'A Service for Youth'
‘Now that the war is over’ may have been the phrase that prefaced the announcement by Essex County Council Education Committee of many of its plans to build new schools, youth centres and colleges, but the aspiration to provide a new framework for education in the county came out of the war itself. From as early as 1941, there was a Ministry for Reconstruction, determined to overcome the blights of unemployment, bad housing, poor health and education that were part of the legacy of the inter-war period. By 1944 R.A. Butler's Education Act was in place and, with it, a general consensus that more needed to be done - after the new school-leaving age of 15 - to provide post-school training, sport and other recreation for Britain's youth. Nowhere was the need more apparent than in a county like Essex, whose old boundaries - today remembered in the postal districts and the county cricket championships -extended deep into East London, as well as covering sites for new towns like Harlow and Basildon and important new housing developments like Harold Hill.
By the end of the war, therefore, Essex Education Committee had already acquired much of the remaining Nelmes estate in Hornchurch. The major break-up of the Elmes (formerly de Ulmis) mediaeval estate had started in 1901, with the sale of the area now known as Emerson Park. Further sales had followed. On October 28th 1946 their Sites, Buildings and Supplies Committee (then in charge of purchases of land, buildings and equipment) confirmed the purchase of Ardleigh House and 15 acres of land surrounding it for 'Service of Youth, Community Centre and playing fields'. This meant that a large area including the present-day College, Campion School and the Nelmes estate was now all county council property. But the only substantial building was Ardleigh House itself - a large, rather rambling Victorian property with various outhouses and additions.
On January 6th 1947, its Further Education Committee made the first grant for the costs of a Caretaker/Groundsman for Ardleigh House. At the same meeting, it formed a Management Committee for the property to be used 'as a Community and Youth Centre, a Centre for part-time Day Release Classes and (temporarily) as a Library Sub-Branch, this Committee included not only representatives of the Further Education Committee and the Divisional Executive, but also from local and regional Youth Committees, Hornchurch Urban District Council and South-East Essex Technical College. At its meeting on May 19th 1947, the Committee confirmed the appointment of Mr Maurice Ross BSc as full-time Warden of Ardleigh House Community and Youth Centre. The County Council was already being strongly encouraged to start part-time day release classes. On December 1st that year, the establishment of the first 3 full-time Assistant Teachers for day release students was also confirmed.
In spite of a grant for furniture, initial facilities for classes were fairly rudimentary and confined to upstairs rooms in the old house. Instruction was in basic academic subjects before students moved on to the technical college for more specialised training. The Community Association was soon entrusted with looking after the canteen facilities for all users of Ardleigh House and the produce from its extensive gardens. These were being brought back into order, after being turned into Victory Garden allotments for the wartime Dig for Victory campaign.
The partnership of education and community association on the Ardleigh House site - which, in a sense, still continues - had taken its first faltering steps.
Building Blocks for the Future
The Ardleigh House Centre clearly started with high hopes. But the intention that it should serve the community, as well as a youth and education centre, reflected a general uncertainty about the best way forward.
It had been immediately recognised that Ardleigh House really needed additional classrooms and practical rooms for about 100 students but in practice nothing happened for several years. In 1949, economic crisis and a national shortage of steel put a stop to all further education building. Extensions to Ardleigh House had been on the reserve list for the 1950 building programme. But, as this plan was deferred, changes to policy meant that the plan to build a County College was also postponed and it was recognised that there might need instead to be a technical college in the area 'at which provision is made for advanced education for Hornchurch residents'. In spite of this, no building in Hornchurch was included in plans for 1952-57.
Instead, under minor capital works, the Further Education Committee finally found money in 1954 to build 2 additional classrooms, with storage space. It also started to plan for an Assembly Hall and craft workshops for what it called 'Ardleigh House Centre for Further Education'. In 1957 expenditure was also approved for another 14,000 sq.ft of Administration, Teaching and Communal accommodation for a student population of 400.
By now there had been a major change of heart in the Ministry's approach to technical education in the area. It disliked splitting 3-year day release Courses between Ardleigh House Centre and the South East Essex Technical College at Barking. It supported courses in Engineering, Building, Science, Arts and Crafts and Women's Subjects being offered in the new annexe. The County too recognised that, with the new building, the duties of the next Warden should be confined to youth and education. An extra warden post was approved for the Community Association and plans were made for it to have its own separate building.
