The Yellow Book (1976)
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School Education in England:
problems and initiatives
The Yellow Book (1976)
Secretary of State for Education and Science
© Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.
PROBLEMS AND INITIATIVES
EDUCATION AND SCIENCE
SCHOOL EDUCATION IN ENGLAND: PROBLEMS AND INITIATIVES
1. This paper has been written in reply to a request from the Prime Minister for a memorandum covering the following problems in primary and secondary education:
a. the issue of the basic approach to teaching the 3 R's in primary schools;2. The memorandum examines these matters in a wider framework, starting with a brief historical and analytical background. It goes on to discuss each in turn briefly, indicates what is already being done to investigate and improve the situation, and concludes with suggestions for further action.
3. In its origins in the nineteenth century public education in England was a purely elementary education system. By the 1930's there was a well developed system of public elementary schools, and an evolving, but still inadequate and imperfect public system of secondary education accessible to a growing number of pupils. In 1938 less than 10% of the school population was attending grant-aided or grammar schools. The great majority of children over 11 were in all-age or senior elementary schools. There were some 30,000 in junior technical schools and some in selective central schools which occupied an intermediate place between the elementary and grammar schools. (In Wales secondary education had taken a slightly different, and in some ways more favoured course between the wars.) A series of independent reports (Hadow, Spens, Norwood) drew attention to shortcomings in secondary education and suggested measures for rectifying them.
4. The 1944 Act defined primary, secondary and further education as successive stages in the educational system and laid it down that provision should be made for all children to be educated in accordance with age, ability, and aptitude. Local education authorities had to submit development plans for primary and
secondary education to embody the principles for reform, advocated in the thirties but which the War had held back. In particular, primary and secondary education were to be provided in separate schools (shortage of building resources delayed the completion of this reform for over ten years.) The school leaving age (12 in 1899, 14 in 1918) was to be raised first to 15 (1947) and then 16 (eventually achieved in 1972.)
5. In accordance with the ideas of the Norwood Report (which now appear dated and naive) it was taken for granted (but not embodied in statute) that secondary schools would belong to three categories: grammar, technical and modern. As building resources became available many new secondary modern schools were built. They were envisaged as following a non-academic curriculum and being free from the burden of external examinations. During their brief heyday of some 15 years the secondary modern schools had varying success. But they never attained the "parity of esteem" with other secondary schools to which they aspired, and the concept of the secondary modern school failed to hold its own when the tide towards comprehensive education began to flow strongly in the early '60s. Nevertheless some became very good schools and the subsequent development of comprehensive education could not have proceeded as it did without their pioneering work in adapting secondary education to the needs of the less able.
6. The elimination of selection in secondary education became official policy under the Labour Government in 1965. In order to make the most efficient use of existing buildings, and in response to differing educational opinions, local education authorities were allowed to adopt diverse organisational patterns. The three most common types are -
a. all through (11-18) comprehensive schools;*a tertiary college is basically a further education college which also takes in 16-19s who would otherwise be at school.
By 1975 61 per cent of secondary schools in England and Wales (3,069 out of 5,035), attended by 70 per cent of secondary pupils (2,667,000 out of 3,827,000) were comprehensive.
The Problems of Growth
7. The 1944 Act ranks with the Acts of 1870 and 1902 as one of the great reforming Education Acts, and its implementation would have posed major problems at any time. But coming into effect as it did at the close of the Second World War and at the outset of a period of sustained population growth, it faced the education service with a need for greatly increased resources at a particularly difficult time.
8. In 1945 the school population of England and Wales was about 5 million; in 1975, 9 million. (It will decline from 1977/78.) The growth in the total school population since 1945 has been due in part to the raising of the school leaving age, and in part to an increase in the proportion of the age-group remaining at school after 16. Buildings and teachers had to be found for the increased numbers (and to serve the movement of population to new towns and vast new housing estates.) But over all this period no significant number of children was ever out of school for lack of buildings or teachers. Indeed, the exceptional measures taken have resulted in staffing standards being better, numerically, than ever before. These facts are illustrated graphically in Appendix I.
9. On paper, therefore, the achievements of the education service look impressive. We have, despite economic difficulties, coped with an 80% increase in school population; raised the school leaving age twice. For these purposes massive building programmes have been carried through and the teaching force greatly expanded. For the first time, over the last generation, we have set out to provide a genuinely universal free secondary education, and to that end have put in hand, and largely carried out, the greatest reorganisation of schools in our educational history. Yet the press and the media, reflecting a measure of genuine public concern, as well as some misgivings within the teaching profession itself, are full of complaints about the performance of the schools. Why is this? Has something gone wrong? If so, how is it to be put right? The following paragraphs examine these questions, in relation first to primary education, and then to secondary education.
10. The criticisms commonly heard of the primary schools may be imprecise and vague but they fall into a recognisable and fairly consistent pattern. They are not narrowly confined to any particular social or economic group. They blame the schools for a lack of discipline and application, and a failure to achieve satisfactory results in formal subjects, particularly in reading and arithmetic. What are the facts?
11. Although the primary schools have not been subjected to the organisational changes to which the secondary schools were exposed, many of them did undergo important changes of character during the post-war years. These changes were the expression of an approach to primary teaching which gained the adherence of many leading practitioners in the schools and colleges of education and were endorsed by the influential Plowden Report which appeared in 1966. This "child centred" approach had as its underlying aims: to deal with children's individual differences, to develop their understanding rather than to feed them with information, and to use their enthusiasms. It was fully adopted in only a minority of schools but its general influence on teaching methods was widespread. From the point of view of internal organisation, it normally manifested itself in the abandonment of streaming, in a departure from the class as the normal teaching unit in favour of flexible groups of various sizes, sometimes constituted vertically through age-groups, and sometimes in team teaching. In terms of teaching methods it invariably involved a move away from rote learning. In addition, to a greater or lesser degree, formal subjects gave way to varied progress of individual or group work, sometimes on a project basis. Aesthetic subjects and "free expression" were given greater prominence.
12. In the right hands this approach is capable of producing admirable results. Under favourable circumstances children could be relaxed, confident and happy; schools run on such lines excited widespread international interest and admiration. Able teachers secured these results without sacrificing standards of performance in the three R's and in other accomplishments; indeed there were steady improvements. Unfortunately these newer and freer methods could prove a trap to less able and experienced teachers who failed to recognise that they required a careful and systematic monitoring of the progress of individual children in specific skills, as well as a careful planning of the opportunities offered to them. Nor are they always understood and appreciated by parents even when successfully applied.
13. As a result, while primary teachers in general still recognise the importance of formal skills, some have allowed performance in them to suffer as a result of the uncritical application of informal methods; and the time is almost certainly ripe for a corrective shift of emphasis. HM Inspectors have for some time stressed the need to make teachers conscious of the importance of a systematic approach. The trainers of teachers, and the local advisers, increasingly accept this view and its adoption should be made easier by the increased stability and experience of the teacher force.
14. Criticisms of the secondary schools are more diverse. In part they follow the same lines as the criticism of the primary schools and are based on the feeling that the schools have become too easy-going and demand too little work, and inadequate standards of performance in formal subjects, from their pupils.
