 1978-79 outturn and their estimates for 1980-81. Shortly afterwards, in February 1980, the DES announced that steps were being taken to restrict new course approvals by requiring RSIs to take stricter criteria into account in their considerations. These recent actions by central government are almost certainly short term measures, but although both heavy-handed and ad hoc in nature they will certainly reduce public expenditure on AFE. In general it seems that the current pooling arrangements are ripe for revision. The AFE Pool, which has been in existence since 1958, was arguably appropriate during a period of spectacular expansion in the further education service. It is unlikely that this expansion would have occurred so quickly or would so readily have matched consumer needs if providing authorities had been hampered with budgetary and recoupment problems of the type encountered in the early 1950s. However, in a period of relative stability, if not contraction, there seems little further excuse for divorcing the duties of financing and accountability. In the long run, it is likely that pooling will be replaced by a return to LEA responsibility for both finance and provision or greater central government control of AFE via some body akin to the University Grants Committee.


Regulation 12 of the 'Further Education Regulations, 1975' stipulates that 'The teachers shall be sufficient in number and have the qualifications necessary for the adequate instruction of the students in the courses provided'. This is a masterpiece of vagueness as no guidelines exist to determine numbers of staff and no formal teacher training qualifications are required of FE lecturers. In general teachers may be expected to have practical experience, gained in industry or from the professions, of the disciplines which they teach.

The salaries of further education teachers is by far the largest item of expenditure by LEAs on the further education service. In 1977-78 it accounted for 41% of all local authority expenditure on further education, or
58% if mandatory student awards are excluded (See Reference 3). A different survey for 1977-78 showed that the proportion of teaching staff costs in total costs per pupil was 57% in major establishments of further education and 48% in polytechnics (See Reference 4). The Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965 established the present arrangements for teachers' pay through the Burnham Further Education Committee, on which the local authority associations, teachers' organisations and the DES are represented under an independent chairman selected by the Secretary of State. In the event of a failure to agree in the Burnham Committee, by now a regular occurrence, salaries are determined by arbitration.

Conditions of service may not be negotiated in the Burnham Committee as they are outside the scope of the Remuneration of Teachers Act. These, including such things as length of terms and teaching hours per week, are determined by local negotiations between LEAs and union branches within a national framework agreed by the Council of Local Education Authorities (CLEA) and the teachers' unions in 1975. While this agreement was not formally binding upon LEAs, it has in practice been accepted as such. Articles of government describe procedures for appointment and dismissal, usually on the lines proposed in Circular 7/70.

A new 'National Joint Council for Teachers in Further Education in England and Wales' met for the first time in February 1980 and has replaced CLEA as the forum for negotiations on Conditions of Service. Indeed if the Remuneration of Teachers Act were repealed, the NJC could also replace Burnham as the forum for salary negotiations. This would clearly be appropriate as it is difficult to justify separate negotiations in these areas.


                                                                  PART  B



Before one looks at the ways in which teaching resources are allocated, it is appropriate are allocated by local authorities to maintained colleges of further education, it is appropriate to consider a number of theoretical perspectives which which either do or might influence the distribution process.

The following questions will be addressed in this chapter:

(a)  what resources are and their position in relation to the educational process;

(b)  how resources may be costed and whether returns on them may be calculated;

(c)  the extent to which the supply of resources can be said to match the demand created by consumers of education;

(d)  whether economies of scale are achievable in relation to resource distribution;

(e)  the significance of research on class size to a policy on resource allocation; and

(f)  what relevance objectives might have in this policy.

These considerations will be discussed in the above order.

(a)  Resources as inputs.

The concepts of inputs and outputs are central to thinking in the fields of both economics and systems analysis. In the former they underpin ideas of efficiency, productivity, cost/benefit analysis and 'value-added', and in the latter they are basic parts of the input-process-output-evaluation cycle. These concepts are fully applicable to the concept of education, in which they act as aids to clarity of thought. At present, however, it can justly be maintained that some confusion is evident among educationists as to the difference between inputs and outputs of the education system.

Such confusion is perhaps best illustrated by a DES feasibility study of output budgeting published in 1970 (See Reference 5). This planning paper claimed that output budgeting might be a coherent way of relating the Department's objectives, activities, inputs, and outputs. Its discussion of inputs was largely devoted to a consideration of how to define costs. These costs may be considered in a variety of ways: the budgetary cost  to both central and local government; the consequences for taxation and local rates; and total resource costs including the opportunity cost of foregone earnings (the students) and foregone production (the community). The DES paper opted for the use of public expenditure, i.e. budgetary costs, partly because of theoretical problems in relation to resource costs and partly because of lack of information by which to calculate them. In general, however, it can be argued that what to call an input is not a question of definition; rather, it is an issue which only makes sense in relation to the educational process and its outputs. What should be included will differ for an institution according to differing circumstances. The paper states:

' ..... that the programme budget would include whatever quantitative measures of output could be meaningfully constructed and used on a regular basis. These will almost always be intermediate rather than final outputs, that is to say, outputs associated with intermediate rather than final objectives: for instance pupil teacher ratios rather than educational standards. It is clearly important that the relationship between intermediate and final outputs should be understood: this will be the subject of special studies'.

This discussion of outputs has been the subject of sharp criticism by Pratt et al. who express dissatisfaction with the view that measures of output should not be those that might be most suitable for a particular purpose but those which can 'be meaningfully constructed'. In addition, if the relationship between intermediate and final outputs is not understood, they wonder how it is possible to assert that one is intermediate to another. In the case of the example given in the above extract, the relationship between pupil/teacher ratios and educational performance is not yet understood. If it transpired that there was no relationship, the so-called meaningful measure would have no meaning in this context at all. They conclude scornfully that 'It is an odd kind of economics where a manifest input is called an intermediate output, with no understood relationship to a final output' (See Reference 6).

In fact, however, most cost studies of further or higher education do employ measures of cost per student (i.e. unit costs). The bases of these measures vary, that is, they include calculations of student numbers, full-time equivalents or student hours. Such calculations take no account of the quality of provision, in terms of student success or failure in examinations, and in the costing process are often biassed against less teacher-intensive techniques of learning (See Reference 7). Above all, such studies are open to the objection that they use enrolments of students as a measure of output, to be seen in relation to inputs such as staff and buildings. Pratt et al. believe that: 'The practice is almost universal and fundamentally mistaken. It leads to a distortion, both of economics and education ... In education we ... need to be able to discuss what mix of inputs is most apt for producing desirable outputs. We are merely misled if we try to determine instead what mix of inputs would best accommodate other inputs' (See Reference 8).

In order to liberate us from the toils of this output budgeting, Pratt et al. recommend a consideration of the industrial analogy. Just as a firm mixes the inputs of capital, labour and raw materials to manufacture an output, so a college mixes its buildings, equipment, staff and uneducated students (the fundamental raw material) to produce educated students (the product) (See Reference 9). In this commonsense conception, enrolments and student/staff ratios are measures of inputs and educational standards are measures of outputs.

This view is of course the view of the practising educationist, and the criticisms of Pratt et al. are no doubt just. The tendency to use student enrolments as proxy outputs owes more to politics, i.e. a quantitative obsession with student numbers and participation rates in the egalitarian post-Robbins era, than to serious educational practice. While it is no doubt convenient for the politician to treat student enrolments as the product of buildings and staff, such a formulation is educationally sterile. On the other hand the industrial analogy put forward by Pratt et al. enables one to accommodate questions of quality which the enrolment-focussed view ignores. Thus, uneducated students can be seen as inputs, which when mixed with various combinations of other inputs, will produce outputs of differing quality. One can then proceed to consider the costs of such differences.

(b)  The costing of resources.

It is of importance to be able to cost resources not only as inputs but also in relation to the quality of the output to which they are intended to contribute. While the costs of inputs may be generally described as annual recurrent expenditure plus loan charges for capital, the costing of the outputs of further education creates conceptual problems. In a business enterprise, the cost of an output is the price of production plus profits. While a college of further education acquires no profits, the central difficulty concerns the price of the product. In a sense, the product does have a price, that is, the salary which the graduate or leaver can command, but this price is paid not to the college but to the leaver or rather to  the household to which he belongs. To this extent, therefore, there is no direct way in which the price of the product will affect the decision-making of the college, and there can be no economic relationship between the costs of the inputs and the price of the output. If measures of output, in relation to the costs of inputs, cannot be economic ones, the solution to this dilemma must be sought at the level of the individual course. Each course is a potential solution to an educational problem which differs according to the aims of each individual student, and the problem is solved by moving the student from where he is on entry to where he wishes to be on completion. Whether the student's aims are personal, educational, vocational or recreational, the contribution of the course is the difference which it has made to him. Measurement of educational outcomes is thus a very complex task and existing means of assessment will only provide partial solutions. Criticisms of examinations as tautologous, i.e. they judge the success with which a student has been prepared for an examination rather than his real educational development, can perhaps be exaggerated. After all, if success on the course, in relation to the individual student's aims, can be tied to the achievement of carefully monitored educational standards, as in many cases it can, examination results will contribute to the measurement of the output, i.e. the educated student, in a significant way. However, difficulties remain: not all differences are measurable, e.g. attitudes to knowledge or innovation; not all the attributes acquired by students will be consequent to the course, e.g. the mental security which age may bring; and not all examinations do provide meaningful feedback on the educational process. With regard to the last point, the tendency for the Council for National Academic Awards to focus its attention on input factors, e.g. entry qualifications of students, buildings, the quality of staff, rather than on educational standards, when validating courses of higher education, leads one to question the comparability of outcomes between the autonomous and public sectors of higher education and between different establishments in the public sector itself. Finally, of course, the  extent to which a given course has answered the needs of individual students is rarely, if ever, discovered. 

However, whatever the difficulties involved, it is the view of Pratt and his collaborators that it is essential that a calculation of the characteristics of student output should precede decisions as to the appropriate mix of resources. These decisions should then be made on the basis of cost or on other grounds. Once each course has been so designed the total output of a college could be described in such a way  that the costs of various inputs could be attributed to the achievement of various outputs. Of course a college could decide to concentrate only upon those outputs produced by the cheapest mix of inputs but in practice most would make value judgments which would have higher cost implications. Certainly it would be a mistake to feel that a characteristic is valueless because it cannot be costed. If decisions were taken in this way, judgments on resources would be well informed and might provide a rational argument against too stringent economies. 

Thus far the costs of students, both as inputs and eventually as outputs, have been considered mainly in relation to the educational system itself. To the system the input of uneducated students is costless and there is no price paid to the system for the product, the educated students. To the community as a whole the position is different. There have been the costs to householders of food, clothing, and shelter, and to public funds of previous education. There will continue to be costs to households in terms of maintenance and now also of salaries foregone, whereas there will be costs to the economy in terms of production forgone. To society as a whole there may also be some returns from investment in further education. To households economic returns may be seen as the difference between the lifetime earnings of educated students and their likely earnings if they had remained uneducated. To firms such returns may be seen in terms of the value added to the product by the employment of educated students once their enhanced salary levels have been taken into account. With regard to public expenditure, the costs include the support of educational establishments, the maintenance grants awarded to households and the loss of taxation which the student might otherwise have provided. The benefits will come as increased productivity with increased earnings as its proxy and as higher levels of taxation from the educated students. The ways in which the overall costs of further education may be expressed are therefore various, and which one is selected will depend on circumstances and not on budgetary convenience, for as Pratt et al. roundly assert, 'Budgets were made for man, not man for budgets'. By concentration upon the relationship of inputs and outputs, one facilitates considerations of productivity and the quality of the educational product. The practice of employing full-time equivalent student enrolments as the basis for resource allocation has been inequitable in that cost comparisons have involved arbitrary measures of part-time students, and inefficient to the extent that questions of quality have been largely ignored. However, once the product has been costed one can consider issues of productivity. Pratt et al. suggest the use of a graduate/staff ratio, which would focus attention upon the purpose of the institution and reduce enrolments of full-time equivalent students to their true status as matters of input. Concentration upon output also serves to accommodate the problems of student wastage rates, as Lewis (See Reference 11) has suggested. She put forward the idea of calculating the output of each year of a course, which would reflect that the costs of failure in one year might be greater than another. The output of each year would thus be intermediate outputs to the final output at the end of the course. Another aspect of productivity illuminated by considerations of input and output concerns the quality in qualifications of the student entry. A degree course which successfully accommodates entrants without 'A' Levels may be seen as achieving a higher rate of productivity than a course possessing entrants with these qualifications.

Finally it must be stressed that questions of quality are central to all resource considerations in education. For  a college of further education can have no returns to output and thus no compelling incentive to become more efficient. Only by assessing output and thereby achieving some element of quality control can the effects of financial stringency be countered. At present there are no methods of holding the quality of output constant, and thus all economies will tend towards a deterioration of the service.

(c)  Supply and demand.

This section is concerned to consider the extent to which the supply of resources allocated to further education can be said to reflect the demand provided by society.

Individual households buy further education in a sense through the costs of maintenance and income foregone, but there is no price which is paid to a local education authority or to the state. In economic terms, there is no price mechanism around which student demand and the supply of further education can move. Thus any relationship that exists between them cannot be conceived as an economic one. To summarise, there is an economic relationship between price and demand, but not either of these and supply. Even the demand is related less to the price of further education than to other things - the price of student maintenance and income foregone -, and this demand can be manipulated by levels of grant and starting salaries. Firms may be said to purchase the output of further education in terms of of the starting and lifetime salaries which are paid to successful students, but the further education system cannot be said to respond directly to such demands, although they may eventually be expressed via households. Once again no price mechanism is evident, however. What actually occurs may best be described as follows (See Reference 12). Households and firms together purchase further education from central and local government through taxes and rates. Government then buys it on their behalf from colleges through direct funding and grants to students. Society pays an additional price indirectly in respect of the lost production which the student might have contributed. The imposition of taxes and rates does reveal in a sense the extent of demand through pressure groups and opposition to expenditure on particular services. Government policy on the supply of further education is not however directly influenced by student demand, which can in any case be manipulated. To some extent supply will reflect the preoccupations of government, as in the Sixties, when education was thought to be the surest way to stoke up 'the white heat of technological change'. In general both demand and supply are politically derived: government balances what levels of taxation it thinks society will stand against the level of  services which it estimates society will expect. 

(d)  Economies of scale.

It is a continual hope of those who plan the provision of education that it will be possible in the allocation of resources to achieve economies of scale by the establishment of educational units of greater size. This hope had no doubt been one strand behind the development of polytechnics, institutes and colleges of higher education, sixth form and tertiary colleges and comprehensive secondary schools. During this decade the overall number of students, both full-time and part-time, rose by 45% and the number of institutions fell by 17%. During the same period expenditure rose massively by only 61% (See Reference 13). From these figures it would appear that substantial dis-economies of scale took place. Pratt et al. doubt that any evidence has been adduced to prove the existence of economies of scale in British education in recent years, although some studies of universities have purported to show that some economies of scale might be achieved if an expansion of student numbers used up surplus capacity (See Reference 14). It is difficult to find such claims convincing.

In the circumstances it is necessary to question the assumptions behind the concept of economies of scale. Economies of scale, or more accurately, increasing returns to scale, will only occur if the average costs of production fall without a reduction in quality as more is produced. There is, of course, nothing inevitable about economies of scale, and the reverse is just as possible. A firm may achieve economies of scale by using new technology or simply by increasing productivity in terms of output without extra costs. In education the first has usually led to additional staff and the second is difficult to achieve as the formulae for the provision of buildings, capitation allowances and staff have traditionally been tied to student numbers. This last is a very important point to make, for it effectively ensures that economies of scale will not be possible in the allocation of teaching resources. Where economies of scale have apparently occurred they are usually a temporary phenomenon, i.e. there is a timelag between the recruitment of additional students and the provision of additional buildings and equipment. Sometimes they may be unreal, in that they are based upon initially generous set up costs for a new course.

Even, if evidence, in a purely quantitative sense, for economies of scale had occurred, these economies would be largely meaningless if divorced from considerations of quality. Without the ability to measure quality, it is impossible to know whether cheaper costs are true economies or simple penury. Lewis' suggestion of using wastage rates for such a measure has a possible application in this context. Talk of marginal costs in education (i.e. the cost of providing for an additional student) assumes a constant quality of output. In fact cost studies of higher education have largely ignored such considerations, as, in the view of Pratt et al. has the DES.

As resources are attached to students in proportion to their numbers one would expect constant returns to scale. In fact, due to the growth of hierarchical structures in large educational establishments the returns tend to be decreasing. Thus DES' expectations of economies of scale have been illusory.

(e)  Class size considerations.

Teachers in further education, in common with teachers from other sectors, believe generally that lower student/staff ratios, accompanied by smaller class sizes, will produce an improved educational output. In addition, the concept of student/staff ratios assumes that additional elements of teaching staff will always be required in relation to each individual pupil. The allocater of resources needs to have a view on this matter.

