Gurney-Dixon (1954)

(page numbers in brackets)

Notes on the text

The complete report is shown in this single web page. You can scroll through it or use the following links to go to the various chapters.

Preliminary pages (i-vii)
Membership, Contents, Foreword

Chapter I (1-5)
Nature of the enquiry
Chapter II (5-11)
Extent of the problem
Chapter III (12-23)
Selection and organisation
Chapter IV (23-25)
Enforcement of leaving-age of 16
Chapter V (25-34)
Influence of the school
Chapter VI (34-41)
Influence of the home
Chapter VII (41-48)
Financial considerations
Chapter VIII (49-55)
Influence of employment
Chapter IX (56-64)
Conclusions and recommendations

Appendix I (65-74)
Questionnaire forms used
Appendix II (75-94)
Statistical tables
Appendix III (95-96)
Notes on grammar school sample
Appendix IV (97-98)
Occupational grouping
Appendix V (99)
Notes on paragraphs 37-39


The Gurney-Dixon Report (1954)
Early Leaving

A Report of the Central Advisory Council for Education (England)

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1954
© Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.


[title page]

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION

EARLY LEAVING

A REPORT OF THE
CENTRAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
FOR EDUCATION
(ENGLAND)







LONDON
HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE
1954


[page ii]

MEMBERS OF THE CENTRAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
Sir Samuel Gurney-Dixon (Chairman)
Mr. A. S. Benstead
Lady Bragg
Professor C. F. Brockington
Dr. J. Macalister Brew
Miss A. M. Bozman
Mr. E. S. Byng
Mr. H. E. Clay
Dr. F. Consitt
Miss D. E. M. Gardner
Mr. T. F. Gilbert
Mr. R. Gould
Mr. J. C. Jones, C.B.E.
Professor A. V. Judges
Mr. L. R. Missen, M.C.
Miss E. H. Molyneux, M.B.E.
Mr. W. F. Oakeshott
Professor S. G. Raybould
Dr. M. E. Reeves
Mr. D. R. O. Thomas

Mr. L. R. Fletcher, (Secretary)
Mr. D. G. O. Ayerst, H.M.I., (Assessor)
Ministry of Education

Mr. J. F. Wolfenden, C.B.E., M.A., resigned from the Council in September, 1953, and the Rev. V. P. Nevill, C.B.E., died in February, 1954.

The estimated cost of the preparation of this Report is £1,108 8s. 8d, of which £397 0s. 0d. represents the estimated cost of printing and publishing the Report.


[page iii]

CONTENTS

Page
ChapterI The Nature of the Enquiry1
II The Extent of the Problem5
III Selection and Organisation12
IV The Enforcement of a Leaving-age of 1623
V The Influence of the School25
VI The Influence of the Home34
VII Financial Considerations41
VIII The Influence of Employment49
IX Conclusions and Recommendations56
AppendixI Questionnaire Forms used in the Enquiry65
II Statistical Tables75
III Note on the Grammar School Sample95
IV The Occupational Grouping97
V Notes on Paragraphs 37-3999


[page v]

FOREWORD

This valuable Report breaks fresh ground and will arouse great interest. It is also well timed. Now that our manpower is fully stretched and the demand for trained men and women exceeds the supply everyone can see the importance, if our standard of life is to be raised, of developing to the full all the talent we have.

We are building a large number of secondary schools and we shall be building a great many more. At this critical moment, therefore, we have a compelling motive for clear thinking about policy in the field of secondary education.

I am considering carefully the recommendations and the many implications of this Report. I shall be letting local education authorities know the sort of proposals I am prepared to entertain for paying increased maintenance allowances. But in my view the main purpose of any such proposals should be to help the right pupils to stay on at school. An all-round increase in maintenance allowances would cost a lot of money and might do very little to achieve the result we want. The aim should be to give help where there is need and merit.

Softened by some excellent words in paragraph 85 the Report none the less comes down in favour of putting a higher proportion of our most gifted children into grammar schools. Certainly there are areas where the grammar school provision is too low, and the ablest children are not getting a proper chance. But I am not so sure that there should be an all-round increase in the proportion of grammar school places. Here one is told 'The more you designate as sheep the more dejected will be the goats that remain'. Is this true or just an excuse for not doing the right thing?

I hope shortly to offer some suggestions on these points but before I do so I shall listen with attention to those who care to give me their views.

DAVID ECCLES

November, 1954.


[page vii]




28th August, 1954

Dear Miss Horsbrugh,

You asked the Central Advisory Council to undertake an enquiry into the age at which children leave schools which provide courses beyond the statutory school-leaving age.

I have much pleasure in submitting their report on this subject.

Yours sincerely,            
SAML. GURNEY-DIXON,
(Chairman).

The Rt. Hon. Florence Horsbrugh, C.B.E., M.P.


[page 1]

I. THE NATURE OF THE ENQUIRY

1. Towards the end of 1952, we were asked by the Minister of Education to undertake an enquiry into the problem of premature school-leaving in England,* and it was agreed that the terms of reference should be:

'To consider what factors influence the age at which boys and girls leave secondary schools which provide courses beyond the minimum school-leaving age; to what extent it is desirable to increase the proportion of those who remain at school, in particular the proportion of those who remain at school roughly to the age of 18; and what steps should be taken to secure such an increase.'

2. The first two parts of these terms of reference prescribe two distinct fields of enquiry. In one, our aim is to discover facts; in the other, we are asked to consider what is desirable. At the outset, therefore, two tasks confronted us: to examine the principles which must underlie any opinion on the value of a longer school life for any child or group of children, and to establish the facts of the present situation, as far as our time and resources and the nature of the subject allowed. The two tasks overlapped, but it will be convenient to consider them separately here.

The value of a longer school life

3. We are concerned only with schools providing courses beyond the minimum school-leaving age, which is at present 15. Some children leave such schools on reaching this age. Though we shall discuss the problem they set, it is not our main business. The 1944 Education Act provides both for the early introduction of compulsory part-time education up to the age of 18 and for the raising of the general school-leaving age to 16 as soon as possible. We do not wish to express any opinion on which step should be taken first, but we accept whole-heartedly the intrinsic importance of a full-time education to the age of 16.

4. The value of a school life prolonged beyond the age of 16 is a different matter. Two possible approaches to this question may seem to lead to different answers. The first is to ask whether continued education will assist a child to develop more fully as an individual, the second whether it will fit him for the work he may be called upon to do later in life.

5. Each of these approaches is inadequate by itself. An education which sought to deal with the individual in isolation from the community would be both unrealistic and immoral. A child must grow up into the community and adjust himself to its economic demands and moral obligations; and it is wrong to create the illusion in the child's mind that he has the right to demand from it the kind of life that pleases him or will give him the greatest scope for self-expression regardless of the needs of others. On the other

*This report does not concern Wales and Monmouthshire, for which a separate Central Advisory Council is established under Section 4 of the Education Act, 1944.


[page 2]

hand, a citizen's economic role is not his whole life. His daily work ought to make substantial demands on his abilities; but no economic system will ever be so organised that everyone will use his whole talents in his employment. Nor is it desirable to impoverish the manifold leisure-time activities which contribute so much to the richness and variety of ordinary life. Thus the antithesis which we have stated disappears on closer examination. Some of the most valuable qualities that education can discover in the individual will find expression only in his relations with others: they are meaningless if he is considered in isolation. Only as a member of a community living and working with other people can he attain his full stature. Let him use his talents to the full, and he will contribute most to society. The greater the contribution he makes, the more he will develop his own personality. While it is unrealistic to encourage some boys and girls to imagine that they are entitled to follow certain sorts of superior careers, education must not confine itself to cultivating those abilities which may be economically useful, but should be given in good measure to develop the whole man. It must combine generous encouragement of whatever talents pupils may possess with a frank recognition of the roles they are likely to fill in after life.

6. What ought to determine how long a boy or girl should remain at school? The most obvious consideration is perhaps his academic ability. There are boys and girls whose interest flags as the work of the school in the upper forms calls for an increased power of abstract thought. If the more advanced work is beyond their capacity or if their interest in it cannot be secured, then the schools should not try to persuade them to stay. It is true that they are not yet adult. They may well need help in their further emotional and social development; but this can be given outside school through various organisations. Industry also has a special responsibility in this respect.

7. The school is not only an intellectual stimulus to all who can profit, it is also a society. In this ampler capacity it imposes restraints and it shields its members from some of the influences of the world at large. The extent to which older boys and girls thrive in this atmosphere depends on temperament and above all on academic inclination. Some find such a life irksome before they are 18. Of course some irritation with school is perfectly normal and is not in itself a good reason for leaving; we do not suggest that life at school must be uninterruptedly pleasant and indeed a most valuable feature of it is the submission to reasonable discipline at the expense of the inclinations of the moment. With many this irritation and unsettlement is merely a passing phase at about the age of 16. But there are boys and girls of ability whose personality at the age of 17 or even earlier is such that it genuinely requires an environment different from anything school can offer. Where school life produces not passing fits of revolt but a real and continuous sense of frustration, the right thing is to leave.

8. Thus there are some boys and girls who, because of their intellectual or emotional characteristics, should leave school before they are 18. If they have the ability to do work beyond the level they have reached at school, we should not wish their education, in a wide sense, to stop at this point. They may continue it at an institution of further education, or may take up employment in which part-time study or training is possible; or they may wish to return after a period of outside employment to a further course of academic


[page 3]

education. For the moment the school should not attempt to dissuade them from leaving.

9. Wise teachers will also take into account, both in advising individual pupils and in planning courses, the openings for employment and training available at various ages. On a wider scale, those who are responsible for the general development of the educational service must take account of the nation's needs for men and women qualified in various fields. It is not within our scope to undertake any new investigation of the respective needs of the various professions and skilled occupations. Much has already been done by various official bodies, and the Ministry of Labour and National Service has a general responsibility to keep in touch with trends of employment. We shall draw on this experience later in this report, but it is enough here to note that external considerations of this kind are rightly among the influences affecting the length of school life.

Establishing the facts

10. For the purpose of our enquiry it was necessary to discover, not only the numbers of leavers at various ages, but something of their background, circumstances and school records and, so far as possible, of the careers which they took up. At the same time our terms of reference required us to find out what we could of their motives.

11. Such a study, to be reliable, needed to be comprehensive. It would obviously have been impossible, within the scope of our resources, to obtain information in the necessary detail from every grammar school in the country over a period of years. We decided therefore to confine ourselves to a representative sample at a particular point in time. A 10 per cent sample of maintained and direct grant grammar schools in England was accordingly prepared on expert advice, accurately proportioned to the whole body of such schools in various ways such as size, geographical location, status and provision for either or both sexes.* The heads of these 120 schools, by courtesy of the responsible governing bodies and local education authorities, were asked to co-operate in the enquiry by completing a questionnaire on the background, school record, and potentialities of each boy or girl who had entered the school in the normal intake in September, 1946 or had joined this age-group at a later stage after transfer from a secondary modern school, and another on the school as a whole. The 1946 intake was selected because no later group had reached its seventh year at the time of the enquiry, while that of the previous year was unsuitable because it was the first admitted after the abolition of fees and after the end of the war. We realised that the work of completing these forms would add to the burdens of these very busy men and women, and we were extremely gratified that nearly all of them found time to do it. We should like to take this opportunity of thanking them cordially and of assuring them that without their help the preparation of this report would have been impossible. We are particularly grateful for the personal information which was often inserted in the margin of the forms to supplement the bare facts elicited by the questionnaire. This has helped us to see the

*After the answers had been received and analysed, the standard errors of some of the resulting estimates were worked out. We have been assured that, over any large sector of the sample, the estimates are extremely reliable and can be used with confidence. For a small sector, e.g. for direct grant schools taken separately, the estimates are moderately reliable, and need to be treated with more reserve than the main estimates. See Appendix III.


[page 4]

individual boys and girls behind the figures and has been used for illustration in many places in the report.

12. For the greater part of our statistical material we have drawn on this sample. We realised, of course, that in judging the boys' and girls' motives the head of schools could express only their own opinions. It seemed desirable to hear other points of view as well. We should have liked to obtain a sample of parents' opinions but we were unable to devise a satisfactory way of doing so. We did, however, obtain some evidence from the boys and girls themselves, in two groups, one of members of youth clubs in various parts of the country, and the other of national servicemen interviewed in connection with certain courses of further education. These samples were arbitrarily selected for ease of questioning and we do not claim that they are representative. Their evidence has simply been used in relation to that of the schools to provide a comparison of points of view. We are greatly indebted to all who have made these enquiries possible.

13. Some of the information on matters of fact supplied by the heads of schools may fall short of the precision that a statistical enquiry ideally needs. In particular, as is explained more fully in Appendix IV, the information about fathers' occupations will have been taken in most cases from the admission register. This does not record occupations in sufficient detail for classification in a form directly comparable, for example, with that used in the Census returns. Fathers' occupations have therefore been classified in broad groups which can be related only approximately to the Census categories, and even within these groups there will be some degree of error. Some of the other information supplied by the schools may also be inaccurate - for example, information about the careers of those who have left school some years ago.

14. For our information about home background we have had to rely almost entirely on the answers to our enquiry about fathers' occupations. We considered the possibility of making a direct study of the home itself, but we decided that this was beyond our means. We believe, as we shall emphasise later, that there is a great need for such a survey. This is the only reliable way of finding out the many details of home background that need to be known before any precise judgment can be made. Nevertheless, the information which a knowledge of occupation alone has been able to give us has proved to be exceptionally valuable.

15. Our samples cover maintained and direct grant grammar schools only. Our terms of reference direct our attention to 'secondary schools which provide courses beyond the minimum school-leaving age', a broad category which includes a large number of independent schools, most secondary technical schools, a minority of secondary modern schools, and some schools of other types such as comprehensive, multilateral and bilateral schools. We have referred to most of these types of schools at various places in this report, while drawing our statistical evidence from the grammar schools.

16. Copies of the questionnaires used in the enquiry are reproduced in Appendix I. The statistical tables analysing the answers are set out in Appendix II, but extracts appear in the body of the report where appropriate.


[page 5]

17. We have not received any formal evidence, but we have had the benefit of informal discussions with representatives of the associations of local education authorities and of teachers' organisations and with certain individuals, including officers of the Youth Employment Service, heads of schools, and H.M. Inspectors. To all these we should like to express our thanks. If their opinions are not quoted in this report it is not for doubt of their value but because they were personal opinions put forward in confidence.


II. THE EXTENT OF THE PROBLEM

18. Before we discuss the evidence provided by our sample, a general estimate of the extent of our problem and an impression of its changing pattern from one year to another can be based on figures derived from the Ministry of Education's statistics. The following table gives estimates of the intake into maintained and direct grant grammar schools in England in various years before and after the war and traces the numbers and proportions of the boys and girls in each intake who left below certain ages. As no statistics are available for the war years, no pre-war intake after 1930 can be completely accounted for, while nothing can yet be known of any post-war intake after 1949.

Table A
Age of leaving grammar schools


[page 6]

19. The following comments may be made.

(a) The table shows a clearly defined continuous tendency towards a longer school life since the war compared with an equally clear and continuous tendency towards a shorter school life in the pre-war years for which figures are available.

(b) Our own sample relates to a year towards the beginning of this post-war improvement. We are justified in saying that if a similar sample could be taken for one of the later years the picture should he brighter.

(c) The contrast between the declining pre-war and the rising post-war figures of school life suggests that the present tendency is not something which can be relied on automatically to continue as would have seemed a reasonable conclusion had there been a steady rise since 1927. The contrast is probably caused by conditions outside the school; it may be observed that the pre-war figures cover a period of acute economic crisis.

(d) The post-war figures may have been affected by changes in examination policy:

(i) In 1950 boys and girls were not eligible to sit for the School Certificate examination unless they were 16 at the beginning of December in the year of the examination. This decision made it difficult to organise four-year courses for the abler pupils as had been the practice in many boys' grammar schools. The first age-group concerned was that admitted to grammar schools in 1946, and this was the group used for our sample.

(ii) In 1951 and 1952 boys and girls were not eligible to sit for the General Certificate of Education unless they were 16 at the beginning of September in the year of examination. This decision meant that boys and girls who were not quite 11 when they entered the grammar school had to take a six-year instead of a five-year course if they were to take an external examination. The first group affected was again that admitted in 1946. Our sample suggests that about 15 per cent* of that intake were too young to take an external examination in 1951.

*The full figures are as follows (boys and girls whose dates of birth are not known are omitted).


[page 7]

(iii) In 1953 the age-limit regulation was so relaxed as to allow headmasters and headmistresses some discretion in allowing under-age candidates to sit for the examination. The first group affected was that admitted in 1948, two years after the year of our sample.
The effects of (i) and (ii) have been variously assessed. It has sometimes been argued that many of the boys and girls who found that they could not take the examination as early as they had hoped left at 15 without taking it at all; on the other hand, those who decided to stay and take it will often have stayed longer at school precisely because the examination was yet to be taken. We have found that in our sample only 14 per cent* of those who completed a five-year course but were then ineligible by age to take the examination failed to remain at school for a sixth year. Moreover, only 7.5 per cent* of those who left without completing a five-year course would have been ineligible to take the examination at the end of their fifth year. These facts suggest that the number of those who left because the age-limit had postponed their opportunity was not large, and that on the whole the effect of that age-limit while it was strictly enforced was probably in the direction of increasing the length of school life. Both the older and the younger leavers are affected by this argument because of the later age at which some pupils started an advanced course. It is too early to discover what the effect of the relaxation may be.

(e) Whatever the cause, it remains true that a significant reduction in early leaving has declared itself in recent years. This is true both of leaving before the end of a five-year course and of leaving after five years instead of following an advanced course.

20. Our own sample gives us more extensive information about those boys and girls who entered grammar schools in 1946 or joined the same group at a later stage after transfer from a secondary modern school. If they are classified according to their academic record up to Easter 1953, the following categories can be distinguished. The capital letters from A to F which refer to them are used without alteration throughout the report.

A. Those who had obtained two passes at Advanced level, or were still at school at Easter 1953 and were entered for two subjects at Advanced level.

B. All others who were still at school at Easter 1953.

C. Those who had left after obtaining a School Certificate† or five or more passes at Ordinary level.

*See note on page 6.

