Clarke (1948)

Notes on the text

The complete document is presented in this single web page. You can scroll through it or use the following links to go straight to the various sections:

Preface
Recommendations
Introduction

I The interests of children
II The need for action
III The existing provision
IV School activities
V Administrative action
VI Further considerations

Appendices:

I A real playground
II Our play centre
III A children's flat
IV An east London boys' club
V The children's evidence


The Clarke Report (1948)
Out of School

Report of the Central Advisory Council for Education (England)

London: His Majesty's Stationery Office 1948
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.


[cover]


[title page]

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
CENTRAL ADVISORY COUNCIL FOR EDUCATION (ENGLAND)


OUT OF SCHOOL


The Second Report of the
Central Advisory Council for Education
(England)






LONDON: HIS MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE
1948


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Members of
The Central Advisory Council

SIR FRED CLARKE, Chairman
MISS M. F. ADAMS, O.B.E.
LADY ALLEN OF HURTWOOD
MR. T. S. R. BOASE
MISS A. BROWN
MR. E. S. BYNG
DR. C. F. BROCKINGTON
MR. HAROLD CLAY
PROFESSOR B. DOBRÉE, O.B.E.
MR. RONALD GOULD
PROFESSOR WILLIS JACKSON
MR. J. C. JONES
LIEUT.-COL. VISCOUNT KNEBWORTH
DR. T. LOVEDAY
SIR PHILIP MORRIS, C.B.E.*
PROFESSOR R. A. B. MYNORS
DR M. REEVES
MR. W. O. LESTER SMITH
MR. J. F. WOLFENDEN, C.B.E.
THE HON. MRS. YOUARD.



MISS I. M. M. DEAN (H.M. Inspector), Secretary
MISS M. J. ROWLANDS, Assistant Secretary
MISS M. E. FORSYTH, Clerk


Since the signing of the last report, The Bishop of Bristol, Sir Henry Clay and Sir Claude Gibb have resigned owing to pressure of work, and the Hon. Josiah Wedgwood on becoming Chairman of the Council of the Royal College of Art, while the following new members were appointed: Mr. T. S. R. Boase, Miss A. Brown, Mr. E. S. Byng, Mr. J. C. Jones, Dr. T. Loveday and Mrs. B. Wootton. Mrs. Wootton has been absent from the country for considerable periods during the past year, and in view of a further long absence has resigned from the Council.

*During the writing of this Report Sir Philip Morris has been granted leave of absence from this Council in order that he might serve as Chairman, during the absence of Sir Maurice Holmes, of the Secondary School Examinations Council.

NOTE. The estimated gross cost of the preparation of this Report (including the expenses of the witnesses and members of the Council) is 666 11s. 4d., of which 292 2s. 6d. represents the cost of publishing and printing.


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Contents

PAGE

PREFACE

5

RECOMMENDATIONS

6

INTRODUCTION

8

CHAPTER I THE INTERESTS OF CHILDREN

9

CHAPTER II THE NEED FOR ACTION

12

CHAPTER III THE EXISTING PROVISION

14

CHAPTER IV SCHOOL ACTIVITIES RELATED TO THE INTERESTS OF CHILDREN

16

CHAPTER V A POLICY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION

19

CHAPTER VI SOME FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS

22

APPENDIX I A REAL PLAYGROUND

27

APPENDIX II OUR PLAY CENTRE

29

APPENDIX III A CHILDREN'S FLAT

31

APPENDIX IV AN EAST LONDON BOYS' CLUB

32

APPENDIX V THE CHILDREN'S EVIDENCE

34


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To: THE RIGHT HONOURABLE GEORGE TOMLINSON, M.P.,
MINISTER OF EDUCATION

Preface

THE Central Advisory Council for Education (England) have the honour of submitting to you their report upon the terms of reference conveyed to the Chairman in your letter of the 13th June, 1947. The matters upon which you then asked us to report were stated as follows:

"To consider and report on the natural interests and pursuits of school children out of school hours; the provision made for these outside their homes; the value of such provision and the desirability of further or different provision; and the extent to which school work and activities can and should be related to and develop these interests."
As you were anxious to have our views as soon as possible, we have not attempted an exhaustive survey of a complex and still largely unexplored field of educational effort. Our report might rather be regarded as following up, in some detail, certain of the more general conclusions that we stated in our earlier report (School and Life).

We are convinced, however, by the investigations we have been able to make, that the need for action on the basis of a considered policy is urgent. We offer therefore a series of recommendations indicating the lines upon which, in our opinion, a policy should be framed. In reaching these conclusions we have had in mind the age-range five to fifteen, the years covered by the law of compulsory school attendance as at present in force.

For the sake of clarity and convenience we have set out our recommendations in the early part of the report.

We have received much evidence, remarkable in its unanimity. It has proved most valuable and we offer our grateful thanks to those who have so readily prepared and submitted it. Warm thanks are also due to those who, out of their experiences with children, have contributed some illuminating appendices.

We wish also to recognise the great help we have had from the Secretary to the Council, Miss I. M. M. Dean, H.M.I., and the skill and devotion that she and her staff have consistently manifested.



[page 6]

Recommendations


1. URGENT NECESSITY FOR FACILITIES
The Minister should make an urgent appeal to local education authorities to apply their powers under the Education Acts so as to increase and improve by every possible means facilities for the play and recreation of children out of school hours. (page 19)

2. APPOINTMENT OF SUB-COMMITTEES
Each local education authority should be asked to set up a sub-committee of the education committee to plan and supervise the provision of facilities for the use of school children in their free time. Such sub-committees might be termed "Out-of-School Committees". (page 20)

3. CONSTITUTION OF SUB-COMMITTEES
In constituting out-of-school committees, local education authorities should include representatives of voluntary bodies able to make an effective contribution to the work, together with teachers, parents and others who, in the opinion of the authority, are qualified to give valuable assistance. With appropriate adaptation, the constitution suggested for youth committees in the appendix to Circular 1486 of 1939 might be followed. (page 20)

4. REGARD FOR OTHER LOCAL BODIES
Where in any areas local authorities other than local education authorities bear some responsibility for the provision of libraries, playing fields, swimming baths, and other amenities, local education authorities should have regard to the powers and duties of the other local authorities in constituting out-of-school committees and in carrying out the policy outlined in these recommendations. (page 21)

5. GRANT AID
The Minister should be prepared to make grants towards the expenses of voluntary bodies that serve the out-of-school interests of school children on terms at least as favourable as those upon which he now makes grants to voluntary organisations taking part in the Youth Service. (page 21)

6. SURVEY
Each committee, as soon as constituted, should make a survey of the area so as to ascertain what provision already exists, to estimate what further provision and improvements are needed, and to prepare plans. (page 20)

7. SELECTION OF WORKERS
Both paid and unpaid workers, some whole-time and some part-time, should take part in the work. Great care should be exercised in the choice of all workers. (page 21)


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8. PROVISION OF TRAINING COURSES
Training courses for workers should be arranged by local education authorities and/or other competent bodies. A variety of courses might be offered to meet different needs. (page 22)

9. THE TRAINING OF WORKERS
Training should be obligatory for all paid workers though it need not always be a prior condition of appointment. Every encouragement should be offered to voluntary workers to undertake training. (page 21)

10. COURSES FOR PARENTS
Local education authorities, in making provision for Adult Education, should arrange for parents' courses, demonstrations, and film shows dealing with the development and interests of children. (page 22)

11. SITES
The appropriate authorities should be asked to secure conveniently placed sites and open spaces, to be used, wholly or in part, for providing facilities for the out-of-school interests of school children. (page 23)

12. MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT
A greater variety of materials and equipment should be provided to serve the diverse interests of children. (page 23)

13. LIBRARIES
The Minister, in co-operation with local education authorities and other authorities having powers under the Public Libraries Acts, should take steps to bring library facilities within reach of all children and to ensure good and sufficient accommodation and the appointment of suitably qualified staff. (page 25)

14. ENTERTAINMENT
The Arts Council should be invited to extend its support to the provision of concerts, plays, and exhibitions for children out of school hours. Every encouragement should be given to other bodies prepared to provide entertainment of a similar standard. (page 26)




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Introduction
"Recreation is as necesary as Labour or Food. But because there can be no Recreation without Delight, which depends not always on Reason, but oftener on Fancy, it must be permitted Children not only to divert themselves, but to do it after their own Fashion, provided it be innocently, and without Prejudice to their Health ... All the Plays and Diversions of Children should be directed towards good and useful Habits, or else they will introduce ill ones."

(Some Thoughts Concerning Education, JOHN LOCKE, 1632-1704.)

OVER two hundred and fifty years ago Locke made these comments on the education of children and it may well be asked how far we have advanced since then. The view that all the activities of the child form part of his education and that enjoyment, variety and freedom are essential elements, though realised in practice by some, is still, two and a half centuries later, not generally accepted.

This conception of education as embracing the whole development of the child has influenced our approach to the many problems arising out of our terms of reference. It is clear that it is impossible to draw a line of demarcation at four o'clock, six o'clock or at any other time, and say, "At this point in the day the child's education ends".

We are also convinced that the child should have opportunities for activities which should fill him with a sense of enjoyment and delight, therefore we wish, at the outset, to pass a vote of confidence in fun as a powerful educational agent.

The freedom urged by Locke is just as vital now as it was in his time. There must be some period of the day when the child can choose what he will do. While the child's attendance at school is compulsory between the ages of five and fifteen, enjoyment of facilities for following his out-of-school interests is, and must remain, within the child's or parent's choice. It should be of as much concern to the general public that he has the necessary facilities for these leisure-time activities as that there is a school for him to attend.

But life is not all leisure and to be a member of a community carries with it certain obligations of which adults and children alike must take their share if the community is to be a happy and contented one. The child has responsibilities from an early age, at first connected with himself and his play, later towards other people. He can and should be expected to perform small duties, both at home and at school, which contribute to the well-being of others. These duties must be tempered to his age and capacity; they should require persistence, but should not take up so much of his time that he cannot develop his own interests. The child has to learn to keep a balance between the life of necessity and the life of choice.


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CHAPTER I

THE INTERESTS OF CHILDREN

1. The terms of our reference, 'natural interests and pursuits', cover a wide field. We have interpreted the child's 'natural interests' as those which are his by his very nature and which would manifest themselves whatever his environment, such as his urge to move, to create or to experiment. His 'pursuits' in our opinion fall into two categories. Some will develop as a direct result of his natural propensities, others are greatly influenced by his environment. In a predominant place in this environment stands the home, for it is as a member of the family that the child first begins to develop as a social being.