15. Other elements are, however, present. Some stem from the resentment of middle-class parents at the disappearance of the grammar schools, and reflect the fear that the comprehensive schools will offer a less rigorous education, and, ultimately, worse career opportunities to their sons and daughters. Some arise from the more participatory style of schools which may permit 13-14 year old pupils to choose unbalanced or not particularly profitable curricula or to opt in numbers insufficient for the country's needs for scientific and technological subjects. In addition there are pressures from a variety of specialised lobbies for the secondary curriculum to embrace their particular aims, and complaints if the response to these pressures is judged to be inadequate. These pressures are not only diverse, but in some cases directly conflicting.
16. For a judgement on how far the various criticisms are justified one must consider the aims of secondary schooling and the constraints within which the schools have to work. We may also reasonably take note of what the schools are achieving in terms of examination results, recognising that success in fields which lend themselves to external examination is only one criterion of
achievement. While comparisons across the years are difficult because of changes in the style of the GCE examinations and the introduction in the mid-60s of the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) , what does seem clear (see Appendix I, Chart G) is that examination performance has held up very well.
17. The aims of the schools are necessarily multiple. One statement of these, which has stood reasonably well the test of successive re-consideration over the last couple of years, reads as follows:
"i. to enable children to acquire the basic skills of literacy, oracy, and numeracy and to stimulate their curiosity and imagination;18. Concerning the constraints: first, the schools inevitably and rightly seek to enshrine and transmit the values of the society that they serve. But society is undergoing almost continuous, quite rapid change, with uncertainties about its own values which undermine the assurance with which the teachers and the schools can approach their task. Second, and linked with this, society is pluralist - in many aspects, for example in its attitudes to sex education and religious education. It is quite simply impossible to satisfy all sections of a pluralist society. Third, the schools are but one influence on children and not always the most significant. The schools can seek to extend pupils' sources of information and capacity to make critical judgements, but in many socially sensitive areas the climate outside school of their homes and peer groups is likely to be more influential. Fourth, there is a shortage of time in which to pursue all the relevant objectives, about 1,000 days in fact for a whole 5-year secondary school course.
19. There has also been a fifth difficulty of short-term character, associated with the raising of the school-leaving age in 1972. This, like the earlier raising to 15 in 1947, generated some short-term problems which are now receding. On the one hand the first cohorts of pupils had not expected to be kept at school to 16 and included some who were the more recalcitrant on that account; on the other, despite considerable national and local efforts, many teachers had not worked out the full implications of a five-year course for all pupils. It now appears that the great majority of the age-group are integrated into courses designed to take pupils through to 16. There remain, however, considerable problems about the proper shape of these 5-year courses for all pupils.
20. No one could deny that there are currently weaknesses in secondary schools. Some of these are by-products of the change to comprehensive education. This change has made it necessary to work out new patterns of internal organisation and curriculum, and faced existing teachers, whose previous experience had been in teaching only part of the whole ability-range, with difficult problems of professional adjustment. We are probably over the worst of the teething troubles arising from reorganisation, though it has to be recognised that the final stages of this process will involve some of the most difficult physical and educational problems. Many schools are in any case still operating in split sites or in premises which impose educational constraints.
21. Partly because of the rapid growth of secondary education from a small base (see Appendix I, Chart C) the teaching force is not as well equipped, in terms of formal qualifications, as we would wish. Shortages in some specialisms - mathematics, physics, handicrafts - are well known. The Bullock Report found that in secondary schools "a third of those teaching English had no discernible qualification for the role".
22. Formal qualifications apart, because of its recent and rapid expansion, the teaching force contains a disproportionate number of young and inexperienced teachers (a situation which will, however, now be changing). In the less definable qualities of skill and personality, while the best teachers are up to very high standards, the average is probably below what used to be expected, in, for example, a good grammar school. (Explanations would be largely speculative - but the much greater call now made by education on the resources of skill and ability must be partly responsible).
23. One consequence of teacher inexperience (in some cases, incapacity) may have been overcompensation for their worries over disciplinary problems*. Many teachers
*A note on the specific question of violence and truancy is at Appendix 6.
have felt these to have been accentuated by comprehensive reorganisation and the raising of the school-leaving age. In an almost desperate attempt to modify styles of teaching and learning so as to capture the imagination and enlist the cooperation of their more difficult pupils, some of them have possibly been too ready to drop their sights in setting standards of performance, and have failed to develop new styles of assessment.
24. A further weakness, as we may now perceive it, is that some teachers and some schools may have over-emphasised the importance of preparing boys and girls for their roles in society compared with the need to prepare them for their economic role. It would be anachronistic and unfair to blame the schools for this, because, to the extent that they exhibited this bias, they are responding to the mood of the country and indeed to the priorities displayed by the wider policies of successive governments; but here, as in the primary schools, the time may now be ripe for a change (as the national mood and government policies have changed in the face of hard and irreducible economic facts).
25. A further source of worry is the variation in the curriculum followed by pupils in different schools or parts of the country or in different ability bands. So far as those taking examinations are concerned (around three-quarters of school leavers) the following table shows - in terms of national average - the pattern of subject-entries for CSE and GCE 'O'-level examinations.
Percentage of candidates attempting individual subjects
These figures show that English and mathematics are common to a substantial proportion of secondary pupils (the GCE figures - mathematics for example - need to be treated with caution because the candidates include those from further education and overseas as well as the schools. Otherwise the table does no more than establish that the traditional elements of the curriculum are to greater or less degree represented. There must be grounds for dissatisfaction in the lowly position in the list of subjects such as modern languages, and the physical sciences. An analysis of the courses followed by individual pupils in school, particularly perhaps the most and least able, would reveal further causes for dissatisfaction in terms of the general balance of their studies. The time has probably come to try to establish generally accepted principles for the composition of the secondary curriculum for all pupils, that is to say a "core curriculum". One advantage of the existence of such a curriculum would be its guarantee of relative continuity to children moving between schools in different parts parts of the country. The creation of a suitable core curriculum will not, however, be easy. Pupils in their later years [of] secondary schooling (up to and beyond the age of compulsory attendance) have a wide range of interests and expectations, and suitable provision will have to be made for vocational elements within school education for those who will benefit from this. Extensive consideration and consultation will be needed before a core curriculum could be introduced.
26. The following paragraphs summarise the present position under the four heads of the Prime Minister's original inquiry. They should, however, be read against the background of the wider analysis attempted above; taken in isolation they are incomplete and may be misleading.
Teaching of the 3 R's in Primary Schools
27. As described in paragraphs 10-13 above, primary school teachers have over the years been developing a teaching approach which takes more account of the individual differences of children. In the hands of a skilled teacher this "child-centred" approach can greatly advance the learning process for large numbers of children, although it can also have adverse consequences if not applied with adequate understanding and skill. For success, teaching of a high quality is needed, with careful planning and a clear understanding of aims. There are signs that [it] is becoming more widely understood that the new approaches do demand rigour and some recognition of the widely-varying capabilities of individual teachers. The challenge is to restore the rigour without damaging the real benefits of the child-centred developments.
The Curriculum for Older Children in Comprehensive Schools
28. Given the separate reference to the 16-19 year olds (paragraphs 34-35 below), this question has been interpreted as relating to those at the end of their compulsory schooling period, ie the 15 and to some extent the 14 year olds. Already some advances have been made through extension of practically-based courses within the schools, the provision of "linked courses"* and, in some cases, of work experience for older pupils. A good example of what can be done by the imaginative development of school and further education links is to be found now in North Oxfordshire. There is still scope for considerable extension of this kind of provision. But the question is really part of the wider problems of the curriculum in secondary schools which are discussed in paragraphs 19-25 above. Proposals for further action in this area are outlined in sub-paragraphs.