†Holders of a School Certificate are included in the same category with those with five passes at Ordinary level because 1950 was the last year in which the School Certificate examination was held and these boys and girls must therefore have taken it after only four years at the grammar school.


[page 8]

D. Those who had left after obtaining three or four passes at Ordinary level or one at Advanced level.

E. Those who completed a five-year course without obtaining a School Certificate or as many as three passes at Ordinary level.

F. Those who neither completed a five-year course nor obtained a School Certificate ('premature leavers' in the narrower sense of this expression).

21. The sample divides into these categories as follows:

Table B
Academic categories

22. Let us consider Tables A and B together. It is important to distinguish between the data they present.

(i) The first pays no attention to academic achievement; the second is based on it.

(ii) The first classifies pupils by the age at which they left; the second deals in category F with completed years of a grammar school course.*

Thus the evidence provided by the two tables cannot be exactly compared, but it is possible to say that the picture they give is generally consistent. In particular, the poorer showing of the girls is a noticeable feature of both. More leave very early; fewer complete advanced sixth form courses. This will be discussed in paragraphs 102-103 below.

23. The sample can also be classified according to the schools' opinion of the type of course for which each boy or girl was best suited.

*This distinction may be illustrated by an example. A boy who enters a grammar school at the age of 11¾ and leaves after four years and two terms will have had his sixteenth birthday before he leaves. He will thus be counted in Category F in Table B but not as 'under 16' in Table A.


[page 9]

Table C*
Recommended courses

24. Table C does not distinguish between those who have followed the course for which they are best suited and those who have not. This distinction cannot be made in the case of general courses since many boys and girls who took a one-year general course will have been shown as leavers and cannot be identified. We can, however, divide the figures in the top line of Table C between those boys and girls who stayed long enough to take an advanced course and those who did not, that is to say between those who were still at school when the sample was taken, or had left after obtaining two Advanced passes, and the remainder. This is done in Table D.

Table D*
Length of school life of those thought suitable for courses leading to two subjects at Advanced level

This analysis shows, as far as academic ability alone is concerned, how many more boys and girls could have followed advanced sixth form courses.

25. The following points emerge from these two tables.

(a) Far fewer girls than boys now take advanced courses.

(b) There is enough academic ability to justify an increase in the number

*The full figures on which Tables C, D and E are based will be found in Table 3 in Appendix II.

†Owing to the wording of the questionnaire, this category includes all who were not suited for sixth form courses.


[page 10]

of boys and girls following advanced courses by about a half and two-thirds respectively.

(c) These potential increases represent almost equal numbers of boys and girls respectively. If they were realised, the numerical discrepancy between boys and girls following advanced courses would remain much the same as at present.

(d) Far more girls than boys are thought suitable to follow general sixth form courses.*

(e) The schools cannot visualise as much as half of the intake staying on into the sixth form, even in the most favourable circumstances.

26. We can divide the figures given in Table D further between the potential scientists and mathematicians and the remainder.

Table E
Comparison of school life of those thought suitable for advanced courses in mathematics and science and in other subjects

It will be seen that rather more girls than boys follow advanced courses in arts subjects and that the deficiency of girls as compared with boys in advanced sixth forms is therefore wholly on the science side. It is also noticeable that the potential increase is in proportion about equal for arts and science courses respectively, so that the relative deficiency in the number of girls on the science side will still remain.

27. This analysis of the schools' judgments offers as close a definition as possible of the field of capacity for sixth form work. Since our sample represents about 10 per cent† of the whole annual intake into grammar schools we may estimate that in English grammar schools in 1953 about 10,000 boys and 7,000 girls completed advanced courses, and that about 5,000 more boys and 5,000 more girls could very well have done so

*The reasons for this (which are discussed in Chapter V) arise more from differences between boys' and girls' careers than from any considerations of academic ability. Any inference from Table C that more girls than boys are suitable for sixth form courses of all kinds is therefore misleading.

†Answers were received from 114 schools, rather less than 10 per cent, of the 1,217 English grammar schools.


[page 11]

if they had stayed longer at school. It may be added, in view of the national shortage of scientists to which we shall refer later, that in that year about 2,900 boys and 1,300 girls who could have taken advanced courses in mathematics and science were not doing so. Of course some of those who left school too early to take the advanced sixth form course for which they were suitable may be taking them or their equivalent elsewhere. At first sight it might appear that a considerable reduction in our estimates ought to be made to allow for this. But among the leavers in the sample who were thought suitable for advanced courses but did not take them the proportion of boys who went on to full-time further education* was only 12.6 per cent; and some of these will have entered courses of training of a lower intellectual level. The proportion of girls was 33.5 per cent; most of these followed vocational courses, nearly half at commercial schools or colleges. The estimates given may therefore be taken as accurate within broad limits.

28. This calculation is confined to pupils attending maintained and direct grant grammar schools. It leaves out of account boys and girls in independent schools. They form a very important section of the country's sixth formers; a quarter† of all the boys and girls aged 17 who are still at school are pupils at independent schools recognised as efficient. We do not think, however, that this source of supply can be greatly increased since about 45 per cent† of the boys and girls admitted to these schools already stay on until they are 17 or 18. Our calculation also omits those pupils, mainly in modern schools, who failed to secure admission to maintained grammar schools, but who might have become useful sixth formers if they had been successful. We cannot estimate their number, but we believe that at least in certain areas it is far from negligible. This matter is further discussed in Chapter III.

29. So far we have been concerned with boys and girls who may be regarded as lost sixth formers. There is, however, wasted talent of a lower academic order which must not be ignored. The closest approximation to an estimate is the figure of boys and girls in academic category F as shown in Table B. On the same calculation that we have used in paragraph 27, these may amount to 7,000 boys and 9,000 girls in England as a whole. It is impossible, however, to classify these according to academic capacity. A few of them will already have been included among the boys and girls thought suited for advanced courses; on the other hand, a fair number must have been misfits in grammar schools and would hardly have gained by staying longer. We think, however, that the majority, amounting to at least several thousand boys and rather more girls, would have done well to stay one, two or three terms longer to complete their fifth year, even if their academic prospects were not specially promising. To these must be added considerable numbers of children in schools other than grammar schools, particularly in secondary modern schools. Thus wastage at the age of 15 is not easily defined and is not restricted to schools which fall within our terms of reference; we shall, however, be discussing it in general terms without attempting a closer quantitative estimate.

*See Table 12 in Appendix II.

†These figures are derived from the Ministry of Education's Annual Report for 1953.


[page 12]

III. SELECTION AND ORGANISATION

30. It was observed in Chapter I that our statistical evidence has been drawn entirely from grammar schools, even though other types of school are within our terms of reference. This limitation on our statistical enquiry is justified by the fact that, at present, the large majority* of boys and girls who stay at school beyond the statutory school-leaving age attend grammar schools. We do not under-estimate the importance of technical schools, and we believe that at a later stage in their development they may have a significant contribution to make to the solution of what has been our main concern, the loss from full-time education of talent capable of reaching a standard comparable to at least two passes at Advanced level. At present, however, the development of sixth form work in technical schools is so near its beginning - they had only 633 pupils aged 17 or over in January, 1953 - that it would be misleading to base any conclusions on a statistical examination of their contribution. Their position is further complicated by the fact that the majority of their pupils are still admitted at 13 and are drawn from a field from which most of the ablest children have already been withdrawn to grammar schools. We have left on one side the effect which comprehensive schools and other similar forms of organisation of secondary education might be expected to have on the age of leaving school. Very few comprehensive schools exist at present and these are hardly beyond the experimental stage. Any study of the question would, therefore, be purely speculative.

31. It is clear that part at least of our problem lies in the selection of boys and girls to go to grammar schools. Are there many who would have done well in a sixth form but fail to secure admission to a grammar school? Is the problem of early leaving and poor results the result of admitting many unsuitable pupils to grammar schools? Some relevant evidence is available from our sample. The schools were asked to divide the boys and girls into four groups† representing three equal divisions of their original intake arranged in order of merit in the local education authority's selection test and a fourth group consisting of later transfers from secondary modern schools. We can trace the academic record (in terms of the categories defined in paragraph 20 above) of the children in each of these groups (which we call 'selection groups').

32. In the first place, the record of the boys and girls transferred from secondary modern schools can be compared with the remainder as follows:

*In maintained schools, 95 per cent of pupils aged 17 or over in January, 1953.

†The heads of direct grant schools could not classify their pupils in this way since their admissions were not controlled by local education authorities' selection tests. The figures in Tables F, G, K and L are therefore drawn from maintained schools only. For further details, see Table 7 in Appendix II.


[page 13]

Table F
Academic record of pupils transferred from secondary modern schools (maintained grammar schools only)

In categories A to D, the correspondence is very close, but the transfers from secondary modern schools show a high proportion of very early leavers (Category F) and a low proportion of those who completed their fifth form year without much academic success (Category E). This suggests that a fair number of the transferred boys and girls failed to settle down in grammar schools but that these were the less able academically. There is just as high a proportion of good academic achievement among the transfers as in the whole intake into maintained grammar schools, even though when tested at the age of 11 they were presumably all regarded as below grammar school standard. It would be wrong to draw far-reaching conclusions from this evidence; the number of transfers is very small (only one in 30 of the grammar school intake) and such a small group must be very highly selective. It is not to be expected that if it were much expanded the standard of performance could be kept up. But there is a clear case for some expansion, particularly in those areas where transfers are rare at present. We shall examine in Chapter V some of the practical difficulties which may have restricted transfer arrangements.

33. The performance of the boys and girls in the three equal selection groups into which the original intake was divided can be similarly compared.

Table G
Academic record of 1946 intake (maintained grammar schools only)


[page 14]

34. During the five to seven years of the grammar school course a large number of pupils have shifted their position in academic order. It is true that the yield of sixth form pupils at the end of the course declines steadily from 32.4 per cent to 11.8 per cent as one moves from the highest to the lowest group in the original order of selection. But the yield of the lowest third is by no means negligible, amounting to nearly a third if those with good results at Ordinary level are counted as well as sixth form pupils. On the other hand, there is heavy wastage (Categories E and F) among those originally placed high, amounting to as much as a quarter of the top selection group. A proportionately better academic result could have been achieved if a smaller number of boys and girls had been selected for grammar schools, but only at the expense of a number of boys and girls whose prospects at admission did not look promising, but who later made good use of their opportunity. A third of the lowest selection group in the end achieved eminently satisfactory results (Categories A, B and C) and, as we have seen in Table F, 45.7 per cent of those who failed to secure admission at 11, but were later transferred from secondary modern schools, reached the same high standard.

35. The authorities' selection procedures differ in detail but they all provide data which enable a reasonable decision to be made as to which candidates should be admitted to grammar schools. Their purpose, however, is to infer future performance from present merit, and since certainty about individuals is impossible, we can ask no more than a sound way to calculate the odds. Of course not all selection procedures are equally satisfactory, and we believe there is room for continued research. What we are concerned with here is to point out that all selection procedures present a sliding scale of returns, and that the level at which a cut-off is applied is a matter for a policy and not a technical decision. If the selection procedure enables those concerned to say that if x per cent are admitted, then y per cent may be expected in five years to succeed and z per cent to fail, it cannot be blamed (as it often is) for the fact that z per cent do in fact fail.

36. It is, of course, possible to make radically different decisions on the information provided by selection procedure: to decide, as different authorities do, that 10, 20 or 30 per cent of the children should be accepted for grammar school education. Every relaxation of standard will admit some qualified children at the cost of admitting also some who will later be found not to be qualified, and each successive relaxation will admit more of the latter. There is no clear principle to determine at what point this process should stop; any line that is drawn must to some extent be arbitrary. For the country as a whole the grammar school proportion is about 20 per cent. Our sample shows that in order to secure from the bottom third of the intake three pupils who will do very creditably in a grammar school it has been necessary to accept five who will do pretty badly.

37. It may be inferred from tables F and G that if more boys and girls were selected for grammar schools, there would be a higher proportion of pupils with a poor academic record at the end of the course, but there would also be more boys and girls in the sixth forms. Up to this point we have been concerned with figures illustrating the national position. Tables F and


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G refer to the maintained grammar schools of the country as a whole. They take no account of the high proportion of grammar school places in some areas and the low proportion in others - a variation from 44 per cent to under 10 per cent.* This disparity is obviously something which cannot be ignored and is of importance in any appreciation of the situation. With this point in mind we made enquiries in a number of contrasted areas to discover how many of all the boys and girls aged 17 were still at school. The areas selected were the 40 county boroughs where the situation was not complicated by the presence in the grammar schools of a considerable proportion of pupils from other areas or by other disturbing factors. In general the result is that the higher the proportion of grammar school places, the higher the proportion of all the 17-year-olds who are still at school.†

38. The grammar school provision in the county boroughs concerned varies from nine per cent to 33 per cent. It is obvious that this wide variation is not entirely fortuitous. A closer analysis of the position has therefore been made by dividing the boroughs into groups according to the proportion of the population falling into social classes I and II of the 1951 Census (which correspond to professional and managerial occupations). Inside each of these social groups, the boroughs were divided into those with high and those with low grammar school provision.

39. Table H sets out the position in each group. Independent schools are excluded altogether from the Table, and towns where an important part of the grammar school provision is in independent schools have also been excluded. Account has been taken both of maintained grammar schools and of places taken up by the local education authority in direct grant schools.

*The statistics showing proportions of grammar school places are not wholly satisfactory as they take no account of children who cross local authority boundaries, nor of places taken up in independent schools. The figure of 44 per cent is not, as may appear at first sight, inconsistent with the answer given to a Parliamentary Question on 25th May, 1954, which listed six English local education authorities in whose areas more than 50 per cent of the total secondary places in maintained and assisted schools were secondary grammar places. There are two reasons for this:

(a) the proportions given above refer to admissions to grammar schools, whereas the answer to the Parliamentary Question referred to the total numbers in attendance at any one time, which are relatively larger in grammar schools than in other secondary schools owing to the greater length of the school course;

(b) the answer to the Parliamentary Question did not take account of children of secondary school age educated in all-age schools, which are classified as primary schools.

†See Table H.


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It will be noticed:

(a) that towns with a relatively high middle class population tend to have both a larger grammar school provision and more boys and girls of 17 still at school;

(b) that within each social group the towns with a higher grammar school provision tend to have more boys and girls of 17 still at school.

It may reasonably be assumed that, where the grammar school provision of an area is low for the social composition of the population, the proportion of boys and girls following courses leading to the Advanced level of the General Certificate examination could be increased if more places were made available in suitable schools. The same result would also follow an expansion of accommodation in districts where the sixth form yield is at present high, that is to say where the proportion of boys and girls of 17 still at school is high in relation to the grammar school provision. There seems to us to be a clear case for local education authorities to review their provision' for secondary education beyond 15 in the light of these considerations. Further details of the evidence are set out in Appendix V.

Table H
Grammar school provision and length of school life


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40. We can make a closer study of the influence of social class on our problem by returning to our sample. The great majority of boys and girls in the sample can be classified according to the nature of their fathers' occupations; and, armed with this knowledge of circumstances which reflect the social background, we can see what relation it has both to the chances of admission to a grammar school and to a successful career in it.

Table J
Occupational background of pupils at maintained and direct grant schools.

The figures in the top line are calculated from the 1951 Census returns;* the other figures are derived from our sample. The comparison leaves little doubt that by the time the local education authorities hold their allocation examination at 11 the children of certain social groups have as a whole begun scholastically to outstrip those at the other end of the scale, and that the same process is continued among those selected from grammar schools during their time there. We do not assume that this is solely due to environment. As the Mental Survey Committee of the Scottish Council for Research in Education remarked of the most successful 11 year-old children in their nation-wide tests of 1947: 'Whether children inherited a high degree of intelligence from their parents or whether their superior performance on the test is the result of good environmental conditions we have no means of judging'.†

41. If the figures shown in the two lower lines of Table J were all the evidence about the performance at the grammar school of children with differing social backgrounds, it might mean no more than that the same boys and girls who had done best in the selection test at 11 continued to

*The Census figures, which relate to the whole population, have been adjusted by removing the four per cent of children of secondary school age who attend independent schools recognised as efficient, whom we have presumed to be drawn from the professional and managerial group. For reasons set out in Appendix IV we have adopted a different basis of classification from that of the Registrar-General and this prevents an exact comparison. The comparison is fairly close in the semi-skilled and unskilled groups; but it is much less accurate in the other three groups (for which the figures are shown in brackets) and in particular in the clerical group for which the figure of four per cent is almost certainly too low.

†Publications of the Scottish Council for Research in Education, Volume XXXV: Social Implications of the 1947 Scottish Mental Survey (1953), page 50. No comparable study of the distribution of mental ability among social or occupational groups has been made in England; but the findings of the Scottish Survey, which was carried out with the most careful attention to scientific accuracy and to the rigours of statistical propriety, confirm and amplify our own observations on the connection between home background and scholastic success. This is more fully discussed in Chapter VI below.


[page 18]

excel in their passage through the school and, since there already were more of them from professional and managerial homes than from unskilled workers' (as Table 7 in Appendix II shows), it would not be surprising to find that the proportion staying on for sixth form work was higher.

42. We have seen, however, in paragraph 34 that many pupils who do well at 11 do less well at 16 and vice versa. Table K* analyses this by parental occupations.

Table K
Comparison of pupils' achievements at beginning and end of their grammar school life (maintained grammar schools only).

It will be seen that the improvement between 11 and 16 which has raised many pupils from the bottom selection group to the highest academic categories is most common (amounting to 48.3 per cent) among those from professional and managerial occupations, while the corresponding deterioration which has caused many who were placed in the top selection group at 11 to be found by 16 in the lowest academic categories is most common among the children of unskilled workers (54.0 per cent) and semi-skilled workers (37.9 per cent). There are, of course, plenty of pupils whose fathers are of professional or managerial standing who were in the lowest selection group at 11 and are still in the lowest academic categories at 16. Similarly, among the children of semi-skilled or unskilled workers 46.8 per cent and 29.6 per cent respectively of those who were in the top selection group at 11 were also in the highest academic categories at 16-18.