In fact the extent to which teaching costs should be variable in proportion to the  number of students is open to some question. The position on class size research has recently been summarised as follows by C.Burstall:

'In general, class size has appeared to have no effect on achievement at all or, even less palatably, has appeared to be positively correlated with it - the larger the class, the higher the level of achievement - Indeed the concept of "optimal" class size is probably not a helpful one. Size cannot be divorced from context. Classes of different sizes may be equally effective for different purposes (See Reference 15)'. 

Whatever other arguments there may be for reducing student/staff ratios (See Reference 16), the message of the above is that no argument can be based on existing class size research. Even though this research has been carried out mainly in relation to schools, there is no reason to believe that its conclusions are not valid for further education.

B.D.Cullen, the Senior Economic Adviser to the DES has recently added to Miss Burstall's comments (See Reference 17). He points out that an economist is interested in the whole variety of resources that go towards the making of a product - materials, equipment, buildings and labour of different kinds. He will gain little from observing the effects of one input, in this case one type of labour, in isolation. Even if further research showed that more teachers produced better educational outcomes, as long as that research concentrated on teacher-related inputs alone one could know whether equivalent outcomes might not have been achieved by increasing expenditure on other inputs, possibly even at the expense of teaching staff. In his conclusion, Cullen makes 'a plea for renewed consideration to be given to the production functional approach to education'. Once again this means more emphasis on input mix and less on student/staff ratios.

(f)  The place for objectives.

The place of objectives in the process of resource allocation is also a necessary consideration. For the 16-19 age range, perhaps the most appropriate in relation to further education, the DES planning paper No.1 has suggested has suggested the following objectives:

'(1) To provide education and/or vocational training for all those between the ages of 16 and 19 who wish to receive it and could profit from it;

(2) To meet the requirements of society for people with education and training to this level, either to be employed directly or to go forward for further education and vocational training'.

Such objectives are unexceptional, but how does one evaluate the extent to which, in the most general terms, they are being achieved?

Birch and Parkes (See Reference 18) describe further education colleges as akin to retail co-operatives, that is, they exist to maximise member benefits. From this view the market provides the most appropriate measure of success in terms of enrolment levels and attendance rates. At a superficial level this approach has something to recommend it, for, as Birch and Parkes point out, a college without students cannot be considered successful. However, in terms of which courses to offer, enrolments can only be a part of the picture. Public choice follows social trends, and there is often an appreciable timelag between changing circumstances and public perception of such changes.

To the extent that resources for further education may be seen as an economic investment for the well-being of the local community as a whole, a providing local education authority may adopt in respect of courses policy guidelines which are more than just a reflection of current enrolment patterns. For instance, it may elect to develop or expand vocational training courses which relate to the needs of local industry rather than see a duplication of GCE courses already available in local secondary schools; it may give priority to the provision of pre-vocational courses or courses of unified vocational preparation for underachieving 16-19 year olds because of their poor employment value; it may oppose the development of courses designed to attract enrolments from a predominantly national or international market; and it may seek to fix a balance between the proportion of advanced and non-advanced courses offered. In circumstances where the providing authority was seeking to expand its industrial base, or arrest its decline, such interventionist policies might be most likely to occur.

Birch and Parkes' suggestion that student enrolments and attendance rates be used as a means of evaluating the success of a college in achieving its objectives is in fact an example of confused thinking. As Pratt et al. have continually stressed, enrolments are inputs, and thus they cannot be used to measure success in achieving objectives, which are inputs of another kind. Only outputs can do this. To the extent that that the courses offered and the enrolments obtained are often the product of deliberate policy on behalf of the academic staff of a college, these cannot be seen as an unbiassed statement of public demand. The courses which a college offers may best be seen as the activities by which a college implements its objectives. Past enrolment patterns are simply information which a college may choose to guide its choice of objectives and activities. The other proposed criterion of Birch and Parkes, attendance rates, is an output, or a measure of output, but this measure by itself provides only a marginal contribution to the question of how to assess performance, which is above all a qualitative problem, as we have seen earlier. In short, Birch and Parkes' proposals exemplify the quantitative analysis approach to resource allocation which Pratt et al. find so unsatisfactory. 

These latter remark that successive secretaries of state have failed to use their power, vested in Section 42 of the 1944 Education Act, to require local education authorities to produce development plans for further education. In consequence there is little evidence that present provision of further education is informed by a careful consideration of objectives and priorities. Rather the present situation may be said to reflect the historical remnants of previous DES policy (e.g. the division of colleges into regional, area and local establishments in the 1957 circular) and the results of more recent entrepreneurial activity of colleges, which has been only haphazardly controlled by the Regional Advisory Councils. In the past decade the flood of amalgamations between further education institutions and colleges of education provides evidence of central government steering. In the Greater London area, where free trade is mandatory under the terms of the !963 London Government Act, Local Education Authorities make no pretence of individual planning and rarely look to colleges to provide for specific needs.

This rudderless approach is criticised by Pratt et al. who argue that that local education authorities should be required to draw up development plans for further education. The objectives, which would determine the content of these plans, would then facilitate the the practice of 'problem budgeting', i.e. distributing resources in relation to the readiness of colleges to find solutions to the needs or problems posed by the development plans:

'In the creation of development plans the local authorities should operate on the principle that it is for them to establish what are the problems of their area and to make clear the priority which they give to each of these problems. It is for individual institutions to propose solutions. It is in these proposals of institutions that the authority will find grounds for the distribution of resources. In particular it will be encouraged to consider whether resources ought not to be reduced where the activities of institutions no longer make a direct contribution to those problems which the Authority believes important. It is clear that this would require a new style of administration in most local authorities, but it is only a qualitative change of this kind which will enable the authorities to exercise creative control rather than mere interference (See Reference 19).

By this mechanism of 'problem budgeting' both objectives and their successful accomplishment would guide the allocation of resources.


(a)  The Grading of Teaching Posts.

The grading of teaching posts in colleges of further education is determined by the annual Burnham Reports (Further Education) (See Reference 20), in which are published the approved salary arrangements for each year. Appendix IIA of the Report entitled 'Grading of Posts in Establishments for Further Education ... ' explains how the number of lecturing posts in each grade may be calculated.

For academic posts below Head of Department the Report relates the number of posts in each grade to the category and volume of course work. Courses are classified into five categories:

(I)       postgraduate;

(II/III) degree, higher national diploma/certificate and equivalent;

(IV)    ordinary national diploma/certificate and GCE 'A' Level; and

(V)     craft certificates, etc, GCE 'O' Level and below.

(N.B. The fusion of categories II and III in the 1979 Burnham Report follows the progressive phasing out of the City and Guilds Technician Certificates, of which the Part III, the Full Technological Certificate, was the most common source of Category III work.)

Once the volume of course work, classified in accordance with the above categories, has been assessed, the Report directs that local authorities shall adopt grading arrangements designed 'to secure an appropriate relativity between the standards of work and the post of the various categories of staff in the establishment of the college' (See Reference 21). According to the Report, the grades of staff employed on each category must be determined within staff grade bandwidths laid down in respect of percentages of the volume of work. Thus, with regard to Category II/III work in establishments of further education, Principal Lecturers must be employed on 10%-25% of the work and Senior Lecturers/Lecturers Grade II on 75%-90% of it. If a local authority decides that only the minimum proportion of the work, i.e. 10%, shall be taught by Principal Lecturers, then the maximum proportion of the work, i.e. 90%, will be taught by Senior Lecturers or Lecturers Grade II. It is worth pointing out that these bandwidths are often the subject of intense negotiation in the Burnham Committee and are occasionally varied. For instance with effect from 1 September 1978 the proportion of Lecturers Grade II employed on Category V work rose from 5%-15% to 15%-25%, while the proportion of Lecturers Grade I fell fell from 80%-95% to 70%-85%. This change, and others taken by individual local authorities with regard to the discretion permitted by the Education bandwidths, do have considerable financial consequences.

These bandwidths are an example of the Burnham Committee's concern, expressed at the beginning of Part 1 to their Appendix IIA that there should be a 'sufficient measure of flexibility to enable local education authorities to decide, in the light of all the relevant considerations, the grading of posts which they consider is best suited to the needs of the particular establishment ' (See Reference 22). Another example of flexibility is the provision for the appointment, at the discretion of the local authority, of a Principal Lecturer in circumstances where the minimum point of the bandwidth would not permit it, i.e., when the number of staff employed on Category I-II/III work is less than five. Finally, Part I concludes by stating that 'While Standards of work should be the essential consideration, it is competent for an authority to take other factors into account which they consider relevant to the grading of posts'. For instance, a college might be permitted to appoint a Senior Lecturer to act as course tutor for a pre-vocational course for 16-19 year old students of low educational attainment; while the level of work would in normal circumstances not generate such an appointment, the local authority might allow an exception in view of the expertise required for an important innovation. 

In general, however, local authorities are required by the terms of the Burnham Report to observe a close relationship between level of post and category of work. This can be further exemplified by the conditions attached in Appendix IA of the Report to the progression of Lecturers Grade II to Senior Lecturers, and to progression through the salary bars in the Senior and Principal Lecture scales. In all three cases responsibility  for 'a significant amount of Category I and/or II and/or III standard' (normally 50%) is a requirement for further advancement. Although this condition that a lecturer should be employed on 50% advanced course work at the time of his progression is often met within a department by the expedient device of the reshuffling of advanced work among staff - a practice colloquially known as 'the bounty year' -, the intention remains clear.

While the grading of lecturers is thus firmly related to the volume and level of course work, the remuneration of senior posts, i.e. Principals, Vice-Principals and Heads of Department, is determined by the number of 'student hours' assessed in accordance with categories of work and modes of attendance. The aggregate of student hours thus determined is then converted to 'unit totals' from which are derived, for salary purposes, the grades of departments and the groups of colleges. There is a marked differential between the value of advanced and non-advanced or 'low level' course work. 1 unit may be claimed for every 600 student hours of Category IV and V work, for every 300 student hours of Category II/III work, and for every 100 hours of Category I work. Thus degree and equivalent work is three times, and postgraduate work is six times, more valuable than non-advanced course work. Another differential involves the modes of attendance. Full-time students have a greater value in terms of unit totals than their part-time counterparts. Whereas only the actual registered hours' of part-time students may be counted, for full-time students 95% of the time spent in the college/department' is the criterion. Such time would include work on assignments and private study when a student was not under the direction of a member of staff. These 'Burnham' incentives to provide, on the one hand, for advanced students, and, on the other hand, for full-time ones may be seen as important factors leading towards the tendency of 'academic drift' in the nature of further education institutions, i.e. a change in the character of an institution that occurs as a result of staff ambitions rather than a change of policy by the LEA.

(b)  Conditions of Service.

While the Burnham Reports define the grades of posts associated with categories of work, the amount of work undertaken by members of the academic staff of colleges is defined, not by Burnham, but by Conditions of Service agreements between local education authorities and teacher unions. Such agreements stipulate, inter alia, the length and distribution of the college year, the length of a teaching session, the maximum number of 'contracted' hours per week and the number of hours taught per each staff grade.

Before 1975 the details of Conditions of Service agreements differed widely from region to region. In that year, a document entitled 'Recommendations for Local Conditions of Service for Further Education Teachers' was agreed by a joint negotiating committee of the Council of Local Education Authorities (CLEA) and the Further Education Teachers' Organisations. This agreement, although not binding,  has largely been accepted by authorities. It laid down a maximum of 36 teaching weeks in an academic year and a normal maximum of 30 hours per week for each lecturer. Class contact hours per week for each grade were to be determined by local agreement within the following bandwidths: Lecturer I 15-18 hours; Lecturer II 17-20 hours; Senior Lecturer 15-18 hours; Principal Lecturer 13-16 hours. The difference between the class contact hours per grade and those of the working week are 'residual' hours, utilised in the main as preparation and marking time.

The details of Conditions of Service agreements, particularly the limits on weekly contact hours, have clear resource implications.

(c)  Student Hours.

While central to the allocation of resources in further education, the concept of student hours is unfortunately both ambiguous and liable to lead to distortion of goals.

The main difficulty in applying student hours for measuring student need arises from the variety of modes of attendance available to further education students. These modes include (a) full-time, (b) full-time extended session, (c) sandwich, (d) block release, (e) part-time day (including release), (f) part-time day and evening (including release), (g) evening only, and (h) linked courses (for school pupils). For various varieties of full-time students Part III to Appendix IIA of the Burnham document approves certain weightings. As we have seen, 95% of the maximum student hours of full-time students in the academic year are accountable for the calculation of unit totals, and a similar factor is applied to the maximum hours of a full-time course of 'more than one term but less than one year's duration. For courses 'not exceeding one term's duration', full-time students are allowed a weighting of 110% of student hours. Neither of these latter categories are common; more significant is the Burnham Committee's recommendation that an 'addition ... of the order of 10 per cent of the student hours for the year of the course' be allowed for sandwich students 'during the period (if any) of the year spent in industry'.

For part-time students the Burnham Report, as we have noted earlier, equates student hours with curricular hours, i.e. the time in which students are in contact with a teacher. In respect of full-time students, however, student hours are defined as 'the time spent in the college/department as determined by the local education authority in consultation with the college Principal and shall be the maximum hours ... of the academic year' (See Reference 23).

In turn these are defined as 'The maximum time spent in the college/department during normal hours whether in formal lectures, practical work, tutorials or individual work (e.g. in the library) ... ' (See Reference 24).

This formula, as we have explained above, makes it advantageous for colleges to recruit full-time students because their private study time, though that within the college, is counted towards their student hours. An additional advantage is that, unlike their par-time counterparts, their absence from classes does not affect the total of student hours calculated. While the effect of the latter point will be open to widespread variation, the effect of the former can be clearly illustrated. The maximum attendance of a full-time student will equate approximately to the hours in which the college is open during the day, which, excluding the evening session, will be about 6 hours 30 minutes. Applying the Burnham factor of 95%, one can calculate that one full-time student will generate around 30 student hours per week, of which perhaps only 20 hours will be curricular time. A part-time student attending, say, a 2 hour evening 'A' Level class will generate 20 student hours in 10 weeks, but, although his curricular hours will by then equate to those of the full-time student in one week, the student hours of the full-time student will be 1.5 times greater. This disparity is set out more clearly below:


Type of               Curricular           Hours spent           Student Hours
student                Hours                 in college               generated

  (a)                        (b)                       (c)                           (d)

Full-time             20 (one week)     31.5*                     30 (95% of c)

Part-time            20 (10 weeks)     20                          20 
* Approximate number of hours per week when college is open for the morning and afternoon sessions.

The disparity illustrated above relates only to student hours totalled for the purpose of calculating unit totals. Such calculations are of course mandatory upon local authorities. While this bias towards full-time students is questionable in relation to the remuneration of senior staff, it is likely to lead to greater distortion if these student hours were used by authorities to determine staffing establishments. For this purpose the curricular hours of students may be seen as the more appropriate data for decision-making. However, student hours could be used to calculate establishments if steps were taken to reduce the disparity between full-time and part-time students that their use would otherwise involve.

(d)  Contact hours.

For the purpose of calculating a staffing establishment, an authority might find it more appropriate to use the contact hours of lecturers rather than the total or curricular hours of students. Contact hours may be defined as the hours in which a member of staff is in teaching contact with students. Such contact would include, for instance, workshop or laboratory supervision, examination invigilation and visiting sandwich students as well as classroom instruction. The main difficulty of using contact hours as an index of need is that these can be generated excessively by the teaching of small groups of students. While a class of 24 students taught for 2 hours generates only 2 contact hours, the same class sub-divided into 4 groups and each taught for 2 hours would generate 8 contact hours. Thus, without some guidelines as to class size, the use of contact hours to calculate staffing would encourage the growth of small teaching groups. Another difficulty is that contact hours can be increased by over-teaching. In the case of part-time students this is difficult to achieve as increasing attendance requirements would be unpopular with both students and employers alike, and would lead in all probability to reduced levels of enrolment. With regard to the full-time students, it is possible, simply by boosting teaching time to increase establishments where these are based uncritically upon the volume of contact hours. In 1978 it was calculated that the average input of curricular hours to an 'A' Level Mathematics course in an ILEA college of further education was approximately double that available to a similar course in the sixth form of one of that authority's secondary schools. In schools, where unit totals are calculated not on pupil hours but on pupil numbers and ages, the Burnham system induces a tendency opposite to over teaching, that is it encourages the accommodation of the maximum number of sixth form pupils with the minimum amount of curricular time. It is clearly simpler for a college to increase its total of contact hours by giving more teaching to the same number of students than by giving the same amount of teaching to more students. Of course, some disparity between curricular time allocated to GCE courses in further education and that allocated to similar courses in schools may be justifiable. To some extent further education may be said to specialise in students with learning problems. Such students may include 'drop-outs' from school, students retaking examinations on one year intensive courses and overseas students with particular cognitive difficulties. However, where high levels of curricular input do indicate over-teaching, such a practice is both inefficient and wasteful, in that the excess capacity could be put to better use elsewhere. In addition, it is educationally undesirable as it will erode an individual student's private study time.