The Examination System
29. This broad title offers scope for discussion at various levels. At the level of generalisation and broad principle, it would be possible to consider the several purposes of school examinations. As we suggest in para 58 below further work must and will be done on these matters. Consistently with their general function as described in paras 48-51 below, the Schools Council have pursued examination issues with narrower motivation and a more limited focus of concern.
30. The state of play on actual proposals for changes in school examinations is as follows. After prolonged consideration within the Schools Council organisation, and the expenditure of a good deal of time and money on feasibility studies two major proposals for changes in the examination system are coming to a head. A third (concerned with modification of the present GCE 'A' level arrangements) is under consideration but will not come forward this year and it is not discussed further in this paper.
*"Linked courses ie arrangements whereby pupils still at school attend a college of FE as an integral part of a jointly planned course."
31. The first recommendation (which has already been submitted to the Secretary of State for his approval by the Council) is that a new examination to be called the Certificate of Extended Education (CEE) , should be instituted. This would be intended to provide an examination target for boys and girls of about 17, who wish to continue their education at school after 16 but do not have the ability to tackle GCE 'A' level course. This new examination is strongly advocated by the National Union of Teachers and other groups which in the main support the Government's secondary education policies to which they regard it as complementary. Nevertheless the Department and Inspectorate have misgivings about its merit. The demand for it has almost certainly been overstated and the educational programmes followed by some pupils in the target group are of doubtful relevance to their needs. The new examination would not be useful as a stepping-stone to a further education course (nearly all of which are geared to entry at either 16 or 18). On general grounds the onus should be on the proposers to show it is worthwhile to add to the financial and other burdens of external examining in schools.
32. The recommendations for the replacement of GCE 'O' level and CSE by a new common system of examination at 16+ are expected to be submitted to the Secretary of State early in July. This proposal is of great importance for the secondary schools because the new examination would be the terminus of the main secondary school course and the target for the great majority of pupils. Not only is the proposal more important than the CEE proposal but it has greater merits and presents greater difficulties. In principle the creation of a common system of examination at 16+ would eliminate some difficulties associated with the present double system. But the Schools Council have not succeeded in demonstrating that the considerable technical and educational difficulties of examining over a very wide spectrum of ability have been solved, and they have not offered an agreed and workable plan for the administration of the proposed new examination by the existing examining bodies. The Department's reservations are shared by important sectors of the educational world.
33. It will be necessary to react to these proposals before the end of 1976 and both politically and intellectually it will be difficult to reach the right decisions and to secure their effective presentation to the educational world and the public at large.
The General Problems of 16-19 year olds, who have no prospect of going on directly to Higher Education
34. The Government is committed to treating the educational needs of this age group as a priority. For those with academic ability there are well-trodden routes through GCE 'A' level and technician courses to higher education, and for those combining average ability with practical interests through further education craft courses to various opportunities of skilled employment. A good deal of effort has been applied, with mixed success, to find suitable educational courses and aims for those who decide to stay at school after 16 but are not equipped to take GCE 'A' level courses.
35. The greatest concern, however, is for the 40% of school leavers who leave school at 16 and get no further education or vocational training. Appendix 2 is the text of the Government Statement on Vocational Preparation to be issued on 20 July. This represents the main initiative in the further education sector for the less academically able 16-19s. It is a good illustration of the essential principle that education and training must be planned in a unified way for these young people if they are to be attracted by courses and to gain practical benefit from them. Close cooperation between the education service and the Training Services Agency is crucial and the launching and management of the pilot schemes should increasingly develop this cooperation. One of the main difficulties on the educational side in helping to promote initiatives of this sort is the lack of central Government powers to fund local education authority schemes by means of specific grant. The TSA are much more happily placed in this respect and, if the Department is to playas constructive a role as it could wish, then serious thought needs to be given to some extension of powers in this direction.
36. Clearly much remains to be done and the final section of this paper outlines a number of proposals for further action. But a great deal of assessment and development work is already under way; some of the projects are described in the paragraphs that follow. These two sections must be read against the background of the problems presented by the current and continuing shortage of resources for education: desirable developments are being hampered or prevented because money for them cannot be found; and the proposals for further action could be totally frustrated by further cuts in resources for education particularly those that are under the direct influence of local authorities: in-service training which in many ways should play a central part in reform, is likely to be one of the first casualties.
The Work of HM Inspectorate
37. HM Inspectorate is without doubt the most powerful single agency to influence what goes on in schools, both in kind and standard. The Inspectorate antedates the Department and remains professionally independent of it; like the Department it is answerable to the Secretary of State. It is the oldest instrument for monitoring the education system and, from this primary function, it derives a second major role, that of improving the performance of the system. No exercise of power is involved in this search for improvement; the Inspectorate, by tradition and by choice, exerts influence by the presentation of evidence and by advice.
38. The basis of all HM Inspectorate's work is inspection in its various forms from routine visiting to formal exercises on an institutional, regional or national base. All inspection involves assessment and the communication of that assessment to those responsible. Formal exercises on institutions and the various sorts of survey give rise to reports issued to those who have the responsibility for provision and action. In terms of influence on the system, HMI's contribution depends less on inspection and routine liaison with LEAs, and increasingly on:-
i. specialist consultation with Chief Education Officers and LEA administrators;
39. HM Inspectorate number something over 400 of whom 300 are mainly concerned with schools and teacher training. Major policy lines both for inspection and for action in the various categories above are established at least a year to 18 months ahead by the Chief Inspectors, who take into account their knowledge of the system, departmental and ministerial policy needs and the work of other agencies in the field. Provision is always made for a limited amount of routine monitoring and slack is provided for the unforeseen urgent enquiry.a. DES short programme;iv. assessorships with professional associations, educational bodies, working parties, Schools Council, etc;
40. In the 3 or 4 years preceding the primary and secondary surveys, (see paras 44 and 46) the formal inspection programme paid particular attention to most of the matters of concern to the Prime Minister, ie reading and language development in the primary school, curricula for older children in secondary schools and the 16-19 problem in its various forms. These appear again as major items in the short-course programme and in the courses organised by HMI and universities involved in teacher education. Mathematics in the primary school was the subject of continuous concentrated action both in the short-course programme and in conferences for teacher trainers.
41. Despite initial reluctance on the part of much of the education system, an increasing number of courses on assessment and evaluation have been put on and in
the autumn of 1975 an invitation course for senior administrators and advisers examined the available styles of evaluation and their functions within the education system. Conference of HMI and LEA advisers are regularly called to consider national priorities and related roles in in-service training, particularly with regard to primary education and language development.
42. Neither courses nor inspections are teacher-proof. To be effective HMI's effort has be part of the whole system and not an outside intervention. Much depends of local advisory support and even more on the proper exercise of their functions by heads and heads of department. Some 30 national and 75 local courses have been mounted by the COSMOS (Committee for the Organisation, Staffing and Management of Schools) group of HMI. These courses, for administrators, advisers and key teachers, have increasingly concerned themselves with primary and middle schools as well as secondary. They give clear guidance on the roles of personnel within the system, particularly within the school.
43. The immediate past has been a lean period for publications, largely as a result of over-reaction to the emergence of the Schools Council (of paragraph 48). This policy is now reversed and a list of projected publications is to be found together with a short selection of titles in print (in Appendix 3). Such publications stand or fall solely on their merits, which is one of the reasons why the Inspectorate has retained its acceptability through the era of assertive "teacher power".