43. Table K is concerned solely with actual academic achievements. It might perhaps be suggested that the poor showing of children from the homes of semi-skilled and unskilled workers was caused largely by their family tradition being against a long school life and certainly against a sixth form career; that if they had not had a high proportion of very early leavers their academic performance might have been similar to that of other social

*The full figures are in Table 7 in Appendix II.


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groups. Table L,* however, shows how closely the schools' estimate of their pupils' capacity follows the general pattern of Table K.

Table L
Comparison of pupils' achievement at beginning and schools' estimate of capacity at end of school life (maintained grammar schools only).

44. The figures in Tables K and L show unmistakably how often home background influences the use which a boy or girl will make of a grammar school education. In our analysis we have been concerned only with broad classifications, and we are well aware that many individual children of well-to-do parents find little support at home for hard work at school and academic ambition, while many children from very poor homes have parents who know the worth of the education they themselves missed. Still it is beyond doubt true that a boy whose father is of professional or managerial standing is more likely to find his home circumstances favourable to the demands of grammar school work than one whose father is an unskilled or semi-skilled worker. The latter is handicapped.

45. This initial handicap has already to some extent affected his prospects in the primary school. He has overcome it to obtain admission to a grammar school. Is it desirable that the handicap should be increased, if we could thereby obtain a better proportionate academic yield at the end of the grammar school course? Similarly, the boy whose father is a member of one of the professions has an educational advantage in his home background of which he has been able to make use at his primary school. Is it desirable that this advantage should be increased by some assessment of its probably even greater value to him in meeting the demands of grammar school life? The selection procedures in use today rely principally on assessments of a child's intelligence and attainments at the age of 11. Is it desirable that they should take into account other factors, such as home background, which do

*The full figures are in Table 8 in Appendix II.


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not usually reach the full extent of their influence on educational prospects until a later age?

46. We have noticed in paragraph 36 that at the lowest level of selection in order to secure three children who will do well at a grammar school, it is at present necessary to admit five who will, as far as examinations are concerned, do pretty badly. This may well lead to protests from parents who are confident that their home conditions are such that their children would have been likely to stay longer and do better at a grammar school than other children who have beaten them in the fierce competition for places. Such protests at exclusion may often be justified. The obvious way to lessen the injustice is not, however, to change the selection procedure but, as we have suggested above, to be sure that the grammar school provision is really adequate.

47. If this were assured, it is possible that much less would be heard of the suggestion that a proportion of grammar school places might be reserved for those whose parents are willing to pay fees. This suggestion is usually made as a way of enabling individual parents to put right what they consider to be the authority's mistakes in selection. We do not think, however, that it is a solution which would be acceptable to public opinion; and it is subject to the grave objection that the remedy would only be open to those strongly aggrieved parents who could afford to pay fees. Mistakes must occur, but the way to put them right is not to charge the parents fees, but to provide sufficient opportunity for transfer.

48. So far we have been concerned with the arguments of those who wish to change the selection procedure so that children at present excluded from grammar schools might be admitted. A case can also be made for relieving the grammar schools of some of their present intake. We may be reconciled to admitting five relative or complete academic failures in order to achieve three academic successes, which is the general picture of what happens in the third selection group; but can it rationally be argued that it is right to admit six failures in order to secure one success, which, as Table K shows,* is what happens among the children of unskilled workers in the lowest selection group? Relatively small though the whole group is, it is yet a depressing enough picture. We accept it, however, as a challenge, and not as a signal to keep these at present unprofitable admissions out by increasing through selection the handicap to which their home conditions have already condemned them. Our reasons for doing so are three.

49. First is the fact that the schools considered that a quarter of the children of unskilled workers were capable of some kind of sixth form work compared with 6.7 per cent who were getting it.† We believe that the very fact that this is both the poorest occupational group and the one with by far the largest proportion of very early leavers (40 per cent)‡ gives some ground to hope for improvement as a result of suggestions made later in this report. In Chapter VII we discuss the possibility of an improvement in

*The reference is to the bottom right-hand corner of Table K, where 12.8 per cent are shown in Categories A to C and 76.4 per cent in Categories E and F. Category D has been omitted, as it is difficult to regard the pupils in it as clear successes or failures.

†See Tables 7 and 8 in Appendix II.

‡See Table 7 in Appendix II.


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maintenance allowances, and in Chapter VI methods by which difficult home circumstances could be mitigated.

50. The second reason is that the children of unskilled workers are less likely than those of other groups to take advantage of the opportunities for full-time and part-time further education which are available for the former pupils of modern and grammar schools alike.* The less favoured the home, the more important it may be both to the child and to the nation that talent should be recognised and provided for at the age of 11. We should not like to be responsible for suggesting anything which would increase the risk of missing such talent.

51. But the main reason why we should regret any measures designed to handicap these children further is that they would prejudice the future. Whatever merits such measures may have relate to social conditions as they exist today. These conditions are continually changing. Above all, the outlook of parents and, through them, of the children coming into the schools is bound to be affected by changes in the education which the parents themselves have received. Thus the effect on the grammar schools of the changes introduced in 1944 will not be properly seen until the boys and girls affected by them in their schooldays themselves have children of secondary school age. In short, the new system must be regarded not simply as a device to be judged on its immediate merits but also as an investment designed to bring in returns a generation or more ahead.

52. It is pertinent to note that some authorities pay more attention than others to the child's record in the primary school. We have not been able to enquire into the effect of these varying practices, but we recognise that they may have an important bearing on the length of secondary school life to be expected. There is, moreover, one particular practice which a number of authorities adopt and which seems to us of value in the difficult task of filling the last few places in a grammar school, a task which seems to call for a closer scrutiny of individuals than is necessary, or possible, for the main bulk. The practice we refer to is that of leaving a small number of places to be filled at each individual school by alternative methods. We are aware that some children who would otherwise have secured admission and subsequently done well may be excluded by such a procedure, and that, if the procedure is not carefully safeguarded and explained, some suspicion of favouritism might attach to it. We think, however, that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The academic results for the lowest third of the grammar school intake are so poor relatively - even in the most favoured social group one in three becomes something of an academic failure by the age of 16 - that there is a case for looking for talent in directions which cannot be fully explored by large-scale competitive examinations. There are, for instance, boys and girls who have begun to develop late but whose progress in the last year at the primary school is such as to hold out hopes of real promise for the future. Not all late developers can be picked out by the age of 11, and those who cannot must await later opportunities of transfer; but we believe that there are boys and girls in this category who could be picked

*For full-time further education, this is shown in Table 11 in Appendix II.


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out by their primary school teachers. There are other children who for one reason or another make bad examinees at 11. Among them are some who have very marked talents for one school subject, but a relative blindness for others, such as a child who is gifted musically, or who has strong linguistic but poor mathematical gifts. The new freedom of the General Certificate examination makes it more possible to cater successfully for such boys and girls in grammar schools. We believe that the selection procedure should allow for their admission, and that it is by close co-operation between heads of primary and secondary schools that they can best be identified and selected. We do not wish to make any recommendations about machinery, believing that it is best to encourage free experiment in this direction and a careful review of the results.

53. We have expressed the view that there should be increased provision, at least in certain areas, for advanced courses. We have heard it suggested that any measures to enlarge fifth and sixth forms will be doomed to failure for lack of accommodation and staff, particularly the latter. These difficulties may be expected to occur in two stages. If a quick increase in the numbers of older pupils can be achieved, there will in some schools be an immediate need for additional staff; and the need will be for graduates with good academic qualifications, who are now difficult to recruit for teaching. But in other schools the size of the sixth form groups is at present wastefully small, and where this is the case the increased numbers of sixth formers may be catered for with little or no increase in staff.

54. The second stage will begin about 1958 when secondary schools will have to provide for much larger numbers of boys and girls because of the high birth-rate of the post-war years. Different authorities are making different decisions about how this increase should be distributed and no general picture can yet be drawn. It is known, however, that some authorities have planned their building programmes in such a way that districts with a very low scale of grammar school provision will find their position improved. Other authorities have taken decisions which can only mean the dispersal among modern schools of many pupils of grammar school calibre.

55. We are concerned lest the second tendency should seriously aggravate the staffing problem which is already acute especially with regard to teachers of science and mathematics. It would be outside the terms of our enquiry to investigate the recruitment of science graduates, which has recently been the subject of a report* by the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers, but we cannot avoid considering their deployment in the schools. We do not see how modern schools as a whole could hope to appoint enough suitably qualified teachers to meet the needs of boys and girls who are of grammar school standard when the much smaller number of grammar schools are finding it difficult to fill vacancies. The effect of allowing the increased birth-rate of the post-war years to depress the propor-

*'Graduate Teachers of Mathematics and Science'; a report of the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers (H.M.S.O. 1953). The footnote to paragraph 35 refers to our enquiry and mentions that we have collected evidence about the size of mathematics and science sixth forms; this evidence is summarised in Tables 17 and 18 in Appendix II to this report, and is commented on in Chapter V below.


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tion of grammar school places would be, we fear, to deprive many boys and girls of science teaching which would lead some at least to a position where they might themselves become teachers of science. Nor would it only be in these subjects that there would be difficulty in staffing modern schools adequately to deal with an influx of pupils of grammar school calibre. We suggest therefore that in drawing up building programmes local education authorities should estimate generously the need for grammar school places to allow both for an expansion in the size of their intake and also for an increased proportion in the fifth and sixth forms.

56. In any case, difficulties of staffing and accommodation cannot be allowed to be decisive. The expansion of sixth forms offers the only hope of meeting the shortage of specialist teachers, particularly on the science side where it will continue to be most marked. We accept the existence of a vicious circle, which must be broken. This report is in part an attempt to help in the process.


IV. THE ENFORCEMENT OF A LEAVING-AGE OF 16

57. One device for controlling early wastage which is already known and practised in the sphere of local administration is the school-life agreement. This is an agreement between the local education authority and the parent of a child admitted to a grammar school to keep him at the school up to a certain age or for a certain length of time. The agreement is made when the child is first selected for the school and the parent is usually required to pay a specified sum, often £10, if the child leaves before the agreed time without the authority's consent. This was an extremely common practice before the war, when places at secondary schools had a nominal monetary value owing to the charging of fees, but when fees were abolished by the Education Act of 1944 the power to enforce such agreements became a matter of legal doubt. The point has never been tested in the High Court, but a number of local education authorities, of which Manchester in 1946 was the first, have taken power by local Act of Parliament to enforce their agreements without proof of damage.

58. It has been suggested that the use of school-life agreements should be widely extended and their enforcement legalised by general Act of Parliament. We see great difficulties in this suggestion. In the first place, it is not clear how effective these agreements are. It would be impossible for any authority in present circumstances to enforce a leaving-age of 16 for all grammar school pupils without exception; they must often have to make exceptions in cases of hardship or of limited academic ability. It then becomes difficult to maintain a standard. On the other hand if enforcement is attempted there is no assurance that it will be effective; the normal penalty of £10 is not likely to deter a parent who sees that his child can earn as much in a few weeks at work, and any great increase might well deter parents from sending their children to grammar schools.


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59. But there is a more fundamental reason for our doubts about these agreements. The signing of the agreement takes place before the child is admitted to the grammar school, and clearly it is, implicitly or explicitly, a condition of his admission. What happens if the parent refuses to sign? If he is honest, and clear-sighted enough to look four years ahead, he may well do so. The authority must then either refuse the child a place or waive their claim to an agreement. We have heard of an authority which follows the latter course, but a requirement which a determined parent can evade in this way contains an element of bluff and will not long be respected. On the other hand, it seems very doubtful indeed whether it would be either legal or proper to refuse to admit the child to the grammar school. The authority have presumably satisfied themselves that a grammar school education is suitable to his ability and aptitude, and the conditions which they seek to impose have nothing to do with either. If the parent refuses to send his child to any other school and school attendance proceedings have to be taken, extremely awkward legal and administrative questions may arise if the parent, as he is entitled to do, asks the Minister to specify the grammar school as the school to be named in the school attendance order. A similar situation would result from an appeal by the parent to the Minister to decide whether there had been a contravention of the grant regulation requiring that a child shall not be refused admission to a school on other than reasonable grounds. Indeed, quite apart from the legality of the matter, it seems to us entirely wrong to exclude a qualified boy or girl from a grammar school because his parents are more honest than other parents who sign the agreement without any firm intention of keeping it.

60. In any case, we are not sure that it is wise to specify a leaving-age of 16 for grammar school pupils. We shall show later that the name 'grammar school' covers schools of many different types and standards. One thing they ought all to have in common is the provision of facilities for boys and girls to stay at school until they are 18, and if any support is given to the notion that the 'grammar school course' ends at 16 the building up of sixth forms may suffer. On the other hand these schools contain widely varying proportions of pupils who find great difficulty in grammar school work. Many of these would do better in other types of secondary school and might be transferred at an earlier stage; but if they remain there is no special ground for keeping them at school beyond the general leaving-age. From the school's point of view, their staying is as likely to unsettle the other boys and girls as their leaving; from their own point of view it will seem that boys and girls who have not been at grammar schools are getting a year's start in their jobs.

61. We are conscious that in these paragraphs we are writing in very general terms. The difficulties we see are not necessarily decisive in every separate area; and if a local education authority finds that its arrangements for making and enforcing agreements work well it would be wrong to interfere with them. But we must conclude that there is no case for the general adoption of this practice nor for its use as an instrument of national policy.

62. It might be suggested that the special problem of the youngest grammar school leavers might be solved by the statutory enactment of a differential


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leaving-age for grammar schools. The grammar school is of course at the present time an entity unknown to the statute law. Whether at this time of experiment in bilateral and comprehensive alternatives the grammar school could be isolated for legislative purposes by parliamentary draftsmen is much to be doubted. Apart from the technical difficulties of definition, we question the value of such a scheme of differential treatment which would be open to most of the objections suggested in our discussion of school-life agreements, in a much greater degree because of the rigidity of a statutory enactment. It would be even more deeply resented by those boys and girls who wished to leave and by their parents.


V. THE INFLUENCE OF THE SCHOOL

63. It may be assumed that boys and girls who can profit from staying at school will be advised by their schools to do so; they and their parents may fail to see the advantages but the schools will point them out. And indeed the answers received from members of youth clubs commonly showed a belief that if anyone had wanted them to stay it was the teachers.* The national servicemen, however, saw little difference between the wishes of their schools and their parents:† the headmasters and headmistresses, though they put the school lowest among the influences determining the decision to leave,‡ expressed approval of the decision in a high proportion of cases. They thought§ that nearly three-fifths of the leavers had chosen their careers well, and that five-sixths of these, or nearly half of all the leavers, were right to leave when they did with these careers in view. In many other cases they were doubtful, and only rarely, though more often for girls than for boys, did they positively disapprove of the decision to leave. There is of course no record of the number of cases in which a wrong intention to leave has been successfully resisted by the school, and such cases may well be frequent. The general impression is that the heads of grammar schools have a disinterested and balanced outlook on their pupils' careers and accept the need to provide for substantial numbers of children who do not enter the sixth form as well as for those who do.

64. These purposes are served in widely varying proportions. Among the schools in our sample, the relative size of the sixth forms varies as follows:

Table M
Sixth form as proportion of whole school

*See Table 20 in Appendix II.

†See Table 22 in Appendix II.

‡See Table 15 in Appendix II.

§See Table 13 in Appendix II.


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The contrast here is between schools in which entry into the sixth form is the normal and natural thing and those in which the sixth form hardly exists.

65. The variations in the sizes of sixth forms will be due to differing circumstances of many kinds. One obvious possibility is that readiness to stay at school may vary with the freedom and flexibility of the school's customs and policies. We asked for a good deal of information about these, including conditions for admission to sixth forms, the extent of contact with parents about careers, attitude towards youth clubs, and joint activities with schools of the opposite sex. The answers show very varied policies on all these questions, but none of these variations by itself can be shown to have exerted any significant influence on the size of sixth forms. Nor does our evidence on reasons for leaving suggest that discontent with school is often by itself a decisive influence. Tables 14, 19 and 21 in Appendix II show the proportion of boys and girls in the various samples believed to have been affected by negative attitudes to school such as irritation with school restraints and lack of interest in school work. These are commonest among the youth club members but not even in this sample do negative attitudes predominate. Where negative answers are given they are often combined with others, frequently with a desire to be earning and independent which may indicate a sense of having finished with school. It does not look as though many boys and girls leave school simply because they are bored or dislike school. At the same time there is little doubt that a sympathetic head can do a great deal to hold the interest of boys and girls of various ages by seeing that the school's customs are congenial and not irksome. If the school uniform is unpopular with the older children, it can be modified; if there are too few opportunities of meeting the opposite sex, joint societies and functions can be arranged. Such measures can help indirectly to keep boys and girls at school.

66. We have tried in other ways to see whether the conditions in which large sixth forms develop can be clearly defined. One distinction that emerges is that six forms are on the whole largest in boys' schools and smallest in mixed schools; another is that they are considerably larger in direct grant than in maintained schools; another, that they are below average in the very smallest schools (those of one form entry) and the rural schools.* Apart from these, no distinctions of any consequence seem possible.

67. A similar study can be based on the records of the 1946 entrants. The proportion of boys and girls who were still at school in their seventh year, or who had left after getting two passes at Advanced level, was 24.1 per cent over the whole sample. Comparisons between the various categories of schools again show marked differences between direct grant schools (40 per cent) and maintained schools (22 per cent) and between boys' schools (28 per cent), girls' schools (23 per cent) and mixed schools (22 per cent boys, 17 per cent girls) and noticeably small yields from the very smallest schools (16 per cent), and from rural schools (20 per cent). There is no significant difference between schools in the North, Midlands and South, or between schools of different sizes above one form-entry.†

*See Table 16 in Appendix II.

†See Table 4 in Appendix II (percentages shown under Academic Categories A and B).


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68. These few generalisations seem to arise from external conditions, such as those favouring boys against girls which will be discussed in paragraphs 102-103. Direct grant schools do better than maintained schools; this was to be expected, as most of them have a more highly selective entry. Conversely, mixed schools make a poor showing; we suggest that this should not be attributed to the influence of co-education as such, but rather to the circumstances of the individual schools. Many mixed schools in urban areas are among the newer foundations which have not been able to build up a reputation among parents equal to that of the older boys' and girls' schools, and therefore find it hard to attract many of the best pupils. It is noticeable that the mixed schools with the highest proportion of pupils in their sixth forms are the single grammar schools of well established and distinct communities.