(e)  Class size.

A further important factor to be considered in the allocation of teaching resources to further education is that of class size. In fact, it was largely concern with regard to small class sizes in the new polytechnics which resulted in the Pooling Committee's Memorandum (1972) into student/staff ratios for advanced level work in polytechnics and colleges of further education.

Very small class sizes, i.e. two or three, are perhaps difficult to justify in any circumstances in public sector education, and comparisons are often drawn between the apparently small classes in further education and the substantially larger groups to be found in the primary and secondary sectors. However, in respect of the 16-19 age range, class sizes in further education compare well with their counterparts in schools, whether these are in traditional sixth forms or sixth form colleges. Class size in further education is usually determined by the following factors: the demand, the level of work, and the physical constraints. For advanced courses regional or national approval is required, and for non-advanced courses the local authority's agreement is needed. In all cases such approval is conditional upon stipulated minimum levels of recruitment, which for advanced work are usually set at lower levels than for non-advanced work. The maximum number of students that a course can enrol may also be determined by such constraints as room size and the availability of necessary equipment. For practical courses, in which students spend much of their time in workshops, laboratories, kitchens, etc., safety and workspace factors set definite limits on the number of students that can be accommodated.

While average class size is generally supposed to be an important aspect of measuring resource utilisation, the associated concept of minimum class size has been the cause of considerable confusion. DES Circular 11/66, which was based upon the recommendations of the Pilkington Report (See Reference 25), indicated the minimum acceptable number of initial enrolments that a course should be required to achieve. These are set out below:


Type/mode of course                                                  Minimum enrolment

Full-time (including sandwich)                                                24

Part-time day involving large
     element of workshop practice                                           15

Other part-time day                                                                20

Evening (when day courses approved)                                  Ad hoc

All courses when accessible provision
     is already available                                                            50

Circular 11/66 left considerable scope for local education authorities to exercise discretion, and recommended that, where proposals to commence new course were made without the prospect of achieving the above minimum enrolment targets, exceptions might be made in the following circumstances:

a.  experimental courses in new fields;

b.  courses in specialised fields - in some courses of this nature the minimum enrolment may never be achieved;

c.  courses where physical limits of space restrict the numbers it is possible to enrol;

d.  postgraduate courses - enrolments for these should be considered on their merits;

e.  part-time courses without which substantial numbers of students would be deprived of opportunities to     study, i.e. in country areas, or where a course is highly specialised.

Thus the Circular's recommendations were designed to leave local education authorities considerable room for flexibility. Indeed, in respect of full-time courses, the minimum enrolment set by the RAC and RSI is frequently below the normal minimum of 24. Nevertheless, it is often felt that the freedom of further education colleges to run courses with small numbers is severely circumscribed by comparison with universities and even with secondary schools, in which a headmaster may commence a course with one student if he wishes. In fact, the contrast is not nearly so sharp. The so-called 'Pilkington minima' are designed to deal with enrolments for courses, i.e. they are concerned with course numbers rather than class sizes. The confusion, to which reference was made above, surrounds both the distinction made between these two factors and the interface between them. Circular 11/66 was concerned with course numbers in order to halt the unnecessary proliferation of courses at a time of unparallelled expansion. For unless a course is able to depend upon a solid base of students it might be very expensive in terms of unit costs, while, to the extent that it might attract students from other centres, it might prejudice the cost-effectiveness of courses elsewhere as well.

While Circular 11/66 made definite recommendations for minimum course numbers it laid down no guidance for actual class, or group, sizes. Thus, once a college has enrolled at least the minimum number of students, the group sizes in which the students are taught may be decided by the college authorities. Sometimes the whole course number may be taught as a single group; often, however, courses will be divided into smaller groups to facilitate more effective teaching, or to allow for different options to be studied. In the latter case, there is a clear connexion between course and class sizes. A college may be tempted to offer a wide range of options within, say, a full-time BEC HND in Business Studies course which it is hoping to commence, in order to ensure the recruitment of sufficient students to meet the Pilkington minima. However, course divisions which such option commitments create often lead to group sizes below that which a local education authority might find economical. A clearer example might involve the provision of GCE 'A' Levels. A college might enrol 30 students for an 'A' Level Science course which offered a choice of three out of four subjects, say, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Supposing that all 30 opted for Mathematics and 20 each for the three Science subjects, it is evident that only by classifying the course as an 'A' Level Science course, rather than designating each subject separately, has the Pilikington minimum of 24 been satisfied. Of course, it is quite possible that the numbers in all four subjects may be further sub-divided. In these circumstances the average group size might become as low as 11 students. While such numbers may or may not be considered reasonable, it is clear that the distinction between course and class sizes does enable colleges to evade any possibility that the Pilkington minima, per se, will create economy of provision. In this respect, these minima are a blunt weapon, being unable by themselves to ensure that class sizes in further education are higher than in sixth forms. 

However, even if Circular 11/66 had been concerned with class sizes rather than course enrolments, it must be said that the fixing of rigid minimum class sizes would be both impracticable and educationally retrogressive, in that this would usurp from the college authorities the detailed management decisions which are best delegated to them. In deciding what a particular class size would be, the Head of Department concerned might take account of the ability of the students, the experience of the lecturer, the demands of the course and the availability of accommodation and equipment. A local education authority would not have access to such information. However the authority might be expected to take decisions on average class sizes as a proper accompaniment to the allocation of resources. In fixing these levels it would have to bear in mind the factors of student demand, level of work and physical constraints. Since different groups of students within a college may meet for different lengths of time, any calculations of average class size (ACS) ought to take into account this time factor as well. Thus Delany defines ACS as 'the average number of students per teaching hour given by the academic staff ' (See Reference 26).

If a local education authority lays down the level of ACS required, there should be no requirement to fix minimum class sizes as well. However, this might be done in order to effect economies of provision or to ensure a reasonable balance of resources between departments or levels of work. For instance, in 1978 the Inner London Education Authority set a minimum number of 12 students per option on BEC and TEC courses in its colleges of further education.

(f)  Full-time Equivalent Staff.

In a calculation of the number of academic staff employed by a college the total number of staff is of little value due to the large proportion of part-time staff involved. Due to the uncertainty of demand for some courses and the need to cover full-time staff vacancies and long term absences due to sickness and maternity, colleges need the flexibility of part-time hours. In consequence it is necessary to calculate the full-time equivalent (FTE) total of staff in each college.

The conversion of part-time hours into FTE staff is most commonly achieved by dividing part-time hours by the average contact hours of a full-time member of staff. The average could be that of the college or the local education authority. A refinement would be to apply different averages for each level of work. The Pooling Committee applies a global average of 18 hours per week for all advanced work. Another method of converting part-time hours into FTE is to cost them and then divide the result by the average costs of a full-time member of staff, salary costs including 'on-costs' for superannuation and national insurance. While this might be more attractive in terms of management accountancy, the fluctuations in annual salaries and superannuation and national insurance contributions make this method too complex for colleges to handle.

Apart from the difficulties caused by part-time staff, calculations of FTE staff involve other problems. Decisions have to be made as to whether to include in the total Burnham salaried staff who may do either no, or only a little, teaching, i.e. Principals, Vice-Principals, Heads of Department, Research staff, Tutor-Librarians, Student Counsellors and Wardens of hostels. Another matter of importance is the remission from class contact hours given to academic staff for duties other than teaching. Equivalent class contact hours are allocated by LEAs to colleges or constituent departments for such duties as course direction and development, examination setting and marking, laboratory supervision, student welfare, industrial liaison and research projects. To the extent that hours are remitted for such purposes, additional staff has to be provided to cover the teaching duties.

Whether Burnham staff who do little or no teaching and staff who are employed due to remission are included in an assessment of FTE staff will depend upon the purposes for which the assessment is made.

(g)  Full-time Equivalent Students.

In the further education sector the majority of students are part-timers. However, for the purposes of counting and costing, the par-time students, the majority, are generally aggregated in terms of their equivalence to full-time students, the minority.

The various ways in which FTE students are, or might be, calculated have been explained at great length by Norma Whittaker (1976) (See Reference 27). Unfortunately this explanation is riddled with dubious distinctions and occasional confusions of terminology. In simple terms, present methods vary according as to whether conversion to FTEs is applied to student hours or student 'bodies'.

In converting student hours to FTEs, it is common to divide the total number of student hours per week in a college or department by the average number of student hours per week of a full-time student, say, 30. Thus the number of  FTE students generated by a 2.5 hour evening class of 20 students would be 2.5 x 20/30 = 1.66. Some colleges or local education authorities might find it convenient to employ annual student hours because of figures already gathered to calculate unit totals as required by Burnham. In this case annual student hours would be divided by 1080, the average number of full-time student hours in a 36 week academic year. Thus the calculation for the above class would be 2.5 x 20 x 36/1080 = 1.66.

The alternative method of calculating FTE students is to apply fractions to the number of full-time and part-time student 'bodies'. This method is based on the average number of hours per week spent by various types of student according to modes of attendance. In the case of block release and short full-time students the calcualtion would be based on the number of weeks attended during the academic year. The fractions applied might be as set out below:


Mode of attendance             Average no. of                        Conversion                  Reciprocal
                                           hours per week                        factor

         (a)                                       (b)                                      (c)                               (d)

Full-time                                       30                                       1                                  1

Sandwich                                      24                                       0.8                              1.25

Part-time day                                  7.5                                    0.25                             4               

Evening only                                   2.5                                    0.08                            12

Thus one can say in relation to the above table that one part-time day student counts as 7.5/30 = 0.25 FTE students or the factor can be expressed in terms of its reciprocal. i.e. 1 full-time student equates to 4 part-time day students.

The conversion factor of a block release student, assuming he attended for 12 weeks out of the 36 week year, would be 0.33. Alternatively one could say that 1 full-time student equates to 3 block release students.

However the number of FTE students is calculated, all methods, as Pratt et al. observe (See Reference 28), underestimate the true equivalence of part-time students. That this is so is primarily for two reasons: firstly, because the 30 hour student week of the average full-time student, which is used as the basis of most FTE calculations, causes an undue disparity between full-time and part-time students, for whom only curricular hours may count; and secondly, because no account is made of the relatively concentrated nature of part-time courses and the greater level of teacher preparation which they require.

The first of these causes can be resolved to some extent by using the curricular rather than the student hours of the average full-time student as the basis of the calculation. If one assumes that one fifth of a full-time student's time is spent on private study, his average curricular hours would be 24 per week. In the case of the above example of the 20 evening only students attending a 2.5 hours class each week, the following number of FTEs would now be generated: 50/24 = 2.08. If annual Burnham student hours were used for the conversion, the appropriate divisor could be reduced by one fifth of 1080, i.e. 216. The calculation would now be 2.5 x 20 x 36/864 = 2.1 FTEs. With regard to conversions to FTEs of student 'bodies', a full-time student would equate to 3.2 part-time day and 9.6 evening only students. While it will thus be seen that the practice of employing curricular hours as the basis of FTE conversions is more favourable to part-timers, it does involve difficulties. Whereas the 30 hours per week is generally acceptable as a figure, the appropriate curricular hour divisor will inevitably vary from college to college and from department to department within colleges. The use of an average figure such as 24 curricular hours across a whole local education authority might lead to dissensions. At the same time it should be noted that the higher the average number of curricular hours per full-time student, the less will be the number of FTEs generated by part-time hours/students. Thus an authority wishing to promote the provision of courses for part-time students should be concerned to minimise the curricular input approved for full-time courses.   

However, even when the disparity described above has been countered, the need to recognise the concentrated nature of teaching part-timers remains. As Pratt et al. put it, 'Where contact hours are used as a basis, it is reasonably argued that teaching part-timers requires a greater amount of non-contact time than teaching full-timers. In addition, teaching part-timers is itself a more intensive activity: time-tabled hours spent in leisurely chat with full-timers are not available to their part-time counterparts' (See Reference 29). It is worthy of note that part-time students are counted more favourably in other sectors of higher education. The DES assesses part-time students in Colleges of Education as 0.75 of a full-time student, and at Birkbeck College, London, part-time undergraduates are rated as equivalent to 0.8 of a full-timer. With regard to further education, it would be possible to apply weightings, even if arbitrarily assessed, to the divisors and conversion factors discussed above. These mechanisms might then be seen less as being based upon analytical factors and more as tools of policy. In general, therefore, the employment of weightings is more equitable to part-timers and facilitates a more positive approach to resource matters whereas conversion without weightings has the advantage of being a more objective process.

Pratt et al. also argue that part-time students are further underestimated in the process of resource allocation because resources are distributed on the basis of central rather than teaching costs, i.e. all costs are aggregated and then  divided up between FTE students, calculated on conventional bases. They argue that part-time students cost as much as to administer and to accommodate as full-timers, and suggest that, in order to achieve a more realistic measure of the conversion factors to ascribe to part-time students, it is necessary to separate teaching costs, i.e. staff, teaching materials, equipment and books, from central costs, e.g. administrative salaries and materials, rent, rates, insurance, maintenance, student union facilities. By applying this approach to 14 polytechnics for 1967-68, they claim an average underestimate of FTE students of 20 per cent. While that work is not strictly relevant to this study, which is concerned with teaching resources in particular, it does indicate the dangers of a simplistic approach to resource provision.

(h)  Student/Staff Ratios

As Whittaker points out, 'The most hotly debated topic in FE circles today is the student/staff ratio (SSR)' (See Reference 30). To educational administrators the concept of SSR is attractive because of its apparent simplicity. In reality, of course, it is far from simple as anyone seeking to calculate the SSR of a further education college has to traverse the FTE minefields described above. These problems are much less severe in schools where both staff and pupils are full-time and where there is a considerable means of uniformity in both the the patterns of courses and the methods of teaching. These circumstances are to some extent evident also in respect of universities and colleges of education. Student/staff ratios are very difficult to apply to the further education sector where there are nine modes of attendance, a relatively high proportion of part-time staff, five categories of academic work ranging from postgraduate to pre-vocational basic studies, and an enormous range of disciplines stretching from the completely practical to the completely academic. In addition the market situation of further education colleges, i.e. their ability to forecast levels of enrolment and course choices, is much less stable than that of other sectors of education. In consequence, any application of student/staff ratios for resource purposes is bound to provoke hostility unless great care is taken both to calculate them appropriately in relation to their different purposes, and then apply them consistently. Student/staff ratios can be used both to allocate staffing establishments to educational institutions and to monitor the use of these resources when allocated. They can be employed both externally by a local education authority and internally by a college. Their various uses will be explained in more detail subsequently, but it is important to emphasise these differences here as they may help to explain the different ways in which student/staff ratios are calculated.


The Burnham (FE) Report provides for proportions of gradings of post against the volume of work in each category; the 1975 CLEA/FE Conditions of Service agreement provides for class contact hour bandwidths per week and the duration of the teaching year; but no agreement determines the calculation of the size of college establishments. It is in this area that the local education authorities retain their principal discretion in the allocation of teaching resources to the further education sector.

Of course, local education authorities have a similar power in relation to their resourcing of schools, where numbers of staff are allocated according to pupil/teacher ratios. In the school sectors authorities are required by law to provide full-time education for all 5-16 year old children resident in their areas and have also to cater adequately for all 16-18 year old pupils likely to benefit from remaining at school. While provision of further education facilities has to be provided under the Section 41 of the 1944 Act there is no requirement for all would-be students to be accommodated. As there is no fixed commitment, levels of provision and the types of courses offered may be determined at the discretion of education policy-makers within local education authorities, and such decisions are likely to be heavily influenced by financial considerations.

With regard to further education teaching staff, the local authority budgetary process requires for each coming financial year forecasts of the number of FTE posts, the consequent gross expenditure, and any income likely to be received from Industrial Training Boards, the Manpower Services Commission, other 'full-cost' courses and consultancies. In achieving these estimates, a local education authority would typically undertake an 'Annual Teaching Staff Review' with each of the colleges of further education which it maintains. The information sought in such a review has recently been described by S.J. Tarling, the Principal Education Officer of Oxfordshire (See Reference 31). The basis of the next year's staff need will be the approved staffing level of colleges for the present year.

a.  Staff grade/contact hour system

Due partly, perhaps, to the difficulties of applying SSRs to further education, it is general to calculate academic staff entitlements in colleges by means of the 'staff grade/contact hour system'. This method of allocating staff involves applying Burnham criteria in respect of course categories and proportions of work per grade of post to volume of work measured by the contact hours of lecturers as determined by the 1975 Conditions of Service agreement.

