Acland (1908)

1908 Acland Report (complete)

The Acland Report (1908)
Consultative Committee Report Upon the School Attendance of Children Below the Age of Five

London: HM Stationery Office

Notes on the text


The 1899 Board of Education Act established a Board of Education 'charged with the superintendence of matters relating to education in England and Wales' (section 1). It provided for the establishment of a Consultative Committee to keep a register of teachers and to advise the Board 'on any matter referred to the committee by the Board' (section 4).

The Consultative Committee produced many reports - including this one - during its lifetime, including the six Hadow Reports of the 1920s and 30s and the 1938 Spens Report. It was replaced following the 1944 Education Act by the Central Advisory Council for Education (CACE).

The Chair of the Committee for this report, the Right Hon. Arthur Herbert Dyke Acland (1847-1926), had been MP for Rotherham between 1885 and 1889 and Vice-President of the Committee of the Council on Education from 1892 to 1895.

There are six documents dealing with early years education on this website. They are:

1908 Acland Report School Attendance of Children Below the Age of Five
1933 Hadow Report Infant and Nursery Schools
1967 Plowden Report Children and their Primary Schools (chapters 9 and 10)
1982 HMI Survey Education 5 to 9
1990 Rumbold Report Starting with Quality
2011 Tickell Report The Early Years: Foundations for life, health and learning

The report online

The report is presented here as searchable text in a single web page (with the exception of the appendices - see below).

The formatting of the text (bold, italics, centred etc) is a reasonably accurate representation of the printed version (although I have made small adjustments to the formatting of some headings for clarity), but the pages presented here are not exact facsimiles of the original: the font (Times, Arial etc) and size of print - and therefore the number of words to a line and lines to a page - are determined by the settings you have chosen for your web browser. However, the page breaks are correct. In other words, if something is shown here as being on, say, page 103, you can be sure it appeared on page 103 in the original.

I have simplified some of the punctuation and corrected the positioning of some speech marks and a dozen or so printing errors. Otherwise, the text presented here is as printed in the report. Anything added by way of explanation is shown [in square brackets]. Blank pages have been omitted.

The page headers (report title on the left hand pages, chapter title on the right) have been omitted.

The tables are presented as images and are embedded in the text where they were in the printed version.

The Appendices (pages 249-350) are presented as an image-only pdf file. This means you can download them and read them, but you can't search or copy the text.

There was no alphabetical subject index.

One final point: my copy of this report - being more than 100 years old - was of poor quality, with much speckling and indistinct lettering. My OCR software therefore had problems rendering it as text. It confused words like he/be, cars/ears, hut/but, arc/are etc - mistakes which my spell-checker could not, of course, identify. Furthermore, Part IV is full of French and German words with many inflexions. I've proof-read the text as carefully as I can, but if you spot any errors, do please let me know. Contact details are here.

Summary of the report's main recommendations

  • The proper place for a child between three and five is at home with its mother, provided that the home conditions are satisfactory;
  • large numbers of children come from homes which are not satisfactory in this sense, and the best place for them is a Nursery School;
  • where children under five are admitted to school, they should not be subjected to mental pressure or undue physical discipline, and the premises should be roomy, and well lighted, warmed, and ventilated;
  • formal lessons in reading, writing, and arithmetic should be excluded from the curriculum of younger infants - freedom of movement, constant change of occupation, frequent visits to the playground, and opportunities for sleep, are essential;
  • Local Authorities should estimate the number of children for whom nursery school accommodation ought to be provided, and see that the required provision is made;
  • in towns most children should be eligible for admission to nursery schools when they are three - this may be impracticable in rural areas;
  • teachers for younger infants should be selected with scrupulous care - they should study the physical and mental development of childhood, have a sympathetic and motherly instinct and a bright and vigorous personality;
  • if possible, nurse-attendants or school-helps should be provided to attend to the general physical needs of the children but they must be in addition to, and not in place of, the teachers;
  • the maximum class size for younger infants should be 30;
  • all teachers should be reminded of the necessity for dealing with very young children appropriately - Local Authorities should arrange classes for teachers, and the Board's Certificate Examination should require knowledge of young children's educational and physical needs;
  • as soon as finances allow, new nursery schools should be built and existing ones improved;
  • the system of grants should be modified to make it easier for Local Authorities to provide nursery schools;
  • there should be no change in the existing lower age limit either of voluntary or compulsory attendance at school;
  • the Board of Education should appoint a body of experts to inquire into the question of the impurity of the air in public Elementary Schools, and the best methods of heating and ventilation.

The 1908 Acland Report and the above notes were prepared for the web by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 9 July 2012.

1908 Acland Report (complete)