Pedley (1954)

Robin Pedley (1914-1988) worked in Leicester University's Department of Education from 1947 until 1963. His first articles were published in 1949 in the local authority journal Education.

Two years after the publication of Comprehensive Schools Today, Pedley published Comprehensive Education: a New Approach (1956), in which he set out to show how the change to a comprehensive system could be achieved in practical terms.

In 1958 Robin Pedley and Brian Simon founded - and jointly edited - the campaigning journal Forum.

In 1963 Pedley was appointed Director of the Institute of Education at Exeter University.

His 1963 book The Comprehensive School was highly influential and was reprinted many times.

The complete text of Comprehensive Schools Today is shown in this single web page.

Comprehensive Schools Today and the above notes were prepared for the web by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 9 April 2017.


Comprehensive Schools Today
Robin Pedley (1954)
London: Councils and Education Press Ltd



[title page]

Comprehensive
Schools Today


An Interim Survey by Robin Pedley


with New Critical Essays by

ROBIN PEDLEY
H. C. DENT
HAROLD C. SHEARMAN
ERIC JAMES
W. P. ALEXANDER



COUNCILS AND EDUCATION PRESS LIMITED

10 QUEEN ANNE STREET, LONDON, W.1

3s. 6d.


[page iii (unnumbered)]

Contents


Part I

An Interim Survey by ROBIN PEDLEY

page
1 Grading and Standards of Work1
2 Size and Sixth Form7
3 School and Society16


Part II

New Critical Essays

1 Programme for Progress ROBIN PEDLEY22
2 From Figments to Facts H. C. DENT34
3 Some Claims Justified HAROLD C. SHEARMAN41
4 An Opposition View ERIC JAMES48
5 Principles for Action W. P. ALEXANDER52


[page iv (unnumbered)]


NOTE

The reference to the Thirsk and Easingwold schools. on page 17 may give a slightly misleading impression. The new Thirsk school has not yet come into being, and it is emphasised that both schools have distinct grammar and modern sides.

ROBIN PEDLEY



[page v (unnumbered)]

Introduction

This pamphlet originated in three articles by DR. ROBIN PEDLEY which appeared in "Education" in October 1954. Dr. Pedley, who is a lecturer at the Department of Education at University College, Leicester, had made a survey of the fourteen schools in England, Wales and the Isle of Man, which called themselves comprehensive at that time. He had attempted to present a factual description as well as an interpretation of what he saw. And while not everyone will agree with his conclusions, his was the first attempt to assess progress in this highly controversial field.

In slightly modified form, Dr. Pedley's survey makes up the first half of this pamphlet. The second half is formed by critical essays by Dr. Pedley and four other writers on this and related subjects. The organisation of secondary education is likely to be under review for many years to come. There can be few 'Subjects on which it would be less safe to dogmatise. The five writers who have contributed to this pamphlet, do not by any means share the same views, but they have in common an informed and lively interest in the way in which the pattern is worked out. Dr. Pedley has followed up his survey with a "programme for progress" which passes from a description of the present to a prescription for the future. And, taking this interim survey of existing comprehensive schools as their starting point (and reserving, of .course, the right to disagree with it when necessary), MR. H. C. DENT, MR. HAROLD SHEARMAN, DR. ERIC JAMES and DR. W. P. ALEXANDER, have considered this in relation to the healthy development of that secondary education for all children which is required by the Education Act of 1944.


[page 1]

Part I

An Interim Survey

by ROBIN PEDLEY

1 Grading and Standards of Work

The field of debate on comprehensive schools is shifting from theory to practice. In the British Isles a number of schools of this kind are already in existence. What can be learnt from their experience to illuminate the arguments based on principle, prejudice or surmise? In 1954 I completed a tour of observation ranging from London and Middlesex via the Black Country to the far corners of Westmorland, Anglesey and the Isle of Man. The investigation covered 15 schools in action, together with the inspection of other buildings new and old, and discussion with the administrative officers of some local education authorities. My survey is representative, though not entirely complete. Some of the schools visited do not claim to be fully comprehensive, because this or that important component is considered to be lacking. But as Dr. A. G. Hughes (London's Chief Inspector of Schools) has acutely observed, the issue today is not so much whether a school shall be comprehensive, but how far it shall be comprehensive; (1) and all the schools concerned in this study are sufficiently comprehensive in intake or organisation to provide valuable evidence for the objective critic. I would stress the interim nature of this report, and hope that it may encourage closer investigation of particular aspects, with full analysis of the statistical evidence which is rapidly accumulating.

The definition of a comprehensive school given in 1954 by the then Minister of Education is one "intended to provide all the secondary education facilities needed by the children of a given area, but without being organised in clearly defined sides."(2) Only two local authorities, Anglesey and the Isle of Man, have a complete system of such schools; and neither has had it long enough to enable one to estimate the effect on junior schools of abandoning selection at 10+. Teachers, like other human beings, are creatures of habit. "The scholarship" has so long dominated the minds of many that they find it hard to think out new aims and values when the old are suddenly removed. Experience in the Isle of Man, the only area to have this form of organisation for any length of


[page 2]

time (in Douglas and Ramsey since 1946, and for the whole island since 1948) is no clear guide; for-curiously yet significantly-the Authority still conducts an examination, with attainment and intelligence tests, at 10+, and the results form the basis of initial classification within each of the four comprehensive schools. Although the pressure to do well in this examination is reduced now that all in one district go to the same secondary school, some primary teachers appear to have preserved their old aim in a new guise: that is, to get as many as possible of their own pupils into the A class of the secondary course. On the other hand, most parents and teachers are coming to realise that with ample opportunity for transfer this is not an urgent matter.