According to Whittaker (See Reference 32), 'The method may be expressed  mathematically as follows:-

S = 1/W x H  <  C x P

Where S = number of staff at a given grade (i.e. PL, SL, LII, or LI);

           W = number of teaching weeks in the college calendar;

           H = number of annual teacher hours per conditions of service;

           C = number of class contact hours per annum at each category of work;

      P = number of posts according to the Burnham Report Appendix II Part A for the categories of work.

Using material provided by the Inspector for Further Education, Buckinghamshire County Council, Whittaker provides a 'worked example' which shows in detail the the assessment of the teaching entitlement of one department in an FE college. The complexities of the calculations are fully explained in this example. For each appropriate grade of post, the product of the number of class contact hours per annum at each category of work and the percentage of posts according to Burnham for each category is divided by by the
annual number of teaching hours for each staff grade. The quotients, when aggregated, give the total Teaching Staff Establishment (TSE), as well as the number of posts at each grade. This example is particularly valuable because it relates the problem of fractional entitlements and remitted hours to the need to provide for part-time hours. As the above quotients will not normally produce staff at each grade in whole numbers, decisions have to be made as to whether to convert part of the balance of hours to further full-time posts or whether to use it all for part-time hours. The position is further complicated by the need to take account of equivalent class contact hours remitted to departments on an overall, i.e. a non-grade, basis for the purpose of essential academic tasks other than teaching. Using the data in Whittaker's example, 40 FT staff plus a balance of 348 hours is added to an agreed remission of 1260 contact hours. As the example shows, the department's teaching commitment can then be covered by 40 lecturers plus 1608 part-time hours or 41 lecturers plus 924 part-time hours (assuming the appointment of an additional LII covering 684 contact hours per year). In fact, as a reasonable allocation of part-time hours is attractive to local authorities as a buffer against a sudden drop in enrolments and to colleges as a means of covering staff absences, the higher figure of 1608 part-time hours (i.e. about 6% of the total staffing provision) would probably be more acceptable. Part-time hours may vary between about 5 to 10% of academic staffing budgets in colleges).

As alternatives to the above procedures an authority could subtract an agreed percentage for part-time use from the class contact hours for each grade before calculating the numbers of full-time staff, or round staff at each grade to the nearest whole number before making part-time allocations. In both cases these alternatives would be more appropriate to calculating a theoretical than an actual establishment, while the need to allocate remitted hours would remain.

The staff grade/contact hour system for all its complexities is of little value to a local education authority in decisions about levels of staffing. All it does is to tell one, what, in the light of Burnham and the Conditions of Service agreement, will be the quantity of staff at each grade required to cover the teaching load which a college has programmed. It can tell us nothing about how effective or economical this programming of staff has been. The system incorporates no information about numbers of students or about average class sizes, and can do nothing to discourage overteaching or unduly small group sizes in a department. In the absence of other controls, it would encourage the maximisation of contact hours both in order to increase staff numbers and levels of remuneration. In fact, as Whittaker correctly observes, this 'method of calculation can be considered as "circular in that it commences with hours taught by lecturers and ends up with the number of lecturers' (See Reference 33).

b.  Staff grade/student hour system.

An alternative, and in some ways preferable, way of calculating the establishment of a college would be to use student hours instead of lecturer hours as a means of assessing the volume of work. This method would employ the use of student hours which are computed annually in order to calculate Burnham unit totals.

Whittaker's formula for this method is as follows:

S = 1/W x H  <  SH x P/ACS

Where SH = annual student total hours in each category of work, as for Burnham return;

           ACS = the agreed figure for average class size.

(The parameters S, W, H, and P are as defined in the previous method.)

Unlike the staff grade/contact hour system, this method, by incorporating student hours and average class size requirements would avoid circularity, i.e. it would not be dependent upon itself. By judicious use of average class sizes a local authority could import a new dimension into the calculations. Such average class sizes could vary according to departments, categories of work and modes of study.

However, this method also involves a great many difficulties. While total student hours may be justifiable as a means of determining the groups of colleges and the grades of departments, their use to determine the size of
a TSE might encourage colleges to switch their efforts into courses for full-time students whose private study time is included in student hour calculations. Of course, curricular hours could be employed instead of student hours in order to discount this disparity, but even this improvement would not by itself avoid the possibility that curricular hours of full-time students could be generated by overteaching. Finally it must be said that that at the macro-level of staff allocation by an authority insistence on average class sizes might involve serious disputes with colleges as well as unduly restricting the flexibility of college managements.

c.  Student/staff ratios.

Another approach to the calculation of college establishments is to use SSRs; indeed this method is becoming increasingly common. As has been noted earlier, it is an apparently simple device both to understand and to calculate, although in practice it is bedevilled in further education by the difficulties of counting part-time students. An authority wishing to staff its colleges on the basis of an SSR would presumably begin by making its calculations in relation to the immediate situation. It should first be noted that various SSRs can be calculated in further education according as to how FTE students are measured.

With regard to FTE staff the formula commonly used is as follows:

No. of F-T staff + Annual contact hours of P-T staff/Annual contact hours of average F-T lecturer.

The only problem here is that it might be more equitable to make separate calculations in respect of P-T hours for each category of work; this might be justified particularly in a college with a wide range of course levels. In practice, however, annual contact hours of the average full-time lecturer are likely to vary between 648 hours and 720 hours (i.e. 18-20 hours per week in a 36 week.)

The main choices which must be confronted with regard to SSRs concern measures of FTE students. If student hours are used as the basis of the calculation, it is necessary to decide whether one employs Burnham 'student hours' as aggregated for unit totals or 'curricular' hours. Numbers of FTE students can thus be calculated by one of the following three ways:

(i)  F-T students + P-T annual student hours/1080;

(ii)  F-T students + P-T annual students hours/850;

(iii)  Total annual curricular hours/850.

Of these methods the third helps to show teaching needs more accurately and does not discriminate in favour of colleges with large numbers of full-time students. Of the other two the first would particularly discourage colleges from developing part-time courses as the divisor of 1080, the total annual student hours of an average full-time student, would considerably restrict the number of FTE students that could be derived from part-time hours. Methods (ii) and (iii) employ a divisor of 850, approximately one fifth of 1080, the total student hours of an average full-time student. Whichever of the three methods is followed, this approach of calculating FTE students by using hours has the merit of being simple.

The most celebrated example of calculating SSRs in this manner is the Pooling Committee formula for advanced further education, applied on the basis of data in the Spring Term. Under this formula FTE students are calculated by dividing the total curricular hours of all students other than sandwich course students by the average number of curricular hours of a typical full-time student (an addition of 10% is added to the curricular hours of full-time students on courses lasting less than one term's duration) and adding to the product of 0.9 x all registered sandwich course students.

FTE staff are, under this formula, calculated by counting all full-time members of staff solely engaged with advanced level work, appropriate fractions of full-time staff engaged upon advanced and non-advanced level work, and the total number of hours of part-time staff on advanced level work divided by 12 x 18 (i.e. the number of weeks in the term x the number of hours per week of a nationally average full-time lecturer engaged on advanced level work). While Heads of Department are included, Principals, Vice-Principles and other non-teaching Burnham staff are excluded as are members of research staff sponsored by sources other than public funds. The Pooling Committee SSR formula, which is applied separately to the different faculty groups, is designed as a monitoring device to assess the use of teaching resources on advanced level courses. Thus it employs curricular hours as the basis for measuring FTE students and it excluded non-teaching staff. Its simplicity is shown by its use of global divisors for part-time hours of both students and staff.

The Pooling Committee formula, like all SSR formulae of this type, takes no account of the different modes of attendance of students. This is the strength of SSR formulae which count FTE students on the basis of 'bodies'. Under this approach, FTEs would be all full-time students plus students following other modes of attendance multiplied by the appropriate factors.

An example of this type of SSR formula is that employed by the 'Further Education Officers (Outer London Boroughs) Group', which reports to the Advisory Body of Chief Education Officers to the London Boroughs Association Education Committee. The Outer London Borough's (OLB) formula is applied on an overall basis to colleges of further education in respect of numbers of students and staff on 1 November of each year. Like the Pooling Committee's formula, the OLB formula divides part-time staff hours by 18 to convert them to FTE staff, but this includes in the calculation all members of staff salaried under Burnham, including Principals and Vice-Principals. FTE students are counted under the OLB formula according to the following nine modes of attendance, each of which has a conversion factor:


Mode of attendance                                                             Conversion factor

           (a)                                                                                        (b)

Full-time  )                                                                                        1
Sandwich )
Block  Release )                                                                    x/y, where
Short Full-time )                                                                    x = weeks in attendance                                             
Extended Year )                                                                    y = weeks in college year 

Part-time Day                                                                                    7.5/30 
Part-time Day and Evening                                                              10/30                                                 

Evening Only                           )                                                        2.5/30
Adult Education Part-time Day )

By employing a denominator of 30 in conversion factors for part-time students it is likely that the OLB formula will discriminate against part-time students in FTE calculations. One presumes that the numerator values are an attempt to assess the hours spent by part-timers in the course of a week.

Some different conversion factors are suggested by Tarling for part-time students (See Reference 34). For the OLB factor of 1/4 for PTD students he prefers 1/5, for the OLB factor of 1/3 for PTDE students he prefers 1/4, and he replaces the OLB factor of 1/12 for evening only with a factor of x/360 for a single session, where x = the number of weeks of attendance and 360 is the number of sessions in a college year.

The DES has employed various conversion factors in its own calculations. For polytechnic buildings (See Reference 35), it employs the ratios of 2/9 for PTD, 1/3 for block release and zero for evening only. More appropriate for staffing purposes however are the conversion factors employed in the DES statistical reports (See Reference 36). In 1976-77 and before these were as follows: 1.0 for sandwich students, 0.25 for PTD
and 0.1 for evening only. However, in 1977-78 these were altered to 0.9 for sandwich students, 0.35 for PTD and 0.15 for evening only. The revised figure for PTD students is the highest conversion factor in any weighting scheme.

These different methods of calculating SSRs have been explained at length in order to demonstrate that there is no such thing as 'the SSR' of a college. The ratio found will thus be dependent on which method of calculation is used and also how it is applied, i.e. whether it is applied to the college as a whole, to faculty groups or to individual departments. Above all the method of counting FTE students affects the calculation of SSRs.

Once an SSR for a college has been determined by using whatever method the local education authority feels to be appropriate, the establishment of a college or its constituent departments can be calculated by dividing the total of FTE students in each category of work by the SSR figure agreed. The Burnham staff proportions may then be applied to give the gradings of post per each category of work. This method, while simple, is open to the serious objection that it will generate a similar number of staff in relation to Category I as in relation to Category V work. Few college principals would be agreeable to such an arrangement. In fact, it would clearly not be appropriate for a local education authority to apply an overall SSR to a college unless the work of that college was homogeneous. This might be the case in a college of higher education where the work is almost entirely advanced and where the subjects taught fall into the same faculty group, or in a college providing predominantly low level courses of general education. Where, however, a college contains work at both advanced and non-advanced levels it would be sensible to apply different SSRs in the same way as, for instance, many local education authorities apply differential PTRs to the main school and the sixth form sections of secondary schools. In colleges of further education an additional differential might be applied to take account of the laboratory or workshop basis of much of the work undertaken. In work of this type both safety regulations and work space considerations limit the level of SSR it is possible to apply.

Thus rather than apply would being an overall SSR to a college or to a group of colleges it would be feasible for a local education authority to apply four SSRs to its colleges:

(1)  for advanced level (i.e. Categories I-III) work in those subjects which are broadly laboratory or workshop based;

(2)  for advanced level work in those subjects which are more related to classroom teaching;

(3)  non-advanced level (i.e. Categories IV-V) work in those subjects which are broadly laboratory or workshop based; and

(4)  non-advanced level work in those subjects which are more related to classroom teaching.

With regard to the last of these four suggested areas, a local education authority might wish to apply a ratio similar to that agreed for sixth form PTRs in its secondary schools.

The application of these differing SSRs would overcome the objection that an establishment based on SSR would not reflect the varying levels of work; it would also permit work of a more practical nature to be more generously staffed. FTE students could then be calculated in respect of either the college as a whole or individual departments and divided by the appropriate SSRs to reach the total establishments for each of the four areas. The Burnham proportions could then be applied to produce the numbers of staff in each grade.

An obvious danger in the application of these differing SSRs is that colleges might thereby be encouraged to proliferate their courses in those areas where the ratio agreed was more generous. This possibility of distorted goals can, however, be avoided if an authority uses its customary power in the articles of government to determine the general educational character of maintained colleges. This power can be applied at committee level by careful control of new courses approved.

A further cause of concern in the use of SSRs to calculate staffing establishments is that the numbers of staff will thereby tend to increase in relation to the number of FTE students. Indeed, according to Pratt et al. it was this use of SSRs which has led to the failure of the further education sector to achieve economies of scale in the past two decades. However, as studies in other sectors of education indicate the numbers of staff
could be increased in teaching cost steps, i.e. only at points when the student numbers require the formation of extra classes (See Reference 37).  This approach to staffing infers that there is often considerable scope for class sizes to be increased and course hours to be trimmed before it is necessary for additional student numbers to be reflected in additional staff. Staffing by teaching cost steps is particularly relevant to the school sector where it is not possible for a local education authority to limit its pupil numbers. However, in the further education sector the application of budgetary ceilings and course controls should make SSRs a sufficient staffing mechanism without the need to resort to this additional complexity.

SSRs having been computed initially on basis of the actual numbers of FTE students and staff in its colleges, it is clear that the result so obtained would reflect only the historic situation and would not furnish a local education authority with any information as to what its targets should be. However, it would now be possible for an authority to set SSR targets and to fix an appropriate timescale for their achievement. If staffing economies were required, these might have to be phased over, say, two or three years, if redundancies were to be avoided. Staffing targets fixed following Annual Teaching Staff Reviews would be reflected in the staffing budgets approved by a local education authority for its FE colleges.

 d.  Class Size Ratio.

The final method of calculating the staffing establishments of colleges of further education to be considered is via the the Class Size Ratio (CSR). This is the method consistently advocated by the Further Education Teachers' Associations and put forward by the Teachers' Panel of CLEA/FE in 1977 in an attempt to achieve a national agreement in respect of the calculation of establishments.

In the paper which they presented to CLEA/FE the teachers representatives explained the need for this approach as follows:

'In the Panel's view a careful assessment of educational and administrative need for the academic year in question is essential in determining the staff complement. It is not desirable that solely economic or budgetary considerations should determine establishment sizes. Equally, a simplistic arithmetical approach related to student numbers which seeks to impose an inflexible ratio of staff to students is inappropriate within the public sector of post-school education, with its major concern for part-time students and their varied patterns of attendance developed to meet particular industrial and curricular needs. For this reason, any ratio used to determine the size and distribution of the establishment should relate in respect of its student input in the manner employed for the assessment of Burnham unit totals'.

In order to measure the relationship between student numbers and establishment sizes the teachers' representatives suggested the use of a Class Size Ratio (CSR) given by the following relationship:

Total Student Hours (TSH)                    
Total Available Teaching Hours (TATH)

Total Student Hours (TSH) would be as computed annually for Burnham unit totals' purposes(See Reference 38). For the purpose of the initial calculations the student hours would be the actual hours of the year taken as base; future use of the ratio would require projections of TSH for the forthcoming year. Total Available Teaching Hours (TATH) would be derived from the maximum class contact hours for each grade contained in the local conditions of service agreement. The Panel proposed the following as an exact definition:

'Number of Principal Lecturers x annual hours (weekly hours as above x 36) plus Number of Senior Lecturers x annual hours x Number of LIIs x annual hours plus Number of LIs x annual hours plus teaching hours of Heads of Departments plus total hours taught annually by part-time teachers less total hours remitted annually'.

The CSR therefore brings together elements from the Burnham (FE) Report and the CLEA/FE Conditions of Service agreement to produce data on which establishments could be based. What the teachers' representatives envisaged was the negotiation of a collective agreement with CLEA for a range of acceptable CSRs for all types of institution, on the basis of agreed bandwidths based on the results of a national survey to ascertain existing variations. The calculation of a college establishment would then be carried out as follows:

(a)  Calculate projected TSH for the coming year.

(b)  Total available teaching hours will then be given by applying the formula TATH = TSH/CSR.

(c)  Deduct from TATH the annual hours of work agreed for allocation to part-time hours.

(d)  Add the agreed remission of teaching hours (equivalent class contact hours) to give the number of hours available in respect of full-time teaching staff.

(e)  The number of teaching staff at each grade can then be determined by applying the local agreement in relation to the Burnham bandwidths for each category of work.