69. We have looked at the number of boys and girls from each school who have taken advanced courses and compared them school by school with the numbers of those who were thought suitable for such courses but did not take them.* The comparison shows the widest variations; it does not seem to be generally true as might have been expected that the schools with the smallest proportions of pupils taking advanced courses are conscious of the greatest potential wastage. Here again, varying standards of admission may be partly responsible; but it may also be true that schools which have not been successful in attracting boys and girls into the sixth form may be somewhat defeatist in their judgment of the potentialities of leavers. In any case, it is clear that it is not simply in the schools with small sixth forms that wastage is to be looked for.

70. Schools may also be compared by the extent to which boys and girls leave without completing a five-year course and without taking an external examination.

Table N
'Premature' leavers by schools

Schools in the first line of the table have their individual problems, but they can be said to have no general social and organisational problem to face such as that which confronts those in the second line. There is no necessary link between the extent of leaving at this earliest stage and a small sixth form. Some schools with a very small sixth form fall into the first group; some with a large sixth form have nevertheless a considerable volume of very early leavers.

*See Table 4 in Appendix II (the two right-hand columns).


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71. When all differences of circumstances are discounted there remain marked contrasts between one school and another, of which two boys' schools and two girls' schools may serve as examples.

(i) Two boys' schools. Each of these is the sole maintained grammar school for boys in a highly industrialised county borough in the North of England. The heads see no serious difference in local employment openings. One has a sixth form of 11 boys out of a total of over 350, or three per cent, the other 64 out of just over 500, or 12.5 per cent. It is the latter, not the former, which has competition to face from direct grant schools. In both schools less than ten per cent of the boys left before the end of their fifth year.

(ii) Two girls' schools. Each of these is maintained by a county authority in a town of medium size in the South of England, serving surrounding country districts as well. One, which is in a mainly residential area, has a sixth form of five girls out of a total of over 300 or less than two per cent; the other which is in a more industrialised area has 77 girls out of nearly 550 or 14 per cent. The former lost over a third of its intake before the end of a five-year course; the latter had no leaving at all up to this stage.

Of course in these and other cases there must be differences of circumstances of which we know nothing. But over the sample as a whole no such differences could come near to accounting for the variations in the size of sixth forms. These must very largely be due to the varying attitudes and efforts of the schools themselves and the essential responsibility rests on the staff and above all on the head. Leaving at the age of 16 is taken for granted far more readily in some schools than in others; it can be effectively discouraged by a determined staff.

72. Varying attitudes towards ages of leaving may correspond with varying forms of organisation, though there is nothing in our evidence to throw any light on this. In very broad terms, the work of the grammar school may be conceived as a continuous seven-year course ending in the sixth form or as two successive courses, a main five-year course and a sixth form course for those who stay longer. The second conception was deliberately embodied in the former system of public examinations and has only recently been challenged.* The merits of the two conceptions concern us only so far as one or the other may affect the age of leaving.

73. It may, for instance, be suggested that to regard grammar schools as schools which should plan their general curricula in terms of a complete seven-year course ignores the facts so blindly as to do a great disservice to the majority of grammar school entrants. The statistics quoted earlier in this report show that at present only a minority stay on until their seventeenth birthday; if the work of the schools is designed mainly to suit this minority will not the needs of most of the pupils be overlooked? If so, will not many of them fall out even earlier than they otherwise would?

*For example, in Ministry of Education Pamphlet No. 19, 'The Road to the Sixth Form', published in 1951.


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74. We can only answer these questions by saying that it would clearly be wrong to overlook the needs of any group of pupils in the grammar schools, and that the courses offered must as far as accommodation and staffing permit be adapted to the full range of abilities found in the school. The range differs from school to school, and the courses should differ also. Some schools will undoubtedly have to provide more fully than others for the less clever children. It has been suggested to us that the pass standard at Ordinary level in the General Certificate of Education should be lowered to that of the former School Certificate on the ground that some children leave before taking the examination because it is too hard for them. On the other hand, we have been told that the possibility of obtaining a certificate, however modest, has encouraged pupils who would otherwise have left to remain at school. Our evidence does not enable us to form any opinion on this. But it is essential that standards at every level of the school should be set high enough to ensure that those who are intellectually capable of following advanced courses reach the necessary standard of attainment.

75. It is understandable that the head of a school which throughout its history has never retained in the sixth form more than a small minority of its original intake should regard this as the natural state of affairs and assume that the main duty of the school is to provide a five-year course. It seems clear, however, that if the sixth form course is seen as a thing apart, designed for the few cleverest pupils and demanding a new and exacting attitude to work to which no gradual transition is offered, it is not likely to increase in size by attracting those boys and girls, however intelligent by nature, who may be predisposed by their emotional outlook or their financial circumstances to consider leaving. We suggest, therefore, that a grammar school should not be satisfied with a small proportion of sixth formers, that the sixth form should not be cut off from the rest of the school, and that some transition to sixth form ways of working should be introduced earlier in the school course.

76. The attraction of the sixth form also depends on the variety of the courses that the school can offer. For the schools in our sample we have particulars of the numbers of sixth formers following arts, science and mathematics, and general courses respectively. The two former groups may be compared as follows:

Table O
Relation of science/mathematics sixth to arts sixth

*One school is omitted because it did not answer the questionnaire on the school as a whole.


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The predominance of the arts sixth over the science sixth in girls' schools is very noticeable, and the particulars of individual schools convey a very marked impression of the weakness of the girls' science sixths. Nearly a third contain less than five girls and more than half contain less than ten.*

77. It is not clear whether this weakness is more marked than it has been in the past. Not long ago it would have been taken for granted that girls would show little interest in advanced courses in science and mathematics, and enough of this tradition survives to account for some general preference for arts courses among girls. At the same time the figures quoted suggest that in many girls' grammar schools there cannot be a full range of choice of mathematical and scientific subjects at sixth form level, and a girl wishing to specialise in, say, physics may be unable to do so for lack of facilities. Such difficulties are sometimes overcome by arrangements between the heads of neighbouring boys' and girls' schools whereby girls attend sixth form classes at the boys' school; in exchange, the girls' schools may be able to offer the boys facilities in, for instance, biology. Elsewhere it may be possible for some girls to attend classes at a technical college. We commend such expedients, but they will often be impossible and in any case they may not be enough to encourage a girl who would otherwise leave to stay and specialise in science. Lack of science facilities must often hinder the building up of a sixth form, and we realise that the commonest lack is of well qualified staff. We have already pointed out that this is a problem which is outside the terms of our enquiry.

78. Another marked difference between boys' and girls' sixth forms which can be seen from our sample is that general courses are found in 41 out of 45 girls' schools but are uncommon in boys' schools.* The expression 'general course' in our questionnaire covered all sixth form courses except those leading to the General Certificate examination at Advanced level. Many of these are one-year courses. We asked in particular about courses with a vocational bias, and were told of one such course for boys (in economics for commerce, law, banking, etc.) and 36 for girls (including 18 for nursing, nine for teaching, and six for commerce). The prominence of nursing and teaching in these answers points to the value of general sixth form courses for girls taking up careers for which passes at Advanced level are not required† but which are not open to them before the age of 18. There are other careers to which the same conditions apply, including physiotherapy and other work ancillary to medicine. The further expansion of general courses for girls would be likely to recruit for these professions useful numbers of girls who might otherwise leave school too early.

79. The picture is very different for boys. Two-thirds of the boys' schools in the sample had no general sixth form course, and nearly all the general courses that existed were very small. None had a vocational bias except the one course in economics mentioned above. In the mixed schools

*See Table 18 in Appendix II.

†This is true of the teaching profession generally but not of every training college. Some colleges ask for passes at Advanced level as a condition of entry but others willingly accept girls who have taken general courses.


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the general courses were followed almost exclusively by girls. It follows that for nearly all boys at about the age of 16 the choice is between starting an advanced course and leaving school.

80. There is no doubt that it is more realistic to present this choice to boys than to girls. The careers most attractive to boys usually either admit boys at 16 on apparently favourable terms or require academic achievement at least equivalent to passes at Advanced level. The possibilities of making more openings available to boys who leave school at 17 or 18 will be discussed in another chapter. It seems clear, however, that there are considerable numbers of boys who would profit from staying at school beyond the age of 16 but are not necessarily suited to advanced academic courses. As many as 12 per cent of the boys who answered our questionnaire for members of youth organisations chose as one of their reasons for leaving the fact that there was no general sixth form course.* This seems significant since the examples of such a course given on the questionnaire form were commercial and nursing courses which would attract mainly girls. It is likely that the boys had vocational courses in mind; several of them stated that they had since been following vocational courses at technical colleges.

81. There is therefore a strong case for much more experiment in general courses for boys. We understand that successful courses of this kind exist at a number of independent schools and there may be an example here from which some grammar schools could learn. There may also be the possibility of courses with a vocational bias linked with local industries. These might be especially attractive to boys attending secondary technical schools, and the building up of sixth forms in these schools which could provide courses of this kind as well as more advanced courses might often be the best way of supplying for boys the facilities which are more often, though not yet widely enough, available for girls.

82. In short, more could be done to provide for both boys and girls sixth form courses corresponding more closely to their own interests and needs and less to examination requirements. Such courses will not necessarily attract many of those who have had enough of school by the time they are 16; there will still be those for whom further school attendance is not suitable. But there may be others whose discontent with school is due not to the essential nature of school life but to the organisation of their particular school. The introduction of new types of courses may be one way of helping such boys and girls; another might be to offer a transfer to another school. Such transfers have been made successfully at a late stage in school life. One reason for such a move might be the existence of a special type of course, but there might well be other reasons: we have even been told of one boy who moved at this stage in order to play a different type of football, to his great benefit in other ways as well.

83. It is likely, however, that the restlessness which culminates in a decision to leave school sets in at a much earlier stage of school life than we have been considering. In individual cases much may turn on the

*See Table 19 in Appendix II.


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experiences of the first year. Boys and girls who come from streets and schools which rarely send more than a solitary pupil to a grammar school may find themselves lonely and out of place in a form where the other pupils start with ready-made friends. Helping these less fortunate children to find their feet presents difficult problems which tax the skill of the most sympathetic and knowledgeable form master or mistress. Often they demand an intimate knowledge of home surroundings. It may well be that many schools which have a less intractable problem of early leaving than their social setting would suggest owe their good fortune to the character and devotion of those who teach the first-year forms.

84. By the third year at latest, it becomes clear which pupils are finding the full grammar school curriculum and methods of teaching too arduous. They provide the bulk of the earliest leavers. As things stand, their parents are no doubt often right to decide that they are wasting their time at school. But need they do so? Our enquiry did not ask for information about the range of subjects studied by the weaker pupils or the number of subjects in which they had been prepared for an examination that they became less and less likely to pass. This is, however, a matter worth careful attention. It is the experience of some schools that close consultation with parents during the third year can help their weaker pupils to get a second wind and settle down to hard work in the middle years of the course. The value of such consultation, however, depends on the schools' being able to offer these boys and girls an education which lies within their capacity, which will hold their interest and which will make sense to their parents. It is much easier for grammar schools to do this now that the external examination has become purely a subject examination. This gives a freedom to experiment in the education of the academically weaker pupils which we hope they will learn to use more widely than they have yet done.

85. Any system of selection is bound to leave on both sides of the borderline children of similar ability, and so far as possible they should be comparably provided for. Just as there is a need for a new type of course for the less academic grammar school pupils, so there is a strong case for the development in modern schools of courses for the abler pupils which last beyond the minimum school-leaving age. It is not likely at present for reasons of staffing that any one modern school could develop upper forms offering a wide variety of extended courses. The way forward more probably lies at present in developing different courses in different schools. This kind of provision would entail frequent transfers between schools. Sometimes these extended courses might lead to the examination of some subjects at Ordinary level in the General Certificate of Education, but where this took place it would be well to realise that many candidates of the level of ability we are here considering would be more ready for such an examination at 17 than at 16. The advisability of developing examination work in modern schools must depend on, amongst other things, the extent of grammar school provision in the neighbourhood. The point we would stress most strongly is the importance of convincing parents that a modern school education need not end at 15 and that there are just as valuable, though often different, possibilities of education beyond that age open to their pupils as to grammar school pupils. A growth of extended courses in modern schools leading on


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sometimes to part-time and sometimes to full-time education in technical colleges and other institutions of further education would, we believe, substantially reduce the wastage of valuable talent and the bitterness of disappointment among those who fail to secure admission to grammar schools. Courses in technical colleges may similarly be a suitable alternative to sixth form work for some boys and girls from grammar schools.

86. There will be some children, however, who would plainly do better in a grammar school than in the modern school to which they have been sent. These deserve the opportunity of transfer, and we have seen reason in Chapter III to believe that there are many more of them than are at present transferred. Changing school is, however, always an unsettling process, and one that requires clear evidence in its favour to make it worth while. It does not seem likely, therefore, that the volume of transfers would normally be so great as to make an examination essential, and in our view it is in itself undesirable for this purpose. We much prefer informal consultation between schools, covering the same sort of ground which we considered at an earlier stage* in discussing alternative methods of allocation from primary schools.

87. Transfers to grammar schools create certain teaching problems. They usually take place at about the age of 13 and the children who move have to take up a grammar school curriculum, including some subjects which are new to them, at a point which other children have taken two years to reach. It may well be better to transfer them, as is done successfully in at least one area, in the middle of the second school year; there may then be a good chance of giving them special help before they try to join their contemporaries on equal terms the following autumn. Another device which has been adopted is to concentrate all transfers from modern schools in one grammar school (not necessarily the same school every year) so as to make a complete form. This is possible only in heavily populated areas. Elsewhere, to judge by results, the difficulty must often have been successfully overcome; but it may have deterred some local education authorities from introducing or extending transfer arrangements.

88. Another obstacle may have been the difficulty of finding room in grammar schools. It would be logical to suggest that room should be found by transferring to modern schools children who are proving unsuited to a grammar school course; a fair number of these are likely to be identifiable by the time they are 13 and they might well do better, in strictly academic terms, at modern schools. If any of these will move with their parents' and their own willing consent, it will probably be best for them to do so. But in present circumstances we are not in favour of regular compulsory transfers from grammar to modern schools on the considerable scale that would be necessary to balance the desirable movement in the other direction; the effect might be to upset the children concerned and, if the transfers were numerous, to introduce a general state of anxiety into the grammar schools comparable to that which affects the upper forms of primary schools. We prefer the practice of one local education authority which leaves some vacancies in grammar schools in the first place to allow for later transfers.

*Paragraph 52.


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89. It is easy in many grammar schools to find room for transfers from modern schools in the fifth or sixth forms where some vacancies will inevitably continue to occur through early leaving. Those transferred at this stage would leave the modern schools at the normal leaving-age of 15 or later and continue their education at grammar schools. Facilities should certainly be made available for any boys and girls who are capable of taking up a grammar school course to do so; but this will be difficult unless they have been able at their modern schools to follow some courses which will lead fairly easily to a fifth form or sixth form course at a grammar school. Similar considerations apply to transfers from modern to technical schools.


VI. THE INFLUENCE OF THE HOME

90. The figures quoted in Table K in Chapter III and in Table 7 in Appendix II show clearly the extent to which a child's home background influences his performance at school. One of the significant findings to which we wish particularly to call attention concerns the children of semi-skilled and unskilled workers. Of the 1,621* children in our sample who entered the grammar school from these two classes, 917, or more than half, failed to get as many as three passes at Ordinary level, and of these 520 left before the end of their fifth year. 32 per cent and 37 per cent respectively of the failures in these two ways, compared with 21 per cent of the whole entry, were from these types of homes. Our sample tells us, therefore, that of approximately 16,000 children who in 1946 entered grammar schools throughout England from such homes, about 9,000 failed to get three passes at Ordinary level, and of these about 5,000 left before the end of their fifth year.

91. So many of the unskilled workers' children achieved little that it will be worth while considering them separately. The first point to observe is the low rate of entry from the unskilled workers' home. The number of children from unskilled workers' families who might have been found in our grammar school sample if the proportion were the same as in the population as a whole is about 927;† the actual number was 436*. This suggests that some 5,000 children from unskilled workers' homes who might have been expected, if the yield from unskilled workers' homes were the same from other homes, to enter grammar schools in England in 1946 did not qualify for admission. The second important finding is the high rate of academic failure among those who did. Of the 436 children admitted 284, or two-thirds, left without as many as three passes at Ordinary level. Thus, of about 4,360 children from unskilled workers' homes who entered grammar schools, only about 1,500 obtained the benefit that the grammar school is specifically designed to give. At a higher level the wastage was even more marked: on the same calculation only 230, or one in 20, obtained two

*These figures are derived from Table 5 in Appendix II; they include the children whose academic record is unclassified and who are therefore omitted from Table 7.

†i.e. 12 per cent of 7729: see Table J in Chapter III and Table 5 in Appendix II.


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Advanced passes or entered for two Advanced subjects. These represent 1.4 per cent of the 17,000 children who took advanced courses, about one-ninth of the proportion in which unskilled workers' children are found in the population as a whole.

92. The reasons for this phenomenon must be very complex and we do not claim fully to understand them.* The factors which we discuss below are the more obvious, but they are clearly incomplete. Throughout our consideration of this problem we felt ourselves, in spite of much public discussion, to be in territory that had so far been little explored; and it is probable that many economic, social and perhaps biological factors have escaped us. We are here in a field where many inhibitory influences are at work, often in an obscure manner. Educational sub-normality in parents may play a part. We do not consider that we could undertake any further study of the problem since this would call for machinery of research beyond our means. It is most important that further research into the problem of the effect of the home background, particularly that of the semi-skilled and unskilled worker, upon a child's education at a grammar school should be undertaken by some body competent to enquire into social problems and able to give the necessary time for a prolonged and thorough investigation.