When Mr A.W. Ebdon took over as Warden for the Centre on 1st September 1958, this transition was completed and plans for a new block in the grounds for the Ardleigh House Community Association were waiting for final approval. But, at the County level, administrative re-organisation was also in the air. Essex Education Committee responded to a long-standing demand to devolve more responsibility to its South Essex Division, covering Hornchurch, Thurrock and a large area to the north. Ardleigh House Centre, among others, became the responsibility of the Division's so-called 'Further' Committee. But, in truth, it was responding to a much larger move which was to take outer London out of the hands of the counties and into a new Greater London structure. This led to several further years of uncertainty and eventually broke up the old South Essex Division.
Ironically this left the 'Further Committee' to oversee the final construction that was built to meet the needs of students well beyond its immediate locality. While Essex had decided to give priority to the building of new further education colleges at Rush Green and Little Heath, much the same expenditure was eventually devoted to the conversion of the Ardleigh House Centre. For the key decisions to 'complete' the Centre - taken in response to Ministry of Education Circular 1/59 "Technical Education: The Next Step" - and to create a Governing Body, in April and June 1959, were crucial for its future. Both were justified by the view that it is 'in the nature of a branch college rather than a normal youth and day-release centre'.
But forming a Governing Body and completing the College (originally intended for 1961/62) were subject to long delay. Surviving further economic crises, tenders were approved in May 1962 and on 18th April 1963, Mr. Ebdon was confirmed as Principal of the Hornchurch College of Further Education. The new building included not only classrooms, labs and practical rooms but also an assembly hall, kitchens and space for administration. A considerable teaching and administrative staff now also existed to run them. By the summer of 1965, they could see the last finishing touches being made to the areas around the now completed college.
Creating the 'Tech'
This final completion coincided with its takeover by the new London Borough of Havering. The remit of the old governing body expired on 1st April 1965 and it had to be constituted under new regulations with substantial representation from the new local authority. The new governing body met for the first time in October 1965. Working once more in direct collaboration with a central Youth and Further Education Committee, on which the Principal was represented, the pace of change appeared to quicken. By March 1966 approval had been given to building an Electronics laboratory and a Retail Display unit, with further additions to come, and also to major increases in the staffing establishment.
During the course of the year the teaching staff rose to 76 and instead of two general departments, there were 4 Heads of Department covering Mechanical Engineering, Commerce and Distribution, Electrical Engineering, and Science and General Studies. The process of upgrading technician staff was also set in train, with plans for a Language Lab, Science Lab and additional classrooms.
Another indication of the increased specialisation of the College's work was the approach from the new Engineering Industry Training Board for its participation in a project to build and run courses in a new engineering workshop. After some controversy, the Further Education Committee agreed to raise a loan of £40,000 to construct the workshop. It was built in record time and officially handed over in November 1969. It required further specialist staff, but it also meant a further increase in students whose numbers were already overflowing the existing premises. Just weeks before, the Committee had heard that the Department of Education and Science (DES) approved the change of name to Havering Technical College, but it also had to make 7 temporary classrooms at Bosworth Primary School available to it as more technician students began to transfer from the Barking Regional College, soon to become part of the Polytechnic of East London.
Mr. F. J. Janes became the first 'Tech' Principal on 1st January 1968. He inherited a flourishing college, but one already needing major new extensions as student demand for technical training grew dramatically.
Growing to Independence
Expansion continued to be the main theme of development throughout his period as Principal. Although overall increase in student numbers was somewhat held back by the renewed problems of accommodation, the steady increase in the number of full-time students and in teaching staff (which reached 106 by September 1970) to support them continued. It was a time of continual re-grading of both teachers and administrators, as the staff establishment expanded.
Perhaps for the first time, the local authority started to question the need for this continual expansion and for a time in 1968 was less eager than the Department of Education and Science to move ahead with Stage III of the college building. However, these doubts were stilled by a review of provision which established that over 80% of the students were local residents and costs were lower than in most outer London boroughs. Plans to build the extension and to overflow into the Bosworth Primary School proceeded. The Borough remained committed to a major increase in expenditure when these facilities were completed.
However, its main attention became focused elsewhere. The major preoccupation for several years was the re-organisation of its secondary education as comprehensive schools were introduced. The College was kept separate from this process and began to respond actively to a much wider demand for courses in supervisory and professional training. It did this as government pressure mounted for colleges like Havering to have more independent status, under their own Instruments and Articles of Government.