44. It will be clear from what has been said that our judgment of the situation depends a good deal upon qualitative assessments because many of the relevant factors cannot be quantified. But more systematic information on some aspects could be obtained. With this object the Inspectorate has during the past year begun a major survey of primary schools which will be completed in the academic year 1977/78. It covers 500 schools in England and Wales and comprises a field survey by the Inspectorate in parallel with a quantitative measurement of educational attainment in these schools conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER). Details of the survey are given in Appendix 3. No comparable survey has been attempted by HM Inspectors since 1944; when completed it should constitute the most thorough account of primary schools in this country.
45. As part of its activities in following up the Bullock Report (dealt with at greater length in Appendix 4) the Inspectorate carried out a small scale monitoring exercise based on visits to primary schools in the areas of 80 LEAs in the autumn of 1975. The results showed a conscious effort by the staffs of the schools to put into effect the recommendations of the Report which concerned them. Many of the teachers in the schools visited had participated in in-service training courses of one sort or another related to the Bullock recommendations. The Inspectorate has continued and will continue its monitoring of Bullock by enquiries through district inspectors about overall progress and by specialist sampling. The language component of the primary and secondary surveys also relates closely to the implementation of the Bullock Report.
46. The primary survey is being matched by an analogous survey of the secondary schools, and the Bullock follow-up programme, already referred to, includes secondary as well as primary schools. The secondary school examination system is also under consideration, as discussed in paragraphs 29-33 above.
47. Considerable attention has been devoted by the Inspectorate to the organisation of secondary schools. This includes both the advantages and disadvantages of different patterns of comprehensive organisation, and the implications of different types of internal organisation. Courses and conferences have been organised to help head teachers and others with special responsibilities to cope with the novel problems of organisation in comprehensive schools. Within the Inspectorate studies have been made both of the state of education in different geographical areas, and of different subjects within the curriculum. Surveys of different aspects of the work of the schools (which extend to their social as well as educational roles) have been written and published (concerning eg the needs immigrants, pupils with learning difficulties, and career education).
48. In the early sixties it became apparent to the Department that a positive initiative was required to promote innovation in the school curriculum. This led to the setting up within the Department of a curriculum study group (CSG) with the objectives described in its Annual Report for 1962. (See Appendix 5)
49. However despite the care which the Group took to emphasise its respect for the responsibilities of teachers and local education authorities, opposition to it led the then Minister to decide that the work of CSG as well as that of the Secondary School Examinations Council (a body with a relatively long history) should be absorbed into an independent body to be called the Schools Council, which was set up in October 1964, with the following terms of reference -
"The object of the Schools Council shall be the promotion of education by carrying out research into and keeping under review the curricula, teaching methods and examinations in schools, including the organisation of schools so far as it affects their curricula".
50. The Schools Council has performed moderately in commissioning development work in particular curricula areas; it has had little success in tackling examination problems, despite the availability of resources which its predecessor (the Secondary Schools Examination Council) never had; and it has scarcely begun to tackle the problems of the curriculum as a whole. Despite some good quality staff work, the overall performance of the Schools Council has in fact, both on curriculum and on examinations, been generally mediocre. Because of this and because the influence of the teachers' unions has led to an increasingly political flavour - in the worst sense of the word - in its deliberations, the general reputation of the Schools Council has suffered a considerable decline over the last few years. In the light of this recent experience it is open to question whether the constitution of the Schools Council strikes the right balance of responsibility for the matters with which it deals. These issues could come to a head later this year in the context of the Council's recommendations to the Secretary of State about examinations.
51. Nevertheless, the Schools Council has carried out and published a considerable volume of work in the field of the curriculum and examinations, and some of the development projects which it has commissioned have made a valuable contribution to the development of the school curriculum. Appendix 5 also contains further information about the Schools Council and illustrates the range of its published work.
Assessment of Performance Unit
52. The Assessment of Performance Unit (APU) was set up as recently as August 1974 (see Cmnd 5720). Its start was slow, partly because of suspicion in some quarters of the teaching profession (the National Union of Teachers in particular) and partly
because of delay in finding a Chairman for its consultative committee. This committee, which is widely representative of educational interests, has now met under Professor Barry Supple of Sussex University. Otherwise the Unit itself is a small group within DES under the leadership of a Staff Inspector, with a share of the Department's research budget at its disposal. It will work largely by commissioning outside projects and is supported by a coordinating group and several specialist sub-groups drawn partly from the Department and Inspectorate and partly from outside.
53. The terms of reference of the Unit, as set out in the White Paper, are as follows:
"To promote the development of methods of assessing and monitoring the achievement of children at school, and to seek to identify the incidence of underachievement."Its tasks are listed as being:
"1. To identify and appraise existing instruments and methods of assessment which may be relevant for these purposes.54. The Unit is now engaged in the first of these tasks. In terms of the curriculum the priorities are to follow up the recommendations of the Bullock Report about the testing of reading and the use of language, to evaluate and pursue the reports on testing mathematical aptitude (TAMS) previously commissioned by the Department through its research budget and to make a start in considering the assessment of science. Thereafter it will turn its attention to other areas of the curriculum.
The Taylor Committee was set up in May 1975 under the chairmanship of
Councillor Tom Taylor of Blackburn. Its terms of reference are -
"To review the arrangements for the management and government of maintained primary and secondary schools in England and Wales, including the composition and functions of bodies of managers and governors, and their relationship with local education authorities, with head teachers and staffs of schools, with parents of pupils and with the local community at large; and to make recommendations."56. The membership of the Committee includes teachers, members of local authorities, representatives of the Churches, and independent persons. The constitution of bodies of governors or managers (the terminology serves only to distinguish secondary and primary schools and has no other significance) is in broad terms laid down in the 1944 Education Act and some guidance on the relevant principles had been given by the Department in 1944. But no fundamental review of either the principles or the detailed arrangements had been undertaken since 1944 (in contrast to what had been done for institutions of further education) and there was a widespread feeling that the matter was overdue for review. Some local education authorities either had adopted or wished to adopt arrangements at variance with the ideas set out by the Department in 1944 and strong pressure had developed from the teachers associations for a bigger say in the running of the schools to be given to the teachers in them. Since the Committee was set up the publicity given to the troubles at the William Tyndale School in London has given added point to the work of the Committee and the publication of the report of the Tyndale public enquiry this month will enhance the interest with which the report of the Taylor Committee will be awaited.
57. Although, when the Committee was set up, the Chairman professed himself as very anxious to report early, it is still by no means certain what will emerge from its deliberations. Clearly it will be expected to express views on the balance of power which should obtain in the running of the schools between various interests (local education authorities, teachers, parents). But the Committee is rightly looking at more fundamental questions about the proper functions of governing bodies and their place in the overall system of control. Since responsibility for the broad outline of what is taught is one of the most important functions in question, the report of the Committee could be relevant to the issues considered in this paper. It is as yet too early to judge whether it will make a significant contribution to the debate.