93. We are not here concerned simply or even mainly with difference of income. Purely financial influences will be considered in the next chapter, and although in a very broad sense the respective groups of parents' occupations into which our sample is classified represent different ranges of income the correspondence is far from exact. For example, it would not be easy to say how the incomes of parents in the clerical group compare with those of the skilled and semi-skilled workers respectively; and while the parents of professional or managerial standing will on the whole be better off than the members of any other group there will be some among them, such as clergymen and teachers, of whom this is not true. We cannot assume, therefore, that the differences revealed in the performance of children in the several occupational groups are primarily attributable to differences in parental income.

94. At the same time, we do not underrate the effect of bad living conditions. Unhappy and broken homes, family quarrels, and lack of sound home discipline can be found in all walks of life and at all levels of society,

*Faced with similar evidence, the Scottish Mental Survey Committee, to which reference is made in paragraph 40 above, wrote as follows:

'There are many powerful social influences on a child's development which cannot be directly measured. Such imponderables as the parents' ambitions for the family, the standard of living aimed at, and their conception of a parent's responsibility towards his children can only be assessed by inferences from such purely factual data as we have at our disposal. But it can be said that all the data point in the same direction. The smaller families, the better housing conditions, the better physical development, and the better school attendance of some children all point to a difference in the attitudes and values of the parents. The common factor in these differences appears to be occupational class ... There is, at one end of the socio-economic scale, the pattern of small families, older parents, more favourable housing conditions, with children above average in intelligence and physique, and at the other end of the scale, the large families, low housing standards, poor school attendance, and children below average in intelligence and in physical development.' (Publications of the Scottish Council for Research in Education, Volume XXXV, Social Implications of the 1947 Mental Survey (1953), pages 190-1.)


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and they will always tend to have the gravest effect on school work. So will the physical conditions of the home. A child's chances at a grammar school may be very seriously impaired by bad housing or over-crowding, the absence of suitable space for study, inadequate lighting or heating, lack of quiet, the constant distraction of the wireless or television, or other forms of disturbance. In the 55,000 households shown by the 1951 census as having an average of more than three persons per room the difficulties of a grammar school child may well be overwhelming. The 300,000 households with an average of more than two persons per room are likely to provide a most unsatisfactory background. The 750,000 households with an average of 1½ to two persons per room will also impose undue strain on a grammar school child. This number of over one million congested households is likely to be playing an important part in the problem we are studying.

95. We have not been able to make any enquiry into the conditions under which grammar school children do their homework. A survey which was carried out on Merseyside about six years ago* found that conditions varied a good deal between summer and winter. About four per cent of the children did without a fire in winter in order to work alone, but in summer nearly a quarter used their bedrooms and 41 per cent, compared with 16 per cent in winter, were able to work alone. Less than half of them could say that they did not hear the wireless at all and one in eight heard it all the time. The survey concluded that in summer 27 per cent and in winter 44 per cent of the children were working under definitely bad conditions.

96. It is clear then that a grammar school child may be seriously handicapped by physical conditions at home. But the difference between the records of children in the respective occupational groups is too marked and too widely spread to be accounted for mainly by such conditions. Another distinction which we have tried to draw is between children whose mothers are and are not at work; but on this point the schools so often had no information. particularly about children who had left, that the evidence (which is set out in Table 6 in Appendix II) is inconclusive. It does not seem likely, however, that this is a major influence on the age of leaving.

97. One of the main influences must be sought in the outlook and assumptions of parents and children in various walks of life. Consider first the outlook of parents in professional occupations. Most of them have themselves received a grammar school or similar education, and others have made their way into a position in society in which they find such a background taken for granted. They are all engaged on work for which a fairly high level of education is an obvious advantage and many follow professions to which a specified educational standard is a condition of entry. In the circumstances it is not surprising if they assume that their children will not leave school at 15 but will stay as much longer as their ability justifies. This assumption is not necessarily due to any conscious sense of the value of education; it may be a mere social convention which has never been questioned. But it is in any case a powerful influence on the parents towards keeping their children at school, and on the children towards staying.

*'An Inquiry into Facilities for Homework - a study made for the Ministry of Works', by Joan Wright, B.A., and Dennis Chapman, Ph.D., B.Sc.(Econ).


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98. Most of the parents whose occupations are described in our tables as skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled will themselves have left school at 14. It does not of course follow that they will lack a sense of the value of education; indeed this sense may be more keenly felt by a man who is conscious of what he has missed than by anyone else. But inevitably the continuance of full-time education to the age of 16, 17 or 18 cannot be taken for granted by such parents as it is by most parents of professional standing; and if it is not taken for granted by the parents it will not be by the children. Thus children in different social groups may start their grammar school life with different sets of unspoken assumptions about the length of school life. Similarly their fathers' varying occupations cannot fail to influence their first assumptions about their own careers.

99. But ideas are picked up not only in the home but in the neighbourhood. It is easy to imagine, for instance, that a headmaster may despair of keeping in the sixth form any boy from a particular street, not only because of the poor conditions in the houses but because of the character and atmosphere of the street as a community. There is no doubt of the strength of the pressure on even conscientious parents from neighbours who see no point in education beyond 15 or 16 as the case may be; and if the pressure on the parents is strong it is much stronger on the children.

100. The decision to leave may well be the child's and not the parents'. We tried in all our questionnaires to find out how often it was one rather than the other. From the answers summarised in Table 15 in Appendix II it will be seen that the schools thought the parents responsible twice as often as the children, but one of the strongest impressions received from the other enquiries was of decisions to leave made by the boys and girls themselves; they often answered that their parents did not mind one way or the other and left the decision to them. It does not follow, of course, that in such cases the home influence is negligible; in this context neutrality on the part of parents is likely to tell in favour of leaving, since ephemeral irritations and ambitions may well be uppermost in an adolescent mind. It should be the function of the parents to look further ahead.

101. It is a common experience in most families, except perhaps where the academic tradition is very strong or the children are at boarding schools, that about the age of 15 or 16 children become restless and anxious to assert their independence and their grown-up status. We tried in our enquiries to assess how often the desire for independence was an effective reason for leaving school and we found that the proportion of leavers affected varied from 59 per cent of the national servicemen to 34 per cent of the grammar school sample and 22 per cent of the boys and 38 per cent of the girls who belonged to youth organisations. These variations are not of much significance in themselves as the respective questionnaires were not phrased in strictly comparable terms:* but it may be surmised that more than a third of the leavers are influenced at least in part by feelings of this kind. Such feelings

*In particular, the national servicemen were offered a narrower, and the youth club members a wider, choice of reasons; and the youth club questionnaire used the word 'independent' where the other two used the phrase 'earning and independent' which may well have brought in larger numbers of boys.


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may be strong enough to amount to the degree of emotional compulsion which we have recognised as a sufficient reason for leaving school, but more often they can be overcome by sympathetic handling. In this the school may be expected to play an important part, but the main responsibility must be the parents'. Thus a positive attitude towards staying at school, and not a mere absence of opposition, must be looked for among parents if children are to be dissuaded from leaving hastily.

102. It is worth considering how far the attitude of parents seems to vary towards boys and girls respectively. All the evidence shows that early leaving is commoner among girls than among boys. From the heads' answers* it seems that far more boys than girls left for career reasons and rather more because they found school work difficult; more girls than boys left because they found the restraints of school life irksome and because their families could not afford to keep them at school longer, and rather more because their friends were leaving. This suggests that petty irritation with school is commoner among girls than boys and that parents are not prepared to make sacrifices so readily for their daughters as for their sons.

103. This is not surprising. It is common knowledge that many parents attach more importance to their sons' education than to their daughters'. The idea is not dead that a good education is wasted on a girl because she will get married, and if a choice seems necessary between taking a boy or a girl away from school it is usually the girl who leaves. If the mother dies, falls ill or is overworked, a girl may be brought home to look after the family. Some light is thrown on the respective attitudes of parents in different walks of life by a comparison of the figures shown for boys and for girls in Table P.

Table P†
Length of school life: boys compared with girls.

*A rather different impression is given by the answers of the youth club members. These, however, form a small and unrepresentative sample and in particular the girls are not strictly comparable with the boys as they appear, on the average, to be of higher social and academic standing.

†The full figures will be found in Table 7 in Appendix II (at the foot of the separate sections for boys and girls).


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It will be seen that at the sixth form level boys are found in the majority in all groups. Among the earliest leavers there is a marked preponderance of girls everywhere except in the professional and managerial group. This suggests a difference of social convention about the level of education necessary for girls and may indicate the critical stages in the school life of girls with different social backgrounds.

104. We have decided that it would be wrong to adjust the machinery of selection specifically to allow for home background. We must accordingly face the challenge which this presents. Since we do not fully understand the causes of the problem it is certain that we cannot immediately expect to know the answer. Yet it is illogical to admit 16,000 children to grammar schools from the homes of semi-skilled and unskilled workers and to accept, without strenuous effort to prevent it, that 9,000 will drop out or fail academically. We might indeed go further back and ask whether it is to be accepted without demur that so many children of unskilled workers, who might go to grammar schools, do not do so.

105. Problems arising from home backgrounds are not to be easily solved. Here advantage will come from partnership between the school, the education and health departments of the local authority, and other workers in the social field; the precise machinery of social work would depend on local circumstances, but the existing contact between the schools and the school health service provides one useful starting point. Where a school believes that home conditions are preventing a pupil from making progress, there is need for a careful enquiry by an appropriate social agency, such as the school health service, to see whether anything can be done to alleviate the adverse conditions. Much good might be done in this way and much more would be learnt in the attempt.

106. Within the schools, it is essential that nothing should be done which could give the slightest impression of favour towards children from what might be regarded as better homes. We are quite confident that no such favour is shown at present. This may be illustrated from what the heads have told us about appointments as prefects. Prefects are naturally drawn overwhelmingly from those who stay on into the sixth form, and the best way of comparing the yield of prefects from each occupational group is to restrict the field to those boys and girls who were still at school (in their seventh year) when our enquiries were made. The comparison is shown in Table Q, overleaf. The evidence clearly shows that, among boys and girls who stay long enough at school, no favour is shown on social grounds in the appointment of prefects. We are certain that the same is generally true in every aspect of school life.


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Table Q
Occupational background of prefects.

107. For the children from the least favourable homes there may be no remedy short of boarding, though it must be realised that boarding school life contrasts even more completely with their home surroundings than the life of a day grammar school. This is a consideration which must be carefully weighed in each case, but in cases of genuine talent which would otherwise be wasted, local education authorities should not be deterred from offering boarding facilities, and doing their best if necessary to persuade parents to accept them. Such cases should not be very numerous and in our opinion the gain to the children and to the community would amply justify the expense.

108. We have noticed in paragraphs 94 and 95 that some boys and girls have very poor opportunities for homework. There are various ways in which facilities may be offered away from home for doing work after school hours, particularly for pupils who are doing or might do advanced work. It is better for them to go home first and get a meal, and for those who live within reach of a public library the easiest arrangement may be to keep the library open until perhaps 9 p.m. We understand that this is already done in some areas, and it might well be done more widely. Elsewhere the best course may be to keep the school itself open after the normal hours and to encourage boys and girls to work there after a short break. This might be particularly helpful if members of the staff could from time to time be available for consultation; this may involve additional expenditure and will call for much goodwill on the part of the staff, but it could be of the greatest value. In at least one country area it is the practice to arrange for village primary schools to be open in the evenings so that grammar school pupils may have somewhere to work. Different arrangements will suit different schools and localities, and we hope that the various possibilities will be fully explored.

109. In some areas, youth clubs may provide the best solution for a number of boys and girls. A few clubs not only have a considerable number of grammar school members but cater specially for them by providing facilities for homework. Clubs of this kind can be of very great service not only in the material sense but in showing a sympathetic and understanding interest in the progress of boys and girls whose environment is otherwise out of touch with grammar school conditions. We hope that such clubs maybe encouraged and assisted more generously in their work.


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110. Apart from such measures, the need is for regular personal contact between the school and the home. Such contact is already part of the normal practice of all schools; one example is the arrangements for giving advice on careers, to which we shall refer later. Headmasters and headmistresses are well aware of the methods best suited to their circumstances. Parent-teacher associations are often of great value; parents who attend meetings are not usually those who are apt to take their children away from school early, but the difficulties do not lie only with the less conscientious parents and in any case those who do not come may be indirectly affected through those who do. But for the most part the relationship between school and home should not be too tightly organised; informal contact between teachers and parents may create greater confidence than any formally constituted association. Contact with parents will, of course, begin before the secondary school stage; teachers in primary schools can help greatly by seeing that parents have accurate information about the opportunities open to their children in various types of secondary school.*

111. There are, of course, many other ways in which schools can and do help children whose home conditions are against them. There is no need to teach the schools their business and it would be presumptuous of us to try. We only wish to record our conviction that the devoted efforts of school staffs are, and must remain, the principal means by which children in some types of homes can come to see the value of a longer school life and the opportunities which it opens. We hope that this survey of the problem will lead on to the more precise study that is so much needed of home backgrounds in relation to education.

*Some local education authorities help primary school heads and parents by issuing leaflets describing the various choices in secondary education.


VII. FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

112. It is obvious that there are strong financial inducements to withdraw boys and girls from school before the age of 18. Throughout their childhood and schooldays, they are, in strictly financial terms, a heavy liability to their parents; as soon as they go to work, the liability is greatly reduced or may even be removed altogether. Thus, parents who keep children at school beyond the age of 15 are deliberately foregoing a financial advantage and indeed are accepting a further handicap because the cost of keeping them will increase as they get older.

113. Some relief to parents generally is provided by the payment of family allowances. But for parents of older children remaining at school their value is strictly limited, for whatever the length of a child's school life the allowance ceases on the 31st July following his sixteenth birthday.* It is difficult to understand why, when the allowance is extended beyond the normal age of 15 for a child who remains at school, it should then cease at 16. The 1944 White Paper on Social Insurance argued that 'if a child continues at

*The possible effect of this may be shown by an example: a parent with three children at school. aged 18, 17 and 15, receives no family allowance.


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school beyond this date (the 31st July after the 16th birthday) any cash allowance should be by way of educational grant on the basis of ascertained need'. But we are not clear that there is any reason other than economy for this contention, or any reason at all for distinguishing in this respect between continued education up to the age of 16 and beyond it. In fact, the choice of 16 as the maximum age seems to us not only arbitrary but, from the educational point of view, most unfortunate, as it gives the impression that the State takes for granted a normal leaving age of 16 for those who stay at school beyond 15. A sounder principle is embodied in the income-tax law, under which a parent who pays income tax is granted a tax-free allowance for any child who is receiving full-time education.

114. We believe, therefore, that the law should be amended to provide for the payment of family allowances in respect of children still at school up to any age. We realise that these allowances are not restricted to cases of need and we do not regard this as a drawback. Maintenance allowances from local education authorities, however much they may be improved, will never benefit parents above a relatively low income level and it is not only below this level that it is a struggle to bring up a family and that children feel an obligation to leave school early to support themselves. In any case, family allowances are subject to income tax and thus diminish in value as incomes rise.

115. How many children leave because their parents cannot afford to keep them at school longer? Tables 14, 19 and 21 in Appendix II suggest that shortage of money is a less common reason for leaving than some others, but the heads believe it affects 11 per cent of the boys and 18 per cent of the girls, while the proportion of the leavers themselves who give it as a reason is higher. The difference between the figures for boys and girls has been discussed in paragraphs 102-103.

116. We cannot draw any firm conclusions from these answers, except that poverty affects the decision to leave in an appreciable number of cases. A more practical question is how often this decision could be averted by financial grants. The heads were asked to say which of the boys and girls received maintenance allowances and which of those who had left would have been likely to stay at school if they had had an allowance on the present scale, 50 per cent above the present scale, or 100 per cent above the present scale. Their answers* show that altogether on these various assumptions 104 boys (3.3 per cent of all leavers) and 289 girls (8.5 per cent of all leavers) would have been likely to stay and all but a few of these would have required an increase of 100 per cent.

117. These are small figures, but the proportions rise sharply when the boys and girls with better academic records are taken separately. Among leavers with School Certificate or five passes at Ordinary level 5.5 per cent of the boys and 11.4 per cent of the girls were thought to have been likely to stay on if they had had a maintenance allowance or the allowance had been larger, though only 38 per cent of these were known to be receiving any grants on the existing scales.* We cannot regard these proportions as

*See Table 10 in Appendix II.


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negligible and we think it may be helpful to look more closely at the circumstances of some of the boys and girls in this group.

Case 1. This boy was the son of a semi-skilled agricultural worker and went to a maintained grammar school in a country town, which he left after five years at the age of 16, having got five passes at Ordinary level. His headmaster thought him suitable for an advanced course in mathematics or science, but he took up a post as a salesman, which his headmaster did not think well-chosen. He had been receiving a maintenance allowance and his headmaster thought he would have stayed if he had had an allowance 100 per cent above the present scale.

Case 2. This boy was the son of a foundry labourer and went to a maintained grammar school in a residential outer suburb of a large city. He left after five years at the age of 16, having seven passes at Ordinary level. His headmaster thought him suitable for an advanced course in mathematics or science but he became a trainee draughtsman, a choice which his headmaster did not think a good one. He had not been receiving a maintenance allowance but would have been likely to stay if he had had one 100 per cent above the present scale.

Case 3. This boy was the son of a skilled worker and went to a maintained grammar school in a big city. He left at the age of 17 because of his father's health, having obtained six passes at Ordinary level. He became a librarian and his headmaster thought he would do well but would probably have also done quite well at a university if he could have stayed on in the sixth form. He had not had a maintenance allowance but would have been likely to stay if he had had one 100 per cent above the present scale.

Case 4. This girl's father was a semi-skilled worker. She went to a maintained grammar school in a big city, and left after five years at the age of 16, having obtained eight passes at Ordinary level. She was thought suitable for an advanced course in mathematics or science, but became a laboratory technician, a career which her headmistress thought well-chosen though her decision to leave was wrong. She is described as a 'very clever girl who might have been allowed to stay with a very high maintenance allowance'; as it was, she received no allowance.

Case 5. This girl's father was a skilled worker. She went to a maintained grammar school in a country town in the south of England. She obtained seven passes at Ordinary level and her headmistress thought her suited for an advanced arts course. She did one year of such a course, but 'could not stand the financial strain at home' and left after six years at the age of nearly 18 to become a clerk, a career which her headmistress thought ill-chosen. She had been receiving a maintenance allowance and would have been likely to stay if she had had one 50 per cent above the present scale.

