Education 5 to 9 (1982)
An illustrative survey of 80 first schools in England
London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1982
© Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.
The 1967 Plowden Report Children and their Primary Schools recommended (in chapter 30, page 426, para. 1164) that surveys of the quality of primary schools should be conducted at least once every ten years.
In response, between 1978 and 1985 HMI produced five surveys covering the whole school age range:
1978 Primary education in England
1979 Aspects of secondary education in England
1982 Education 5 to 9
1983 9-13 Middle Schools
1985 Education 8 to 12 in Combined and Middle Schools
The preliminary work for this survey of 80 first schools, all established as first schools for at least three years, was undertaken in 1977. Visiting the selected sample began a year later and was completed in 1979. The findings of this survey relate, therefore, to the circumstances of that time.
Other documents dealing with early years education include:
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)
1990 Rumbold Report Starting with Quality
2011 Tickell Report The Early Years: Foundations for life, health and learning
2017 Ofsted Bold beginnings: report on the Reception curriculum in a sample of good and outstanding schools.
Summary of the survey's conclusions
- a few of the surveyed schools offer a very good education indeed, a few are less than satisfactory, most fall between these extremes and generally provide a satisfactory foundation to most pupils' schooling;
- the survey affords no support to the argument that first schools should revert to infant or junior with infant schools;
- personal relations in first schools are good and children learn to behave well;
- nearly all children make a satisfactory start in learning to read, write and calculate, but the development of these skills is more variable;
- listening to children read, while important, should not take up a disproportionate amount of the teacher's time;
- opportunities for extending and applying mathematical skills are often limited by an over-concentration on the practice of such skills;
- individual topics and activities are often well planned but they are seldom linked in a way that might lead to a growth of skills and understanding;
- children with learning difficulties are soon noticed and special teaching arrangements are usually made for them, but the help of educational psychologists or psychiatrists is often not available quickly enough;
- able children are rarely given extra help to make the progress they should;
- additional help with English for ethnic minority pupils is almost always provided;
- most schools have guidelines for the planning and assessment of work in maths and English. Local authority advisers should help schools compile guidelines for other parts of the curriculum;
- in some mixed-age classes both the more and the less able pupils suffer some neglect;
- mixed-age classes can, however, be beneficial for the youngest children;
- training should be made available for teachers who aspire to headships and other senior positions;
- the training of teachers for first schools needs to be reviewed.
The survey online
The full text of the survey, including the Appendices, is presented in a single web page.
The tables are shown as images, embedded in the text where they were in the printed version.
I have corrected a dozen or so printing errors and tidied up some inconsistencies, the most obvious of which is the numbering of the two Appendices: throughout the main text and the Index these were referred to by the Roman numerals I and II but they were actually numbered 1 and 2 so I have changed all the Roman numerals.
In the printed version of chapter 2 there were two paragraph numbering errors. There was no paragraph 2.51 - I have not attempted to correct this. But I have corrected the other numbering error: there were two paragraphs numbered 2.152. The first of these should have been 2.151 and it is numbered thus here.
The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 4 June 2006; they were revised on 4 November 2012.