58. The following specific lines of action are suggested:
a. Since much of the necessary action will directly involve LEAs, the Inspectorate may need to strengthen its lines of communication and use a more direct style, particularly on specialist matters.
g. Specific areas of the curriculum need attention each in its own terms. New appraisals produced by the Inspectorate (within a regular annual cycle of activity) covering the main subject areas will be available in September. On the basis of these appraisals the Department will consider what more should be done to advance learning in particular areas, especially in mathematics, science and modern languages. For example, HM Inspectorate can step up their efforts through publications, courses and assessorships. The possibility of outside enquiries into these areas of the curriculum, or aspects of them, will be considered at the same time.
is no quick and easy solution to this problem. In so far as initial training is concerned, although the Secretary of State has some powers to direct institutions as to the numbers and category of students to be admitted, these powers cannot compensate for a shortage of qualified applicants. Schools need to encourage more pupils to study mathematics, science and technology (see para 15) and to seek careers in teaching. Despite teacher unemployment it would almost certainly remain necessary to attract into teaching well qualified mathematicians, scientists and technologists who have started their careers in industry and commerce. The development of links with the further education system (see sub paragraph e above) will in small measure help to alleviate the teacher shortage.
p. As noted in paragraph 50 above, the performance of the Schools Council has been disappointing. There will have to be a review of its functions and constitution. The timing, however, needs careful attention (although a move may be precipitated by the examination issue).
This statement is concerned with young people who have left school and are entering work and especially with those very large numbers who go into jobs where they receive no further education and little or no systematic training. We believe that properly conceived vocational preparation at this crucial stage would not only raise the economic contribution of these young people but would enhance their chances for development in a personal as well as a vocational sense.
We believe that a new approach is needed; but we recognise that it will take time to get established. Quite apart from the present economic restraints, there is a need for experiment to establish what forms of vocational preparation will attract young people and win the support of their employers. There will need to be a careful blend of training and further education.
In this statement the Government proposes a programme of experimental schemes of vocational preparation to begin this autumn. The Manpower Services Commission will be fully associated with the development of this proposal. The programme will be a joint venture requiring collaboration between the training and education services in close association with the other interests. This statement is therefore being widely circulated in the hope that it will be considered and discussed, and will help all those concerned with the development of vocational preparation schemes.
Introduction and Summary
1. The Government have already announced their intention to give priority to the vocational preparation of young people aged 16 to 19. This statement examines the problems, attempts to identify needs and objectives, and proposes a course of action.
2. There has been much public discussion in the last year or two about the difficulties that arise for young people in the transition from school to work. In addition the Employment and Education Departments have recently completed a wide-ranging study of the whole process of "getting ready for work", with which the Training Services Agency was closely involved. The Agency in itself published a discussion paper in May 1975 on which comments were received from employers, trade union~ educational interests and others.
3. The Government's own thinking is based on these studies, on the comments which the TSA's discussion paper evoked, and on the advice which the Government have received from the Manpower Services Commission. The essential features of the proposals were discussed and welcomed at the recent conference on "16-19: Getting Ready for Work".
4. The Government's main conclusion is that the development of new kinds of vocational preparation is an essential preliminary to expanding opportunities for young people. Any new initiatives for the next few years will have to be financed from existing planned public expenditure totals; but if the necessary development work can be undertaken now, the foundation for future progress in improving vocational preparation will have been laid.
5. The transition from education to work is a crucial turning-point and there is a clear obligation on the education and training services to help young people to cope with the change. This statement concentrates on the problems of those leaving school at or near the minimum leaving age, both because these are the largest group and because too little is done for them at present. Large numbers of them enter jobs where they receive little or no further education or training, because their need for some systematic form of preparation for work is still not generally recognised. This is reflected in the fact that day release
rates have not risen as hoped, and in some occupations remain extremely low. There is a strong social and economic case for giving greater help to these youngsters, even if it cannot be precisely quantified.
6. At least part of the trouble is attributable to the separate development of education and training. For many young people entering the world of work the only available supplement to minimal on-the-job training has been part-time further education of a kind which is associated in their minds with school and which they are inclined to reject as being no longer appropriate for them. To engage their interest, and win the support of their employers, a new and unified approach is required.
7. The essentials of this approach are:
i. That vocational preparation should be jointly planned and provided by the education and training services, and should combine education and training elements inseparably.8. A new relationship will need to be created between the education and training services; and new methods will need to be developed. It is therefore proposed that a carefully designed and evaluated programme of pilot schemes of vocational preparation should be undertaken. With the co-operation of the education and training services, it is hoped that the first of these will start in September of this year.
9. This statement is essentially concerned with the contribution to vocational preparation made by the further education and training services. But the process does not begin when young people leave school, nor does it end when they get jobs. Schools are responsible for providing general education and certain basic knowledge and skills, for careers education and for imparting some understanding of life at work; the Careers Service is concerned with vocational guidance and
job-finding; and employers are responsible for the induction and specific training of new recruits to meet the requirements of their particular jobs. The education service needs as full an understanding as possible of employers' requirements, while employers need to understand what the educators are seeking to achieve. A further objective must therefore be to improve the dialogue between the education service and employers.
The Case For Action
10. Approximately 750,000 young people leave school in Great Britain each year, more than half of them at the minimum school leaving age of 16. Some 600,000 enter the labour market directly, and about half of these receive no further education and little or nor systematic training. A high proportion are girls, who are less likely to enter occupations offering long-term training, or to be released by their employers for part-time education.
11. This low rate of participation in continued education or training is a cause for concern. The paucity of provision for about 40% of school leavers contrasts with the resources devoted to the other 60%. Despite the growth in opportunities for training and further education during the past twenty years or so, far too many young people still fail to benefit.
12. Most young people find jobs of one sort or another and adapt to the demands of working life. But the absence of organised preparation for work can be damaging and disillusioning. Without proper induction young workers may feel that no-one much cares what they do, how well they do it or how they should develop. Commitment to the job and an interest in the wider functions and success of the firm are less likely to grow; and performance and productivity will suffer.
13. From the point of view of the firm, if potential is not developed the competence of the workforce will be lower than it might be. Even if employees have the narrower skills to meet the immediate demands of their jobs, a lack of wider knowledge will tend to inhibit their performance as well as to reduce their mobility and versatility within the firm; and re-training will be more difficult and expensive. On a wider front, inadequate vocational preparation is an obstacle to movement between companies, industries and occupations. Yet these days the importance of increasing the adaptability of the workface [workforce?] can scarcely be exaggerated.
14. The success of any enterprise depends to an important degree on good personal relationships, which in turn not only depend on attitudes and good-will, but call for certain general skills, especially the ability to communicate effectively. The development of such skills, which are needed in all jobs and at all levels, is too often neglected; and it should be treated as an essential element in vocational preparation for young people.
15. The economic gain from improved vocational preparation is not precisely quantifiable. The case cannot be strictly made out in manpower terms, since the shortcomings in the existing arrangements do not result immediately in shortages of workers with defined packages of skills. But the Government are in no doubt that the right kind of vocational preparation at the outset of working life would lift the level of performance of many young workers and would enable them to adapt to change more readily and to work more effectively in future years.
16. Similarly, the social and communal benefits of good vocational preparation are difficult to assess exactly, but they should be real and substantial if the aims and objectives summarised in paragraphs 25 to 29, below, are made central to the planning of schemes. The personal development of young people as citizens and the development of skills and working potential should march closely together.
Reasons For Low Participation In Further Education and Training
17. There are already in this country well developed education and training arrangements, responsive to demand and flexible in operation. Why then are so many young people unwilling or unable to use them? The problem is that their educational and training needs so often escape identification, especially in kinds of employment where the immediately obvious skill requirement may not be high.