Case 6. This girl's father was a semi-skilled worker. She went to a maintained grammar school in a country town. She obtained seven


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passes at Ordinary level and left after six years at the age of nearly 17 to become a clerk. Her headmistress thought this career ill-chosen and writes that she 'would have liked to have gone to a two-year Teachers' Training College but her father was not willing for her to do so'. She is described as of 'good ability' and thought suitable for a course in a general sixth form. She received a maintenance allowance and would have been likely to stay if she had had one 100 per cent above the present scale.
118. These are typical examples of boys and girls of ability who have left school early for mainly financial reasons. Their decisions are not necessarily final: the girl who wanted to go to a training college might do so after two or three years as a clerk; the librarian and the laboratory technician might take university degrees in their spare time. Those who do return to the path which they would have followed if they had gone through the sixth form may do so with strengthened character and sense of vocation; but they will find their course of further education more difficult to follow than if they had remained at school. In any case, the chances are always high that anyone who leaves school to take up employment will stay in employment rather than resume his full-time education. For the most part, therefore, it must be assumed that the talents of these boys and girls are not likely to have been as fully developed in their own and the nation's interests as they might have been had larger grants been available.

119. How large an increase would be necessary we cannot, from our evidence, guess. The rigidity of a formal questionnaire compelled the heads to choose between an increase of 50 per cent and 100 per cent and the fact that they mostly chose the latter means hardly more than a general impression that a large increase would be required.

120. It has been suggested to us that the main need is not so much for larger maintenance allowances as for a new type of award on an altogether more generous scale. The most obvious difficulty about a scheme of this kind lies in its expense. The scope of the awards would be such that they would have to be restricted to selected pupils and they would amount, in effect, to sixth form scholarships. In that case we are clear that for other boys and girls maintenance allowances of the existing type would have to continue, since others besides the most gifted should be encouraged to stay at school, including some who might leave at 15 but should stay until they are 16. Thus the cost of the sixth form scholarships would be additional to that of maintenance allowances; and the less strict the conditions of selection, the more the cost would grow.

121. Strict selection would therefore be necessary to keep the cost within bounds, and we are unable to see any way in which such selection could be satisfactorily carried out. It is likely that in practice there would be a demand for an objective standard of selection based on performance in public examinations. But the General Certificate examination at Ordinary level is a qualifying examination not suitable for selective purposes and any attempt to use it in this way would increase the pressure of examinations and force boys and girls to take excessive numbers of subjects at Ordinary level.


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122. A scheme which is in some ways comparable has already been started within a restricted field. The Royal Air Force Scholarship Scheme, launched in November, 1953, offers awards to parents of selected boys of 16 who undertake to stay at school until they are 18 and then to enter the R.A.F. College, CranweII. The income scale used provides for grants up to a net income (after deduction of income tax and certain other expenses) of £1,550 a year. A similar scheme is to be introduced shortly for the Royal Navy. Such schemes may well be an effective means of attracting boys to the two services, but it does not follow that a general scheme would have good prospects of success since its object would be quite different. The problems of selection and cost are far more formidable when the object is not merely to fill a limited number of vacancies but to provide fairly and adequately for all boys and girls above a certain level of attainment or promise.

123. We are forced to the conclusion that there is no satisfactory solution to these problems and that a scheme of selective sixth form scholarships is impracticable. But if the general level of maintenance allowances, particularly for older pupils, is sufficiently raised the danger of wasting exceptional talent which has led to the proposal of the scholarship scheme may well be much diminished. There are, moreover, other channels, such as the scheme for state scholarships for mature students, by means of which exceptional talent may be developed later in life, and there may be other comparable ways in which help could be given.

124. It remains to consider the level of maintenance allowances. It may be asked in the first place whether there is any clear principle by which this level should be determined. In Circular 26 issued by the Ministry of Education on 13th March, 1945, it is laid down that maintenance allowances 'are not intended to compensate parents for the loss of earnings by their children, but should be so framed that parents, especially those within the lower income ranges, are not involved in any expense which they cannot reasonably be expected to meet and which, without assistance, might lead to the premature withdrawal of the child from school'. We agree that maintenance allowances cannot compete with the wages offered to young workers in ordinary employment. We have considered whether they could be related to the lower level of apprentices' earnings, if account were taken of the fact that not all of an apprentice's earnings will reach his parents, but this is not likely to be a useful basis of comparison in most areas. It would be logical to relate them to the cost of maintaining children; and we feel that a statistical assessment of this, which we do not feel competent to undertake ourselves, would be of great assistance to local education authorities provided that it took account of local variations and was kept up to date from time to time. But immediate changes in the existing scales should not await the result of such a study; they should be made in the light of experience and judged by the test of their success in enabling parents to keep their children at school.

125. We have examined the scales at present used by nearly all local education authorities and have found that they vary greatly. All of them allow for deductions from the gross income for further dependent children, and some reach a figure of net income by deducting also the amount of the


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parents' expenditure on certain items, such as rent and rates and sometimes insurance and superannuation contributions. Most of them provide higher grants for children of 16 than for those of 15, and about half increase them for children of 17 and 18.

126. The variations are so complex that complete tabulation would be impossible, but the following figures show the general level of the grants and the extent of the variation between one area and another.

Table R
Maintenance allowances for children of 16 (January 1954)

127. The intermediate steps in the scales cannot usefully be tabulated even in this way as they are not always uniform. A rough average, however, appears to be a deduction of £4 a year from the allowance for each £26 of income above the minimum. For example, if £40 is deducted from a parent's income assessment in respect of a second child he might receive an increased grant of £6 a year.

128. The general impression given by these figures may perhaps be summarised by saying that in general the limits of family income above which no maintenance allowances are available range from about £8 5s. 0d. a week where there is one dependent child to about £10 10s. 0d. a week where there are four, and that the family income must he about £4 a week lower to qualify for the maximum allowance, which itself nowhere exceeds £1 a week for children of 16.† On the least generous scales the limit may be as low as £5 10s. 0d. a week in the case of an only child and the maximum grant as little as 5s. 0d. a week.

*The figures in these respective columns are not drawn from the same income scale in each case. The scale showing, for example, the lowest maximum grant does not necessarily show also the lowest limit of income below which the maximum is payable.

†The maximum award for children of any age in any area seems to be £60 a year for pupils of 17 and over. Even this exceptional allowance must fall well short of the full cost of maintaining a child of 17 or 18, or even one of 15.


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129. To see these figures in their context, it may be helpful to compare them with the latest known details of average earnings. Figures given in the Ministry of Labour Gazette for March, 1954 show that the average weekly earnings of adult men in a wide variety of industries in October 1953 ranged from £11 13s. 7d. to £7 6s. 0d.: the national average in these industries was £9 9s. 2d. In agriculture the average for the six months ending September 1953 was £7 2s. 1½d.

130. It will be seen that the average level of industrial earnings corresponds roughly with the average upper income limit of maintenance allowances for a family of two or three; even the lowest industrial earnings, however, are well above the level at which the maximum allowance is payable. We might guess, therefore, that about half the families of industrial workers may come within the scope of maintenance allowances, though the proportion will be smaller in practice when account is taken of any additional income such as family allowances and the mother's earnings. In the large number of cases where the income is close to the upper limit the allowance will be very small, and even the lowest paid industrial workers will not qualify for anything like the maximum allowance, which is likely to be payable, if at all, only where there is no father in full-time employment and the family is living on national assistance or at a similar economic level.

131. We have suggested above that immediate changes in the scales should be based on experience. We can consider the matter only in a broad general way for the country as a whole, and we cannot be sure that our impressions are equally valid for all areas. Nor could any detailed suggestions be reliable for future years when conditions, such as the cost of living and the level of earnings, may have greatly changed. All income scales should be periodically reviewed to make sure that they are still appropriate. We do not therefore propose to draw up a model income scale nor to suggest a uniform code of regulations.

132. Our general conclusion is that since a fair number of boys and girls are leaving grammar schools early for mainly financial reasons the existing schemes of aid are not fulfilling their function. There is therefore, a clear case for improvement, whether by way of an increase in the rates of grant or an extension of the income range, or both.

133. The financial implications of this conclusion cannot be precisely assessed as the cost of the existing arrangements could not be ascertained without a special enquiry owing to the form in which local education authorities' accounts are prepared. Clearly any worthwhile increase in maintenance allowances must involve substantial expenditure, but we have no hesitation in saying that the money will be well spent where it influences a child of poor parents to stay at school for a complete sixth form course. The same is hardly less true if such a child is enabled to stay for perhaps a year in the sixth form to take a suitable general course.

134. On the whole, it is probably true to say that the longer the boy or girl stays at school the more the allowance has justified itself. We are therefore strongly in favour of increasing the age differentials. There must


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always be provision for allowances at 15, for pupils at modern as well as grammar schools, but this should be greatly extended at 16 both by raising the income limit and by increasing the grants at all levels. A further extension at 17 is also desirable, and another at 18 could well be provided for. This is already quite a common type of scheme; we believe that it might well be more widely adopted and that all authorities should give special attention to the adequacy of their scales for children of 16 and over.

135. It is noted above that the income scales allow for deductions from gross income in respect of further dependent children and sometimes of other types of commitment. We suggest that local education authorities should examine how far the measures they have adopted achieve a true assessment of hardship. We have not been able to obtain evidence on the extent to which early leaving is prevalent in large families but we believe that the pressure on the elder members of such families to begin earning as soon as possible is likely to be particularly severe. If the permitted deduction from gross income in respect of each additional child is converted into the actual extra sum received its value is more easily seen, and we believe that seen in this way it is often inadequate. £6 a year,* for instance, does not seem to us enough. We suggest, therefore, that the permitted deductions for further dependent children should in many cases be increased.

136. A scale based on net income is likely to be a fairer and more accurate measure of hardship than one based on gross income, provided that the deductions permitted are strictly limited to inescapable expenses. Among these are rates and rent payments, which are in present circumstances very unequal in their incidence and usually beyond the householder's effective control. It is, however, for the individual authority to decide whether the refinement that would be achieved by such deductions is worth the administrative expense involved.

137. Finally, we feel bound to point out that the variation from one area to another is at present excessive, and to suggest that the less generous scales should be drastically revised. In particular, we cannot believe that the scales whose upper income limits fall much below the present national average can be of much practical value.

138. These suggestions can be put into practical form only by local judgment. Local education authorities must, however, first be assured that proposals on these lines are likely to be approved and, in particular, that the Minister is ready to agree to the extra expenditure involved. Once assured of this, they might be asked to review, in consultation with the heads of the schools affected, the circumstances in which boys and girls leave school early for financial reasons, and to adjust their schemes of aid accordingly.

*See paragraph 127.


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VIII. THE INFLUENCE OF EMPLOYMENT

139. It was noted in paragraph 9 of this report that the openings available to school leavers at various ages were rightly among the influences affecting the length of school life. We propose to examine briefly the openings which exist at the present time, and the first question that must be asked is whether, and if so in what fields, there is an unsatisfied demand for highly trained men and women.

140. Some shortages are well known, in particular the general shortage of trained scientists and technologists. This has been very fully studied by others, in particular by the Committee on Scientific Manpower whose report of March, 1952 was published as the Fifth Annual Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy.* It is enough to record here the fact that large numbers of men and women with scientific qualifications are needed in many different walks of life and that the need is not likely to diminish. The need is largely for holders of higher qualifications, including graduates, and to this extent there might be no gain in building up the science sixth forms unless the universities and the major technical colleges are enabled to expand their scientific intake. There is more demand for some types of scientists than others: in terms of the subjects normally taught in schools, the need is for physicists and chemists rather than biologists. In general, however, there is little doubt that all the scientists of good quality that the schools can produce can be profitably absorbed. There need be no hesitation, so far as employment openings are concerned, in expanding the science sixth forms as much as possible, provided that the existing standard is kept up, and there is a degree of waste if any boy or girl capable of reaching this standard fails to do so.

141. This is the most pressing need which larger sixth forms can help to meet, but it is not the only one. In the teaching profession, apart from the special and urgent need for graduates in mathematics and science, there is a continuing shortage of many types of women teachers. There is also a great need for nurses, and an expanding demand for trained workers in many branches of the social and local government services.

142. Another shortage is of suitable candidates for commissions in H.M. Forces. We have noted in paragraph 122 the scholarship schemes launched by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, and the Army has sought to achieve a similar purpose by the establishment of Welbeck College for boys of 16-18 who will go on to the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Boys who would normally have to leave school at 16 in order to earn their living are given special consideration for entry to Welbeck, and the scholarship schemes of the other two services are also designed to enable boys who would otherwise leave to stay at school. The Welbeck curriculum provides

*H.M.S.O., Cmd 8561.


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for boys to take papers at Advanced level in mathematics and physics, and the holders of Royal Air Force Scholarships are expected to obtain two passes at Advanced level as a qualification for entry to Cranwell. The conditions for the naval scheme have not yet been published but the academic standard will presumably be similar.

143. This brief survey of unsatisfied demands suggests that there is an immediate need for more sixth formers than are available at present, as trainees for various professions. These additional sixth formers must be boys and girls of ability, comparable with those who follow sixth form courses at present. From what types of careers would such boys and girls have to be diverted if they stay on at school?

144. There is some evidence on this from our sample.

Table S*
Careers of leavers without two Advanced passes who were thought by beads of schools to be suited for advanced courses

Line 1 of this table represents, as nearly as we can tell, boys and girls who have embarked on careers suitable to succeed sixth form courses and who may in many cases have spent some time in the sixth form before they left. Line 2 represents mainly boys who have started suitable careers but have probably done so instead of entering the sixth form; these will concern us later. It is the remainder of the table that contains most of the boys and girls who might be diverted to the professions mentioned earlier. Most of these fall into three groups:

*The figures from which Tables S and T are derived are set out in Table 12 in Appendix II.


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(a) clerks, of both sexes and both types of aptitude, but predominantly girls and non-scientists;
(b) apprentices, nearly all boys;
(c) laboratory technicians, nearly all scientists.
145. These groups are not altogether homogeneous. The first will include, for instance, a few entrants to the executive grade of the Civil Service as well as larger numbers of entrants to the clerical and sub-clerical grades, and will also cover secretarial and commercial careers at various levels. The second may include a few engineering and student apprentices entering industry at 17 or 18 as well as craft apprentices starting at 15 or 16. There will thus be a minority of boys and girls in these groups who have taken up careers well suited to sixth formers, though not necessarily to sixth formers of the highest quality.

146. In any case we are not of course suggesting that grammar school leavers should not follow these types of careers. But of those who do so some of the most intelligent must inevitably be diverted elsewhere if the nation's needs for highly trained men and women are to be met. The following table sets out the proportion of boys and girls in the sample which each of these groups of careers might lose.

Table T
Capacity for advanced work of leavers entering certain careers

It will be seen that in the first two groups the maximum loss would be only about one seventh or one eighth even if all qualified boys and girls were diverted to more advanced forms of training; it would be less serious, in terms of both numbers and quality, if boys and girls continue to be recruited from the sixth forms for the posts of good quality referred to in the preceding paragraph.

147. The greatest loss, in proportion, would be from among laboratory technicians. This is not to be regretted. There can be little doubt that when scientists are scarce it is wasteful to employ as laboratory technicians boys and girls who could stay at school to take advanced courses in science, even though in such posts they have facilities for further training and a small


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minority may eventually secure a degree in science. Apart from these few, this would appear to be as clear a case of genuine wastage as we are likely to find.

148. So far we have considered only the boys and girls who were thought capable of taking advanced courses. It may be of almost equal importance, particularly for the teaching and nursing professions, to keep on at school those who are capable of taking general courses. Similar figures showing the careers followed by these boys and girls may be seen in Table 12 in Appendix II but they are of doubtful value as an indication of wastage because it is impossible to distinguish those boys and girls who have left after taking one-year general courses. It is clear, however, that very large numbers, particularly of girls, follow clerical careers.

149. If one purpose of enlarging sixth forms is to increase the numbers of boys and girls taking up certain occupations, another is to enable these and others who will follow broadly the same careers as at present to have a fuller education. There are many careers which can be entered at various ages, and we must consider whether enough is done by employers and professional bodies to encourage boys and girls to postpone entry until after a sixth form course. We do not assume that such postponement is always desirable, but we think that this should normally be the case for those who are capable of doing sixth form work and feel no strong emotional compulsion to leave; they will be better qualified for their respective walks of life through their extra years at school, and we are confident that employers will quickly come to see that this is so. We have in mind not only intellectual achievements but the development of personality, experience of leadership, and an increased sense of responsibility.

150. We tried to obtain evidence on this point from our sample by asking the headmasters and headmistresses to say, where they thought a leaver's career well chosen, whether his decision to leave was right with it in view. As was noted in paragraph 63, the number of cases* in which they were prepared to say that the career was not well chosen or that the decision to leave was wrong was quite small. It is perhaps worth noting, however, that very few boys but a good many girls are thought to have taken up clerical careers too young.

151. In giving their opinions, the headmasters and headmistresses rightly bore in mind not only educational considerations but employment and other conditions as they exist at the present time. We are freer to question such conditions and are therefore not restricted in our search for wastage to those leavers believed by the heads of their schools to have chosen their careers badly or to have left at the wrong time. We regard the number of these leavers as a minimum rather than a maximum estimate of wastage, as all of them are presumably boys and girls who would have been well advised to stay longer at school even in present conditions. There will be others who in different conditions or in other districts would have been well advised to stay.

*The careers followed in these cases are set out in Table 13 in Appendix II.


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152. One of the conditions of which account must be taken at the present time is national service. It is obvious that this is likely to have a marked effect on a boy's decision when to leave school, and on an employer's decision when to engage him. From both points of view, everything is in favour of his starting work either at the age of 16, when he will have time to settle into it before he is called up, or at the age of 20 when he comes back. Often the boy himself prefers the former, to ensure that he has a career to return to.