For nearly 2 years the Council, averse to a shrinkage in the direct influence of councillors and their officers, debated these documents but finally, on 1st September 1972, the new governing body, with its elected staff/student representatives and the new, similarly representative, College Academic Board came into being.
A Troubled Decade
Delays in completing the new buildings and changes in the economic situation certainly affected the speed with which the new governing body and the new Principal, Mr. P. Phillips, who took over in January 1973, could settle to their task. Although over the next 10 years student numbers rose by 50% and there was, initially, a correspondingly large increase in staff, it was not overall a period in which relations between management and staff, or college and local authority, were entirely easy. Much of this had to do with the economic malaise which persisted well into the 1980's. The oil crisis of 1973 prefaced a long period of high inflation during which lecturers, pending the Houghton and Clegg awards at least, seemed left far behind in the pay race. A certain disillusion with education as the solution to the country's economic problems was felt long before the Prime Minister's speech at Ruskin College in 1978 opened the 'Great Debate' on the relevance and effectiveness of education in both schools and colleges. Above all, local authorities, tied to an elaborate system for the grading and staff establishments of colleges, were suddenly faced with government restrictions on capital and day-to-day expenditure, geared to falling school rolls and International Monetary Fund (IMF) controls on government spending.
Not surprisingly, therefore, far more attention was focused on cuts in college courses, proposals to actually reduce student numbers, changes in college organisation and in lecturers and technicians conditions of service, than in the steady development of, initially, more advanced courses and, latterly, those for the young unemployed. Until 1977 these curriculum changes took place within the old large amorphous departments and were sometimes little known to those outside them. During that year the new Principal, Mr. R. Carus, who had replaced Mr. Phillips in September 1976, divided this work among a much-enlarged structure of more specialised departments.
Apart from the splitting off of the Art and Design Department from Business Studies in 1974, and the appointment of a Vice-Principal from 1970, there had been no major administrative changes for some years. The new organisation created 7 departments (subsequently expanded to 10) with relatively small numbers of staff and greater involvement of Heads of Department in day-to-day teaching and curriculum management. However, it assumed a stability in the range and level of the College's work which was rapidly undermined by external events.
Amid all the uncertainties of the 1970's, there was a considerable concern both in industry and in the public service to improve standards of training. On the one hand leading local employers like Ford were approaching the College to mount extended courses in partnership with the Industrial Training Boards; on the other an approach by Garnett College for Havering to act as an outpost centre for training of FE teachers was rapidly followed by similar contacts, to mount in-service training for social workers taking the new Certificate in Social Service, and to provide supervisory and management training for the health service as well as for banks and other commercial organisations. A similar provision was requested in many fields of engineering and electronics.
As a consequence, pressure on space remained a constant concern of the College, falling school rolls provided temporary overflow accommodation first at Bosworth Primary School and then, especially when these hutments were declared unsafe, at the Quarles School site at Harold Hill. Pressed to meet the growing space needs of the College on a final basis, most of this site was eventually transferred to the College.
This relief came just in time. Already preoccupied with the inadequacy of training in the transition from school to work, the government was also increasingly concerned with youth unemployment. Following the Holland Report in 1977, the local authority was involving the College in the provision of bridging courses for young employed, revived link courses with schools and TOPS (Training Opportunities) and later YOPS (Youth Opportunities) courses. By the end of 1981, a substantial part of the Quarles building was occupied by classrooms and workshops for a new Department of Vocational Preparation. Unemployment was at its worst level for 40 years and further education was operating in a new and very different climate.
A New Emphasis on Training
At least this did not come as a surprise to Mr. K. Clarke who succeeded as Principal in September 1982, after 3 years as Vice-Principal. He was already a veteran of the new responsibilities for training the unemployed thrust on the local authority as well as the College. Its Education Committee, looking to reduce expenditure at the College as elsewhere, found itself instead exploring further use of Quarles and other surplus school accommodation for uncertain numbers of Youth Training Scheme (YTS) trainees and planning to open training workshops and work experience schemes.
This pressure on budgets, with uncertainties about the level of financial support from the Manpower Services Commission for its various short-term schemes, became a recurrent problem. College income was much harder to estimate, and an increase in unemployed trainees was paralleled by the first major falls in recruitment for engineering courses, as employers abandoned apprenticeships and recruiting new staff. It gradually became apparent, however, that high local unemployment was nullifying demographic trends and conventional attitudes to remaining in education and training post-16. With occasional blips, full-time and part-time student numbers continued to climb steadily, although the number of college departments was progressively slimmed.