2. The responsibility of parents in this matter of environment cannot be over-emphasised. The child's own emotional stability depends on the emotional stability of his home life and if this is insecure or troubled he becomes uncertain and reacts accordingly. It is common knowledge that from early days he imitates those around him, he imitates what they say and what they do. The parent will follow his own interests and the child may thus become acquainted with them, and where his special interests are not catered for he must take what there is or have nothing. Where however they are taken into account the home can introduce him to pursuits so worthwhile and so absorbing that they are a lasting pleasure. Whatever other provision is made for the child's out-of-school interests, the parents have still their part to play, for they have it in their power to help him to develop within himself all that goes to make a full and happy life.

Five to seven years

3. Play is essential to the child because, as he plays, he develops and expresses himself whole-heartedly. About the age of five he is beginning to live in a new world; some of the solicitude that has surrounded him in his earlier years is being withdrawn and he is expected to act as a responsible being. The child is full of curiosity, and to satisfy that curiosity he must have space. He wants to explore, to build, to make, to experiment with water, clay, sand, paint and so on. It is not unusual to find a child of five or six enjoying the simple experimental play of nursery school children but, as a rule, after a period of such relaxing he will go on to something more in keeping with his capacity, for example, more exact modelling and building, gardening or laundering of clothes.

4. Left to his own devices with a few simple materials the child will engage in constructive play in many guises. The urge to make something is strong; swords, aeroplanes, ships and many other objects can be fashioned out of odd pieces of wood if a small saw and a light hammer can be provided. The finished object may be crude but he made it himself. This particular form of constructional activity appeals chiefly to boys, and though it is not unknown for girls to be interested in woodwork, on the whole, simple sewing appeals to them more, doll's clothes, mats or something of use in the house in which they are pretending to live. Big bricks give quite a peculiar pleasure and can be made into the most wonderful ships, buses, hospitals and houses.

5. Imaginative play goes on all the time and is very varied. "You be the mother" or, "You be ill and I'll be the doctor" takes the children off into a world of their own making. To satisfy this kind of interest they require only place and opportunity: under the table soon becomes a deep cavern, concealing all sorts of mysteries. Simple properties and dressing up clothes provide a great incentive to imaginative play, but they are not essential.


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6. A word must be said about the interest shown by children of this age in picture books. To some a picture book gives the opportunity of continuing a phantasy life when active imaginative play has become exhausted for the time being; to others there is an appeal in the colour of the pictures, whilst the more timid or tired child is afforded a quiet moment when he has to make no effort to be companionable.

7. The outlet which the child finds for his energies is however not always constructive. The small boy enjoys knocking down the bridge he or someone else has made, and the little girl often displays similar tendencies in one direction or another. The adult does not necessarily lose the urge to destroy, though he can learn to control it. This urge, which is not confined to any social class, is often accentuated by unfortunate social conditions, a discussion of which is beyond the scope of this report; but it is clear that the child who has the opportunity to fill his leisure time with constructive interests will be less likely to throw a brick through the window of the empty house than one who has nothing to do and nowhere to go.

8. This brief account of the child's natural interests has assumed his love of movement and his need for space. He gets the greatest enjoyment from the simplest of materials which can be provided quite cheaply, but he must have space to experiment, space to indulge in his imaginative play, and space to run, jump, skip, climb and enjoy the hundred and one physical activities natural to him. Some children are in the deplorable position of having no space to play in, and they are still unfortunate if they have to depend on the present provision of public playgrounds for so many are merely a dusty patch with a few swings or see-saws at one end. We have not yet realised in this country, as they have in Denmark and elsewhere, what a paradise for children can be made with water, sand, clay and waste materials such as real builder's bricks, pieces of wood, packing cases, tree trunks, large drain pipes, and, particular joy, an ancient motor car, which can be driven a thousand miles in the imagination.

Seven to eleven years

9. It is impossible to draw hard and fast divisions at various ages and say, "At this point the child's interests change", since the interests of the older group develop from those of the younger group. But even at the same age there are considerable differences for they develop at different rates, imitate different people and are affected by different environments.

10. As the child grows up there is a new factor to bear in mind, that of the services or duties that he should be required to do in his out-of-school hours, for instance domestic duties or running errands. Whatever form these take the child loses some hours which he would otherwise spend on his particular interest. Therefore, as his time is more occupied with those things which he is obliged to do, the time which is his own becomes the more precious.

11. Up to the age of eleven or twelve the overwhelming urge is to engage in some form of physical activity. More than ever children need space, equipment and opportunities both indoor and in the open air. They like organised and team games, but these do not fully meet the case and they want opportunities for free physical activity of their own organising, with only the supervision necessary to guard against injury to body and damage to material. They want to make their fun in their own way.

12. The general desire for movement was strongly indicated in all the evidence taken, and then came a variety of pursuits, the popularity of which varied very much from group to group. For instance in one, reading took first place and in another, handicraft. This perhaps suggests that the school, or a teacher in the school, had inculcated into the children a love of this or


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that hobby. The most general interests as shown by our enquiry were: reading, needlework, art, collecting, music and choirs, dramatics, ballet dancing, mechanical toys and woodwork: no attempt has been made to put these in order of preference but clearly they cover a wide field.

13. Reading, so absorbing to some, has no real appeal to others, though it has been interesting to find how large a number in this age group do visit the libraries. The plea on all sides has been for more children's reading rooms and for an extension of children's libraries, especially in country areas which are not on the whole so well served as the towns. Even the child who does not read for reading's sake will visit a library to satisfy his curiosity about a particular engine, an aeroplane, a liner or some wonder of nature that is engaging his attention at the moment.

14. The joy of actually making something is one which we nearly all experience at some time or another. A child experiences intense satisfaction in being able to point to something and say, "I made this". It may be a simply constructed wooden ship or later on a more ambitious article in wood, a roughly sewn doll's dress or a well cut, carefully made skirt, a picture in paint or charcoal; each one is dear to the heart of the maker. The creative interest is steadily developing during this period of growth and also shows itself in ways other than those just mentioned, for example in dramatics or music.

15. Children from seven to eleven years are an odd mixture of childishness and sophistication and for many of them dramatic play is still a necessity. As they get older the stories they act begin to reveal a sense of dramatic form; this evolution should come as a result of their own efforts with only the occasional help of an adult. The essential thing is that their play should be a creative experience and an expression of their emotional needs. As they become more critical the need for such attributes as clear speech is discovered by the actors themselves.

16. Music often has a place in the juniors' dramatic play as another form of emotional release. Children of this age enjoy community singing, provided that they know the songs. Rhythm and volume of sound is the main objective of most children of this age group if left to their own devices. On the whole they do not aim at producing an artistic effect but sing or dance for their own enjoyment. It is important that children should be given opportunities for this form of expression.

Eleven to fifteen years

17. At about the age of eleven a marked change in the child's interests is often to be seen. His physical energy becomes still more evident than before; he tends to operate as a member of a 'gang' and feels the need for a comradeship that covers most of his activities and enthusiasms. The 'gang' which may have begun as a secret society at a much earlier age, evokes a code of behaviour of its own which is adopted by all members. Enthusiasms are fierce while they last but tend to be short-lived. Now he is beginning to find his make-believe adventures less satisfying and he wants to add the real thing. It is during this mid-way stage when he becomes more conscious of his own individuality, that his interests often move definitely away from the home and he needs more than ever a place where he can practise, without being a public nuisance, these new interests, which adults find so trying. Without lawful means for expending his energies and satisfying his emotional urges he becomes anti-social and difficulties are created which might have been avoided.

18. Between the ages of thirteen and fifteen years more new interests develop. The 'gang' may still exist, but boys and girls now begin to


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choose friends more carefully and to pursue their interests with one or two who have a similar outlook. In adolescence they become more conscious of themselves as individuals and are either aggressively self-assertive or unduly shy and retiring. They are still interested in making things but they are more critical of their own efforts and their standards are higher, not only for themselves, but for other people. They are beginning to realise that music, art, handicraft or some other pursuit has a particular appeal for them. At this time, of necessity, interest turns to possible occupations when they leave school and the effort put into the pursuit of some particular objective is intensified as its future value becomes clear.

19. Many boys and girls now find their leisure time still more curtailed. Home duties, homework, and even paid employment such as delivering papers may take toll of the out-of-school hours. Thus interests must be limited to those that can be pursued in the time left after duties are done.

20. This chapter cannot be considered complete without mention of the increasing interest of the girl and boy in each other. In girls this interest is generally very marked towards the fourteenth or fifteenth year, in the case of boys it comes later and as a rule all they ask at this stage is to be left to themselves to follow their own devices. This new attitude of the girls coincides with the development of a new interest in appearance, often very crude in its effects. The cinema becomes an irresistible attraction, for not only can they study the latest hair style, dress and mannerisms of their favourite film star but their increasing love for romantic adventure will thrive on the often amazing escapades of the 'stars'.

21. This brief survey of the years we are considering leaves no doubt as to the complex nature of our problem and that of youth itself. We are convinced that from the child to the adult there is a challenge which cannot be ignored.


CHAPTER II

THE NEED FOR ACTION

22. There are people who say, "Why can't you leave the child some time to himself? He has to go to school and now you want him to go to a club or a play centre in the evening. Is he to have no time at home?" Our answer to this question is that time to himself, to follow his own interests and pursuits freely is just what we do want him to have and is what every child needs. Freedom to take advantage or not of any facilities offered must be an essential feature of any scheme of provision.

23. The last thing we would want to do is to minimise the importance of the home in a child's development. If there is some place in his home where he can follow his own devices freely and in safety and enjoy the companionship of friends of his own age with a sympathetic adult in the background who will take an interest in his doings without interfering, then he is fortunate indeed. But even if this were a true description of the home conditions of the majority of children in England today some provision outside the home would still be necessary.

24. When during the war families and children were evacuated, the eyes of many people were opened to the appalling conditions under which large numbers of children were brought up. With the best will in the world many parents cannot provide space indoors for their children to play because there is only one living room for the entire family of grown ups and children, whilst out of doors there is the street with its dangers and dirt. Perhaps within half a mile or so there may be an unimaginatively equipped and


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Helping in the Home


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The Handyman


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unattractive public play ground, which rarely provides the simple play materials so dear to the young, or the derelict site of a bombed house. The latter has distinct possibilities for it may well provide opportunities for constructive play, but there are risks connected with the use of these sites needing careful consideration.

25. Overcrowding indoors and out is not the only factor which makes the child's environment difficult. He often has to take too much responsibility for his own well being at an early age, because both his parents are out at work. He may well come home from school to an empty house or to find himself in charge of younger brothers and sisters who are as little disposed to listen to him, as he is to bother with them. Later his mother will come in weary and with little energy left for her family, who are still in lively spirits. Some of the security which we have stressed as one of the child's greatest needs, disappears when the maker of the home, after a tiring day's work, finds herself outfaced by the household tasks that await her. This is especially true when the mother is working long hours in Industry.