Once the CSR has been agreed for the college, the Teacher's Panel anticipated that it would apply to all future establishment calculations for that college. It might have to be recalculated from time to time to take account of any changes in the educational needs of students, e.g. in relation to the mix of the student population between full and part-timers and the number of students on courses with a strong laboratory/workshop base. This method of staffing no doubt appeals to the teachers' unions as a means of restricting the present ability of local education authorities to determine the average class sizes in their FE colleges, but for all its apparent simplicity this method has many shortcomings. If agreed CSR bands are based upon a national survey of the present situation then the agreement would almost certainly incorporate any unsatisfactory aspects of present staffing systems. These might include unduly small group sizes, discrimination against part-time students and over-provision of curricular hours on full-time courses. In adddition, a major fault of the CSR suggested is that by using the Burnham method for aggregating student hours (which counts hours in the college for F-T students, but only curricular hours for P-T students) it would put colleges with a large number of F-T students in a position to achieve a more favourable CSR than a college showing the same number of teaching hours but having more part-time students. It is also difficult to see how the matter of remitted hours can sensibly be addressed before the CSR is calculated, as it would seem appropriate to fix remission levels only after CSRs have been calculated.

If remitted hours are ignored for the purposes of calculating TATH, the ratio TSH/TATH would now generate the Staff Deployment Index, which would now enable an LEA to measure the number of student hours obtained per teaching contact hour for which it pays. As a monitoring device, a Staff Deployment Index has much value; in particular it would properly relate levels of remission to average class sizes. As a staffing mechanism it would be closely akin to the Staff grade/Student hour system described earlier.

To return to the proposals of the Teachers' Panel of CLEA/FE, it is not surprising to record that the response of the Management Panel was to state the view that college establishments were not a suitable subject for national negotiations and that employee rights were already sufficiently protected by Appendix IIA of the Burnham Report, the national agreement on Conditions of Service, and the Employment Protection and Employment Protection (Consolidation) Acts of 1975 and 1978. Indeed it is perhaps a general view of local education authorities that their freedom of action in relation to the resourcing of further education is already circumscribed. A further national agreement on class size would restrict even further LEAs room to manoeuvre, and could only be justified if it were possible to reach general agreement on ranges of class size in relation to different types of course. It is perhaps of significance to record that no similar agreement exists with regard to the school sectors. While CLEA has been sympathetic to the use of remisssion as a means of acknowledging additional duties and responsibilities, it is intended by LEAs that remission should be regarded as a flexible instrument and not a permanently fixed component in establishment calculations. For example, the introduction of TEC and BEC courses inevitably leads to a period of intense additional responsibility, which lessens subsequently. Any establishment calculation that sought to carry levels of remission over from one year to another automatically would be unacceptable to LEAs, who would be similarly reluctant to be constrained by binding agreements on CSRs.


                                                        PART  C



In allocating teaching staff to its further education establishments a local education authority is most likely to base its levels of provision on student numbers and the student workload thus created. (To this extent the staff grade/contact hour system may be seen as anomalous.) In distributing the staffing resources of the colleges internally to its constituent faculties or departments, the Principal may of course follow a similar approach. On the other hand, it may be argued that these resources would more effectively be distributed on the basis of the staff workload or teaching commitment of a department rather than on student numbers per se. While the detail required for such an approach is probably too cumbersome and complex for resourcing at the level of the local education authority, such information should be available to a college principal from the timetables of individual lecturers.

Various academic staffing formulae are discussed in an article by Birch and Calvert (1974)(See Reference 39). Of these the first is the most clearly based upon student workload considerations:

T = sh/gt .................................................................. (i)
where T = number of FTE staff
           s = number of FTE students
           g = average group size
           h = average curricular hours per week of FTE student
           t = average contact hours per week of FTE teacher.

From this formula it is possible, by rearrangement to express the SSR (i.e. s/T) as gt/h. It is likely that in determining the number of staff to be allocated to a department a collge principal will follow an SSR which he will have set in the light of that departments's individual circumstances. The above equation and the SSR associated with it are the basis of the Pooling Committee's recommendations on data collection and analysis of teacher resources for further education. They are also commonly used to evaluate the use of teaching resources in the schools sector. SSR +gt/h is the equivalent of PTR = CG, where C = contact ration of staff (i.e. the total number of lessons timetabled divided by the total number of lessons available, and G = average group size). In the context of further education, a college's educational policy may be said to be expressed by the parameters g, h and t above. While t is largely determined by Conditions of Service agreements between LEAs and teacher unions, decisions on g and h are matters for institutional management. Given the number of students (s) and decisions on g, h and t, the number of staff (T) for each department follows.

Birch and Calvert then describe further education staffing formulae of progressive complexity which are designed to calculate more accurately than the above formula the staff needs of a department in the light of its  actual teaching commitment. One feature of higher education which differentiates it from school teaching or non-advanced further education is the use of the formal lecture given to an indeterminate number of students. A formula, derived from the work of Bottomley et al., at Bradford University (See Reference 40), designed to distinguish between lectures and smaller group teaching, is as follows:

T = k + (sm/g) .....................................................................................(2)

where k = the number of teaching hours given in the form of straight lectures

and    m = the number of teaching hours given in the form of smaller group situations, e.g. seminars, tutorials.

These calculations would be performed separately for different levels of work, e.g. undergraduate and postgraduate. A further formula, developed by a research group at Lancaster University (See Reference 41),
takes account of lecture/seminar preparation time and 'post mortem' time  as well as hours spent actually teaching:

T = k (1 + p) + sm/g (1 + q/r) + su .......................................................(3)
where p = average preparation time per lecture per week

          q = average preparation time per seminar per week

          r = average number of seminar repeats per lecturer per week

   and u = average post mortem time per student per week.   

With regard to this formula, the research group involved encountered difficulties in collecting reliable data on preparation times and were obliged to concede that such estimates were a greater reflection of a lecturer's experience than his industry.

For internal purposes all these formulae have certain advantages. Staffing by equation (1), the SSR method, will enable departmental differences to be reflected in levels of g, h, and t, and bring out the fact that staffing economies may be effected by increasing average group size or teaching load, or by decreasing tuition load of students. The difficulty with staffing by SSRs is, as has been noted earlier, that it ensures that an increase in students is automatically followed by a proportionate increase in staff. The more sophisticated formula (2) suggests that the determinant for allocation of staff should be the timetabled teaching commitment. In this model, an increase in students would not necessarily require a proportionate increase in staff. Bottomley et al.'s study at Bradford University found that economies of scale had been achieved in ten of the courses which they examined largely by increased use of the straight lecture.

In the context of further education, academic staffing formulae based on teaching commitment, probably have less applicability than in the universities, for which they were mainly devised. The straight lecture is commonly used in most colleges of FE, although more use might be made of it in degree courses at polytechnics and colleges of higher education, while preparation and 'post mortem' time is in practice already determined by Conditions of Service agreements. However, such formulae do serve to indicate to college principals the possibilities that may exist to achieve economies by a variation of the teaching media employed.

With regard to all of the academic staffing formulae discussed above, Birch and Calvert sum up by stating that:

'There is no doubt that the formulae highlight some of the economic consequences of particular learning and teaching strategies so far as these are reflected in the pattern and sizes of formal time-tabled meetings, and teaching and tuition loads'.

However, they go on to point out that what such essentially quantitative approaches to teaching commitment do not reveal is what effect staffing economies may have on the quality of the learning process, as measured by examination results, wastage rates and the future employability and earning power of students, and to ask how far the quality of education would have to be maintained by increasing expenditure on library spaces, and educational technology, both hardware and software. They also discuss the possibilities of substituting 'student initiative' for 'teacher supervision', i.e. the teacher acts as an 'educational guide and consultant' rather than a lecturer. While this more 'active' approach on the part of the student might prove more educationally effective they point out that, while the preparation of pre-structured learning materials might change the role of teachers, it would not necessarily lead to staff savings.

In arguments reminiscent of Pratt et al., Birch and Calvert observe that staffing formulae can only ever produce 'partial answers' in the process of resource distribution:

'Plainly academic staffing formulae will only give us partial answers since they are concerned with only part of 
the system in the short run .... they take one input, academic staff, and then via an analysis of parts of the process (i.e. the pattern and sizes of timetabled meetings) they determine a second input, student places which is then implicitly defined as an output. They ignore the trade-offs between academic staff, on the one hand, and the other inputs - technician and administrative support, space and equipment, on the other ... '

However, to the extent that academic staffing formulae are used for internal distribution of staff within colleges, Birch and Calvert believe the teacher commitment a dangerous one, because it might encourage a tendency for departments to set up courses which would make maximum use of staffing inputs. They feel that SSRs are a more satisfactory means of internal allocation, because, as in the future SSRs are likely to become less favourable, such a method is more likely to encourage the search for alternative ways of achieving the same educational objectives than an allocation system based on teacher commitment. However, they do see such teacher commitment staffing models useful as 'situation analysis tools' enabling heads of department to calculate the consequences of different patterns of timetabled activities.


Crispin (1974) (See Reference 42) takes issue with the general conclusions of Birch and Calvert in an article in which he seeks to prove the superiority of the teaching commitment or staff workload staffing model over student number orientated calculations. Perhaps one conclusion which may be drawn from his article is the essential difficulty of drawing a firm distinction between the two approaches. Crispin describes two student number methods employed at Sheffield and Aston Universities. Although these schemes are basically student number orientated, they ensure that small departments have a relatively generous staffing provision. To this extent, they are clearly influenced by staff workload considerations. Crispin also discusses the first of Birch and Calvert's staffing formulae in terms of a teaching commitment model. As it is based upon the curricular hours of students rather than their actual numbers  and incorporates a divisor representing average group size, this is reasonable; however, to the extent that this model ignores patterns of timetabled activities, e.g. opportunities for lectures, it may justifiably be seen as an example of the student workload approach.

In seeking to demonstrate the advantages of teaching commitment model, Crispin explains the method of internal staff allocation devised at one university. This method is related to staff workload to the extent that staffing credited to departments is, up to a certain level, independent of the number of students. In this example one teaching activity only, lecturing, is considered. If the number of undergraduate students attending is 35 or less, each lecture is credited with one staffing unit; if the number of students is more than 35, then units  credited are 0.005s + 0.825, where s = number of students. In the case of postgraduates, 35 students or less would generate 1.5 units, and where s = more than 35 then units credited are 0.005s + 1.325. While this system was intended to apply to a university, the distinction between postgraduate and undergraduate courses could be parallelled at a college of FE by advanced and non-advanced levels of work. While Crispin's example refers to lecturing, the method of allocation would appear to apply to other types of teaching activity more commonly associated with technical colleges, e.g. classes, laboratory work, short courses, although the appropriate data would need to be adjusted for each activity. According to Crispin, this method of resourcing has a number of definite advantages. He believes that it would tend to encourage large lecture numbers either through a combination of groups or by increasing the intake, but at the same time it takes into account the contact hours of lecturers, thus linking resources to efforts. At the same time, however, it would aid small or new departments by the application of an initial constant unit independent of student numbers. A potential disadvantage of this model is, as Crispin acknowledges, that it may 'be manipulated by the simple expedient of splitting a group of 30 students (1 unit) into three groups of 10 (3 units). Thus it exemplifies the alleged main charge against staff workload schemes, that of overprovision.

Crispin, however, in reviewing the whole question of overprovision in relation to teaching commitment schemes of staff allocation, concludes that this danger is overrated. It is, as has already been indicated earlier, very difficult to increase provision to part-time students in order to boost the number of staff in post or the grading of posts, while, even with full-time students, factors such as availability of staff and accommodation put clear limits on the level of overprovision that is conceivable. With regard to the alleged tendency of teaching commitment models to cause a proliferation of small teaching groups, one must acknowledge that some real danger does exist, but even here, as Crispin points out, the constraints of staff and premises apply as before. Furthermore, he suggests that the danger of proliferation, if seen to exist in a college, could, in respect of his university-based example above, be corrected by the device of allocating a greater level of units to number of students in a teaching group above 35. As Crispin states 'this would probably dampen the tendency to subdivide since it ensures a much reduced net gain in credit units which be judged to be insufficient reward for committing additional scarce staff'.
With regard to Birch and Calvert's comment that academic staffing formulae 'ignore trade-offs between academic staff and other inputs', Crispin agrees but correctly adds that this observation applies equally to both student-number orientated and teaching commitment schemes. Indeed, this is only one example of confusion in Birch and Calvert's article. Another is their stated preference for 'a straight head count grouped under appropriate headings - full-time, sandwich, part-time day and so on' rather than the calculation of FTEs. It is totally unclear how a straight head count of this nature could lead either to a method of allocating staff or to a means of comparing institutions or departments.

Since the appearance of the two articles under discussion, the overall resource position of further education has, as Birch and Calvert correctly foresaw, undergone a considerable change in view of the restraints on public expenditure, in particular those that have been in force since 1976. The imposition of ceilings on local authority and college budgets has caused the prospect of increasing expenditure on staffing to recede. The danger is no longer uneconomic and unjustified increases in staffing budgets but an uneconomic and educationally unsound use of the resources still available. From an economic viewpoint, Birch and Calvert rightly believe that SSR 'remains a simple and effective mechanism for achieving savings in academic staff'. However, they are primarily concerned with the allocation of teaching resources by central bodies, i.e. the University Grants Committee, the Advanced FE Pool and LEAs, whereas Crispin's article is more concerned with the means of distributing such resources within institutions. At the level of the institution one must endorse Crispin's reservation concerning the application of quantitative analysis, e.g. SSRs, 'without some overriding qualitative judgments'. The type of teaching commitment model that he describes is appropriate for internal resource allocation in colleges of further education in that it relates on educational grounds the patterns of timetabled activities to the particular enterprises of the institution. Of course teaching commitment models require some element of qualitative and subjective judgement, but it is precisely the making of such judgments in relation to educational goals that one may expect from the academic authorities of a college.


In August 1972 the Pooling Committee issued a memorandum concerning staffing resources for advanced further education in polytechnics, colleges of further education and art colleges. The Memorandum recommended to local authority associations the adoption of two main groups of faculties or departments, the establishment  of SSR range norms for each faculty group, and a procedure for calculating FTE students and staff. Behind these recommendations can be detected a desire not only to stabilise the expenditure incurred by the AFE Pool but also to ensure a cost-effective use of resources and an equitable distribution of resources to the maintaining authorities. The specific recommendations were based on an initial cost study undertaken in 1970 covering advanced work only.

The main faculty groupings were as follows:

Group 1 - comprising those faculties which are broadly laboratory, workshop or studio based;

Group 2 - comprising those faculties which are more related to classroom teaching.

Group I faculties were to include Technology and Engineering, Science and Applied Science, Health, Art and Design, and Vocational Studies (Architecture and Town Planning only), while Group 2 faculties were to include Social, Administrative and Business Studies, Education, Languages, Arts and other Vocational Studies (e.g. Catering, Transport). For each of the two faculty groups, the Memorandum recommended target SSR norm bands:

Faculty Group                                                                         Target SSR Bands                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Group 1                                                                                       7.5 - 8.5
Group 2                                                                                       9.2 -10.2                                       

The lowest point of each band represented the norm position indicated in the 1970 study. The Pooling Committe, however,  felt that by 1976 colleges should be aiming to achieve ratios in the top half of  the appropriate bands. 

The Pooling Committee's recommended method of calculating student and staff FTEs for advanced level work has already been examined in Part B 3 c of this dissertation. In 1973 it was subjected to a considered critique by D.J. Brown (See Reference 43), who finds fault with its recommendations in relation to general procedures, FTE student calculations (in particular) and FTE staff calculations. In all cases Brown believes that 'The degree of flexibility allowed in the calculations effectively mitigates against the achievement of the objectives of the Memorandum'. Brown's point is well illustrated by the general procedure to be adopted in calculating FTEs. The overall SSR can be obtained, according to the Memorandum either by 'aggregating the separate calculations in each department/faculty forming the group' or by a single calculation 'that takes into account the total numbers in the departments/faculties forming the group'.

In spite of the fact that the two methods will render different results, the Memorandum declares that 'The method to be adopted should be the one that seems to the authority and the college, the most appropriate and convenient in the circumstances of the establishment concerned'. In circumstances where resources for AFE are to be distributed nationally according to a formula in which FTEs are a variable, via SSRs, Brown feels it to be unsatisfactory that such calculations can be manipulated at the level of colleges or departments.

In considering the Memorandum's approach to the the calculation of FTE students, Brown discusses the ambiguities that stem from the formula of dividing total student hours by the 'average number of hours of a typical student following a normal full-time course in the constituent departments'. The latter parameter can be calculated either by comparing each part-time course with the nearest full-time course in the faculty group or to determine a figure for a 'normalised' full-time course. As Brown demonstrates, neither method is fully satisfactory owing primarily to the enormous fluctuations in course hours between colleges, departments, courses and course years. A more serious source of difficulty, however, is that the basis measure of FTE students is dependent upon timetabled curricular hours. As such hours vary considerably, it is difficult to see how  they can form the basis for any equitable comparisons. Indeed such is the complexity of the position that any global SSR target is likely to be seriously discriminatory to certain colleges, departments or courses. The use of curricular hours in the calculation also helps to counteract the higher SSR targets for departments in Faculty Group 2. As Brown puts it:

'In general, part-time courses have between 6-9 hours depending upon whether attendance is over two or three sessions per day, irrespective of departmental grouping. However full-time courses in Group 1 departments average between 18 and 24 compared with 12 and 16 for Group 2 departments. The basic difference between the two groups results in higher conversion factors in Group 2 departments and consequently numerically larger FTEs'.