153. The situation is rather different where national service can be deferred. This is the case wherever approved courses of training or further education, including apprenticeships, are undertaken. But even so the effect of national service is to postpone for two years the date on which the full practice of the profession or trade can begin and this fact must inevitably make some boys feel that the earlier they can begin their vocational training the better. In any case, in the group of careers which we have described loosely as 'clerical' including banking, insurance, and the local and central government services, deferment is not normally possible. This may well have some bearing on the readiness of the heads to approve the age at which boys, as opposed to girls, left for posts of this kind.

154. It is worth while considering separately for each main type of career the degree of temptation to leave school at about 16 and the advantages of a higher age of entry.

(i) Professional Careers

Most of the professions to which admission is controlled by an examination conducted by the responsible professional body take in entrants at various ages, some as university graduates and others straight from school. Exemption from their preliminary examinations is usually granted in terms of passes in the General Certificate examination, often with two alternatives of which one involves passes at Advanced level. This implies that many professions are interested in attracting sixth formers. But the terms of entry into these professions rarely offer enough inducement to older boys to compensate for the delay in acquiring full professional qualifications. It is probably for this reason that so few heads are prepared to say that boys who have left for this type of career were wrong to leave when they did. It seems clear, however, that an education up to at least sixth form standard is a highly desirable background for entrants to the professions and there seems to be a need for professional bodies to reconsider their terms of admission so that a more adequate incentive to reach sixth form standard may be provided.

(ii) Clerical and Office Careers

These are of great importance to our enquiry because they attract so many grammar school leavers, amounting, as the sample shows, to about half the girls and a quarter of the boys who stay for less than seven years. It is clear that extensive work of this kind is essential to the life of the community, and that the need must be supplied in part by the grammar schools. While there are a number of responsible posts, a good deal of the work is inevitably of a character which would not fully extend boys and girls of the best grammar


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school calibre. Such posts now attract large numbers of grammar school leavers, mainly girls, of whom many, though by no means all, are probably among those who are unlikely to profit from full-time education beyond the age of 16. If this is so there is no need to regret their leaving school and acquiring elsewhere any skills necessary to their work, such as shorthand and typewriting. On the other hand, posts of better quality, including for instance many in banking and the public services, will be better filled by boys and girls who have stayed at school for at least a year in the sixth form. The need therefore seems to be for a more effective system of grading linked with minimum ages of entry and differential scales of pay. For example, some of the banks are understood to be anxious to attract sixth form boys rather than boys of 16; but it is not clear how far this policy is effective in local branches and it may be that further thought may have to be given to grading if suitable openings are normally to be filled by sixth formers. The essential point is to offer an incentive to enter at 18 rather than 16, without cutting off those who have entered earlier from a reasonable chance of promotion.

(iii) Apprenticeships

In our sample, more than a quarter of the boys who had left school before the end of their seventh year, or nearly a fifth of the whole group of boys, had become apprentices. The large majority must have entered craft apprenticeships for which the maximum age of entry is normally 17 and the minimum 15 or 16. The minimum age tends to become the normal age and in general it can be assumed that most boys who become apprentices leave school promptly at 16 if they stay so long. It must be remembered that the object of the apprenticeships is to train them for work as skilled artisans, and it is interesting that so many grammar school boys follow careers of this kind. At the same time it is not to be expected that apprenticeship schemes will be framed with grammar school boys mainly in mind, for even larger numbers of apprentices are drawn from technical and modern schools. It is most desirable that boys should continue to be drawn freely from all types of secondary school, but it does not follow that they should be encouraged to leave school at or soon after the statutory leaving-age. It is not only the boy from a grammar or technical school who would do well to stay for a full five-year course; if the length of the apprenticeship could be reduced for boys who have followed such courses there would be a strong demand for them to be provided in modern schools also. We should greatly welcome such a development, but in any case it would have a salutary effect on the educational background of many of the best entrants to craft apprenticeships if an inducement to complete the fifth year at school could be offered. We hope that the possibility of offering such an inducement will be most seriously considered by employers and trade unions through the appropriate machinery, and that at the very least, any regulations which prevent boys from completing their fifth year should be changed. On the other hand, boys who have the ability to profit from sixth form courses, including general courses such as are suggested in paragraph 81, will probably be used to the best advantage in industry if they can aspire to become technicians rather than skilled artisans. For them the need is for more student apprenticeships beginning at 17 or 18. The number of these is limited at present, though there is a tendency for it to increase in some areas.


[page 55]

155. In the three types of career considered, the obstacles to late entry are much the same: the conditions of entry offer too little inducement to stay longer at school and therefore in effect seem to discriminate against the older leaver. It is too much to expect that boys and girls or their parents will always see advantages in staying at school a year or two years longer if this period is simply to be added to the period of further training without apparent improvement of prospects. The solutions appear to lie in allowing time spent on suitable courses at school to count wholly or partly against the period of training, and in grading appointments so that those requiring greater ability may be open to sixth formers direct from school on terms which, while not debarring those who have taken up the career earlier at a lower level, will give full weight to the qualities attainable through sixth form work.

156. Apart from difficulties inherent in the conditions of entry to a career, early leaving may often be due to lack of local opportunities or ignorance of the opportunities that exist. There are some districts, particularly country districts, where apart from teaching posts there are few local openings for boys or girls who stay at school beyond 16. Boys and girls are thus faced at 16 with a choice between leaving school to take up a career which may not fully use their talents, and committing themselves to move out of the district in a few years' time. They may well prefer to stay in familiar surroundings, and even if they are willing to move they and their teachers may not be fully aware of openings in other districts.

157. This is one respect in which valuable help can be given by the Youth Employment Service, which has close contact with the Ministry of Labour and National Service but is usually conducted by the local education authority. This service can offer a comprehensive knowledge of openings in other districts as well as of local openings, and where a boy or girl has a special aptitude which cannot be developed locally but is needed in another part of the country grants towards the cost of living away from home can be made under the Special Aptitude Scheme of the Ministry of Labour and National Service.

158. The tradition has been for grammar schools to make their own arrangements for giving advice on careers, and most valuable work has been and is being done in this way. But we understand that in many areas co-operation between the Youth Employment Service, potential employers, and the staffs of grammar schools is becoming closer. In these areas the value of the Service for grammar school leavers is now well established, particularly where a special staff is assigned to deal with older leavers. It is a principle of the Service that the first consideration must be the interests of the boy or girl, and the Youth Employment Officer will not hesitate to advise staying at school wherever this is the best course; some heads of grammar schools have found that such advice from outside the school appears more unprejudiced and is therefore more effective. Such co-operation, and also contact between schools and employers, will offer the best means of making use of existing employment openings and also of making known ways in which the conditions of entry might be changed in the interests of school leavers and also, in the long run, of their employers.


[page 56]

IX. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

159. Our terms of reference require us to consider three questions. In this chapter we shall summarise the answers which our enquiry has enabled us to give.

(a) What factors influence the age at which boys and girls leave secondary schools which provide courses beyond the minimum school-leaving age?

160. We have been impressed above all with the far-reaching influence of a child's home background. We have traced the school records of children in different social groups and we have found that from the children of parents in professional or managerial occupations at one extreme to the children of unskilled workers at the other there is a steady and marked decline in performance at the grammar school, in the length of school life, and in academic promise at the time of leaving. This is not a mere development of the better performance at the age of 11 of children in certain groups; it reflects a widespread changing of places in academic order between 11 and 16 or 18 (paragraphs 40-44, 90-91).

161. The reasons must be very complex. Two important considerations are serious over-crowding in the home, which must handicap especially the children of many semi-skilled and unskilled workers, and the different social assumptions which affect not only a child's parents but the whole society in which he is brought up (paragraphs 92-99).

162. There is a need here for a great deal of research, which is beyond our means. The influence of the home on children at different ages is so profound that its consideration is of the highest importance, particularly in a period of rapid social change. It has not yet received adequate attention and urgently needs prolonged and thorough investigation (paragraph 92).

163. The social groups which we have distinguished represent different ranges of income only in a very broad sense, and we have evidence that shortage of money is in itself a less common reason for leaving than some others. Nevertheless it affects the decision to leave in an appreciable number of cases, and the proportion of these is naturally highest among children of semi-skilled and unskilled workers. These children are amongst those who would be most likely to benefit from any improvements in maintenance allowances, which we have seen to be generally inadequate (paragraphs 93, 115, 124-138).

164. The handicap of adverse home conditions tends to increase throughout the school course and thus to falsify many of the predictions made in the process of selection. If, as we believe, this process cannot directly take into account differences of home background the effect must be, in varying degrees,


[page 57]

the admission of children who will do badly at the grammar school and the exclusion of others who would do well. It is a matter of opinion which is the more serious risk (paragraphs 40-51).

165. In any case, it is clear that there should be full provision for transfers from modern to grammar schools. Even so, there will be the need to provide in both grammar and modern schools for children of similar ability. There is a strong case for the development in modern schools of courses lasting beyond the minimum school-leaving age, but if the modern schools have to cater, as a result of the rising school population, for a large influx of pupils of grammar school calibre, it would prove impossible to recruit sufficient graduate teachers to meet their needs. It may well be better to provide a relatively high proportion of grammar school places and to ensure that the grammar schools are ready to cater for large numbers of children who will not take easily to grammar school work as it is at present organised (paragraphs 32, 55, 85-89).

166. The grammar schools in our sample present a most diverse picture, varying from schools designed to provide a five-year course and offering almost nothing beyond it to schools in which the sixth form is the normal and natural aim. Many of the latter, including a number of direct grant schools, are able to set a standard of selection above the normal level, and thus escape the dilemma by leaving to other grammar schools the children in perhaps the lower half of the selection order. There are other circumstances, such as those of the rural grammar schools, which seem to tell against the building up of sixth forms. But schools in apparently similar circumstances differ so much that our main impression is that the most important influence lies in the efforts of the school itself. Success can be achieved by a good school even in very difficult conditions (paragraphs 64, 67-68, 71).

167. It is by close attention to the needs of individual pupils from the time they enter the school that external difficulties can be best overcome. There is a problem in the first year of helping the less fortunate children to find their feet. By the third year there will be some who find the full grammar school course too demanding, and the interest of these weaker pupils can be held only if the schools can offer them an education within their capacity. The new examination system gives a freedom to experiment in such courses which has not yet been fully used (paragraphs 83-84).

168. Higher up the school we see an important distinction between schools in which an initial five-year course is regarded as quite separate from the sixth form course and those in which the course is as far as possible continuous. All schools except those with an exceptionally high level of selection must allow for a large measure of leaving at 16, but those children whose backgrounds predispose them to leave then are more likely to accept the idea of staying longer if there is no clean break in their course of study and a gradual transition is offered from one way of working to another. Here again the flexibility of the new examination system can be of the greatest value in enabling the schools to fit their courses to the needs of individual pupils, whatever their level of ability (paragraphs 72-75).


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169. The problems of boys and of girls are in some ways different. On the whole boys stay rather longer at school and do rather better academically than girls. This is true in all social groups with the reservation that in the professional and managerial group there is no greater tendency for girls to leave before the end of a five-year course. This suggests some difference of social convention, but in general our evidence confirms the common belief that many parents attach more importance to their sons' education than to their daughters'. Girls may be brought home from school for domestic reasons and our evidence shows that more girls than boys leave because of a shortage of money at home (paragraphs 22, 102-103).

170. But it is not only a difference of parental attitude that distinguishes the boys' and girls' problems. We must also reckon with the attitude of the boys and girls themselves, which is at least as likely to be responsible for their leaving. It appears that petty irritation with school is a commoner reason for leaving among girls, but we do not find that a school's social customs, such as regulations about uniform, are a major influence on the age of leaving, even though for some girls they may be very irksome. Career reasons are more commonly found among boys (paragraphs 65, 102).

171. The effects of the difference between boys' and girls' careers begin within the school itself. There are some careers attracting a large number of girls for which passes at Advanced level are not required but which are not open to them before the age of 18. This fact has led to the establishment in many girls' schools of general sixth form courses, sometimes with a specific vocational bias. For boys, there are few similar openings and general sixth form courses are very uncommon; boys normally leave grammar schools at 16 if they are not thought suitable for an advanced course (paragraphs 78-81).

172. At present the conditions of entry into many professions, trades and occupations do nothing to encourage a longer school life. If the conditions of entry are the same at 16 and at 18 there is, in effect, an inducement to enter at 16. This applies at present to a wide range of professions and of clerical posts, including posts of the more responsible type. Craft apprenticeship schemes encourage boys to leave school promptly at 16 if they stay so long and the number of student apprenticeships beginning at 17 or 18 is as yet limited. National service is likely to reinforce the same trend, as boys will often be anxious to settle into a career before they go; this will usually mean leaving at 16, except where national service can be deferred (paragraphs 152-155).

173. Employment openings vary from one locality to another. There are some districts where apart from teaching posts there are few local openings after the age of 16. The Youth Employment Service can do much to spread knowledge of non-local as well as local openings and there is evidence that its value to the grammar schools is now in many areas well established. The Youth Employment Officer is often an effective advocate in favour of staying longer at school (paragraphs 156-157).

(b) To what extent is it desirable to increase the proportion of those who remain at school, in particular of those who remain at school roughly to the age of 18?


[page 59]

174. We have pointed out that it is wrong to regard as conflicting two possible aims of education, that of developing the child as an individual and that of fitting him for the work he may be called upon to do later in life. Neither of these aims can be effectively achieved by itself. Thus we can take into account the capacities of individual children and the nation's need for certain types of learning without feeling that they are opposed (paragraphs 4-5).

175. We whole-heartedly accept the value of a school life lasting to the age of 16 for all children; but we see grave difficulty about enforcing it in certain types of schools while it is not generally applicable. The value of a school life extending beyond 16 depends on the character, and particularly the intellectual ability, of the particular child (paragraphs 3, 6-9, 58-62).

176. We have studied the numbers of leavers at various ages over a number of pre-war and post-war years, and found that while in the pre-war years the length of school life was diminishing, it has since the war shown a marked general increase. Thus a start has already been made on the process which this enquiry was designed to promote, and this fact must always be borne in mind, particularly as the statistics which we have compiled relate to a year when the process was in its early stages. It follows that the figures which we shall quote in the following paragraphs tend to err on the pessimistic side. But the increase in the numbers of older pupils is not yet nearly great enough, and the general conclusions from our statistics are fully valid. We are encouraged, however, by the evidence that we are working with the stream and not against it (paragraphs 18-19).

177. We have made a quantitative study of the field of capacity for sixth form work, and have concluded that from the grammar school intake of 1946, in addition to about 10,000 boys and 7,000 girls who took advanced sixth form courses, there were about 5,000 boys and 5,000 girls who had the capacity to do so if they had stayed longer at school. Of these about 2,900 boys and 1,300 girls would have been suited for courses in mathematics and science (paragraphs 23-27).

178. If all these boys and girls had completed advanced courses, the number of boys who in fact did so would have been increased by about half and the number of girls by about two thirds. There could also have been a substantial increase, which we cannot estimate closely, in the number of boys and girls taking general sixth form courses. But it seems likely that less than half of the present intake into grammar schools could profitably take sixth form courses (paragraphs 23-27).

179. We acknowledge that some of those who have the intellectual capacity for sixth form work may be right to leave without undertaking it. By the time they are 16 they may have so far lost the taste for school life that they may do better to finish their education elsewhere or to return to it later. We believe, however, that these are a minority (paragraph 8).

180. At present there is a great national need for scientists of many kinds. There is no reason to think that this need will decline or to doubt


[page 60]

that all the scientists of good quality that the schools can produce can be profitably absorbed, if the universities and major technical colleges can play their part. The problem remains of providing the necessary scientific staff for the schools, but if this can be solved the 4,200 potential scientists out of the additional 10,000 boys and girls who could well take advanced courses should have no difficulty in finding suitable occupations (paragraph 140).

181. A good many of the remaining 5,800 already enter careers which are suitable for their abilities but enter them too early. If the conditions of entry to professions and occupations suitable for able boys and girls could be adjusted to encourage entry from the sixth form many potential sixth formers could stay longer at school without changing their choice of careers. If they did, we are confident that they would be the better qualified (paragraphs 149-155).

182. We believe, therefore, that as many of the pupils capable of taking advanced courses as can be persuaded to stay at school will be serving both the community and themselves by doing so. The same may well apply to some boys and many girls who would not be suitable for advanced courses but might follow general courses. We have suggested that courses with a vocational bias, whether in grammar or technical schools, might be valuable for boys entering industry, while the needs of the nursing profession amongst others could be supplied from additional numbers of girls with this background. Certainly there need be no hesitation about the expansion of courses of this kind (paragraphs 78-81, 141, 148).

183. The number of boys and girls who now leave at 15 and would do well to stay on for another year is obviously very large. It will not include all the boys and girls (amounting to 7,000 boys and 9,000 girls in the year of our sample) who now leave grammar schools without completing a five-year course, for some of these are misfits who are right to leave; but it will include substantial numbers of boys and girls who do not go to grammar schools at all (paragraph 29).

184. Indeed the whole of our argument about selection makes it necessary to entertain the possibility that there may be considerable numbers of boys and girls in modern schools who must be regarded as premature leavers just as much as their counterparts in grammar schools (paragraphs 28, 31-39). In recommending the steps to be taken we have had to bear this possibility constantly in mind.

(c) What steps should be taken to secure such an increase?

185. There are certain possible measures which we have considered but do not feel able to recommend, for reasons which we have fully set out. They include the following:

(a) the charging of fees for a proportion of places in maintained grammar schools (paragraph 47);

(b) the adjustment of selection procedures specifically to allow for the


[page 61]

broad differences of home background which are reflected in the differential rates of academic success (paragraphs 48-51);

(c) the general adoption of school-life agreements (paragraphs 57-61);

(d) the enactment of a differential leaving-age for grammar schools (paragraph 62); and

(e) the establishment of a system of sixth form scholarships (paragraphs 120-123).

186. Our positive recommendations may be summarised as follows:

Legislative action

(i) The law should be amended to provide for the payment of family allowances in respect of children still at school up to any age (paragraph 114).

Administrative action

(ii) In drawing up building programmes, local education authorities should estimate generously the need for grammar school places so as to raise the proportion of such places where it is unduly low and elsewhere to provide adequately for the increased numbers of children of secondary school age to be expected shortly (paragraphs 39 and 55).

(iii) The process of selection for secondary education should allow for a small number of grammar school places to be filled at each individual school by alternative methods (paragraph 52).