26. So far we have thought mainly of towns and the needs of the town child. The rural areas have their problems too, and though they differ in form from those in the town there is still a case for provision. The areas vary considerably in density of population. The larger villages, in addition to their greater resources, may well be near enough to an urban community to enjoy its amenities, but the smaller ones are often many miles from the nearest town, while some farming communities may be even more isolated. There is a real need to find space and premises and to train suitable leaders for work in rural areas. For children who wish to play on a winter evening the only alternative place to the kitchen at home is often round the village lamp post; during the hours of daylight, with fields on every side, the children may still not find space for their games.

27. The transfer of the older children from the village school to the nearest secondary school, which may be some miles away, has made the problem even more acute. Provision of some facilities in the village has become essential since pupils are often debarred from taking part in the free-time activities provided by their secondary school owing to the distance they have to travel. Visits to the village recreation ground are likely to be less enjoyable if no one is there ready and fitted to coach the young would-be cricketers and footballers; the library if it exists may be quite unattractive unless it is under the care of someone who has a real knowledge of the local children's needs and tastes. Interest and encouragement on the part of the adult population could enliven and enrich the life of the rural child immeasurably.

28. There are two other points that should be borne in mind at this stage, and they apply to town and country alike. Crowded homes and lack of playing space are indisputable facts, but as was stated in the Council's earlier report "School and Life", only too often school premises also lack the amenities that the child ought to enjoy. A discussion of the reasons for this is not relevant to our terms of reference, but the poor premises and playgrounds and the crowded conditions in some schools tend to make for rigidity in organisation and methods and to impose undue limitations on the child's activities. He may well find himself moving about in a crowd looking for free space where he may follow his own bent. Inadequacy of buildings and equipment only serve to strengthen the need for other provision to supplement what is lacking from nine o'clock to four.

29. The problem of the only or lonely child is one that is always with us. The boys and girls who find contacts at school difficult may fit quite easily into the informal and friendly atmosphere of the play centre, club or games


[page 14]

group, and may there have an opportunity to follow an absorbing interest not catered for at school.

30. "Children generally hate to be idle" and if we can provide no legitimate pursuits of real interest to them they may turn to less lawful excitement. The Press tells this lamentable story over and over again. Punishment for ill-doing, when so little has been done to provide them with facilities for lawful pursuits, savours of injustice, and is in any case no solution to the problem. The true obligation of society is clear. We are sure that by good organisation and careful consideration of the circumstances of each area, activities can be provided to meet every child's need.


CHAPTER III

THE EXISTING PROVISION

31. We now turn to consider how far this need for provision is already met. As we have said earlier the importance of the part which the home can play cannot be too strongly emphasised. The child whose home provides him with an understanding background of parental interest against which to develop his own interests, has an immense initial advantage over those who have to find this background elsewhere. Wise and sympathetic parents, realising the point of view of the young, accept the fact that all children do not like the same things. To introduce an element of coercion into an expedition because John ought to like the concert, ballet, museum, walk in the country or whatever it may be, is to run the risk of spoiling for ever some interest for which the child is perhaps not yet ready and to which he may turn later. The child who has easy access to books in his own home may not like books, but he learns to use them to get information; if books as such do appeal, he has the opportunity of acquiring a love which may give him life-long pleasure. But he wants more than organised expeditions, adult society and books, and many parents, realising this need, encourage visits from friends of the same age, allowing him freedom, within the necessary limits, to make his own arrangements. What he requires on these occasions is often only a space where he can experiment as he likes, or something to eat when he goes out for a long walk. It is important that he should learn to plan his own leisure time and not be dependent on plans made for him.

32. The school, like the home, is in the unique position of having something to offer the child which he cannot find in just the same form elsewhere. In school clubs he finds fun and satisfaction in developing and pursuing his own interests with the companionship and co-operation of his school friends. These clubs should be largely run by the pupils themselves with the school staff in the background to guide and advise. It is therefore essential that there should be a few senior pupils who are prepared to undertake the responsibility of organisation and who are able to arouse and maintain the interest of the younger members of the school in the activities of the society. The schools with well organised clubs which enable children to pursue their own interests and develop their individual powers are able to provide leisure time occupation for their pupils, but many schools find themselves unable to do so and we have to look to other agencies to meet the situation. Further reference is made in the next chapter to the provision made by the school.

33. To supplement what the home and the school can do there is a variety of provision but this at present touches only the fringe of the problem. Voluntary organisations have for some time recognised the need and pro-


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vided opportunities for leisure-time activities, on an average one or two evenings a week, with an occasional Saturday afternoon or short week-end expedition as well. Some attempt to cater only for the over-elevens, others offer something to children of seven years upwards. The great value of the pioneer work of voluntary organisations must be recognised.

34. Before the second World War there were some play centres for children but they were few in number. Some were well attended, some were not: many were held in school buildings and were run by voluntary staff. The inadequacy of provision was demonstrated during the recent war. It then became necessary to extend the facilities and many local education authorities arranged play centres for children up to eleven. These were regarded as a war time emergency and were supervised by teachers who had taught all day. The difficulties under which these play centres laboured still exist. There was a serious shortage of materials; apparatus and toys, always precious, became doubly so when they could not be easily replaced. Moreover joint use of materials by day school and play centre created many difficulties. Where teachers worked on a rota system the scheme lacked continuity and the responsibility for seeing that fresh supplies of materials, books, apparatus, etc., were available, was left too much to chance. After a day in school, especially in some of the deplorable buildings discussed in our previous report "School and Life",* the time spent at the play centre, with its limited stale and rather battered equipment, was disheartening to everyone concerned. Nor must the need for time to clean and air the rooms be forgotten. The lesson is obvious; successful play centres cannot be run on these lines.

35. Amongst those interested in children's welfare there is a growing conviction that provision for children's leisure-time activities is insufficient. It is felt that play centres only meet part of the need and that junior clubs, run on somewhat similar lines to youth clubs, have a wider appeal, especially to boys and girls in the eleven to fifteen age group. As a result more junior clubs have been opened. Very many more are needed but shortages both of funds and trained personnel present serious obstacles. Up to the present, progress has been more marked in London than in the provinces.

36. Even where provision has been extended there will still be children who are unable to attend clubs, play centres, playgrounds and the like because of home duties, such as preparing a meal or looking after younger brothers and sisters. When these children are dispersed over a wide area, little can be done for them, but in the case of a fairly large group, living, for instance, in a block of flats, one flat can be set aside for the children's own use. Provision is then near at hand and since the flat caters for all ages, the older child can come even if he has to bring his younger brother or sister along too.

37. The provision we have considered so far would cater for both indoor and outdoor activities, but in arranging the latter there is a serious problem to face, and one that has been ventilated many times, that is the lack of playing fields.** The value of fresh air, and activity in the fresh air, is so obvious that it is difficult to understand why more attention has not been paid to this need. In the years before the war many houses were built without any thought of where the children who lived in them would play. Every year such playing fields as were set aside were pushed further out to the fringe of the town or city and access became more and more difficult. The situation has been made worse recently by the taking over of playing

*School and Life, p. 24.

**See also footnote at the end of the chapter.


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fields for housing purposes. Open space, suitable for games or physical education, which is half an hour's journey away from the place where the children live has a very limited use. Some facilities for swimming are provided but they are inadequate, especially in the country. A large site is not required for the erection of a swimming bath and it seems deplorable that this opportunity for healthy exercise should be neglected.

38. The value of camping is now much more widely recognised than hitherto. Its pleasures for those who enjoy it are manifold, and it gives boys and girls a unique opportunity, on a scale within their comprehension, of seeing the contribution required from each one to life in a community. It fosters too a love of simple things, a sense of responsibility and the happiness of good comradeship.

39. Some provision for some children would, in our opinion, be a fair estimate of the facilities at present available to children for the pursuit of their own interests out of school hours. The provision is haphazard; it depends too much on the chances of local interest and initiative. In our view it should be a matter for general concern that there should be opportunities for every child who wants them, to spend his leisure time safely and happily.

NOTE
**The National Playing Fields Association was formed twenty-two years ago, "to secure adequate public playing fields for the present and future needs of all sections of the community". The Association shows in the statement of its aims and objects that it has the provision for children very much at heart. The pamphlet "How to obtain a playing field" gives the procedure that should be followed by those wishing to take advantage of the financial help available towards the acquisition and laying out of playing fields.




CHAPTER IV

SCHOOL ACTIVITIES RELATED TO THE INTERESTS OF CHILDREN

40. 'I cannot think of any activity which a child could pursue out of school that he does not pursue in school' said one of our witnesses; and it is obvious that in the good school, work and activities will take account of the whole range of children's interests.

41. The characteristic activity of young children is play, and in nursery and infant schools play is deliberately used as a method of education and is made the basis of systematic training. Children are encouraged to develop their own individuality and to express their own ideas in ways that lie within their power.

42. The same principle is exemplified throughout the good primary school. There the child really lives and has opportunities to develop naturally, and to satisfy his desire to create. He experiments, keeps his own records, and learns to draw his own conclusions. The passive attitude expected and required under older methods has given place to a lively, vital approach to a great adventure. This change of approach in the primary school necessitates an entirely different kind of curriculum and timetable, and more and more is it becoming recognised that the child's home background and his neighbourhood must be carefully studied. It is not merely a question of linking up school, home and environment, but rather of arranging the school curriculum against the background of the home surroundings. The school activities are no longer confined to the class room, the children are encouraged to learn from their immediate neighbourhood.

43. Why then should there be any barrier between the activities and experience of school hours and those outside school? It is not a question of con-


[page 17]

sidering whether out-of-school activities should or should not be related to activities in school; the fact should be faced that if the primary school is fulfilling its proper function a relationship will already exist. But we must admit that the difficulties which have to be faced especially by the primary school teacher: have almost defeated the persistent efforts to replace formal education by the education which provides the child from five to eleven with opportunities to develop his whole personality. The badly equipped and inadequate premises themselves present almost unsurmountable difficulties, for they were built for the purpose of instructing large classes of small children who were expected to sit all day in the desks provided. The special place examination too, has influenced the primary schools unduly, and it is not surprising that in many the cramped curriculum still persists. Tribute must be paid to much good work that has been done under these conditions, but the need for improvement is clamant [urgent].

44. Primary school education is not a matter only of subjects and class rooms but rather of experience, activity and growth. Although the interweaving of home and school interests is necessary for the development of the child, it is recognised that home and school experiences are different. The primary curriculum is not based on home activities, but is planned with the home background in mind. What can be done successfully, and indeed is being done in many schools, is to plan the work after careful observation of free play and out-of-school activities, bearing in mind throughout that the fullest use should be made of the child's natural interests to further his education. The work should be approached, certainly with the subject in mind, but also with plans for providing the child with activity, freedom, and guidance. Experiment and practical work should be in the forefront. His work in school should develop his self-confidence, satisfy his curiosity, and relate his needs and experiences in a reasonable manner. Certain skills have to be mastered, therefore there must be training exercises, but isolated exercises should be avoided. The teacher must as a necessity of the first importance have, in the classroom, the same feeling of purposeful "busyness" and natural expression as is to be found out of school, whether in the camps, the play centres, or the clubs.