While basing FTEs of students upon curricular hours does have the merit of reducing disparities between resources credited for full-time and part-time students, one must acknowledge the superficiality of this approach in any comprehensive monitoring of teaching resources. Indeed this issue highlights the essential difficulty of isolating teaching resources from the other inputs of the educational process.

In view of these difficulties, Brown's suggestion that consideration be given to the idea of basing conversion factors for part-time students on the time taken by a student to complete a part-time course is an interesting one. It is simple and, like the Pratt 'graduate/staff' ratio discussed earlier, it shows that time is a variable input.  However, whether such a formula would relate well to the question of teaching workload is dubious. While it might be possible for a part-time student to complete in two years a course which only occupies a full-time student for one, this might imply a greater effort on behalf of the part-time student than upon the lecturing staff of the college, whether staff workload be measured in terms of contact hours or otherwise. Indeed this may well be a case where use of alternative resources to teaching staff, e.g. libraries, is very apposite. In such circumstances, therefore, it might be difficult to demonstrate that the part-time student should be rated as 0.5 FTE for each year of his course. In addition, one suspects that Brown's suggestion would not be easy to apply to further education courses, many of which are designed primarily as part-time (e.g. national certificates, City and Guils craft certificates) and have no obvious full-time counterparts.

Finally, Brown discusses the Pooling Committee's suggestions for calculating FTE staff and highlights the difficulty of of determining what fraction of a FTE to count lecturers engaged in some non-advanced level work. The Memorandum requires that the fraction appropriate should be based upon the proportion of a lecturer's con tact hours spent on advanced level work. Brown once more questions the applicability of measures based solely on teaching hours. 


Shortly after the issue of the'Memorandum on Student/Staff Ratios', the Pooling Committee published in November 1972 a document entitled 'Assessment of curricular activity and utilisation of staff resources in polytechnics and FE colleges', in order to 'guide' colleges in methods of compiling and presenting information. its content was primarily the work of V.J. Delany of the DES Financial Services Branch (See Reference 44), whose thinking had clearly influenced the earlier Memorandum. This 'Guide', as it has been called to distinguish it from the Memorandum with which it has sometimes been confused, had management information as a main concern, and to this extent some of its content is outside the scope of this dissertation (See Reference 45). However, its sections on student/staff ratios and associated concepts are relevant. With regard to SSRs the 'Guide' states:

'The level of any SSR is the result of the inter-action of a number of different factors of which three in particular exercise the major influence. These factors are associated with the volume of the curriculum, the deployment of the staff and the sizes of the teaching groups in which the teaching or supervision is carried out'.

The Curriculum Volume Factor (CVF) is expressed in terms of Average Student Taught Hours (ASH), the  Staf Deployment Factor (SDF) is expressed in terms of terms of Average Lecturer Teaching Hours (ALH), and the third factor, the Average Class Size (ACS), which has already been defined in Part B. 2.e. above, represents total student curricular hours  divided by total  staff contact hours. These factors can express actual or expect levels of peformance; in the latter case they are targets or norms.

The three factors are expressed in the 'Guide' in a formula which produces a SSR:


which is of course identical to that derived from the first of the academic staffing formulae of Birch and Calvert, as considered above. Following Delany, the Pooling Committee in its 'Report on Monitoring of Student/Staff Ratios in 1978' describes these three factors as 'Cost efficiency indicators'. The section of the 1972 'Guide' concerned with 'Management Information and Analyses' lists four ways in which these cost efficiency indicators may be used by colleges or comparisons:

'(i)  the actual situation between the the different levels of work in the same department, faculty or faculty/department group;

(ii)  the actual situation between the same levels of work in different departments, faculties or faculty/department group;

(iii)  differences over time as regards (i) and (ii);

(iv)  any marked imbalances between the various factors themselves that might justify further examination'.

While the same SSR is obtainable from various combinations of these three factors at different values for each, an examination of the balance between them will enable educational judgments to be made with regard to the soundness of the current situation.

The 'Guide' then goes on to suggest that the difference, in respect of these factors, between the present or actual position and any standard or norm value that may be laid down as part of the forward planning process could be measured by a variance analysis. Variances for all three factors were calculated so that deviations from the norms were shown either in respect of FTE staff with FTE students as the constant factor or FTE students with FTE staff as the constant factor. In cost terms, a minus variance for lecturers was favourable, whereas it was unfavourable for students.

Delany's view of the SSR factors as cost efficiency indicators, possibly leading to the establishment of norms for management purposes is supported by Birch and Parkes (1972) in the article to which reference has been made above in Part B. 1. f., and in which they suggest that the operational objectives of a college should be to maximise student hours, enrolments and attendance rates. In this article they write as follows:

'An objective of the maximisation of student hours will be pursued by a college against a backcloth of constraints - the inflexibility of the buildings, the strategy of its local authority, the policy of the DES and so on. Arguably one of the most important of these will be the cost per student. Information on the precise cost structures of colleges is hard to come by, and even if it were available unit cost comparisons over time would be bugged by the problem of inflation. What is certain is that teachers' salaries account for between 50 and 60% of the annual expenditure of a college. We concentrate on this particular expense and examine some of the factors which determine its level'.

Birch and Parkes agree with Delany that the level of staff requirement in a college may usefully be expressed in the following formula:

FTE staff = FTE students x ASH
                         ACS         ALH               

They argue that if ACS, ASH and ALH remain constant, then any increase in the number of FTE staff will be in direct proportion to an increase in the number of FTE students. If either ACS or ALH increases, then a rise in FTE student numbers will imply a less than proportionate rise in FTE staff and thus average academic staff costs will have been reduced. From the cost viewpoint, constant average costs are a minimum standard to be sought and a position of decreasing average costs is desirable. Birch and Parkes conclude:

'Consequently to our objective of the maximisation of student hours. enrolments and attendance rates we can now add the proviso that the staff/student ratio is maintained at least constant, ....... '


The publication of the Pooling Committee's ratio bands for AFE and the so-called 'Delany norms' which followed them not only attracted considerable controversy at the time but have continued to attract sustained criticism, mainly from associates of the Centre for Institutional Studies at North-East London Polytechnic (See Reference 46). The most obvious criticism which can be made is a conceptual one. It is clearly fallacious to maintain that the SSR is the result of the interaction of three factors, namely curriculum volume, staff deployment and average class size. It is in fact the number of students divided by the number of staff. The so-called 'cost efficiency indicators' of the Pooling Committee are not determinants of SSRs but rather reflect the way in which staffing resources are deployed in relation to the student body. In 1972 at a relatively buoyant economic time when real educational expenditure was continuing to rise it was possible to see SSRs in Delany's terms, but at the present time, when economic constraints have led progressively to static educational budgets, cash limits on local government expenditure, the imposition of an arbitrary SSR target of 10:1 for AFE and the 'capping' of the AFE Pool, this view is no longer meaningful.

Other criticisms of Delany's work focus primarily upon two aspects: firstly, the way, in which both the Memorandum and the 'Guide' ignore the serious difficulties inherent in achieving and applying the calculations which they recommend, and secondly the failure to relate SSRs to educational objectives.

With regard to the calculations recommended by Delany, criticisms include the following observations. There is no reference in these publications to the difficulties of converting part-time students into full-time equivalents or of the wide range of interpretations involved in using curricular hours as a measure. The notion of 'supervision' may be seen as particularly ambiguous in this respect. The different ways in which the data may be calculated make overall comparisons between colleges highly suspect. The same criticism applies to the production of norms. SSRs based upon curricular hours will disguise very different patterns of teaching, demanding very different levels of resources. Average class size when applied to a college overall will not reflect enormous differences across departments and courses, and the staff deployment is concerned solely with the number of timetabled hours rather than their cost. Finally it may be observed that, while the 1972 documents see SSRs as an overall cost efficiency indicator, recoupment for the AFE Pool continues to be based upon the timetabled contact hours of staff.

A more significant criticism, perhaps, is the alleged failure of the Pooling Committee's documents to take account of qualitative questions. Indeed the quantitative analysis of the 'Guide' appears to presuppose that the objectives of a college and the extent to which they are achieved are constant factors on which no debate is required. There is no discussion of how to evaluate the educational experience of students at college in relation to the resources expended. The Pool's use of staff contact hours as a measure of resource need, presumably because it can be easily calculated, ignores completely the realisation that teaching hours are only one of the inputs available in the educational process.

Thus Pratt et al. concude:

'The calculations of SSRs and comparisons thus made fail to discuss what colleges are for or how best they may achieve their objectives or what indicators of staffing may best assist them ... So far as one can see, staff/student ratios may not even figure as as an indicator of educational or even of administrative progress. No such considerations appear to guide either the Pooling Committee or the local authority associations. What exists is an administrative exercise, devised by administrators, for the benefit of administrators' (See Reference 47).

The journalistic strictures of Pratt et al. , while tending as usual to overstate their case, are a little unfair. As a consequence of social and economic factors, the further education sector has had to reappraise both its policies and its systems of management information. In this context, measures and indicators are being sought which will help to achieve in a cost effective way the objectives of the education service. Such indicators or guides are essential to institutions lacking unlimited resources, and so long as their  usefulness is not over-estimated they can do little harm. This is no doubt the case at college level where senior academic staff are all too well aware of the likely relationship between performance and resource levels.

However, in the resource process at national and local authority levels norms based upon quantitative analysis alone may be dangerous. As might have been expected, the flexibility recommended in the Pooling Committee's Memorandum was swiftly ignored by government. As early as 1972 a white paper was referring to a future 10:1 SSR target for AFE and in 1976 the local authority associations advised LEAs that colleges should, in respect of AFE, achieve this target by 1980. The lack of flexibility here suggests that this target is indeed a Procrustean device for achieving economies without regard to educational objectives. Nor is it clear how the 10:1 figure was derived; one assumes it is a 'mishmash' combination of the 1972 ratio bands with a somewhat less favourable standard applied in the interests of economy. What is certain, however, is that educational administrators, desperate to apply or to justify savings, will cling like limpets to such targets. Furthermore, it is likely that they will be applied across the board, ignoring differences in character of individual colleges, any adverse effects on educational performance or 'trade-offs' against other items of expenditure. While this SSR target applies to AFE, there is, of course, nothing to stop LEAs adopting similar approaches in relation to NAFE as well. On balance the warnings of Pratt et al. seem justified.

By way of alternatives to the Pooling Committee analysis, Brown suggests that an approach by 'courses' would be more helpful. He suggests that data could be collated and norms produced for different courses or groups of courses. These could be defined by level, mode of attendance and subject. Such information would be of more use to both LEAs and colleges than overall averages for colleges or faculty groups. Brown also suggests that measuring techniques should be designed in relation to future rather than past patterns and to enable the monitoring of progress in relation to educational objectives. These ideas are attractive but they would clearly require a more positive and detailed approach from LEAs and their officers to the resource process.



While the purpose of this dissertation has been to consider and discuss the issues involved in the resourcing of further education colleges rather than to prescribe solutions, the author has been unable to avoid coming to certain provisional conclusions. Some of these are suggested below:

1.  The DES should require development plans from LEAs under Section 42 of the 1944 Education Act.

2.  In their allocation of resources to FE Colleges, LEAs should follow a 'problem budgeting' approach, i.e. resource provision would be guided by the extent to which a college was seeking to achieve the aims of the LEA.

3.  Volume of work for the purpose of salary grades should be related to the numbers of FTE students rather than staff contact or student hours.

4.  FTE students should be calculated by 'bodies' using conversion factors which are sensitive to the workload created by part-time students.

5.  Resource allocations by LEAs to FE colleges should reflect the possibilities of 'trade-offs' between different inputs; hence, virement across budget headings would be desirable.

6.  However, in view of the continuing financial commitments involved in the appointments of full-time staff, ceiling on staffing budgets should continue to be imposed.

7.  The TSE of a college should be calculated by SSRs which should differ by departments according to a) level of work, and b) faculty group.

8.  These SSRs should be based not only upon the historical position but on agreed future objectives.

9.  Within colleges, staff allocation should be agreed not on inflexible SSRs but in relation to educational strategies agreed between principals and heads of department. Teaching commitment models, encouraging efficient use of resources but protecting areas of special need, are relevant here.

10.  LEAs should be responsible for both the finance and provision of AFE in their colleges.

11.  The AFE Pool should be abolished. Inter-authority payments should be made by recoupment on the basis of standard costs but with a higher proportion of costs than at present and any regional surcharges coming from tuition fees financed through mandatory student awards.

12.  All full-time AFE courses should attract mandatory student awards.

13.  Ways of monitoring student awards should be devised in relation to a) educational objectives and b) levels of resources.


1.  P. Lewis and R. Allemano, 'Fact and fiction about the Pool', Higher Education Review IV2 (1972).

2.  J. Pratt, T.Travers and T. Burgess, 'Costs and Control in Further Education', NFER (1978) pp. 121-3. See also J. Pratt, 'Pooling: Some revised conclusions', Higher Education Review VIII2 (1976).

3.  See The Chatered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy 'Educational Actuals Statistics 1977/78' (1979).

4.  See DES 'Statistics of Education, 1977: Volume 5, Finance and Awards (1979)', p. 26.

5.  'Output budgeting for the Department of Education and Science', Education Planning Paper No.1, HMSO (1970).

6.  Pratt et al. ibid. p.157.

7.  For instance, if full-time equivalent students are calculated on the basis of curricular hours, courses involving less teacher contact time (i.e. where there is no laboratory supervision required or much work is undertaken through guided private assignments in the library) will appear less economical when in fact they are more economical.

8.  Pratt et al. ibid. p. 158-9.

9.  Pratt et al. ibid p.159. They are clearly postulating for both firm and college the classic 'black box' model of an open system, i.e. the transformation of inputs through processing subsystems into outputs. With regard to inputs they do not make a distinction here between 'operands' (those inputs which are to be processed) and 'operators' (those inputs which are to do the processing).

10.  Pratt et al. ibid. p. 170.

11.  P. Lewis, 'The opportunity of costs', Centre for Institutional Studies (1972).

12.  Pratt et al. ibid. see figure 2, p. 167.

13.  Pratt et al. ibid. p. 187. While they do not give the source of these figures, they are clearly derived from the DES Statistics series. It is clear from the table of unit costs published on p. 25 of the 1977 set, Volume 5 (see Reference 4 above) that this sharp rise in unit costs was a result of the founding of the polytechnics. While the unit cost of advanced FE was £1,610 in 1967-8, it was £2,380 in polytechnics in 1973-4, but only £1,540 in other establishments of FE in the same year (Prices as of November 1977).

14.  See A. Bottomley and R.K. Khanna, 'Costs and returns on graduates at the University of Bradford', in 'Accounting and Business Research' No. 1 (1970) and D. Verry and B. Davies, 'University costs and outputs', Elsevier (1976).

15.  Clare Burstall, 'Time to mend the nets', a commentary on the outcomes of class-size research', Trends 1979/3.

16.  See A. Crispin in article mentioned at reference 42 below.

17.  B.D. Cullen, 'Lesson from class-size research - an economist's perspective', Trends 1979/4.

18.  D.W. Birch and D.L. Parkes, 'Towards an objective and some criteria of success in further education', Higher Education Review, IV3 (1972).

19.  Pratt et al. ibid. p. 212-3.

20.  See DES 'Scales of Salaries for Teachers in Establishments for Further Education, England and Wales 1979, HMSO (1980).

21.  Ibid. Appendix IIA Part 1 para 3.

22.  Ibid Appendix IIA Part 1 para 1.

23.  Ibid. Appendix IIA Part III para 2(v).

24.  Ibid. Appendix IIA Part III para 2(v).

25.  'Report on the Size of Classes and Approval of Courses', National Advisory Council on Education for Industry and Commerce (1965).

26.  'Assessment of curricular activity and utilisation of staff resources in Polytechnics in and FE Colleges', Councils and Education Press (1971).

27.  Norma Whittaker, 'Resource Allocation to Non-advanced Further Education Colleges: some current problems facing local education authorities', an unpublished MA dissertation at University of London (1976).

28.  Pratt et al. ibid. p. 105.

29.  Pratt et al. ibid. p. 106.

30.  Whittaker ibid. See also N. Whittaker, 'The allocation of resources and the monitoring of their use', in 'Use of Resources in College Management', Coombe Lodge Report Volume 11, No 11 (1978).

31.  Sam Tarling, 'Academic and Non-Academic staffing in Colleges of Further Education', in 'Current developments in Further Education', Coombe Lodge Report Volume 11, No. 11 (1978).