18. Employers understandably need to be convinced of the relevance and long-term value of off-the-job training and further education if they are to accept the loss of production involved in the release of their young employees. Their attitudes are also affected by purely practical considerations; those with small working units may for example find difficulty in organising work to allow for intermittent release.
19. Some young people embrace the opportunity of employment-orientated or more general studies, but others do not see the relevance to themselves of such studies.
20. These are some of the reasons why the latent demand for organised vocational preparation has failed to find expression. The development of separate traditions of further education and training has not helped. If progress is to be made, a real synthesis of education and training must be achieved. Forms of vocational preparation must be devised which will be seen to be relevant to young workers' needs, and so carry conviction with them and their employers.
Pointers To Progress
21. There are a number of kinds of provision which already combine education and training elements, and point the way towards the development of a more coherent strategy. They include, for example:
i. full-time first-year off-the-job training for craft and technician apprentices;22. These courses differ in institutional focus, in the extent to which education and training are combined, and in many detailed respects. But they are all meeting, with some success, the vocational and broader needs of various groups of young people. What they have in common is the recognition that training and education are related aspects of a single process of learning designed both to prepare for employment and lead to broader personal development.
23. The extension of such a unified approach to vocational preparation, involving the joint planning and provision of training and further education, will not be easy. It will require an equal partnership of trainers and educators at all levels, with joint planning and development of curricula and teaching and learning methods. There are many links already, and the existing machinery, with some development, should provide an adequate basis for collaboration.
24. In endorsing the unified approach to vocational preparation, and commending it to all concerned, the Government recognise that the scope for innovation is limited at present by economic circumstances. The first priority is clear: the improvement of provision for young people entering employment where they get no further education and little or no systematic training.
Aims And Objectives Of Vocational Preparation
25. As part of the broad aim of giving young people a fair start in working life, initial vocational preparation should assist young people:
i. to assess their potential and think realistically about jobs and careers;26. The personal development of young people should not be seen as a separate objective of vocational preparation for which education and training provision can be specifically designed. Rather it is implicit in all the above objectives, and, to the extent that they are attained, there should be a corresponding development in maturity. This should involve increased self-confidence and a surer sense of personal identity; responsibility and adaptability in working relationships; and a disposition to plan ahead and seek out opportunities for employment, training and further education.
27. Clearly the schools make a major initial contribution. Vocational preparation after school should build on, and consolidate, the work of the schools. It should also be designed in recognition of the fact that young school leavers are trying to manage, simultaneously, a number of difficult transitions; from childhood to adulthood, from school to work, and from dependence on parents to self-dependence. Courses designed for them should be demonstrably relevant to these transitions.
28. Thus the general objectives defined in paragraph 24 will need to be interpreted in the light of the realities of life at work. The basic skills required, for example, include the ability to communicate in a range of working situations. An understanding of society will involve knowledge of the structure of industry and commerce, industrial relations, and the role of the trade unions.
29. The specific way in which these objectives will be met will vary with the type of occupation. Different provision will have to be made for operatives in the manufacturing and service industries (eg machine attendants and shelf-fillers), for young people in office employment (eg receptionists, counter-clerks, or office juniors), and for those in jobs requiring a number of specific skills (eg process workers and progress clerks). Again the vocational orientation may be more or less specific, depending on whether the young people are already in employment or about to enter it. The need to provide an element of counselling (personal and vocational guidance) will also vary.
Pilot Schemes Of Vocational Preparation
30. The present low rates of participation in further education and training point to shortcomings in the kinds of provision now being offered and the need for a new departure. But a widespread extension of opportunities in accordance with the new, but as yet untested, approach would be a leap into the dark. Economic constraint makes it necessary to proceed gradually, but carefully planned and evaluated experiments, even on quite a small scale, can make a virtue of that necessity by showing what forms of vocational preparation will best attract and benefit young people and win the support of their employers.
31. The Government therefore intend to mount, with the co-operation of the education and training interests, and the help of other interested bodies, a programme of pilot schemes lasting for at least two or three years, to develop and test new kinds of provision and the related administrative arrangements. Decisions on the nature and location of schemes will taken account of the levels of youth unemployment, current rates of participation in post-school education, the need to ensure a geographical spread and to cover a range of industries and occupations, and local interest, facilities and other circumstances.
32. In England and Wales interested bodies will be invited to participate in the planning and development of the pilot schemes. In addition to the LEAs and the TSA, these may include the Careers Service, Industrial Training Boards, employers' organisations, trade unions, youth, community and other voluntary organisations. The TSA intends to discuss with certain of the Industrial Training Boards, which have already done a good deal of work on vocational preparation, the possibility of developing schemes with them as part of the programme. A broadly based steering committee, or some other suitable consultative machinery, will be set up to oversee the operation of each of the schemes, within general guidelines applying to the programme as a whole.
33. In Scotland the intention is that there should be a suitably representative Scottish Committee to advise the SED and TSA on the number, type and location of schemes and on how they should be developed; in addition a small working group would be concerned with the detailed work of developing curricula, learning methods and evaluation.
34. It is intended that about 20 schemes, lasting an average of 12 weeks full-time (or the part-time equivalent), will be set up as soon as possible. It is expected that the number of young people for whom provision under the programme will be made will rise to about 6,000 a year.
35. Although the programme will be a limited one it will embrace a variety of approaches, including schemes which precede or follow the entry to work, or which span the transition. Schemes for those in employment may be full-time, part-time or a mixture. They may be based in colleges of further education, skill centres,
or Industrial Training Board or employers' establishments. Certainly if the young people are in employment at least part of the training should be done in employers' establishments. Whatever the main institutional base, it should not preclude the use of a wider range of community resources: eg, in youth, community and adult education centres, or schools.
36. Central control and co-ordination will be the joint responsibility of the Education Departments and the TSA. The central function will also include the monitoring and evaluation of the schemes which will have research and evaluation built into them from the outset.
37. These arrangements do not preclude and are not meant to inhibit the development of other courses of vocational preparation, outside the ambit of the pilot programme, where local education authorities wish to undertake their own associated experiments and can find the necessary resources. These might include courses in or based on schools, designed primarily for pupils over compulsory school age as an extension of work which is already undertaken in a number of schools. Similarly, some of the Industrial Training Boards, and other bodies such as group training organisations, might wish to carry on with or initiate work on vocational preparation outside the experimental programme.
38. The recurrent costs of the pilot schemes will be met from central Government funds, but contained within present budgets. The schemes will use existing premises and no extra capital expenditure provision will be made. For young people in employment, course attendance should involve no loss of wages. In certain existing training schemes grants are available, mainly from Industrial Training Board funds, which partially recompense employers for the cost of wages as well as training costs. The need for analogous incentives to encourage them to release young people will be explored in the individual case as the schemes are set up. A limited number of the young people taking part in the schemes will not be in employment and they will be eligible for training allowances at the rate currently applicable to TSA courses.
39. These financial arrangements apply only to the pilot schemes, and carry no implications for the funding of vocational preparation outside or beyond the development programme.
Teaching And Learning Methods
40. The unified approach to vocational preparation will present a challenge to teachers and instructors. Experience gained from conventional courses of further education or training may be an inadequate guide for the creation of new kinds of task-orientated (though not necessarily job-specific) learning in situations, which the young person's active participation will be required. The aims, content and style of teaching and instruction will need rethinking, with the counselling function well to the fore. This may require special in-service training. Teamwork will be essential, calling for collaboration not only with colleagues in the institutions where the schemes are centred, but others in education or industry, or in youth and community work, who may play a part.