45. Actual schemes do not come within the scope of this report, but a few suggestions might give some idea of the possible relationship of school time and out-of-school activities. News sheets in the classroom can record out-of-school happenings, home reading can be entered in school note books. The list of books enjoyed, and the poems most liked, should cover both school and home reading. The children should write of their own experiences. The fact that something that is being described has been experienced gives vitality and character to the work. Playing skittles, dominoes, and similar games involves scoring, finding totals, comparing numbers, so that the young children become interested in number. Many children shop for the family. They should use the actual shop prices in school. They should handle school money, and learn their arithmetical rules by everyday experiences. Their love of exploring and collecting should lead to interesting and valuable work in school. A scheme for sea-side areas, covering ponds, rock pools, streams, and beach involving a study of plants, aquatic life, birds, and tides would satisfy the child both in and out of school. If the class calendar records his name and the date of his finds his interest is assured. Producing a play, however short, means cutting, sewing, hammering, and painting. It is likely that there will have to be some searching for information as to correct costume or suitable properties. Reading with this in view is very different from the reading lesson of former days; and as far removed from the composition lesson is the making up and writing out of the speaking parts. The concrete yard, often too small, which is the usual primary school playground, does not lend itself to the kind of activity that most children seem to enjoy. There should at least be climbing frames and


[page 18]

wherever possible, grass. A sand pit set aside for the youngest children would help to break up the hard and uninteresting surface of the yard.

46. The good secondary school of whatever type reveals the working of the same basic principle. Young people find there many outlets for their natural interests as they acquire the knowledge and skills appropriate to this stage of their education. Their interest in doing things and making things is satisfied by active lessons and creative occupations; group work and team games give them the opportunity for corporate activity, which they desire; in laboratory and workshop they try out things for themselves, in the library they pursue their own line of reading. As their emotions develop some find especial pleasure in literature, in music, in art, in nature or in the companionship of their fellows. They learn about the community in which they live and realise that they have a part to play in it; their interest in other people and other countries develops and they seek to extend their own personal relationships.

47. The secondary school provides its pupils with many interests for their leisure time, arising either from the subjects of study or from out-of-school activities. The widest range of these is provided by the secondary schools which have manifold clubs and societies catering for all tastes, art, handwork, dramatics, films, music, current events, debating, reading, classical, French, international, field, science, farming, service and games clubs, scout troops, and guide companies, all provide opportunities for individual pupils to develop their special interests. It is not always necessary that all the activities of these societies should reach a high level: there must be freedom to experiment and opportunity for self-expression if the spontaneity and enthusiasm of the members are to be maintained. Even when there are no organised clubs, facilities may be given in all types of school for pupils to carry on their pursuits after school hours. All these out-of-school activities are valuable not only because they meet the needs of pupils during their school life, but also because they are sometimes the means of inspiring a life-long interest in a subject or hobby.

48. From what has been said above it is clear that, where conditions are favourable, schools at every level have already gone far in establishing a fruitful relationship between the freely-expressed interests of children and the purposeful work of the school. Teachers no longer regard it as their function to drive "a flock that thirsts not, to a pool disliked". Administrative authority supports them in the change of attitude. It is important, however, that the true meaning of the change should not be misunderstood. Teachers are not subordinating their proper function to any weak pandering to children's whims and impulses: the child does not "do as he likes". On the contrary it would be true to say that the school is more seriously inspired than ever and is concerned to see that the pupil really works. A plan of studies, designed both to equip the child for life and to stimulate the growth of his powers, is consistently pursued. His interests are drawn upon to give life and meaning to this plan, not as a substitute for it. In this way the two environments, in school and out of school, are drawn together with the double effect, we may hope, of vitalising the necessary work of the school - even in its periods of comparative drudgery - and of preserving the unity of the child's personal life. We conclude, therefore, that the right course is to encourage and extend this change of attitude. The real needs are that schools generally should be enabled to work under conditions which make possible a nearer approach to the goal, and that every means should be taken to ensure among teachers study and improvement of the methods by which the goal is sought.

49. If the view expressed in the preceding paragraph is accepted it must follow that the school's concern for the out-of-school interests of its pupils is intensified. Co-operation between school and home assumes a new importance, and every means such as active parent-teacher associations, must be taken to support


[page 19]

and extend it. There are homes, not necessarily wealthy ones, which can and do provide richly for the child's interests. He has a "den", shed or corner of his own where he can keep his treasures and pursue his own enterprises. Parents take an interest, not too obtrusive, in his pursuits and encourage him to bring his friends. He can keep pets, grow plants, collect and store what takes his fancy, enjoy his own books, construct with his own tools. A child so placed can bring much with him to school of which the school can fruitfully take account.

50. But the majority of children do not live like this. Cramped for space at home with no spot that they can call their own, and little or no security for their possessions or peace for their pursuits, and with an environment, whether in town or country, that offers all too little of healthy opportunity, they present quite a different problem for home and school co-operation. Many schools are achieving marked success in providing some of what the home is unable to provide in this respect. But school is school, subject to the limitations of its own proper function, however well equipped it may be. If, therefore, provision that is at all comparable to what is enjoyed at home by the more fortunate few, is to be made for the many less fortunately placed, it must be a matter of public concern. It should be one of the purposes of parent-teacher co-operation to see that such provision is made.

51. It is evident that for the great majority of children there is no adequate provision of facilities for free-time occupation. The long-term aim of public policy should be good homes, good schools, and a sufficiency of open spaces, but the present needs of children are urgent, and every possible agency should be drawn in to supplement what school and home are doing. In this connection the question arises whether school premises might not be used after school hours. We can conceive of situations where, in present conditions, this may be the only resource. But where such use is made of the premises, every care must be taken not to impose any handicap or limitation upon the work and corporate life of the school itself.


CHAPTER V

A POLICY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION

52. From the preceding chapters it will be clear that, in spite of some devoted efforts, provision for satisfying the free-time needs of school children is seriously deficient in amount, in suitability, and in variety. Although the Ministry by Circular 13* called attention to the needs of the younger age group, very much less has been done for this than for the older group for which the Youth Service was designed. The need is so urgent, however, that a special effort must be made without delay to provide facilities at least comparable to those which are already in existence for the use of the older age group. In this chapter we make recommendations to this end.

53. The main conclusion to which we have come is that administrative policy, in its general planning, should take the same account of this form of educational need as of any other. Unless that is done there will be a hiatus in the range of educational provision which the Act of 1944 quite clearly contemplates. Accordingly we recommend that:

The Minister should make an urgent appeal to local education authorities to apply their powers under the Education Acts so as to increase and improve by every possible means facilities for the play and recreation of children out of school hours.
54. Following the recommendations given in Circular 1486 local authorities set up youth committees to supervise the provision and use of Youth Service

*10th November, 1944. [This footnote was printed on the following page but appears to belong here.]


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facilities. In some areas these were advisory bodies, in others they were sub-committees of the education committee, having powers of action delegated to them by the main committee. For our present purpose we prefer the second of these two methods, partly because the need for action is so urgent and partly because the field of action is likely to present peculiar difficulties. Accordingly we recommend that:

Each local education authority should be asked to set up a sub-committee of the education committee to plan and supervise the provision of facilities for the use of school children in their free time. Such sub-committees might be termed "Out-of-School Committees".
55. Although the committee we propose would need to co-operate closely with the youth committee, doubtless with some overlapping membership, we are satisfied that the institution of a separate body is essential. Sub-section 2 of clause 53 of the 1944 Act* clearly contemplates that local education authorities, in exercising their powers under the clause, may wish to enlist the co-operation of voluntary bodies working in the same field. Although the Act lays upon local education authorities no express obligation to follow this policy we think it essential that they should do so. Further, we hope that it will be found possible to appoint to the committee, in addition to representatives of voluntary bodies, other persons, including teachers and parents, having particular interest in, and experience of, this field of work. We recommend therefore that:
In constituting out-of-school committees, local education authorities should include representatives of voluntary bodies able to make an effective contribution to the work, together with teachers, parents, and others who, in the opinion of the authority, are qualified to give valuable assistance. With appropriate adaptation, the constitution suggested for youth committees in the appendix to Circular 1486 of 1939 might be followed.
56. The first duty of the committee when constituted, will obviously be to carry through a survey of the area so as to ascertain what provision already exists, to estimate what further provision and improvement of existing provision are needed, and to prepare plans for action. In many areas such plans will doubtless provide for some devolution of duties to district subcommittees. We therefore recommend that:
Each committee, as soon as constituted, should make a survey of the area so as to ascertain what provision already exists, to estimate what further provision and improvements are needed, and to prepare plans.
57. At the time when Circular 1486 was issued, a National Youth Committee to advise the President of the Board of Education was already in existence. We have given some thought to the question whether a similar committee at the national level should be appointed to advise the Minister on matters of policy arising from the working of the arrangements we propose. We are not satisfied that any good purpose would be served by setting up such a committee at this stage.

58. If the recommendations we have so far offered are accepted, account will have to be taken of powers possessed by certain local bodies other than local education authorities, to provide facilities which serve some at least of the interests of school children. We have in mind particularly powers

*A local education authority, in making arrangements for the provision of facilities or the organisation of activities under the powers conferred on them by the last foregoing sub-section shall, in particular, have regard to the expediency of co-operating with any voluntary societies or bodies whose objects include the provision of facilities or the organisation of activities of a similar character.


[The following plates appeared between page 20 and page 21]

A Makeshift Playground


A Real Playground


A Children's Library


Schoolboy Poultry Keepers


[page 21]

under the Physical Training and Recreation Act of 1937 and the Public Libraries Acts. Co-operation of such authorities in an over-all local plan would seem to be essential and should be secured through the working of the out-of-school committees. We recommend therefore that:

Where in any areas local authorities other than local education authorities bear some responsibility for the provision of libraries, playing fields, swimming baths, and other amenities, local education authorities should have regard to the powers and duties of the other local authorities in constituting out-of-school committees and in carrying out the policy outlined in these recommendations.
59. We are concerned that, both centrally and locally, financial provision for the lower age level should be at least as generous as for the higher age level. Under Clause 53 of the Act of 1944, local education authorities have power to defray or to contribute to the cost. Expenses thus incurred would fall within the approved total expenditure of the authority and would rank for grant in terms of the operative grant formula.