32.  Whittaker ibid.

33.  Whittaker ibid.

34.  Tarling ibid.

35.  DES, 'Notes on Procedures for the Approval of Polytechnic Projects' (1971).

36.  DES 'Statistics of Education 1977': Volume 5, Finance and Awards (1979) note 10.

37.  See especially P.C. Webb, 'Teaching Cost Models for Sixth Forms', Education Policy Bulletin Volume 7, Number 1.

38.  They would thus include the private study time in college of full-time students.

39.  D.W. Birch and J.R. Calvert, 'Review of Academic Staffing Formulae', Educational Administration Bulletin, Autumn 1974.

40.  J.A. Bottomley et al., 'Costs and potential economies', CERI - OECD, Paris (1971).

41.  M.G. Simpson et al., 'Planning university development', CERI - OECD, Paris (1971). staffing schemes

42.  A. Crispin, 'Academic staffing schemes reconsidered', Educational Administration Bulletin, Summer 1975.

43.  D.J. Brown, 'Resources in advanced FE - a critique of the Pooling Committee's work, 'Higher Education Review V3 (1973).

44.  For other publications of V.J. Delany, see 'Cost Efficiency Indicators in Further Education', ACFHE (1971); 'The Contribution of Management Accounting to Decision Making in Education', Management Accounting (January 1976); 'Decision Making in Higher Education', Management Accounting (November 1976); 'Exploring Data Patterns in Further Education', ACFHE (1979).

45.  On this subject see in particular Derek Birch, 'An overview of Management Information Systems in Educational Institutions' in 'Use of Resources in College Management', Coombe Lodge Report, Volume 11, Number 11 (1978).

46.  Apart from Pratt et al. ibid pp. 147-51, see J, Pratt, 'Management in Further Education', Higher Education Review V1 (1972) and D.J. Brown ibid.

47.  Pratt et al. ibid. p. 150.


Published in Education

This special subject essay was submitted to the University of Oxford Department of Educational Studies by Andrew William Panton, B.A. (in residence at Pembroke College) in June 1968 in part fulfilment of the course requirements leading to the award of the University's Diploma in Education.



The Platonic doctrine of "anamnesis" or Recollection has had a profound influence on the conception of the role of the teacher in educational thought. Originally formulated as a refutation of the empirical theory of knowledge proposed by the Sophists in the fifth century B.C., its implications range into metaphysics and epistemology. It is, however, its implications for education that will be considered in this paper. The function of the teacher in the educational process is dependent on our theories of how we learn. The doctrine of "anamnesis" was the way in which Plato explained the realisation of intellectual concepts in the human mind. However, before we consider it in detail, we ought to familiarise ourselves with the main aspects of Plato's theory of knowledge.


Plato began to develop his own doctrine at the point where his mentor, Socrates, had left him. Socrates had asserted that there was such a thing as moral goodness, that it was an objective standard, and that only by knowing it could men become truly good. He had not, however, attempted to define what sort of a thing goodness was. Plato's first task was to do this, and in doing so he was assisted by the Pythagorean theory of numbers: that there is an eternal reality transcending our senses, expressible only numerical terms. The doctrine at which he arrived by combining Pythagorean notions with Socrates' moral doctrine is known as the "Theory of Forms". For Plato there existed a world of eternal realities. "Forms" ("eide") entirely separate from the world our senses perceive, and knowable only by the pure intellect. They are the only objects of true knowledge, the unchanging realities which our mind perceives when it arrives at a true universal definition.


This theory enumerates two levels of reality. There is the world of visible and sensible things, the object of what Plato called "doxa" (opinion). This world is in some sense a shadow of the other, which contains the forms or patterns which it imitates. the other is the eternal and immutable world of the "forms", and, because for Plato the world perceived by our senses is in a perpetual Heacleitean flow of ever-changing appearances of which no real knowledge ("episteme") is possible, this thinking about the universal Forms is the only kind of thinking which attains truth.


But, if Plato's "Theory of Forms" was a true one, he was immediately faced with the problem of how we are to make philosophical progress. In the "Meno" this dilemma is stated thus:


"And how will you enquire, Socrates, into that which you do not know? What will you put forth as the subject of enquiry? And, if you find what you want, how will you ever know, that this is what you did not know?" (Meno 80, D. 5-8.)


Now, according to Plato, the definition of concepts like "goodness" and "virtue" could not be found by empirical means. If those thing are not in the physical world, they must come from the mind. Here Plato introduces his doctrine of "anamnesis"; knowledge is raised into consciousness by the process of Recollection. By an appeal to the authority of the poets, Plato asserts the immortality of the soul and the pre-existence of knowledge before this present life.


"The soul then as being immortal, and having been born again many times, and having seen all things that there are, whether in this world or in the world below, has knowledge of them all, and it is no wonder that it should be able to call to remembrance all that it ever knew about virtue, and about everything: for as the nature of all things is akin, and the soul has learned all things, there is no danger in her eliciting, or as men say, learning all out of a single recollection, if a man is strenuous and not fainthearted; for all enquiry and all learning is but recollection." (Meno 81, C.5-D.5.)


This is the classic enunciation of Plato's doctrine of "anamnesis". But what does he imply when he speaks of rediscovery through perseverance? What follows suggests that someone else is needed to put one on the right track, and we begin to conceive of the role which Plato assigns to the teacher. To demonstrate that we can have knowledge without formal teaching, Socrates conducts an experiment with one of Meno's slave-boys, from whom he elicits the solution of a somewhat difficult geometrical problem. Socrates' account of what he has done is that the slave-boy, though uninstructed, had within him all the right opinions. But, since they had to be elicited, he could not be said to have known them. Thus, it is possible to hold true opinions about things one does not have knowledge of. If, however, the slave-boy was put repeatedly through such demonstrations, his true opinions would become knowledge. By asking the right questions at the right times, Socrates has activated true beliefs in the slave-boy.


"Without anyone teaching him, he will recover his knowledge for himself if only he is asked questions. And this spontaneous recovery in him is recollection (anamnesis)." (Meno, 85  D.3-7.)


Since he could not have acquired his true opinions in his lifetime, the slave-boy must have known them before he was a man. Here, Socrates again asserts the immortality of the soul, the details and significance of which do not concern us here.


In the "Meno" Plato posits the theory of "anamnesis" to escape from the Sophistic dilemma of "either we know something, and then we do not need to look for it, or we do not know it, and then we cannot know what we are looking for". This dilemma seems to assume no alternative between complete knowledge and utter ignorance. "Anamnesis" provided for levels or degrees of knowledge between these extremes. Now, this contrast between latent knowledge and blank ignorance is a fact of personal experience. Socratic methods of questioning or dialectic, preceded by "elenchus" (refutation) and "aporia" (the recognition of a want of understanding by the learner), are aimed at raising such latent knowledge to the level of consciousness. This process was probably observed by Plato within his own mind, and to this extent his theory of "anamnesis" was empirical. But the existence of unconscious knowledge was the only answer to his bald dilemma. New ideas begin to appear in the back of the mind. Suddenly they take shape and burst forth like a sudden illumination - hence in the imagery of light in the Myth of the Cave in Book VII of the "Republic". But this experience could only be accounted for if mathematical and moral concepts are eternal objects of thought, to be known without the help of the sense apparatus. If knowledge of them does come from sense perception ("aesthesis"), then it is recalled from out of a memory always latent in the immortal soul.


Obviously, however, only knowledge of a certain sort had been recovered. Plato's attention was directed to the attainment of moral and mathematical truths, by which he sought to regulate human conduct. The essential feature of these objects was their eternal and immutable nature. This made them real in the highest sense. Facts that we learn by sensible experience, or are taught by various sources of information, he refuses to call true knowledge ("episteme"). For everything in the sensible world is in flux. Thus, knowledge is limited to the intellectual apprehension of moral and mathematical forms. This being so, it is at at once apparent that all knowledge is impersonal, and the contents of it are the same for all. The only difference is in the extent to which latent knowledge is available. Individual differences are thus explained in the Myth of Er at the end of the "Republic".


"And then towards evening they encamped by the River of Unmindfulness, whose waters no pitcher can hold. And all were compelled to drink a certain measure of its water, and those who were not saved by their good sense drank more than the measure." (Republic, 621 A.5-9.)


In the "Meno", Socrates asserts that all knowledge can be recovered. For "the nature of all things is akin", the structure of truth forms a single coherent system in which the parts are linked by logical necessity. Thus the recall of a single link in this chain of reality is enough to lead the mind on to all truth.


This doctrine of "Anamnesis", first alluded to by Plato in the "Meno", is reaffirmed and developed in the "Phaedo" and the "Phaedrus". However, in one of his later dialogues, the "Theaetetus", he appears to gainsay his theory. This is the passage where he compares the process of learning with the capturing of birds, followed by putting them into an aviary. (The purpose of these two similes is to distinguish between the possession of knowledge and having it ready to mind.) In this passage, Socrates says explicitly that the mind, described as an aviary, is empty at birth.


"When we are babies we must suppose this receptacle empty, and take the birds to stand for pieces of knowledge. Whenever a person acquires any piece of knowledge and shuts it up in his enclosure, we must say he has learnt or discovered the thing of which this is the knowledge, and that is what knowing means." (Theaetetus, 197.E)


Is this, in fact, a contradiction of the doctrine of "anamnesis"? On the surface, it would seem to be, but, if we look at the context of the passage, it is quite clearly nothing of the kind. The "Theaetetus" dialogue centres around the empiricist claim, put forward by Protagoras, and re-asserted by Theaetetus, that all knowledge comes from the external world of the senses, either directly or by the process of teaching as commonly conceived. Thus "anamnesis", because the concept assumes that we already know the answer to the question, "What is the nature of knowledge and of its objects - is not admissible in this dialogue. Plato is here working on the empiricist presupposition that the aviary is empty at birth - a "tabula rasa" - and then gradually filled with contents derived from perception and learning. But, of course, for Plato, such knowledge was not knowledge of reality (episteme), and it is probably deliberate that, while describing the recovery of latent knowledge, he employs the verb "analambanein" (to retrieve) rather than the verb "anamimnesco" (to recall from memory), from which his own word for recollection is derived.


It has been further argued that the doctrine of "anamnesis" has not been omitted because the the discussion is about matters of fact. For mathematical facts are included among the captured birds. Even so, the doctrine of "anamnesis" is in no way compromised by the simile, for, if Socrates means the the process of capturing birds to stand for consciously coming to know something, then we should expect the aviary to be empty at birth. The idea of "anamnesis" does not require us to possess any actual as opposed to potential knowledge before we are reminded of it. Such an interpretation is interesting but does not seem necessary to the argument. Theaetetus has stated that "knowledge is nothing but perception". (Theaetetus, 151.E), and from this point of view mathematics is similar to all other types of knowledge.


The doctrine of "anamnesis", then, is one of the corner-stones of Platonism, and we have no reason to think that Plato ever went back on it. He did, it is true, have some reservations, which he states in the "Meno" concerning the poetic account of the immortality of the soul, but not on the question of immortality itself. The soul's immortality, though not directly relevant to this paper, is an essential part of the theory of "anamnesis". If such, then, was Plato's account of the source of our knowledge, how does he view the role of the teacher in the educational process? To answer this, we must return once more to the "Theaetetus".


In this dialogue Socrates refers to his activities as those of an intellectual "midwife", and he assets that he seeks to deliver thoughts from the mind which are as yet imperfectly formulated:


"My art of midwifery is in general like theirs, the only difference being that my patients aremen not women, and my concern is not with the body but with the soul that is in travail of birth. And the highest point of my art is the power to prove by every test whether the offspring of a young man's thought is a false phantom or instinct with life and truth."

(Theaetetus, 150.B-C.)


Thus the intellectual methods employed by Socrates in the Socratic dialogues are, for Plato, the blueprint of the methods to be adopted by the teacher. Although "anamnesis" is not mentioned by name in the "Theaetetus", that Plato linked it with his conception of the teacher as a "midwife" is made clear by the following extract:


"Those who frequent my company at first appear, some of them, quite unintelligent, but as we go further with our discussions, all who are favoured by heaven make progress at a rate that seems surprising to others as well as to themselves, although it is clear they have never learnt anything from me; the many admirable things they bring to birth have been discovered by themselves from within. But the delivery is heaven's work and mine".

(Theaetetus, 150.D)


In the "Republic", his great work on education, Plato criticises the the practices of the teachers of the day, that is, the Sophists, and then describes the role that the teacher should perform. Though his image of the "midwife" is a later product, it is clear that even when he wrote the "Republic" he was thinking along the same lines.


"We must reject the conception of education professed by those who say that they can put into the mind knowledge that was not there before - rather as if they could put sight into blind eyes .... But our argument indicates that this is a capacity which is innate in each man'smind, and that the faculty by which he learns is like an eye which cannot be turned from darkness to light unless the whole body is turned; in the same way the mind as a whole must be turned away from the world of change until its eye can bear to look straight atreality, and at the brightest of all realities, which is what we call the Good .... Then this business of turning the mind round might be made a subject of professional skill, which would effect the conversion as easily and effectively as possible. It would not be concerned to implant sight, but to ensure that someone who had it already was turned in the right direction and looking in the right way." (Republic 518, B-D.)


The tremendous imagery of light, peculiar to the "Republic", has by its suggestive power coloured the language of metaphysics ever since. But, before we consider the application of Plato's views on the role of the teacher, let us first examine them in a Christian setting. The great name that we associate with Christian Platonism is St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.). Perhaps the most influential of all Christian writers outside the Bible, we know from his "Confessions" that he started on the road to his beliefs by reading certain "books of the Platonists" (Confessions 7.20.1). Here he refers to the works of Plotinus, the great Platonic interpreter of the third century A.D. From his philosophical writings it is clear that Augustine accepted many of Plato's theories, notably his conception of the two levels of reality. For the first ten years after his conversion to Christianity, Augustine was to make a conscious effort to attempt a synthesis between the system of the Greek master and the doctrines of the Church. Though he eventually despaired of achieving this, the influence of Platonism in his works continued. Perhaps the most important belief which he shared with Plato and Plotinus was the importance of moral rectitude. The points of difference between Plato and Augustine, though of fundamental importance in a religious sense, have less significance in the context of philosophy. These points were basically two: Augustine replaced the Good as the highest principle of the universe by God; and refused to accept the immortality of the soul. These differences, though of great significance in some respects, did not however cause his theory of education to differ very much from that of Plato.


This theory is outlined in the "De Magistro", one of the Saint's minor works. His thesis is that God is the ultimate cause and reason for the acquisition of truth by man, when he learns. Augustine begins his discussion by posing a dilemma, in many ways similar to that stated by Meno in Plato's dialogue of that name, although it is more specifically concerned with the agency of the teacher. The teacher is supposed to convey knowledge with words, but these words unless they represent realities known to the mind are meaningless. Hence the dilemma: if the pupil does not know the realities to which the teacher refers, the words used will be mere noises, while, if he already knows these realities, the teacher teaches him nothing he does not know. Thus, words cannot make us know physical realities unless we have previous experience of them through sense-perception. (Like Plato, Augustine would have considered that perception of the physical world was not knowledge in the true sense.) And words cannot make us see intelligible realities within the mind. To answer this problem, Plato had posited his theory of a transcendent world of "Forms", apprehended by the soul before birth, and capable of recovery during life. Augustine, while accepting the "Forms", held the source of their knowledge to be not a store of innate ideas acquired in a previous existence, but the power and wisdom of God.


This theory, although it uses Platonic imagery, is specifically Christian; as physical light is necessary to perceive corporeal realities, so the divine wisdom must illumine the human mind. The Scriptures were, of course, the main inspiration for his doctrine, particularly John's "true light that enlightens very man that cometh into the world" (John 1, v.9). This is Augustine's doctrine of the "Interior Teacher", to whom the title of the treatise refers, and which makes the immortality of the soul unnecessary. For Augustine this Interior Teacher is Christ: "One is your teacher Christ" (Matthew 23, v.10). Christ is a light, and the illumination he provides an explanation of the cause and the guarantee of the truth of our judgements.


"We ought .... to believe that the nature of the intellectual mind is so constituted that it sees these things, which by the disposition of the Creator are connected with intelligible realitiesin the rational order, just as the eye of the body sees the objects within its range in this physical light, a light to which it was created susceptible and properly suited."

(De Trinitate 12.15.24.)


Augustine's refutation of the immortal nature of the soul invalidates the doctrine of "anamnesis" as Plato used it. Yet, such was the suggestive power of this idea as an empirical account of the working of the mind, that in the "De Magistro" Augustine speaks of teaching as "reminding" and of learning as "recalling". In Book X of the "Confessions", he describes the complex workings of the mind. He likens the memory to a "belly" of the mind" (Confessions 10.14.21), in which are conserved the images of sense-perception later recalled. In Book X we also find that he applies the prompting technique of Socrates to the study of sensible objects.