41. An important pre-requisite for the successful development in the longer term of schemes of vocational preparation will be new departures in further education curricula. Responsibility for examinations and curriculum development in further education is widely dispersed, and there is no single controlling or co-ordinating influence. The Government intends to establish for England and Wales a unit for curriculum review and development to make possible a more cohesive approach. Further details are given in the appendix. Separate arrangements are planned for Scotland.
1. Curricula in further education are at present largely determined in relation to the existing qualification structure and the examination system associated with it. This structure has developed in response to the various demands of industry and commerce for qualified personnel at differing levels of attainment; and the further education system now provides a wide variety of courses leading to the relevant qualifying examinations. The qualifications themselves are awarded by a number of different bodies, each mainly responsible for particular levels of award within a given area of study, each controlling the conditions to be satisfied for the granting of its qualifications and each directly or indirectly controlling the level and content of related examinations. These bodies, mostly independent and many with a long and valued history thus exert a considerable influence on the level and content of the relevant preparatory courses.
2. Despite this decentralisation of the system, it has remained largely responsive to perceived vocational needs. The qualifying bodies, whether concerned with the academic and other requirements within a particular profession or involved on a broader basis with particular types of activity within industry or commerce in general, seek to take account of the changing needs and demands as expressed by both the "users" and the "providers" of the various courses, examinations and qualifications.
3. Nevertheless, the diversity of the system sometimes produces unnecessary duplication and, at other times, provides inadequate coverage in particular areas. The latter is particularly so when, as is now proposed in the joint planning of vocational preparation, new factors are introduced into the consideration of total curricular needs. Further more, a system rooted in specifically vocational qualifications is not well designed to respond to the curricular needs of those who enter further education as full-time students without a specific vocational commitment. This argues strongly for a centre for further education curriculum review and development to make possible a more co-ordinated and cohesive approach. The Government therefore intends to establish such a centre for England and Wales.
4. The main tasks for the unit would be to;
a. maintain an oversight of the range of curricula within the further education system;5. The unit would need to work in co-operation with the local authorities, the teachers, the existing examining and qualifying bodies and other relevant interests; it would not itself be concerned directly with examinations or the award of qualifications. It should however become the focal point on further education curricular matters and, both by its direct contribution and by sharing the experience of others in the field, help to co-ordinate the overall provision within the further education sector.
6. This broad, continuing role is important, but the first priority will be to collaborate in the development of the kind of courses to be mounted under the pilot schemes programme announced in this Statement. The initial development work for these pilot schemes will necessarily take place before the unit can be fully established, but nevertheless a major contribution can be expected from the unit in the evaluation and further development of the pilot schemes as the programme proceeds.
7. It is envisaged that the unit would work under steering machinery which takes proper account of the relevant further education and training interests, with an independent Chairman appointed by the Secretary of State for Education and Science.
The unit itself would consist of a small full-time staff, assisted by HMI, and with a full-time Director who would be responsible for the implementation of the agreed programme of work for the unit.
8. Consultations based on the outline proposals summarised here will be initiated as soon as possible.
Projects and Publications
1. The majority of HMI projects lead to a publication by the Inspectorate or the Department. A short list follows of such publications in print and proposed.
1.1 Priced Publications:
1.2 Reports on Education and Information Series
1.3 Projected Publications in the academic year 1976/77:
Some of these are in an early stage of preparation, and in some cases the work found in schools may not justify a full publication, or may require more preliminary work than is at present envisaged.
Good practice in nursery education
Small primary schools1.4 Projected Publication in Academic Year 1977/78 or later
National Primary Survey (1977/78) (the survey is described below)1.5 Continuing centrally arranged exercises:
Monitoring the effects of expenditure cuts
National Primary Survey
2. During the Autumn Term 1974 and the Spring Term 1975 HM Inspectorate carried out a study to test the feasibility of evaluating the education of a representative sample of children at certain stages in the primary school. The procedures worked well enough to allow a general survey to go ahead and the exercise began in October 1975.
3. The schools in the general survey are being visited over a period of five terms; together they form a carefully drawn national sample of 542 primary schools. LEAs are notified of the involvement of schools in their authority by the beginning of the term in which the particular schools are due to be inspected. The schools are told of their inclusion at least three weeks before the survey visit. There is no reporting on individual schools or groups of schools within an LEA. In each school the survey will concentrate, where the age range allows, on three classes: one containing 7 year old children, one containing 9 year olds, and one containing 11 year olds. The classes will be selected at random. Information will be collected in three main ways: the head and the teachers of the classes concerned will be asked to complete questionnaires; the selected classes will be inspected by two HMIs; and objective tests will be administered by the National Foundation for Education Research.
4. The tests will not, ordinarily, be given at the time of the inspection. They will be distributed to schools during part of the school year in which the inspection takes place. They will consist of tests of reading for 9 and 11 year olds and of mathematics for 11 year olds. Only a sample of children in each age group will be tested.
5. The inspection will be concerned with the balance of activities undertaken by the pupils and their suitability as judged by the competence of the children to do what is being asked of them. The HMI will be particularly interested in the following broad areas of the curriculum: language and literacy, mathematics, science, aesthetics (including physical and practical aspects of education) and social development (including historical and geographical ideas).
National Secondary Survey
6. In Spring 1975 HM Inspectorate carried out a study to test the feasibility of conducting a major national survey of certain aspects of secondary education. It was decided to proceed with the main survey, beginning in the autumn term 1975.
7. The survey, based on a 10% computer-selected sample of all maintained secondary will extend over about two and a half years, and involve visits by teams of HMI to some 400 schools. Schools drawn in the sample, and their LEAs, are being informed in advance in the term in which they are to be visited.
8. The survey focuses on the fourth and fifth years, as being the latest stages at which the whole secondary population is still in full-time education, and is essentially concerned with four aspects of secondary education - the development of linguistic, mathematical and scientific skills and understanding, and the pupils' personal and social development and general preparation for adult living. For these purposes HMI are looking at a range of activities across the curriculum, and at the social, pastoral and academic organisation of the school.
9. For each of the four aspects of education under study, assessments are being made of the quality of provision made by the schools and of the pupils' response. These assessments are further subdivided by three categories of pupils, the ablest, the average and the least able within each school.
10. A substantial amount of basic, factual data is also being collected. This information about each school includes size, age and ability range and the nature of the area it serves; age, experience and qualifications of the teaching staff, the level within the school at which they teach, and the degree of match between the subjects in which teachers are qualified and those in which they actually teach. In addition there will be information on the way in which schools are organised, the nature of the curriculum offered, and the amount of teacher time devoted to administration, guidance, preparation and supervision.
11. Processing of the data collected will permit the study of inter-relationships between these variables and between them and the assessments made by HMI. This should yield information on, for example, the significance of size, the advantages and disadvantages of schools of different age ranges, the characteristics of different organisational patterns, as well as indications of how the various categories of pupils fare in different situations. Whilst relatively few simple, clear-cut, casual [causal?] relationships may be established, it is likely that significant pointers will emerge and issue be identified that would repay further specific investigation.
1. "A Language for Life" - the Report of the Bullock Committee - was published in February 1975. It covers all aspects of teaching the use of English (including writing and speech) in schools.
2. It is a major Report with over 300 separate conclusions and recommendations, and its impact is likely to be spread over many years. Because it has a lot to say about teachers' attitudes and approaches to the subject, and because new attitudes and approaches take time to develop, it will be some while before a full assessment of that impact can be made. When it was published the then Secretary of State made it clear that actions on those recommendations which call for additional resources would have to be postponed.