A further question arises, however, concerning grants from the Minister towards certain expenses of voluntary organisations operating at the national level. The precedent has been established whereby, for the purposes of the Youth Service, the Minister makes grants towards expenses of organisation and administration incurred by certain national bodies. We are of the opinion that no less favourable treatment should be accorded to bodies serving the out-of-school needs of school children. We recommend therefore that:

The Minister should be prepared to make grants towards the expenses of voluntary bodies that serve the out-of-school interests of school children, on terms at least as favourable as those upon which he now makes grants to voluntary organisations taking part in the Youth Service.
60. It is obvious that the success or failure of such facilities as can be provided will depend very largely upon the personal qualities of those in immediate charge. Workers must be prepared to perform their office mainly in the background, while being able and willing, if asked to do so, to contribute to the planning of enterprises and adventures. They must be ready and fitted to interest the individual child and be sympathetic to his desire to gain experience for himself.

Whole-time and part-time workers will be needed and particular care will have to be taken in the selection of both. Some will be paid, some will carry on the tradition of free personal service which, so fruitful in the past, will continue to be indispensable in the future. Some training for the work is desirable for all and should be obligatory, though not necessarily prior to appointment, for those who are paid. Though teachers will wish to share in the general planning, they should be quite free, as individuals, to decide for themselves what part they will take, if any, in the work itself. We recommend therefore that:

Both paid and unpaid workers, some whole-time and some part-time should take part in the work. Great care should be exercised in the choice of all workers.

Training should be obligatory for all paid workers, though it need not always be a prior condition of appointment. Every encouragement should be offered to voluntary workers to undertake training.

61. Courses organised on lines similar to those provided for the Child Care Reserve should be instituted by local authorities and/or other competent


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bodies; every encouragement to make use of them should be given to voluntary workers and to others who may be interested. It would be a further advantage if courses graded at different levels could be offered. If we are to have in view the whole range of provision for children's interests, then, as we have emphasised elsewhere, the home, too, has a part of vital importance to play. There is reason to believe that many parents would be grateful for experienced guidance in arriving at a truer understanding of the interests of their children and how to provide for them. Local education authorities, in making arrangements for Adult Education, might therefore do well to include some provision for this purpose. In addition to special courses, demonstrations and film shows might be arranged. We hope that fathers, as well as mothers, would make use of this provision. We recommend therefore that:

Training courses for workers should be arranged by local education authorities and/or other competent bodies. A variety of courses might be offered to meet different needs.

Local education authorities, in making provision for Adult Education, should arrange for parents' courses, demonstrations, and film shows dealing with the development and interests of children.




CHAPTER VI

SOME FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS

62. The recommendations set out above should provide the basis for a scheme of administration comparable with that which has been evolved for the Youth Service.

In this chapter we offer suggestions concerning the facilities that should be provided, the forms they should assume, and the educational purposes they could be expected to serve. Local conditions and resources are so varied that a wide discretion must be left to the education authority of each area in the devising and execution of its own plans. We refrain therefore from making specific recommendations except where the need is so urgent and so general as to call for immediate action. In a group of appendices we offer for illustration some examples of provision for, and typical experiences with, children of this age group.

63. In relation to what follows there is a general consideration which should be stressed at this point. It is that, if we appear to be speaking mainly of the spontaneous activities of children and of the facilities which enable them, within the broad limits of peace and safety, to follow their own impulses, it is not because we underestimate the value of activities having a planned and specific educational purpose. There are now many organisations, and in great variety, designed to provide for children and young people just this kind of out-of-school training. We would wish them to receive all possible encouragement and support for not only do they provide healthy outlets for juvenile interest and propensities, they also contribute substantially to the influences making for depth and steadfastness of character. There is clear educational gain for the boy or girl who voluntarily enters upon a membership which involves steady discipline, self-control, some degree of arduousness, and real constancy of purpose. All this is now so generally appreciated that no recommendation concerning it is called for.

64. Care should be taken to ensure a due balance between indoor and outdoor provision. It will be well if both types can be offered at the same centre.

A large number of small centres is preferable to a few extensive ones. Not only should the centres be within easy reach of young children, but there is also


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a good educational reason why they should be kept small. Play within the intimacy of a small group will generally have a higher value than play in the mass since a somewhat bewildered aimlessness at best, or dominance by crowd feeling at worst, may be the result of setting the child to play amid uncontrollable numbers. Much improvisation will of course be necessary. Yet one cannot observe the spontaneous play of children and still maintain that the need to improvise is necessarily an obstacle. It is, often enough, the mainspring of delighted invention. Material need not all be expensive, though, for the older children at least, some of it may well be elaborate.*

65. A very common defect of existing provision is lack of variety. The child's urge for physical activity is, in general, better catered for than his other interests although these may be equally strong and in some children even stronger. More and better provision is needed for the "sit-down" games and interests, especially for reading; there should also be some quiet place where the very young child can pursue his own occupations away from the older boys and girls.**

Out-of-school facilities for the child whose desire is to construct are most seriously lacking just when they are being much more freely offered within the school. There are formidable difficulties in the way of making the school equipment available for use in leisure hours. Where these cannot be surmounted without serious interference with the work of the school, we hope that separate provision can be made. It should be possible to attach to some at least of the centres a workshop provided with the necessary outfit of tools and material. The need for greater variety is so urgent as to call for the recommendation that:

A greater variety of materials and equipment should be provided to serve the diverse interests of children.
We make a separate recommendation on children's libraries (para. 74.)

66. One way in which the call for variety might be met is by the careful planning and equipment of a few larger centres where greater space and accommodation are available. So far as practicable these would be distributed so as to serve appropriate "catchment" areas. They would be planned mainly for the older children in the age group, though some younger ones might resort to them. There might even be some degree of specialisation, a gymnasium here, a swimming bath there. A stretch of woodland or rough common has exceptional value as Boy Scouts and Girl Guides have shown. A few trees to climb and bushes in which to hide afford rich scope for the imaginative games that mean so much to children.

67. Yet in present circumstances even the best that can be done is certain to fall far short of the need. The most serious limiting factor is lack of space. The adaptation of bombed sites has helped in some areas, and in others the closure to traffic of certain streets so as to provide a place where city children can play in safety, makeshift expedient as it is, has afforded relief. In country areas too the deficiency is much more real than many would suppose. But the grim truth is that unimaginative planning in the past has led to a grave underestimate of the needs of children in the matter of sheer space.

With the advent of town and country planning we should seize the opportunity to remedy the mistakes of the past and to plan efficiently for the future, the needs of the children being ever in our minds.

We recommend therefore that:

The appropriate authorities should be asked to secure conveniently placed
*Appendix I gives an account of an experimental playground in Denmark which affords some idea of what might be done.

**There is every reason to think that a similar deficiency of provision for free-time interests creates difficulties also within the school, for example in the interval between dinner time and the resumption of school.


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sites and open spaces, to be used, wholly or in part, for providing facilities for the out-of-school interests of school children.
68. As we have suggested earlier the need for carefully thought-out provision is often as great in rural areas as in urban districts. Isolation as well as overcrowding has its problems. In this connection a fuller use of mobile cinema units, of mobile libraries, of touring concert parties, and of visiting instructors and coaches for games suggests itself as a profitable line of survey. There is too a widespread and urgent need for more playing space. We recognise that economic causes in themselves have been sufficient in the past to account for the drift from country to town but something more than a living income from the soil is needed to reverse the drift or even to arrest it. Among necessary measures to reconstruct a rural society, content with its environment, the elimination of boredom from the leisure hours of village children deserves a high place.

69. Camping is valuable for general training as well as for health and enjoyment, and its practice should be greatly expanded and developed. For example, recent changes in working hours should make it possible to encourage week-end family camps and so to enable quite young children to share the experience. There is need, too, for more standing camps properly organised for the reception of children during the holidays. They would afford to many parents a welcome relief and to many children an escape from the boredom that is apt to occur during a long holiday. They would also be valuable in a true educational sense. Conversely arrangements might be made whereby rural children could spend some part of a holiday in the town.

So much has been written about camping that we only need call attention to one consideration which appears to us to be important educationally. If it is to achieve its purpose camping must, of course, be enjoyed, but it must also be recognised as a collective experience in free discipline under conditions that call for order and restraint as well as for initiative and adventure. Hence in addition to careful planning, thought needs to be given to the selection of those who are to take part. If all are novices then the contingent should be quite small so as to be the more easily controlled. In a larger contingent there should always be a sufficiency of experienced campers who know the ways, and who have learned to respond to the impulses of leadership, whether in themselves or in others. Inefficient planning and loose control not only defeat their main purpose, they may also set up opposition on the part of farmers and others who suffer from the consequences of indiscipline.

70. While camping can do much to maintain and strengthen that intelligent interest in the life of the countryside which is apt to be lost or weakened in the conditions of city life, the regular work of the school may also contribute richly to the same result. Children in the nursery school learn to watch and care for living plants and animals. At a later stage, nature study lessons should have the effect, as indeed they often do, of providing children with an absorbing interest for their free hours. Such an interest has more than a purely intellectual value: many can testify to its steadying influence upon the whole personality. School journeys have undoubted value in this connection, but encouragement should also be given to the solitary explorer, the bird watcher, and the young naturalist who wishes to undertake an expedition on his own initiative. It is well, therefore, not to over-organise out-of-school opportunities for this purpose.

71. Any child from nine to fifteen years can take advantage of the unique facilities offered by the Youth Hostels to explore the countryside on his bicycle or on foot, provided that he is accompanied by an adult; and some town children today find their greatest pleasure in weekends or holidays so spent.

72. Before the war school journeys at home and abroad had opened up new possibilities for both town and country children, and in recent years group exchanges between schools and youth groups in different countries have shown


[page 25]

how much can be done to widen the experience of individual children by increasing their knowledge of foreign countries and giving them an interest which can be further developed by reading and exchange of correspondence. English schools have been linked with French and Belgian schools under the aegis of the respective Ministries of Education, and exchanges have been arranged for holidays and term time, children being received in each others' homes and thus learning at first hand about the life and customs of the foreign country. Exchanges have also taken place with the schools of several other countries. Some voluntary organisations have done excellent work in this field. The recent establishment of a Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges announced by the Ministry of Education will give an impetus to this movement and extend its benefits to many more children.

73. Considerations of health need always to be kept in mind in the planning and supervision of children's free time. Supervisors of every kind can do much to teach good habits. The lack of sanitary and washing equipment that still characterises many school buildings is deplorable and we hope that, as improvement in these conditions is effected, local authorities will also have regard to similar needs in the places where children play. Facilities for washing and changing after vigorous exertion, are very rarely provided, important as they are for a really healthy regimen. We have also had strongly pointed out to us that the organisation of leisure time should pay full regard to the needs of children for rest and sleep. So many children today, we are told, are over-fatigued from lack of sleep, that club leaders should regard it as one of their duties to see that children under their care have sufficient sleep.

74. For indoor entertainment the cinema is now the main resource for vast numbers of children. Since, however, a specially appointed committee is to investigate matters arising from the attendance of children at cinemas we think it proper to refrain from any comments or recommendation here.