This was in some contrast to the position in secondary schools. Having determined to stay with a pattern of 11-18 provision, the authority found itself under strong pressure to reconsider the financial efficiency of this policy and to look forward to another reorganisation, as pupil numbers fell. Through a mushrooming network of working parties on careers education, the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative and the new Certificate of Pre-Vocational Education, there was a much closer collaboration between the College and schools, which was eventually cemented by appointing separate schools liaison staff in the College.
However, the direct involvement of the Manpower Services Commission with the College budget brought with it new planning requirements and visits from the Audit Commission to the college and the Borough. These raised issues about financial systems, slimming down the administration and improving staff/student ratios, which became constant concerns for educational administrators everywhere. They also raised the issue of 'marketing' the College. As part of its response, the College bolstered its Industrial Liaison work, formed a Marketing Committee and appointed its first Publicity Officer. But it was some time before the full impact of this new approach to student recruitment took hold.
Further Education in Transition
The forays of the Manpower Services Commission into financing and controlling non-advanced further education were simply the precursor of further changes to come. By the autumn of 1987, on the basis of the report 'Managing Colleges Efficiently', the government was proposing to devolve all but strategic management to colleges, with larger financial powers than those involved in the local management of schools initiative. At the same time, after a process of consultation and debate, the Council determined to press ahead with a reorganisation of secondary education, centred on the building of a new Sixth Form College on the Dury Falls School site. For much of the early part of 1988, the Principal was seconded to a special working party, which planned a new partnership under which all qualified local pupils were guaranteed a place at either the Sixth Form or Technical College. Building work started, with the intention of introducing the reorganisation in September 1991.
However, developments on the financial delegation to colleges moved more rapidly. With the passing of the Education Reform Act, 1988, the government requested new Instruments and Articles for the college to be finalised by June 1989 so that they could be introduced in April 1990. The authority favoured delay until the Sixth Form College was open, but the Principal, with the support of the Governing Body, pressed for the earlier date and began appointing the necessary new financial and administrative managers. These changes increased the uncertainty about the precise financial position of the College but, while looking for further economies, the borough progressively made available additional teaching space at Harrow Lodge School in Hornchurch and made plans to vacate the Computer Centre at Quarles, as student numbers continued to grow. This included a steady increase, against expected trends, in full-time students.
Another expression of change was in the title of the College. With the formation of a new, more independent, governing body, it was re-named Havering College of Further and Higher Education. This was not only more descriptive of its present character, it helped the college to project a new and more dynamic image of itself.
A College of Further and Higher Education
A key part of the College's development in professional education was its role in teacher training for all FE colleges in North-East London. For many specialist college teachers, taking its Certificate in Education course, the qualification opened up a new vista of degree and post-graduate qualification. It was natural, therefore, that Havering should seize the opportunity to offer a part-time BEd degree in partnership with Garnett College (and later Thames Polytechnic). It was approved to do this by the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA) in 1983.
The degree course proved to have appeal across the region, not only to college lecturers but to nurse teachers and other specialist trainers. At the same time, college management courses at diploma level were expanding, to meet the demands of health service as well as college administrators, and technological changes were enforcing greater emphasis on advanced engineering training.
All this somewhat changed the focus of the College's work overall and rendered the College's title, for some years, rather outmoded. After some debate, it was agreed that as part of its new devolved status from the Borough its name should be changed to Havering College of Further and Higher Education. For major developments in the training qualifications for nurses and social workers also presented challenges to the College's professional trainers. Under Project 2000, graduate training for nurse teachers became essential and schools of nursing merged into universities and polytechnics, leaving little room for the old forms of FE regional training.
When the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work (CCETSW) also announced plans for its new HE Diploma in Social Work, the College determined to seek CNAA recognition to run a stand-alone course in competition with those offered by local polytechnics. The far-reaching implications of this decision took some time to reverberate through the College. It's Academic Board, previously a purely advisory body, had to take on the same quality assurance responsibilities as in a university for the new Diploma. Assessment boards, with their external examiners, had the same responsibilities as those awarding degrees. There had to be a substantial expenditure on increase in library resources and on support for research.
On its first visit the CNAA did not find these new developments complete to its satisfaction, but in June 1992 - just before the CNAA was itself dissolved under new university legislation - the college gained recognition. Rather than becoming a satellite of one of the local 'new' universities the College decided to become associated with The Open University Validation Services, who succeeded the CNAA.