3. Despite these factors the Report has already had discernible effects. Primary teachers, for example, have participated in large numbers in an extensive programme of in-service training. In some cases they grouped together to undertake long term studies. In secondary schools, the majority of teachers have been slow to react, but there is evidence in some schools of growing co-operation between remedial departments and subject departments. A great deal remains to be done.
4. At local education authority level, the Report appears to have been taken seriously as an authoritative statement on language and reading development. Many authorities have set up study groups and working parties. 45 have held conferences on the Report, and 26 are actively encouraging school-based in-service training. It does not appear, however, that authorities have gone a long way yet in providing extra staffing, specialist appointments in schools, extra language spaces in schools, extra material resources or advisory and support services. In short, they have concentrated on items like in-service training programmes which make only limited additional demands on resources.
5. Following the Report, HM Inspectors have organised a large number of courses and conferences with a major emphasis on language and reading. 22 courses in the current 1976 - 1977 programme of Short Courses, and 18 in the programme of Long Courses are concerned with language development. More are planned for 1977 - 78.
6. A few of the Report's recommendations are aimed directly at central government. Indeed the first of its principal recommendations calls for a new national system of
monitoring. The Department's Assessment of Performance Unit, as explained in the main paper, is working on this and is making good progress in specifying a wide range of reading and writing skills for future assessment, as recommended in the Report. New tests cannot be ready for 1977, however, and to prevent too long a gap between the last national reading survey (1970/71) and one based on new tests, a survey of reading skills of 11 year olds is to be conducted within the sample of schools already drawn up for HM Inspectors' national primary survey (see Appendix 3).
7. The Report recommended that there should be a national centre for language in education. This raises problems, not least of resources, and it is unlikely that any progress can be made in the present economic climate. Similarly, the Report's Recommendation that there should be a standing working party to examine the level of local authority book allowances has financial implications, and as the local Authorities (whose prime responsibility these allowances are) have made no representations about this recommendation, its implementation cannot be seen as a priority.
1. The Schools Council was created by combining the functions of the Curriculum Study Group (CSG) and the Secondary Schools Examination Council (SSEC) to form a new body with responsibilities for both examinations and curriculum in schools.
2. The functions of the CSG were described in the Ministry's annual report for 1962 as follows:-
"In recent years, there has been a growing recognition throughout the education service that the schools need more help if they are to adapt curriculum and teaching methods quickly enough to meet the changing needs of society, and to take full advantage of new knowledge about the processes of learning. A number of bodies, and particularly professional associations such as the Science Masters Association and private foundations such as the Nuffield Foundation, have begun to undertake major studies of parts of the curriculum, involving the extensive rethinking both of content and of presentation.
Other teams have collaborated with the Nuffield Foundation in their projects for improving the teaching of science, mathematics, and modern languages, both directly and by undertaking supplementary studies. A major study has also been mounted designed to produce information about the content of the curriculum in a form suitable for regular publication."3. The present terms of reference of the Schools Council are -
"the object of the Schools Council shall be the promotion of education by carrying out research into and keeping under review the curricula, teaching methods and examinations in schools, including the organisation of schools so far as it affects their curricula".The Governing Council of the Schools Council consists of 77 members of whom 17 are appointed by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and a further 21 by other teachers bodies. The Secretary of State for Education has 3 representatives. All committees of the Schools Council except the Finance and Staff Committee have teacher majorities.
The Council's budget is currently about £2 1/4 million, supplied by contributions from Department and from the local education authorities. The Secretary of State appoints the Chairman, but changes to the constitution are the Council's own responsibility.
Schools Council Publications
4. Schools Council publications appear under various headings. Those under each heading are briefly described below.
4.1 Working Papers
So far, there are 56 of these. Varying in length from 30 to 150 pages, they are intended to make available to teachers, and others, information that will stimulate discussion so that educators may bring their judgment and experience to bear on the current concerns of the Schools Council and contribute to its work. The working papers describe plans for curricular development projects at their formative stages, when comment can be particularly helpful to the Council.
teachers and others in their thinking about preparations for the education of children during the extra year at school. A later one (1972) was "Careers Education in the 1970s". More recently (1973) was "Multi-racial education: need and innovation".4.2 Examinations Bulletins
These number 35. They are intended to keep teachers, and others interested, in touch with developments in examination techniques. A large number of them is devoted to developments in CSE examinations which are comparatively new and which are largely controlled by teachers through regional examination boards.4.3 Curriculum Bulletins
The six publications under this general title record developments in curricula and teaching methods. They cover mathematics in primary schools, technology in schools, home economics teaching, teaching materials for disadvantaged children and classical studies.4.4 Research Studies and Research Reports
These 37 publications record the results of research projects and cover a variety of subjects. The first (1968) was "Enquiry 1 : young school leavers" which provided a great deal of information about the attitudes towards schooling of pupils, parents and teachers. The latest (1976) is "Processes and products of science teaching".4.5 Teaching Materials
There are 34 sets of teaching materials - books, charts, pictures, films, videotapes, posters - designed to enhance normal teaching methods. As well as materials for use in the teaching of common school subjects, materials are available, for example, on teaching English to West Indian children, the environment and technology.4.6 Films
There are ten films. Five are about physical education and related subjects. Three deal with teaching English to immigrants. The remaining two are about French in primary school and design education.4.7 "Dialogue"
This is the Schools Council's twice-yearly newsletter. It is sent to
all schools, colleges of education and further education institutions.5. Attached is an index to Schools Council research and development projects.
1. The paper does not deal specifically with disruptive behaviour and truancy, about which the Prime Minister wrote to the Secretary of State on 22 June following an approach by Mr Barry Jones. In an interim reply on 28 June the Secretary of State explained that he had recently (on 21 June) held a meeting about this with representatives of all main educational interests.
2. This was generally agreed to have been a useful meeting, and it attracted favourable publicity. It should be emphasized however that it was not the beginning of the Department's efforts in this field. For four years now the Department, local educational authorities and teachers have been working on these problems. Numerous reports and some statistics have been collected, and local authorities have taken a number of special steps (eg. setting up units). The meeting was thus in the nature of a 'report stage'.
3. It is not possible to know the extent to which delinquency in schools is any more than a reflection of society outside; but for immediate purposes this is not important, since the schools have to cope with children as they are. It was accepted by all concerned at the meeting that these problems (apart from those of pupils with quite exceptional difficulties) must be handled in the schools and that this may involve consideration of organisation or curriculum as well as special measures. But it is the job of all concerned to help the schools to cope sensibly and realistically.
4. With this as the aim, it was agreed unanimously to take a close joint look at promising initiatives in schools (and LEA areas) which might be disseminated more widely This will be done systematically, by co-operation between HM inspectors and local authorities. If necessary the Department's research budget will be used to help with any special enquiries. There are resource implications in tackling these problems on a big scale - some schools work under quite abnormal strains - but no-one has been left in any doubt that for some time ahead there will be no further resources.
5. Looking beyond the purely educational interests, it must be said that a great deal in this area depends on good working relationships between schools, education welfare officers, the child guidance service, social workers, police and magistrates - and in the case of young immigrants, on liaison with representatives of the minority groups. Alongside the steps outlined above, therefore, the Department will be having further meetings at national level and above all try to encourage closer local contacts.