75. A much frequented haunt is the children's library or reading room. It is unnecessary here to enlarge upon the life-long value of forming at an early age the habits of reading and book borrowing. Pleasant surroundings, a plenitude of attractive books, and judicious though unobtrusive supervision, appear to be the main essentials of success. Provision by public library authorities varies widely, ranging from a few shelves in the village school to specially designed and equipped accommodation, where the reading habit can be supported by films, story hours, talks, and book displays. As is already provided at some libraries, there should be a reading room reserved for children with a librarian suited to the task of guidance in the exploration and use of the opportunities offered. It cannot be said, however, that facilities are as yet available for all who might wish to make use of them. Further extension as well as continued improvement of existing facilities is necessary. In this connection we would add that we see no reason why provision for such diversions as story hours, film displays, and the like should be restricted to the library. It needs to be spread much more widely at suitably situated points.

A practical difficulty arises from the fact that local education authorities are not alone in exercising powers under the Public Libraries Acts. Some arrangement for co-operation is therefore necessary.

Accordingly we recommend that:

The Minister, in co-operation with local education authorities and other authorities having powers under the Public Libraries Acts, should take steps to bring library facilities within reach of all children and to ensure good and sufficient accommodation and the appointment of suitably qualified staff.
76. Warmly to be welcomed is the institution of concerts for school children. Already the case for a wide extension of such opportunities, out of school hours as well as in school hours, has been clearly established.


[page 26]

Recently efforts have been made, on somewhat similar lines, to promote children's theatres. For these, expense and the need to maintain standards present even greater difficulties than they do for concerts. Both ventures are, however, so promising and so well calculated to influence the tastes of children in the impressionable years that they are deserving of support on a national scale. More should be done to provide them out of school hours. This is, in fact, a field in which the Arts Council may be willing and able to take effective action, action which might be extended to include other types of opportunity such as the Council now provides so widely for the general public. We therefore recommend that: The Arts Council should be invited to extend its support to the provision of concerts, plays, and exhibitions for children out of school hours. Every encouragement should be given to other bodies prepared to provide entertainment of a similar standard.

(SIGNED)

F. CLARKE (Chairman)
MARGARET F. ADAMS
MARJORY ALLEN OF HURTWOOD
T. S. R. BOASE
A. BROWN
E. S. BYNG
FRASER BROCKINGTON
HAROLD E. CLAY
BONAMY DOBRÉE
RONALD GOULD
WILLIS JACKSON
J. C. JONES
KNEBWORTH
T. LOVEDAY
R. A. B. MYNORS
MARJORIE E. REEVES
W. O. LESTER SMITH
J. F. WOLFENDEN
R. J. YOUARD
I. M. M. DEAN (Secretary)

January, 1948.



[page 27]

APPENDIX I

A REAL PLAYGROUND
(by permission of "Picture Post")

An experimental playground of a revolutionary nature was started in Denmark. From the beginning, the playground was formed by the children and their play. The materials provided are stone, earth, bricks, wood, iron, clay, water, planks, empty petrol casks, wheelbarrows and derelict motor cars. The children at first had to learn to use tools, bricks, planks, trunks of trees and such things, and the work began slowly. At first they dug in the earth and used builder's bricks to construct their houses, but after they had got experience in handling tools and material, they made many complicated projects, and at the end of six months, the "Waste material playground" was made.

Before houses and caves are built, the children have a "building meeting" to decide how best to make their houses without risk of collapse. When the caves and houses are finished, the playground leader examines each and passes it before the children play in it. Four children "own" a building and remain tenants for a fortnight, if they wish, during which time they must keep it in repair. Another group of children move into the building and perhaps build it in another way or live in it and do the necessary repairs. The house is "consecrated" by the hoisting of a flag and the eating of cakes baked by themselves, and the lighting of coloured candles. The forks and spoons for the parties are carved in wood by the children. There is a "police cave" with police flag, and here their own judge settles disputes. Over some of the other houses are pirate flags with death's head and cross bones. The children get three hundred building bricks and planks for the doors and roof. These little houses are usually four feet by five feet but if many children work as a group, they can get six hundred bricks and make bigger houses with two or three rooms. The bricks are cemented together with clay and made rainproof with grass. The older children make fine houses with doors, complete with hinges and locks. The girls decorate the houses inside and out, put flowers in the windows, make tables, chairs and kitchen utensils. Indian wigwams are made of laths of wood and branches of spruce in the shape of a bell-tent and some are twenty feet high. From here the wild prairie hordes emerge swinging their lassoes and howling their attack signal. Some caves are built twelve feet down into the earth, towers are built forty-five feet high and fleets of merchant-men sail their ships of old barrels into uncharted seas. There are look-out towers (useful in the jungle for spotting wild animals) and climbing apparatus thirty-five feet high, built by the children.

The children have built a working windmill thirty-three feet high with its foundations in a cement base. Some of the parts for the windmill were taken from an old car which the children and the young people dismantled to find out how it worked. The parts not wanted for the windmill were used in other ways, and those parts they did not require were sold by the children to obtain money for new materials, A ton of rough wood, too dry for house building, was given to the playground, and the children cut it up and sold it to parents and friends for firewood. This produced five pounds, which they used to provide other much needed material. In this way the children get a sense of responsibility and do not expect that all will be given to them as soon as they ask, and they also have a feeling that everything can be used and everything has a value.


[page 28]

the playground, with its many types of play and opportunities for different activities is in itself an educational factor of the greatest importance, but it is necessary that there should be a skilled leader who must be first and last a good democrat and not an autocrat. He must be an older companion in whom the children have confidence and whom they like. He must be an instructor, and an inspirer to those children who are timid and who are afraid to start on a project because they lack confidence. The leader must understand the different children and be able to ensure that the opportunities are fully used. He must have a wide experience of life and much practical knowledge. The leader must be willing to make each project a joint effort between the children and himself, where both have something to learn. For instance, three of the older boys came to the leader, an ex-seaman and trained Nursery School teacher, wanting to build a fifty foot tower. They talked together as to how it could best be done. The children first told him their plans and then, in discussion, they discovered the weakness of their suggestions and how they could be improved. It was necessary, in this case, to seek further help from books and from practical people in the town. In this way the youngest and the oldest children gained experience by learning what is possible and what is impossible. The genius of the leader, of course, is to get all the children to work together by indirect suggestion. The children have to be secure in the knowledge that the place is their own, that the materials, tools and play equipment belong to them. If they desire, as they do, that these materials remain in the playground, they have to look after them themselves. If, for instance, a hammer is lost, then they must do without it or search for it and find it.

The playground is a free community where the children play in small groups or join together for larger projects. The playground leader never organises groups or play. The children's freedom is only limited by their feeling of responsibility and by the experience they gain in their work, by the atmosphere of the playground and by the care they take of other children, which is necessary if they are to remain part of the companionship of the playground. Most children can smooth out the frictions which make it difficult for them to join in the community. These difficulties are always present when large numbers of children are together, but when they resolve these conflicts themselves, they educate each other and avoid the shock which may arise if adults do this for them. The leader has, of course, sometimes to help unravel difficulties, but the conflicts are in reality very few compared with those in other playgrounds. The playing is so intense that the noise, screams and fights found in ill-equipped playgrounds are absent, for the play opportunities are so rich that the children do not fight. The leader tries not to forbid the children anything, but if action has to be taken, a reason is always given and the children get a positive pointer as to what to do.

There are many people who think that by such methods there must be many accidents and possibly even deaths, but during the three years that this experimental playground has been running, there has not been a serious accident, and the reason is that the children have always been allowed to find out for themselves how far they can go with safety.

The playground is mostly visited by the so-called 'difficult' children and the children from large families and overcrowded homes. It is intended for school age children, but, in reality there are children from infancy to eighteen years. Many children between the ages of five and fourteen, in order to play at all, have to bring their smaller brothers and sisters. The children from fourteen to eighteen use the playground as a kind of leisure club because


[opposite page 28]

Striking Camp


[opposite page 29]

East End Football Pitch


[page 29]

there are few in the district at present. It is necessary that all the children who visit the playground should work together to make it a success. They help in a hundred ways and are always eager to undertake a job that is necessary, whether it is practical or administrative. The playground could not actively exist without this co-operation and help. There are about two hundred boys and girls in the playground at the same time, and they are coming and going the whole day. It is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and during this time it may be visited by three to four hundred children.


APPENDIX II

OUR PLAY CENTRE

How We Started

After years of unemployment, the parents were tired and dispirited, and first impressions of the village were of poverty and lifelessness. Houses needed repairs and paint, and the boarded windows of the empty shops, whose owners had not weathered the depression, added to the drabness.

In summer, the children played in the main street, or on the lower slopes of the slag tip which rose steeply from the back doors of the longest row of houses. In winter, they ran wildly from one dimly lit shop window to another, or skipped round the street lamps where they had the bases for their games. The school itself looked as uninviting as the surrounding buildings and houses, but inside, it had possibilities. Big brick fireplaces suggested that the welcome could be both warm and bright.

In September, 1936, two teachers decided that lack of funds and material must not be allowed to deter them from trying to establish a play centre of some kind. They had to look outside the village for help in collecting books, games and sewing materials, but they found friends in H.M. Inspector, School Organisers, and even travellers became enthusiastic when they heard of the plan, and added their contributions. In a very short time they had books, paper, cardboard, and dressing up finery. They planned to use school scissors, paint, and other odd materials.

Just before 5.30 p.m. on the opening night, they roughly divided their stocks among the three rooms. They were prepared for the crowd that a 'first night' usually attracts. Their notice said that seven, eight and nine year olds would be admitted. They were not prepared for the mob that surged up the steps. There they were! All ages from five to twelve or thirteen. Later that evening, the noise of the disgruntled ones outside was greater than the excited chatter of those who had managed to squeeze in.

At the next meeting, stern measures had to be taken. This caused the leaders much distress, but, heart breaking as it might be, the age range had to be insisted on. It was the greatest pity that the older children could not be accommodated. It was felt that it was most important that they should be occupied in the evenings, but the leaders had control of the infant building only, and the size of the furniture, and the space available, imposed restrictions which they had to accept.

When they had reduced the number of children to about 90, a routine established itself, and the play centre ran for three-and-a-half years, closing each year during July and August. At every meeting the unfortunates outside had to be soothed. During the stormiest weather, the number admitted rarely fell below sixty.


[page 30]

After the first few months, the head teacher returned from London with the promise of help from a form of High School girls, and, presently, large boxes of used toys, games and dolls arrived. Fathers mended and renovated the toys, and the leaders set about reorganising the centre in view of the greater variety of material available. The children, now used to the twice weekly, and sometimes thrice weekly opening, settled down, and a sense of busyness, purpose and real satisfaction became the keynote of the meetings.