In December 1993, they gave Havering a position, unique within the London region, as an Associated Institution, validated to run its own diploma and degree programmes. The immediate product of this recognition was the establishment, in association with a consortium of NE London local authorities, of a Diploma in Youth and Community Work. The College remained open to cooperation with local universities and in the first flush of enthusiasm, many of the 'new' institutions opened negotiations with it. But while the CertEd/BEd programme with the University of Greenwich continued and a joint DMS was undertaken with the University of Luton, cutbacks in university budgets rendered most of these plans abortive.
But nevertheless, the change in 'culture' and ethos that these developments brought about stood the College in good stead, as it too became involved in further government reforms of post-compulsory education. Moreover, it was not long before new regional developments fostered a further phase of higher education partnership.
The Road to Incorporation
In spite of differences of view, the College and the local authority had completed by April 1990 a successful scheme of financial delegation. But although this was helpful to the College, it did not resolve the shared dilemma of how to fund a steadily growing institution - particularly in numbers of full-time students - when the Borough was strongly pressured to reduce education expenditure and threatened with the 'capping' legislation if it failed to do so. For several years, with College income increasingly dependent on fluctuating grants from government agencies, it became increasingly difficult - particularly at estimates time - to reconcile larger and larger budget cut demands from the local authority with increasing demands placed on college resources by growth in student numbers. The position was not helped by the discovery from new condition surveys, carried out in 1990 that the College really needed over £1 million of major repair works.
As soon as applications started to come in under the new partnership arrangement with the Sixth Form College, it was apparent that enrolments for both colleges were going to greatly exceed forecasts. The Borough's Post-16 Strategic Planning Group found itself making contingency plans to increase accommodation and other spending, rather than to make the anticipated savings. The long-tried formula of finding and upgrading space for the College at Quarles or Harrow Lodge could no longer suffice and the DES was asked to support building new classrooms at Ardleigh Green, designed to permit further extension at a later date. Belated approval was given to this project in 1992 and the College survived financially, through supplementary payments triggered off by rising student numbers and its own efforts to increase direct income.
But the longer-term solution came from the government's determination, announced in detail in its May 1991 White Paper, to hive off both further education and sixth form colleges as public corporations. In spite of the time-scale and the planning problems involved, this further step to independence was welcomed by the Principal and Governing Body and the Borough prepared to resign its representation and control. The College proved capable of passing all the hurdles to setting up the new financial arrangements and had effectively set up its new shadow Board of Governors and committee structure by October 1992. The College was incorporated on 1st April 1993. Later that month, the Borough wound up all its post-16 working parties, changed the title of its Youth and Further Education Committee and removed the FE teacher representative from its committee structure.
New Blocks for Old
The additional classrooms at Ardleigh Green in 1993 were deliberately designed to allow for further extension. For they were seen as only the first stage in a major extension and upgrading of the College's facilities. Adding to the stock of classrooms was accompanied by a major facelift and improvement to the College's main reception and all the career and study advisory services attached so that it could provide a comfortable venue for all visitors and enquirers to the College. Similar improvements were later introduced at the Quarles campus.
This approach fitted in with the new Further Education Funding Council of England (FEFC) requirement for the corporation to have a long-term accommodation strategy. The Board of Governors created a new standing Accommodation Committee to supervise the implementation of this strategy which continues to be active. While, looking ahead, the Committee plans to consolidate the College on fewer sites, except for possible outreach work, its immediate concern was to create a proper two-storey new teaching block and a sports hall with facilities for the expansion of the college's thriving beauty therapy training. Although the FEFC only provides the capital in special circumstances, it still exercises tight control over all college building. However, after continuing pressure and with its own resources and money raised on the open market, the College was finally successful in getting the New Block built and open in September 1996. At long last it was able to remove some of the old and decrepit classrooms, put up as a temporary expedient 25 years before.
Plans to build a Sports hall for college and community use required planning permission from the local authority, before it was possible to seek grants or other funding. Here the college was less successful. In spite of a strong case for better sports facilities, the concerns of some local residents were supported by the Borough and upheld on appeal. The relatively close proximity of residents to the College only exists because land purchased by Essex County Council for educational purposes has been progressively sold off for housing development, but this is now one of the tangle of planning issues related to developing and improving the College's main site, while its Quarles campus is restructured for higher education and specialist courses.