(iv) There should, especially in some areas, be more transfers from modern to grammar schools, including transfers at the age of 15 or later where appropriate (paragraphs 32 and 86-89).

(v) Where a school believes that home conditions are preventing a pupil from making progress, there is need for a careful study by an appropriate social agency such as the school health service, to see whether anything can be done to alleviate the adverse conditions (paragraph 105).

(vi) Local education authorities should be ready to offer boarding facilities, and to do their best if necessary to persuade parents to accept them, where genuine talent would otherwise be wasted for reasons of home background (paragraph 107).

(vii) Schools and local education authorities should consider various ways of offering facilities for work after school hours to boys and girls with poor opportunities for homework. Amongst the possibilities are:

(a) to keep the public library open until perhaps 9 p.m.;

(b) to keep schools open after normal school hours and encourage pupils to work there after a short break;

(c) in country areas, to open primary school premises in the evening; and

(d) to give encouragement and more generous assistance to youth


[page 62]

clubs which cater specially for grammar school pupils (paragraphs 108-109).
(viii) The Minister of Education should indicate that she would welcome proposals for immediate increases in maintenance allowances (paragraph 138).

(ix) Local education authorities should immediately review, in consultation with the heads of the schools affected, the circumstances in which boys and girls leave school early for financial reasons, and adjust their schemes of aid accordingly (paragraph 138).

(x) Similar reviews should take place periodically in the future (paragraph 131).

(xi) Details of the improved scales should be left to local judgment but the main needs appear to be:

(a) a drastic revision of the less generous scales (paragraph 137);

(b) the provision of higher grants for older children, with successive increases up to at least the age of 17 (paragraph 134);

(c) generous allowances in respect of further dependent children (paragraph 135); and

(d) the consideration of the use of scales based on net rather than gross income (paragraph 136).

Action within the schools

(xii) Individual schools may find solutions to some of their difficulties in various ways:

(a) by treating the whole work of the school, including the sixth form, as continuous and introducing some transition to sixth form ways of working earlier in the school course (paragraph 75);

(b) by providing more science facilities for girls, within the school where staffing permits or if necessary by co-operation with other schools or technical colleges (paragraph 77);

(c) by expanding general sixth form courses for girls and experimenting much more widely in such courses for boys (paragraphs 78 and 81);

(d) by providing comparable courses for pupils of similar ability in grammar and modern schools, including new types of course for the weaker pupils in grammar schools and courses lasting beyond the minimum school-leaving age for the abler pupils in modern schools (paragraphs 84 and 85);

(e) by maintaining regular personal contact with the home (paragraph 110); and

(f) by increased co-operation with the Youth Employment Service and with employers (paragraph 158).


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Action by employers, trade unions, and professional bodies

(xiii) In clerical and office careers, there should be a more effective system of grading linked with minimum ages of entry and differential scales of pay, subject to safeguards for the promotion of earlier entrants (paragraph 154).

(xiv) Professional bodies should reconsider their terms of admission so that a more adequate incentive to reach sixth form standard may be provided (paragraph 154).

(xv) Employers and trade unions should consider through their appropriate machinery the possibility of reducing the length of craft apprenticeships for boys who have stayed at school for a full five-year course, or at least of changing any regulations which prevent boys from doing so (paragraph 154).

(xvi) The limited number of student apprenticeships should be increased (paragraph 154).

Further research

(xvii) Further research should be undertaken into the effect of home background on a child's education (paragraph 92).

(xviii) A statistical assessment of the cost of maintaining children should be made for the assistance of local education authorities (paragraph 124).

Acknowledgments

187. In conclusion, the Council wish to pay tribute to the work of their Secretary, Mr. L. R. Fletcher, who has given to the enquiry, at every stage, his unremitting thought and unstinted labour. The drafting of the report has been primarily his responsibility, carried out with untiring patience and care. The Council acknowledge gratefully his able and willing service.

188. The Council also wish to express their great indebtedness to Mr. D. G. O. Ayerst, H.M.I., for his painstaking analysis of the statistical data and his skilled summarising of the evidence they afforded. His critical acumen has been a constant safeguard against false or unjustified conclusions. He has also contributed very helpfully to the drafting of many passages in the report.

189. Mr. J. A. Hudson was Secretary to the Council during the first eight months of the enquiry. Credit is due to him for the initial planning of the investigation. Memoranda prepared by him for the guidance of the Council in the earlier stages have proved of considerable value in later discussions. The Council wish to express their thanks to him also.


[page 64]

190. Appendix III and Appendix V were prepared by Mr. G. F. Peaker, H.M.I., whose advice and assistance on statistical problems were invaluable to the Council at every stage of the enquiry.

(Signed)

SAML. GURNEY-DIXON (Chairman).
A. S. BENSTEAD.
A. M. BOZMAN.
ALICE G. J. BRAGG.
J. MACALISTER BREW.
FRASER BROCKINGTON.
E. S. BYNG.
HAROLD E. CLAY.
F. CONSITT.
D. E. M. GARDNER.
T. F. GILBERT.
RONALD GOULD.
J. C. JONES.
A. V. JUDGES.
L. R. MISSEN.
E. H. MOLYNEUX.
WALTER OAKESHOTT.
S. G. RAYBOULD.
MARJORIE REEVES.
D. R. O. THOMAS.
L. R. FLETCHER (Secretary).
D. G. O. AYERST (Assessor).


[The pages of this Appendix are presented here as images.]

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APPENDIX I

THE QUESTIONNAIRE FORMS USED IN THE ENQUIRY

*The form reproduced here is that used for pupils who had left school, with the addition of items 1-5 under heading A, which appeared only on the form used for pupils who were still at school. In the latter form, items 6-13 under A, items 5-7 under F, and the whole of G and H, were omitted and the remaining questions in E and F were phrased in the present tense.


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*For the definition of these categories, see Appendix IV.


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[page 68]


[page 69]


[page 70]


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*The form for girls was identical except that 'boys' was substituted for 'girls' in question 19(l).


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APPENDIX II

STATISTICAL TABLES

A. THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL SAMPLE: THE 1946 INTAKE

Table 1
Leavers and non-leavers : all pupils in the sample

Table 2
Academic Record : all pupils in the sample

Table 3
Types of course for which pupils were best suited (academic promise)

*Throughout the tables in this Appendix, this expression is used in the sense defined in paragraph 20.

†These totals exclude 177 boys and 149 girls whose academic record or promise is unclassified.


[page 76]

Table 4
Academic record and promise of pupils in schools of varying types

Table 5
Father's occupation : leavers and non-leavers

Table 6
Mother's occupation

*Excluding those whose academic record cannot be classified (see Table 2).


[page 77]

Table 7
Academic record, analysed by selection group and father's occupation
Boys

+As defined in paragraph 31.

*Excluding boys whose academic record is unclassified (see Table 2).


[page 78]

Table 7 (cont'd.)
Girls

*Excluding girls whose academic record is unclassified (see Table 2).


[page 79]

Table 7 (cont'd.)
Boys and girls

*Excluding boys and girls whose academic record is unclassified (see Table 2).


[page 80]

Table 8
Academic promise, analysed by selection group and father's occupation
Boys

†As defined in paragraph 31 .

*Excluding 177 boys whose academic promise is unclassified.


[page 81]

Table 8 (cont'd.)
Girls

*Excluding 149 girls whose academic promise is unclassified.


[page 82]

Table 8 (cont'd.)
Boys and girls

*Excluding 177 boys and 149 girls whose academic promise is unclassified.


[page 83]

Table 9
Prefects

Table 10
Maintenance allowances

*Excluding those whose father's occupation is unclassified (see Table 5).

†Excluding those whose academic record is unclassified (see Table 2).


[page 84]

Table 11
Full-time further education or employment : leavers analysed by father's occupation and academic record

*These totals exclude 661 boys and 780 girls whose academic category, career, or father's occupation is unclassified.


[page 85]

Table 12
Careers of pupils leaving without two Advanced passes, analysed by academic record and promise
Boys

*This total corresponds with the total number of boys in the sample (4300) reduced by the number of boys in academic categories A and B (1146, see Table 2).


[page 86]

Table 12 (cont'd.)
Girls

*This total corresponds with the total number of girls in the sample (4390) reduced by the number of girls in academic categories A and B (936, see Table 2).


[page 87]

Table 13
School's opinion of careers (leavers only).


[page 88]

Table 14
Reasons for leaving, analysed by father's occupation

*These totals exclude boys and girls whose fathers' occupation is unclassified (see Table 5).


[page 89]

Table 15
Responsibility* of parents, pupils, or schools for decision to leave analysed by father's occupation

*As judged by the headmaster or headmistress.

†Excluding those whose father's occupation is unclassified (see Table 5).


[page 90]

B. THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL SAMPLE: THE SCHOOL AS A WHOLE

Table 16
Size of sixth form in schools in varying circumstances

*One school which answered the questionnaire on individual pupils did not answer that on the school as a whole.


[page 91]

Table 16 continued


[page 92]

Table 17
Types of sixth form courses

Table 18
Numbers of pupils following various types of sixth form courses in individual schools


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C. MEMBERS OF YOUTH ORGANISATIONS

Table 19
Reasons for leaving

Table 20
Attitudes of parents, pupils, and schools towards leaving

*The answers recorded are of boys and girls who had left grammar schools at ages varying from 15 to 18.


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D. NATIONAL SERVICEMEN*

Table 21
Reasons for leaving

Table 22
Attitudes of parents, pupils and schools towards leaving

*The answers recorded are those of 274 men who had left grammar schools without taking Higher School Certificate or G.C.E. at Advanced level.

†In most of these cases (26 out of 32) the doubt was about the parent's attitude only.


[page 95]

APPENDIX III

NOTE ON THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL SAMPLE

The sample was a stratified random sample drawn from the whole population of grammar schools in England. The sampling unit was the school. Schools were drawn with constant probability, and a uniform sampling fraction of one in ten. The schools were stratified before selection by

(1) Type (boys, girls or mixed)
(2) Status (maintained or direct grant)
(3) Region (the ten Ministry of Education divisions)
A further stratification by size seemed inadvisable for so small a sample; consequently the standard error for size (three per cent) is much larger than the other standard errors. In this case the actual error could be found, by comparison with the Ministry's returns for all schools. It was in fact less than two per cent.

The sampling was single-stage. Within selected schools all pupils in the age-group were included.

There were 120 schools in the sample, and replies were received from all but six. There can therefore have been no appreciable bias from this source. A more serious possible source of bias is the fact that under some headings not every school could supply information about all its pupils. Some of the tables, consequently, rest on an incomplete sample. However, a careful examination of the circumstances suggests that here also serious bias is unlikely.

As will be seen from the tables the proportion of children in each category was estimated by the ratio method; that is to say, for each stratum of the sample the number of children in the category was divided by the number of children in the stratum. The variation between schools, though considerable, was yet sufficiently small to render this a more precise method of estimation than the alternative of using the sample to estimate category totals for the whole stratum, and dividing by the number of children in the whole stratum (which could have been ascertained from the Ministry's returns).

Standard errors were calculated for some of the major variables; their size accorded with expectation. For the larger strata (the three kinds of maintained school) they were of the order of one per cent; for the smaller strata (direct grant schools) they were correspondingly larger. The stratification by region was ignored in calculating the standard errors, so that they will be slightly over estimated. From a consideration of cases in which the point can be checked it seems likely that the errors in the major estimates are less than the annual changes.

The following table shows the distribution of the schools in the sample according to locality, status, and provision for either or both sexes. The figures in brackets represent the schools from which answers were not received.


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APPENDIX IV

THE OCCUPATIONAL GROUPING

The attempt that has been made in this report to relate academic achievement in grammar schools to the home background has been based upon the father's occupation. It is the only factual evidence in the possession of the schools on which such an estimate could be based. In order to make possible broad distinctions we have grouped occupations into five categories under the headings (i) Professional and managerial, (ii) Clerical, (iii) Skilled, (iv) Semi-skilled and (v) Unskilled. This occupational grouping is fundamentally based upon the Registrar-General's classification into social classes, but since it differs in some material respects a word of explanation is required.

The Registrar-General's classification into five social classes is, very generally speaking, as follows. The first two classes contain professional and managerial groups of occupation. Class I consists of members of the major professions (e.g., Law, medicine, architecture, the Church), holders of higher administrative posts and directors of big business; this group amounts to three per cent of occupied men and women. The second class consists mainly of business managers, teachers, clerks engaged in costing, estimating, and accounting, medical auxiliaries and shopkeepers; this group amounts to 15 per cent of occupied persons. The third social class contains a large group of occupations (amounting to 53 per cent of the total occupied persons), which covers the remainder of the clerks, the shop assistants, those in personal service, foremen and skilled artisans. Social class IV contains the semi-skilled workers (16 per cent) and social class V the unskilled workers (12 per cent).

The 1951 one per cent sample tables (Part I, H.M.S.O. 1952) make use of a more detailed classification into 13 socio-economic groups. In brief, this classification distinguishes between agricultural (1 and 2), non-manual (3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8) and manual occupations (9, 10, 11 and 12), and the armed forces (excluding officers) (13). In this classification farmers are group 1, agricultural workers group 2; social class I above becomes socio-economic group 3; social class II becomes socio-economic groups 4 and 5 (shopkeepers); social class III becomes socio-economic group 6 (clerical workers), 7 (shop assistants), 8 (personal service), 9 (foremen), and 10 (skilled workers); social class IV is socio-economic group 11 (semi-skilled) and social class V becomes socio-economic group 12 (unskilled).

The Census classification is assembled from a most careful recording in considerable detail of the actual work on which men and women were engaged. Both the initial recording and the subsequent classification called for skill and a highly elaborate instruction book. We lacked the resources to undertake a similar classification and, in any event, the data from which classification could be made were confined, for all pupils who had left school, over three-quarters of the sample, to a very short entry in the admission register made seven years before. The single word 'clerk', for instance, is a common form of entry, but it would not enable us to decide whether a particular clerk belonged to the Registrar-General's social class 2 or 3. We were driven by the conditions of our enquiry to adopt a simpler, rougher method. It is, perhaps, no disadvantage that our nomenclature, by making a direct comparison with the Census results impossible, will not appear to lay claim to the same degree of precision which attaches to the Registrar-General's calculations, but we are satisfied that the broad picture given by the social classification of our grammar school sample is substantially accurate.

Our reason for adopting the particular classification which we have adopted, is our desire to separate those whose parents had either received a grammar school education themselves or followed occupations in which that tradition is strong. For that reason we decided to separate clerical workers from skilled manual workers. Our clerical classification, then, is drawn from the Census social classes II and III; it contains the whole of the census socio-economic group 6, and some of group 4. Most of its members will have had some form of grammar school education, few will have


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had any form of higher education. Our professional and managerial classification is made up of social class I and the bulk of II; or of socio-economic groups 3 and most of groups 1, 4 and 5. It contains virtually all those who have had any form of higher education, though it also contains a good many who have not. Our skilled workers classification is, roughly, social class III without the clerical workers, or socio-economic groups 7, 8, 9 and 10. Our semi-skilled classification is roughly social class IV or socio-economic group II and most of 2; our unskilled classification is the counterpart of social class V and of socio-economic group 12.

For a detailed study of the occupations contained in the various social classes and socio-economic groups the reader is referred to the Registrar-General's publications, particularly Part I of the 1951 Census one per cent sample. The guidance given to schools in completing our questionnaire is given below.

'If you do not know enough about the father's occupation to assign it to boxes 1 to 5 tick off box 6. It would help us if you would write in the occupation on the left hand side of the form. The following examples which are not, of course, exhaustive may help as a guide to filling in this section.

1. Professional or Managerial Occupations

Lawyers, clergymen, doctors, pharmacists, engineers, surveyors, architects, civil servants (executive and administrative grades), actuaries, accountants, teachers, managers of industrial or commercial concerns, officers of local authorities, army, navy and air force officers, inspectors and other senior police officers.

2. Skilled Occupations

Market gardeners, fitters, electricians, instrument makers, foremen, overlookers, viewers, weavers, curriers, saddlers, boot and shoe makers, tailors, upholsterers, carpenters, joiners, engine-drivers, compositors, bookbinders, postmen, shop assistants, police constables, hewers, getters, and machinemen (in mining), bus drivers.

3. Clerical Occupations

Clerks (including Civil Service and Local Government clerical grades), Shorthand-typists, typists, secretaries, (not company secretaries), other office machine operators.

4. Partly Skilled Occupations

Agricultural workers, miners (other than those in 2), kilnmen, foundry labourers, metal enamellers, solderers and brazers, garment machinists and pressers, maltsters, platelayers, ticket-collectors, bus conductors, bargemen, barmen, laundry workers, packers, oilers and greasers.

5. Unskilled Occupations

Unskilled labourers generally, navvies, porters, dock labourers, lift attendants, costermongers, hawkers, newspaper sellers, watchmen, rag, bone, bottlesorters, kitchen hands.

(N.B. If the pupil's father has retired, but his former occupation is known he should be treated as still following it.)'


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APPENDIX V

NOTE ON PARAGRAPHS 37-39

As the basis of these paragraphs the relations between the variables X, T, and Y were explored, where, for each local education authority,

X stands for the percentage of the male population in the Census classes I and II.

T stands for the L.E.A. provision in maintained and direct grant grammar schools and streams, as a percentage of the total provision for pupils aged 13.

Y stands for the number of pupils still at school at the age of 17 as a percentage of the number of pupils aged 14 in all schools.

For the 40 county boroughs mentioned in the text, where the situation was least complicated by the presence of pupils with homes in other areas, the best linear relation for Y turned out to be Y = .23 T + .09 (X - 10), which gave a remarkably good fit, with a multiple correlation of .77. The simpler relation Y = .28 T - .36 gave a fit only slightly inferior, with a correlation of .74. The best relation for T in terms of X was T = .48 X + 11.0 with a correlation of .50, and for Y in terms of X a correlation of .57 was given. Y = .20 X + 1.53. A considerable amount of work would have been needed to correct the figures for the other areas by allowing for the presence of children from beyond their boundaries. An analysis of the uncorrected figures gave no reason to suppose that the underlying pattern was markedly different.