How We Settled Down

School closed at 4 p.m. and by 4.30 p.m. the children had returned. They played outside the centre until the doors opened punctually at 5.30 p.m. There were two rules, clean hands and good behaviour. (Good behaviour simply meant not interfering with your neighbour's enjoyment.) We assembled in the long, wide corridor. We held up our hands to show that we had washed. In our eagerness to impress the leaders, knees were hastily shown to prove that the fronts had at least been scrubbed. No one risked being turned out. The play centre was definitely an occasion and we lived up to it. Then we sang in the first room, which had been cleared of its tables and small chairs. We sat on the floor. If we were rather poorly but did not want to miss the fun, we sat on a chair near the stove. But how we sang! Everything we could think of! Then we went quietly to the room we fancied. You see, by now, we knew that all the paint, paper, scissors, tools, glue and water were in the fourth room, sewing materials, the toy sewing machines and dolls were in the third room, and the books in the second room. The dressing up box was in the corridor. We were now used to the general layout of the centre, and we quickly made up our minds where we wanted to go. Only rarely did we need to ask for help. We no longer rushed from room to room as on the first evenings. We began to choose. In fact we often arrived with a plan. We built forts. We arranged our soldiers. We dressed up and gave plays. Sometimes these were almost over before we had arranged ourselves, and sometimes they were endless. We made Christmas cards and decorations. How precious these were when pennies were scarce! We carried them home in triumph. We made ships, trucks, and other toys.

We had kept empty the first room mentioned so that we could go there for more singing, singing games, or perhaps a story, but when we became the possessors of a fascinating railway with engines and trucks, this floor came into regular use. At first we quarrelled over the railway, but when we found that too many in the room spoiled the fun, we arranged ourselves and peace and fairness prevailed.

All kinds of exciting things happened to us, but one of our very best evenings was when we had films. There was no cinema in the village. Our school doctor brought along her friend with her travel films. To add to the fun, they hired zoo films, and reels of Charlie Chaplin adventures. We were very late that night. In the interval we ate chocolate and the enjoyment of the show was so very obvious that no one had the heart to suggest finishing until all the films had been shown.

Sometimes some one wanted a story, and then we found a corner, and we listened.

We began to tidy up about 7.30 p.m. After the general effort we sang good-night songs and went home. A selected few finished off the tidying. This took a long time because we had not much storage space, and partly because if we happened to be putting away something we had not seen before we had to stop to examine it.


[page 31]

September, 1939, put an end to our evening activities, but, for a short time we carried on morning and afternoon play centres for the children who could not be accommodated in the school building when the double shift system was being worked. The evacuated children who were received into the village joined us in the Workmen's Institute, and although attendance here was voluntary, almost all the children came.

General Remarks

The reading room was easily the most popular, due probably to the lack of books at home. The children in this room were rather greedy in their anxiety to get favourite books, and it was interesting to note their absorption and their satisfaction.

Indoor games, cards, and table games were very popular. Here again it was thought to be because they were new to the children.

Brightly coloured materials were quickly seized and made up into doll's clothes. The piece box was a magnet. Ribbons and lace were used for personal adornment.

Older children frequently used the chute and rocking horse that belonged to the reception class of the school.

Parents can be very helpful. Our parents were ready to lend a hand at any time.

We found it better to keep the organisation very free and elastic. The children themselves had established a routine of a kind, but we seized every opportunity to bring life and enjoyment into the centre. We found that a few bottles of lemonade and a dozen table jellies made a party!

We enjoyed it all.


APPENDIX III

A CHILDREN'S FLAT

A small flat of a tenement block in a crowded London area is not the happiest environment for a child. Where space is so limited all his activities are circumscribed on every hand by the needs of adult members of his family. Where there is scarcely sufficient room for the essential furniture of the home, there is no possibility of providing him with a "playroom" or "den" where he can play undisturbed.

Yet in one such area an attempt has been made to provide the children with a playroom, a place of their own, in fact a Flat of their own. Here the forty-five children from twenty-seven families living in the block of flats can come every night of the week from 5.15 p.m. to 8 p.m. There are two flats in two blocks; one with two rooms, the other with three. There is no indoor sanitation or running water and the lighting is by gas and inadequate. The rooms are minute, one contains a carpentry bench, another a narrow table which can be used for miniature ping pong, and the third has a gas stove. One room of the two roomed flat has a piano and a very small library and the second is kept as the warden's room. The walls have been distempered and decorated with a few colourful pictures. The general effect is homely and warm and, although the rooms are not large, the problem of space does not figure unduly, probably owing to the skill and tact of the organiser and the improved behaviour of the children when once they feel themselves "at home" in the free and friendly atmosphere of the flat.


[page 32]

One full-time organiser is responsible for one flat and the supervision of the second which is run by a part-time helper. Approximately eighteen voluntary helpers come, usually once a week - including boys and girls from the local grammar schools.

There are few organised activities. Once a week a father takes a boxing group; another neighbour in the buildings has taught the children to tap-dance and is organising a concert party; a few of the girls went to see Princess Elizabeth's wedding procession; and just before Christmas the children were excitedly planning for their annual visit to the circus. For the most part however, you can see the younger ones playing quietly by themselves, cutting out, reading, painting, "just sitting" or playing Lotto - with occasional outbursts of indignation when a companion interferes unduly with their occupation. The older children coming in a little later gather round the fire for a talk; play charades; compare and swap stamps; make toys or play the piano. Occasionally there is a scuffle, but this is carried on with good humour and amazingly little damage is done considering that the boys delight to climb onto the nearby furniture and leap headlong into the fray regardless of their heavy boots. Every night the children can get a cup of tea and a slice of bread and jam.

The children really feel that the flat belongs to them. They can come and go as they wish, running out to do jobs for mother and returning to their games when these are completed. In large families the older children often have to look after the younger members of the family, and, since the flat caters for all ages, the elder ones can attend bringing their young charges with them, whereas they could not go to an outside club thus encumbered. It is because of these two factors that the aim of the Children's Flat "to supplement home life" is achieved. Here there is a playroom in the home providing a necessary amenity for both children and parents. The parents are individually appreciative of the provision made for their children - making occasional visits to the flat and helping with the cleaning and decorating.

The Children's Flat was opened in 1943; all the money has been raised by voluntary effort, and it is hoped that in time the children's weekly contributions will cover the running expenses of the flats. The scheme has shown that with imagination something can be done in the most discouraging circumstances to give the children a playroom of their own.


APPENDIX IV

AN EAST LONDON BOYS' CLUB

This club was opened for working boys over thirty years ago and it was not until about eleven years ago that schoolboys of eleven to fourteen years were admitted. The locality is a densely populated industrial dock area. Some of the housing conditions are reasonably good but there is still a great shortage aggravated by the heavy bombing in this area. Apart from this the people are in general contented with their lot and are devoted to their district. They have no desire for the spacious freedom of the country or the life cycle of the farming year. These are good things to visit, but "life" is present for them in its fulness in the busy narrow streets, the lights, the shop windows, the buses, the cinemas and above all in the comradeship of many acquaintances. It is a mistake to describe the environment as a "slum". Neither the housing authorities nor the inhabitants regard it as such.


[page 33]

Boys for the most part want to be with other boys not just one or two but twenty or so. They want space to exercise their voices and their muscles in a way not possible at home and they found this need satisfied by the club which was open from six p.m. to eight p.m. three or four nights a week and for camping expeditions almost every Saturday and Sunday. The numbers varied from sixty to a hundred and fifty. The club was housed in the same building as the Youth Club (fourteen to eighteen) but the two groups never mixed as the older boys found the company of the younger irksome.

The boys were not accustomed to a regular or responsible way of life. It soon became apparent that it was useless to provide space without order, for these boys are human, which means that they are selfish and destructive, unless they are welded into a community with leaders, traditions and rules made by themselves. Freedom and enjoyment are the aims of a boys' club but they cannot be achieved without some rule, some restraint, much tolerance and many mistakes.

Bearing in mind the boys' environment it is not surprising that they rarely persevered in any form of organised constructive activity and displayed small powers of leadership themselves, although ready and willing to follow the lead of an adult whom they liked and respected.

The layout of the club provided a basis of constant activities on the following lines:

A gymnasium for physical training, boxing and fencing
A games room with ping pong tables and another with billiard tables
A changing room with hot showers
A canteen
A stage
A quiet room with library which was rarely used
Tables and chairs for reading or playing chess, draughts and dominoes
A games pitch on the roof, wired in and provided with arc lamps.
Interest in physical activities was always easy to maintain within the limits of grounds and other factors. Several boys later became champion boxers of the London Federation of Working Boys Clubs, several became accomplished fencers. "Cultural" and constructive activities were more difficult and called for a great output of sustained effort by the interested adult. For example after years of very poor dramatic efforts the club gained a long succession of annual wins in the area competition for presenting a Shakespearean play. Efforts at developing activities failed partly owing to lack of working facilities and instructors, but partly also owing to the difficulties of sustaining interest in activities calling for perseverance and accuracy.

For outdoor activities, two things outweighed all others with our boys. Firstly somewhere to play football (cricket for eight weeks in the summer) and secondly a camp site in the country. Football must be played not merely watched, even if the only pitch available is one on the roof with wire enclosure. Football and cricket matches were also played on pitches in the municipal parks but there were never enough to satisfy all.

Camping was a regular and popular activity of the club, and took place at week-ends throughout the year and for a longer period in the summer. It provided the chief opportunity for getting rid of the surplus energy which is characteristic of boys in this age group, and it was therefore extremely popular. Camps of the pioneer type for small numbers produce the greatest of all advances in good-will, co-operation in necessary work, and deep enjoyment. Camping friends are friends for all time with an understanding not shared by others.


[page 34]

The boys paid one shilling for their week-end camp, a penny a week subscription and a nominal fee for the use of some of the equipment provided by the club. This helped them to acquire a sense of real responsibility towards, and appreciation of, the facilities of the club.

The following out-of-club activities were run at times by the club.

One evening a week, miniature rifle shooting at a local range - very popular
Occasional visits or organised parties to the municipal swimming baths
Annual visit (sixty-five members in three successive years) to the circus which was very popular.
The activities being largely experimental emphasis on one or other was varied to meet the wishes of members. Very little could be described as directly educational. Boys came to enjoy themselves, and did so, but an organised community of this kind arrives at being an education in living.


APPENDIX V

THE CHILDREN'S EVIDENCE

A questionnaire was sent to a number of representative schools in England and the following summary was compiled from the answers of some 4,000 children. This summary indicates the general trend of children's interests; it does not claim to have taken account of the particular interests of comparatively small groups of children or to have covered every type of area, though the sample taken was as varied as possible. Our thanks are due to the local education authorities, head masters, head mistresses, teachers and children who made this enquiry possible.

QUESTIONS FOR BOYS AND GIRLS (nine to fifteen years old)

There are many things that boys and girls like doing when they are not in school, and we should like to find out what they are. Will you please answer the following questions in pencil.

