By the mid-nineteenth Century there was still a significant number of recruits to the army who could not read and write and only one in a hundred was thought to be able to claim 'a superior degree of education'. Individual regiments had made haphazard attempts to hire instructors or conduct courses. Much education was left to the discretion of the units NCOs. The Corps of Army Schoolmasters was therefore created to solve these inconsistencies in 1845. However, there was some resistance from some senior officers who believed that education might be bad for education in that it might encourage soldiers to feel confident to question their superiors.
Notwithstanding complaints, the corps was initially staffed by Warrant Officers and senior NCOs who could call upon civilian teachers from 1848 if it was thought necessary. The Crimean War led to a further reorganisation with the creation of the Council for Military Education in 1857. In 1859 this body took over responsibility for Army schools and libraries which meant that in addition to teaching the soldiers, they might also be called upon to teach the children of serving soldiers.
The War Office appointed a Director General of Military Education in 1870 at the behest of Sir Garnet Wolseley who was one of the more enlightened commanders who believed strongly that an educated soldier was a better soldier.