"Why else, when they were spoken of, did I acknowledge them and say 'So it is; it is true', if they were not already in my memory, though yet so far off, and crowded so far back as it were into secret caves, that had they not been drawn out by the agency of some other person, I might never have been able to think of them." (Confessions 10.10.17.)


Furthermore, the objects of the intelligible world, which by contemplation and internal reflection we can come to know are also stored in the "memory". The soul is unaware of this, but these spiritual realities come to light through God's illumination from the memory, where they were latent. In fact, for Augustine the processes of learning, thinking and recalling were identical, as all came from the "Interior Teacher". He does not, of course, use "recollection" in the same sense as Plato. His "memory" is in some respects equivalent to the unconscious or sub-conscious mind. But Augustine is in complete agreement with Plato that knowledge of the intelligible world, the world of true reality, does not originate through the senses.


"Regarding, however, all those things which we understand, it is not a speaker who utters sounds exteriorly whom we consult, but it is truth that presides within, over the mind itself, though it may have been words that prompted us to make such consultation. And He, who is consulted, is said to "dwell in the inner man". He it is, Who teaches - Christ - that is "the unchangeable power of God and everlasting Wisdom." (De Magistro 11.38.)


As regards the role of the teacher, Augustine endorses the ideas put forward in the "Theaetetus" that the teacher is an intellectual or spiritual "midwife", whose task is to assist others to express their mental conceptions, then to to examine and criticise them, in order to see whether they reflect reality. The teacher's words prompt the pupil to search for truth, not already known to him. When he discovers realities, illuminated for him by internal vision, he acquires new knowledge for himself, though indirectly as a result of the coaxing of the teacher.


The logical validity of the doctrines described above is not relevant to the primary purpose of this paper, but the weaknesses of some of the ideas expressed is clearly apparent. For instance, if, as Augustine says, words are mere noises, how can they even serve to prompt? For, if they are not understood, they can never lead to a search for realities. To return to our primary purpose, however, it is appropriate to delineate briefly the philosophical model of the the teacher that has arisen from the doctrines discussed, and then to see how far such a model is relevant to to the actual situation of the educator.


The model of teaching which has emerged from the writings of Plato and Augustine has been referred to as the "insight model". Its main characteristic is that it denies the possibility of conveying pieces of information from one mind to another. The task of the teacher is to prompt and stimulate his pupils to realise for themselves the knowledge that is in their own minds. For, according to this model, knowledge is a matter of insight or internal vision.


Now, it seems clear that while this "insight model" contains much of value, it cannot relate satisfactorily to all the varying aspects of the teaching process. For instance, let us take us take the transmission of factual knowledge. Plato, considering this to be not a matter of real knowledge, very largely ignores the issue. Augustine, however, confronted by his paradox about the meanings of words, would seem to have extended the "insight" theory into this branch of teaching as well. But what he has done is to confuse knowledge with information, or words with sentences. we can understand sentences before becoming acquainted withe realities they signify. Thus, the teacher can, and does, inform his pupils of facts by using language. The "insight model" cannot cover all aspects of teaching. Any subject taught which demands the receipt of certain information cannot rely on internal vision alone.


To what subjects, then, is the insight theory appropriate? Socratic questioning, as demonstrated in the Platonic dialogues, is clearly suited to those forms of knowledge where progress is largely a matter of logic. In the school curriculum, geometry is the best example of such a subject. Here, the distinction made by Plato in the "Meno" between knowing and believing is quite clear. This "prompting" technique can of course be applied to other branches of knowledge, not associated with the Platonic curriculum. For instance, a history teacher might profitably elucidate from his pupils the interpretation of a particular set of historical events, the facts of which are familiar to them. The "teaching question" can be used to great advantage in many situations where the teacher wishes to tie together the elements of his pupils' experience into a particular cognitive pattern, and here it is clearly connected to the "Gestalt" theory of learning. The "teaching question" can, of course, be employed also in contexts not connected with insight - for instance the recapitulation of knowledge recently attained - but, where this questioning is Socratic in the true sense, it provides perhaps the greatest practical justification of the insight theory model.


It must, however, be recognised that the idea of insight as a general condition of knowing is inadequate. It is only applicable to situations where the truths we are dealing with are directly accessible to individual inspection. We cannot say that coming to know a proposition in the sciences or in history is an experience necessitating a vision of reality; it could be so in some cases, but in the vast majority of cases it will not be. The model does not make provision for the many aspects of principled deliberation which are usually central to the process of knowing. Such deliberation includes arguments, the weighing up of contrasting factors, and decision-making. Furthermore, the "insight model" of teaching is specifically concerned with the cognitive aspects of learning, to the exclusion of all else. Problems of character and the procedure to be adopted in the pursuit of knowledge play little part in it. Thus, it ignores both the principles of intellectual discipline and the function of character training in education.


While the shortcomings of the "insight model" of teaching are plain to see, the theories on which it is based are not therefore valueless. The realisation that words alone convey knowledge is fundamental to a sound teaching technique. For knowledge can never be simply the storing of new information given by the teacher. Both Plato and Augustine stress that knowing demands more than the receipt and acceptance of information. "Knowing" in the true sense requires the opportunity to assimilate information and to work it out for oneself, thus gaining assurance of its truth. The "insight model" stands as a warning to the teacher that teaching will always be more than the verbal transmission of information from teacher to pupils.





In the writing of this paper reference has been made to the following books:




Plato:"The Republic".

"The Meno".

"The Theaetetus".


Augustine:"The Teacher".


 "The Trinity".


B)Secondary works.


F.M.Cornford: "Plato's Theory of Knowledge".

  "Principium Sapientiae".


I.M.Crombie: "An Examination of Plato's Doctrines".

  "The Midwife's Apprentice".


H.W.B.Joseph: "Knowledge and the Good in Plato's Republic".


I.Scheffler: "Some Philosophical Models of Teaching" in the "The Concept of Education", edited by R.S. Peters.


June 1968.



Published in Education


The following plan for writing history essays, and an example of such an essay, was produced by Andrew William Panton, M.A. Dip. Ed., as guidance for 'A' Level students at Eton College, Windsor, Berkshire, in 1975.


1.  Look at question very carefully: What type of answer does it require? What sections from notes need to be included in the answer? As the essay question seeks to examine depth of knowledge on a particular subject, as much as possible of the information learned should be made relevant to the answer. 
2.  Plan structure of the essay in following sequence:
a.  Mainstream of the essay (2-6 paragraphs)     
(1)  Contains main factual content of the essay. These details should include as many dates, names, and figures as possible.

(2)   These facts back up the central theme of the essay.

(3)   Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence which introduces the facts andrelates them directly to the question.
(4)   Paragraphs should be linked, if possible, and should follow one another naturally, i.e. in the most natural order.

b.  Introduction

(1)  Should not answer the question but outline in general terms the scope or direction of the answer.

(2)  Should cover any important preliminary details, which cannot be conveniently fitted in elsewhere.

(3)  Should be brief, and not include many facts.

(4)  Should be stimulating.

c.  Conclusion

(1)  Should tie the threads of the essay together, either by summarizing the topics discussed earlier and /or by a general statement. A clinching detail in support of this general statement is often useful.

(2)  Should cover any important concluding details, which cannot be conveniently fitted in elsewhere.

(3)  Should be clear, concise and stimulating.

The minimum details that a plan should include are the paragraph numbers and their topic headings. The general statements and other details required for the introduction and conclusion should also be noted, but only after the content of the mainstream paragraphs has been noted.

Introduction   ................(General scope etc)...........................                             

1.   ................................(Topic heading).................................

2.   ................................(Topic heading).................................

3.   ................................(Topic heading)..................................

4.   ................................(Topic heading)..................................

Conclusion   ..................(Final statement etc)............................

If notes have been thoroughly learned, most of the detailed information will be triggered off by the topic heading.

3.   Write the essay, following the plan.

N.B. If this strategy is followed, every word in the essay should be relevanti.e. related to the question. Each mainstream paragraph in the essay should elicit the information contained in the note sections that have been made and learned. The topic sentences should then relate this information to answering the question set. Thus, while much of the factual material exhibited in the paragraphs of essay answers will be the same, whatever the specific question that may be asked on a particular subject or area of study, the topic sentences will ensure that this information is related to the question. Thus the section headings in the notes on each subject must be converted into a topic sentence in an essay.


Question: "The accidental by-product of defeat in war, rather than the planned outcome of theory." Discuss this as a comment on the Russian Revolution in 1917.


Intro.  Both factors important. 2 revolutions in 1917. Background factors also significant.

1.  Effects of economic modernisation.

2.  Symptoms of political modernisation.

3.  Need for a shock if rev. was to occcur.

4.  Consequences of WW1.

5.  Collapse of Tsarist govt. > March Rev.

6.  Effect of Bolsheviks > Nov Rev.

Conclusion.  Bolshevik plans important in Nov. but dependent on March rev. which was due to War.

Essay: (N.B. Topic sentences are highlighted in italic script.)

"The accidental by-product of defeat in war, rather than the planned outcome of theory." Discuss this as a comment on the Russian Revolution in 1917.

Both the consequences of the First World War and the carefully laid plans of the Bolsheviks were decisive factors in determining the course of events in Russia in 1917. These two factors were of prime importance at different times in a year which saw two distinct revolutions, but neither can be placed in is proper context without a prior consideration of the social and political environment of Russia in 1914, for therein lay the seeds of a potential revolution. 
The changes that Russia underwent between the end of the Crimean War in 1856 and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 involved her in a deep, if belated, process of modernisation, which, according to the determinist view, was leading her inexorably towards revolution. The abolition of serfdom in 1861 succeeded in raising the expectations, but not the living standards of the vast mass of Russian peasants. Former serfs found themselves farming less land than before, and at the same time paying redemption dues to pay for their land, while their subjection to the landowners had merely been exchanged for the control of the 'mir', or village commune, which allocated the land and the redemption dues. These factors, and the catastrophic rise in the peasant population from 50 to 100 million between 1861 and 1917, led to acute agrarian problems which manifested themselves in a number of sporadic uprisings around the turn of the century. While the social situation in the countryside was changing, the towns were being radically altered by the industrial revolution that was at last taking hold of Russia. The output of coal and iron increased enormously between 1870 and 1914, and the 1,000 miles of railway track in existence in 1860 had grown to 44,000 miles in 1914, thanks largely to the energetic efforts of Count Witte, Alexander III's Minister of Communications. Foreigh investment, particularly French, flooded into the country, and a massive increase in the size of the the town population was attended by the social evils usually associated with rapid industrialisation. Economic growth was particularly marked between 1900 and 1914, in which period it is estimated that the urban population of Russia increased by as much as a third. The numbers of the urban population, the raw material of social revolution, had thus increased to a level where its collective resistance might endanger the security of the state and the social order.  


Modernisation was also affecting the Russian political scene before 1914, even if the Tsar still preserved his absolute authority, and signs of opposition were emerging as possible threats to the old regime. The lasr decades of the Nineteenth Century saw the emergence in Russia of various utopian revolutionary parties, drawing their inspiration from Western Europe. The Social Revolutonaries, offshoots of the international anarchist movement, attempted to stir up the peasantry, while a Marxist party, the Social Democrats, led by Georgi Plekhanov, was pledged to prepare for a proletarian uprising in the big cities. Meanwhile, the Tsarist government, its prestige damaged by the disasters of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 and its credibility shaken by the abortive 1905 Revolution, was forced to concede to the demands of the liberal bourgeois classes for a representative political institution, and, if the Duma that emerged in 1906 was little more than a 'talking shop', it was at least a milestone on the road towards more political changes. 
It is thus apparent that many of the necessary ingredients for a revolution had appeared on the scene by 1914, but the control of the Tsar's government was still too strong, the opposition too divided, and the peasants and urban workers too apathetic for revolution to be within sight. Some profound shock was required if the elements of revolution were to be fused together to produce a dynamic change. 
Such a shock was provided by the First World War (1914-18), the consequences of which were to shatter forever the Tsarist autocracy and to unite for a time all its opponents in a programme of common action. The War was disastrous for Russia both from the military and economic viewpoint. In terms of territory, Russia had done moderately well up to the beginning of 1917, but in human terms her losses had been appalling. The unprecedented slaughter of the Great War was visited upon the Russians most severely of all, some 8 million casualties being sustained between 1914 and 1917. In addition, the armies and the individual soldiers were atrociously equipped, while their generals were usually incompetent and often corrupt. Sukhomlinov, the notorious War Minister, who was dismissed in 1915, had lined his pockets with money designated for military supplies. After the end of the Brusilov offensive in 1916, the Russians had fought to a standstill, and the growing number of desertions from the front testified to the declining morale and the acute war-weariness of the Russian people, as well to as their increasing indignation with a government that was leading them to total disaster. This indignation was accentuated by the economic chaos into which the country was plunged as a result of war. The removal of 15 million men for the army involved the economy in a loss to its labour force that it was unable to make up. The attempt to mobilise the economy on a war footing brought about an economic collapse: factories, mills and blast-furnaces closed down all over Russia. Goods were stockpiled at railway stations, and the inadequate railway system, unable to handle the volume of freight which was necessary to sustain the war effort, slipped from disorganisation into paralysis.The consequences of economic disintegration and the breakdown of communications were massive inflation and a growing shortage of food in the cities. By the end of 1916 prices were 500% higher than in 1914, and bread riots had broken out in Moscow. As a result of these crippling conditions, the masses were provoked out of their usual apathy, and the wave of strikes that hit the country in 1916-17 testify to the success of the revolutionaries' propaganda. 


Meanwhile, the inadequacies of the autocracy were being shown up in stark relief. The Government, composed of aged bunglers and nominees of the hated Rasputin, was quite unable to cope with  the conditions brought on by the War, and pursued a policy of mindless repression that did nothing to tackle the pit of problems into which the country was falling. Tsar Nicholas II, increasingly dominated by his hysterical wife and he 'mentor', Rasputin, failed to respond to the plight of his people or to purge his government of the unworthy elements which the baleful influence of Rasputin had imported into it, and the Tsar's failure led to a growing hatred of him and a contempt for the governmental system which he embodied. Even the aristocracy was contemplating his enforced abdication, and Rasputin was murdered by Prince Usupov, the husband of the Tsar's niece, Princess Irina. Thus were made possible the conditions in which the liberal bourgeois politicians of the Duma would agree to cooperate with Marxist revolutionaries in the spring of 1917. But the outbreak of the Revolution in St. Petersburg in March 1917 was an elemental phenomenon; it was a spontaneous and unplanned protest against the weight of accumulated grievances which the Russian people no longer found bearable. Indeed, the success of the uprising took the revolutionaries so much by surprise that Lenin, the most able of them, was telling an audience in Switzerland in January 1917 that he did not expect that he would live to see the Revolution. Thus it was the cataclysmic circumstances produced by Russia's involvement in the First War, and not the successful action of revolutionary agitators that was responsible for igniting the fuse of revolution in March 1917.

However, if revolutionary planning had little to do with the success of the March Revolution, the success of the Bolsheviks in seizing control of the country in the second revolution of November 1917 was certainly due to the 'planned outcome of theory'. Ever since his return from exile in April, Vladimir Lenin had set about about preparing for a Bolshevik takeover. Differing with the Menshevik, or moderate,  wing of the Social Democratic Party, Lenin argued that the bourgeois revolution must be followed almost immediately by the revolution of the proletariat, and he was quick to realise that in the circumstances of 1917 soldiers and peasants might also be induced to join the forces of the revolution. The combination of Lenin's call for continuous revolution and his policies of 'land for the peasants and peace for all' was to prove irresistible in the land-hungry and war-weary Russia of 1917. In the confusion and the power vacuum of that year, any closely knit political group with a cogent programme of action stood a good chance of success, and the discipline of the elite Bolshevik faction, under the inspiring leadership of Lenin and Trotsky, gave it a striking force out of all proportion to its numbers. The further disintegration of the army, due to Kerensky's decision to renew the War, and the inability of the small bourgeois class to provide a government with 'grass roots' support facilitated the success of the brilliantly planned Bolshevik coup of November 8th. It was a triumph of opportunism based on a clear grasp of political realities.

In conclusion, it can be seen that the superior planning and ideas of the Bolsheviks enabled them to play a vital part in the outcome of the events of 1917; what is equally clear is that that they could never have succeeded had it not been for the downfall of Tsardom in March due to the consequences of the War. The revolution of March expressed in an acute and perhaps uniquely Russian form an almost universal sense of frustration and hopelessness. Under the effects of industrialisation, Russia would no doubt have had to undergo profound social and political changes during the course of the Twentieth Century, but these changes were greatly accelerated by the consequences of the First World War, that 'great locomotive of history'. Under the excruciating strains of that murderous conflict, the sinews of Tsarist Russia cracked, and its structure crumbled away. 
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