Section 1

1. What is your name?
2. How old are you?
3. What do you usually do after school?
4. What do you usually do on Saturday?
5. Will you write down the things you like doing best out of school and underline the one you like doing best of all.
6. Can you say why you like doing the one you have underlined?
7. Is there anything you do in school that you would like to do more of out of school?

Section 2. Reading:

8. Do you enjoy reading?
9. Have you a library ticket?
10. Is there a library near your home?
11. How often do you change your book?
12. Which is your favourite book?
13. Do you read comics or any other weekly paper? If so, what are they?
14. What do you like best in the comics or weekly papers you read?


[page 35]

Section 3. Films:

15. How many times a week do you go to the Pictures?
16. Write down the names of three films that you have seen - underline the one you enjoyed most.
17. Why did you like the one underlined?

Section 4. Radio:

18. Do you listen to Children's Hour on the radio?
19. If so what do you like best in that programme?
20. Will you write down a list of the other programmes you listen to, and underline two that you look forward to hearing most.
21. Why do you like the programmes you have underlined?

Section 5. Clubs:

22. Are you a member of:

Boy Scouts
Cubs
Girl Guides
Brownies
Boys' Brigade
St. John's Ambulance Cadets
A Youth Club
or any other kind of club? Say which you belong to.

Section 6. Pets:

23. Do you keep pets? What are they?
24. If so, do you look after them entirely yourself?

(A rather simpler Questionnaire embodying the same Questions was sent to the seven and eight year old children.)

SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE

Section I

It is interesting to note that despite differences in age, sex, and environment the interests and activities of those children who answered the questionnaire were remarkably uniform. The pupils of some schools had a wider choice of activities, but despite this fact there was a remarkable uniformity in the answers to question 5.

Nearly all the answers in this section could be subsumed under one or other of the items in the following list:

Cricket
Football - watching or playing
Cycling - both playing on cycles and long distance runs
Walks in the country - climbing trees, etc.
Fishing
Swimming
Handicraft - making models, raffia work, etc.
Painting
Sewing and knitting
Reading
Playing out (in street or garden) - tig, hide and seek, etc.
Indoor games - playing 'concerts', 'school,' playing with rneccano, etc.
Helping at home - washing up, shopping, etc.
Employment - paper or milk rounds or farm work
Cinema.

[page 36]

The majority of the boys of all age groups, except the seven-year olds at a rural school, gave football pride of place when replying to question 5, and even this group placed it as a good second to cycling. In fact most of the boys' lives appeared to be devoted to football. They played football on weekdays; on Saturday they played or watched football; they said that they preferred football and when asked what they would like to do more of out of school they did not hesitate to put football. At the mixed school even the girls were drawn in, most of them content to watch the football on Saturdays, yet several saying that they had played the game and one claiming that it was her favourite activity. The reasons given for this preference were "Because it is exciting", "Because it is rough", "Because it is healthy", "Because I am going to be a footballer", and one or two simply "Because it keeps you warm".

Other activities did not have such a solid body of support. Cycling was popular with many boys, particularly with the boys in the urban areas. They evidently enjoy exploring - one boy, when asked why he liked it, said "I like to ride along the lanes because I never know what is round the corner". Only a small minority mentioned fishing, but nearly all those who went fishing named it as their favourite activity in answer to question 5. The older boys, that is to say 11-15 years, mentioned boxing, billiards and snooker, speedway racing, and a few in a North West Grammar School went dancing or took their "girls" to the pictures.

The interests and activities of the girls were more varied. The majority of all age groups said that they preferred playing out. This covered quite a wide range of the games, such as tig, rounders, and games with such intriguing names as 'hot-rice' and 'tippling over tails'. Several of the fourteen and fifteen-year-olds said that they liked dancing or going to the youth club best.

The younger children at a Direct Grant Girls' Grammar School near London also favoured the sort of game that could be played in the garden - while the older ones gave riding and music (piano and violin) as their favourite activities.

On Saturday, the routine of the child population appeared to be unvaried. They helped their mothers in the morning and went to the pictures in the afternoon or evening - the boys, of course, employed the afternoon in watching or playing football.

Several of the older boys took some form of employment, paper and milk rounds in the urban areas and farm work in the rural areas. This was more common in the country as the following figures show:

UrbanTen year olds10%
Twelve year olds7%
Fourteen year olds8%
RuralTen year olds10%
Twelve year olds45%
Fourteen year olds40%

Many of these boys underlined employment as their favourite activity. Farm work - "Because I like to drive the tractor", helping at a petrol pump "Because I make tips and I am sometimes bored with playing and it takes the time away".

The majority of the children, not only girls, but boys of all ages, had to undertake quite responsible household tasks, doing all the shopping, cleaning, looking after the younger ones and cooking the midday meal. Several went home in the evening after school to prepare the evening meal for their parents.


[page 37]

When answering question 7 most of the boys put not only football but also physical training. A very large percentage of each age group asked for more handicraft, specifying joinery, woodwork, pottery, metal craft, and bookbinding. Many wanted to have more opportunity for painting and drawing.

The girls also asked for more physical training and organised games. Next on their list came cooking, needlework and knitting. A few mentioned music and art. When a good proportion of children in each age group of a school mentioned a specific academic subject for example history or geography it is safe to conjecture that there was a particular master or mistress who had made the subject come alive for the children. It is interesting to notice that the younger children in each school wanted to do more sums - but above the age of nine they were evidently content with the amount of mathematics in the school curriculum!

The answer to question 6 tended to conform to the pattern of "Because it is exciting", but it was a difficult question for the children to answer and one has a certain sympathy with those who wrote "Because it passes time on", or "I like it because I like it".

Section II

The majority of the children who answered the questionnaire said that they liked reading although about fifty per cent of these had no library ticket. This was not always due to the fact that there was no library since the town children all said that there was a library near at hand. For example out of a total of 30 ten year old boys in a Secondary Modern School in a northern industrial city:

2 did not like reading
15 had library tickets
13 had not got library tickets, although they liked reading, of these only 2 said that there was no library near their home.
In a Rural Area out of a total of 20 boys and girls:
14 had library tickets (although of these 7 said that there was no library near their home).
The children changed their books for the most part once a week. The choice of favourite books by the girls was wider than the choice of the boys. Treasure Island was far and away the most popular book of the boys and several of the girls gave it as their first choice. Robin Hood was also very popular; Black Beauty; Coral Island; Swiss Family Robinson; Robinson Crusoe; White Fang; Arthur Ransome's books; the Biggles' books; and with the younger boys Rupert and Peter Pan figured high in the list. The girls voted more for fairy stories of all description, and the older age groups, more especially at the Direct Grant Grammar School for Girls near London, included Angela Brazil and school stories in their lists.

The children all read the same comics - whatever their age, sex or environment. Dandy; Beano; Knock-Out; Rover; Champion; Hotspur; and Wizard figured in most lists. Film Fun; Cute Fun; Tip-Top; Radio Chat; Chips; and Thompson's Weekly were included in their lists. In nearly every case the children said that they preferred the adventure stories in the comics. The younger ones said that they read Tiny Tots, Rainbow and Playbox. The older girls read Girls' Crystal, the Girls' Own Paper, and in many cases one of the women's weeklies.


[page 38]

The majority of the children went to the cinema once a week - even in the rural areas the following figures were obtained of children who went to the cinema once or more times a week:

per cent
9 years85
10 years60
11 years55
12 years75
14 years98

The percentage in the urban areas was slightly higher. The girls appeared to go to the pictures more frequently than the boys during the week. The only exception was in the case of the Direct Grant Grammar School girls, who generally said that they went to the cinema when there was a good film showing.

It is significant that although such a large percentage of the children went to the pictures, very few mentioned it as their favourite occupation. For example, of 104 children of eight years old in an industrial city 43 went to the cinema once a week, 20 twice a week, 13 three times a week and 5 four times, yet only three said that they preferred doing this to anything else.

Their favourite films fell into the following categories: Westerns (Roy Rogers); cartoons; adventure or animal stories (Robin Hood, Lassie, and Tarzan Films); comedy films (Laurel and Hardy); and more in the case of the girls, musical films. Several girls liked the film because their favourite actress was in it. The other answers were mainly "Because it was exciting", "Because it made me frightened", or "Because it was murder". Girls who did not go so frequently preferred the costume films - David Copperfield, Great Expectations, and Pride and Prejudice.

Section IV

The following figures give a general indication of the composition of the Children's Hour audience:

Girls
per cent
Boys
per cent
Primary School9 years5143
Secondary Modern School12 years4532
14 years4031

The figures from the Direct Grant Girls' Grammar School again showed a slightly different pattern

per cent
8 years70
12 years80
13 years85
15 years70

The boys of 14 in one Northern Grammar School very rarely listened and many were indignant at being asked whether they did so. Undoubtedly the most popular item on the Children's Hour was the serial adventure play; BunkIe Butts In, and Uncle Heliotrope, etc. A few children in each group mentioned the Nature Parliament, The Quiz, and musical items.

Of the other programmes the children preferred serial thrillers and variety programmes. The popularity of the former was beyond question - the Daring Dexters: Dick Barton; Paul Temple; Appointment with Fear; Mystery Playhouse; Green for Danger; Lady in a Fog; and Miss Dangerfield were tremendously appreciated. In the latter group, Much Binding in the Marsh; Itma; Merry Go Round; Gracie Field's Party; Carol Levis; Bandbox; Family Favourites; and, a particular favourite, Wilfred Pickles were mentioned.


[page 39]

The answer to question 21 ran on the same lines as the answer to question 17 - "Because it made me frightened", "Because it was murder" and in the latter group the obvious "Because it made me laugh".

Section V

Of those children who belonged to clubs, the majority were members of the Scout and Guide movement, or the Life Brigade. A small minority of the older ones belong to a Youth Club. Of those who did go to youth clubs many said that it was their favourite activity. The figures of those who belong to out-of-school clubs or movements were as follows:

Girls
per cent
Boys
per cent
Primary School8 years1517
10 years3026
Secondary Modern School13 years4575
14 years5045

Suburban Primary School - (Boys)

per cent
7 years10
8 years25
9 years80
10 years40

Rural School (Mixed)

per cent
8 years10
10 years70
13 years70
14 years70

Direct Grant Grammar School for Girls

per cent
8 years25
9 years55
13 years90
14 years95

Grammar School in the North West
    14 year olds:

Boys 70 per cent    Girls 80 per cent

Section VI

It was impossible to tell with any degree of accuracy how many children actually looked after their pets themselves. About fifty per cent kept pets; about twenty five per cent claimed that they looked after their pets themselves; but while we must believe the small boy who said that he looked after his mice, his hedgehog and his mole himself, "Because nobody else likes them. I can't see why, because they are nice", it is difficult to credit the claim of one small girl of eight who said that she looked after five cats entirely by herself.