The vital point is that early examination and classification are being retained within all the comprehensive secondary schools which I have seen. The facts reveal the naivety of such criticisms as that by Dr. Eric James, who was recently reported to have described children in comprehensive schools as "ungraded, untested and unperturbed". (3) The truth is exactly opposite. With the opening in September 1953 of a new school at Llangefni, Anglesey completed its provision of comprehensive secondary schools for the island, and was able to abandon its selection examination. But one of the first steps of the heads of the two comprehensive schools visited was to arrange internal tests for the newly-arrived pupils; and on the basis of what these revealed, together with junior school records, to grade the pupils in order of ability. Nor were Anglesey and the Isle of Man unusual in adopting this attitude. The five "interim-comprehensive" schools which I saw in London, and other schools in Middlesex and Walsall, all used the external selection test to assist them in classifying incoming pupils.

Existing comprehensive schools, then, find it either desirable or necessary, or both, to discover the children's actual level of attainment in the various subjects by some form of test, examination or record of work, and then to arrange the children in "homogeneous groups" - i.e. groups of children who have approximately the same level of attainment. Intelligence testing may be abandoned as the need to use this fallible instrument for selection (4) disappears; but the idea that human capacity for different activities is largely a matter of innate endowment is accepted by most teachers (whether rightly or wrongly) almost without question. Moreover, whether the cause be heredity or social influences in early life (and Rousseau held that the first twelve years were the most important) the secondary school has to deal with children whose attainment in fact varies very widely indeed. All the head teachers of the schools investigated felt that it was in the best interests of all the children, whether advanced, average or retarded, that they should be taught


[page 3]

alongside others who were on roughly the same level. The notion that a class containing children of widely varying ability can be a success, that the dull can be stimulated by the bright without holding back the latter, is at present rejected by comprehensive .school heads and staffs. So far as I could discover, this unorthodox view finds no place in their philosophy or their practice. In all these schools the spur of competition is felt, whether the head accepts it reluctantly or (as in some cases) believes it to be essential. "Isn't life competitive?" asked one headmaster. The very ease of transfer can mean that laggards in the A forms look nervously over their shoulders at the top performers in the Bs, while the Bs go all out, lured on by the prospect of advancement. It is true that two or three heads (women heads in particular) played down the competitive element as much as possible. But in general the tide flowed strongly the other way. It all reminded me irresistibly of the pressures of promotion and relegation in the various divisions of the Football League.

The result of this approach is that the whole structure of today's schools of comprehensive type is based on differentiation of courses and classes. For most subjects, the pupils are in streams corresponding to what is judged to be their general ability; and to heighten each pupil's chance of progressing at his best pace, re-division into "sets" for particular subjects is commonly practised. Here again, only difficulties of timetable or staffing prevented further extension of this principle to most subjects. The teachers are concerned to give maximum opportunity to the individual. Since they know that the public will judge them largely by examination results, this is no doubt a politic course, as well as being the expression of a genuine conviction. It is important to notice it, partly because it runs counter to the ideas of some advocates of comprehensive schools, and partly because it should still the fears of those who have felt that individual progress might be hampered on ideological grounds.

Some facts and figures will add precision to the above remarks. At Holyhead school - the example par excellence of the principle of "progressive differentiation" - three State scholarships and nine county major scholarships were gained in 1953; 45 Advanced level passes (including four distinctions) were gained by 19 pupils in G.C.E.; 327 Ordinary level passes were gained by 101 pupils - including a dozen who took a single subject from the sixth form. The range of subjects from which children can choose their studies far exceeds that available in most grammar schools; in the fifth year English, Welsh, French, German, Latin, history, geography, art, music, woodwork, metalwork, cookery, needlework, commercial subjects, plane and solid geometry, biology, general science;


[page 4]

in the sixth form pre-nursing course physiology, hygiene, science and other complementary subjects; in the arts sixth English, Welsh, French, German, Latin, history, geography, art, music (plus some science, musical appreciation, and of course physical education); in the science sixth mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, botany, zoology (plus some German, musical appreciation, and physical education). Holyhead Secondary School has 1041 pupils, (January 1954), with a non-selective yearly entry of some 200. If we take the 20% average for England and Wales as being of accepted "grammar type", 40 such pupils entering at 11 have this. wealth of opportunity before them. How many two-stream grammar schools could claim the same? Or take a much smaller school - Castle Rushen in the Isle of Man, with 394 boys and girls; (January 1954), working in makeshift huts, and an upper sixth coming through for the first time. In 1953, eight candidates gained 14 subject passes (out of 16 attempted) at the Advanced level of the Northern Universities' General Certificate of Education. Two, girls passed in Advanced art and one in Advanced mathematics. after one year in the sixth form. Nine boys and girls were accepted for training college or university. At the Ordinary level of G.C.E., 24 candidates gained certificates - 19 with four or more passes; and these successes were spread over a range of 13 subjects.

There is, then, no levelling down. What about levelling up?' Here again we have abundant evidence. Every school which has, been even partly comprehensive in type for five or more years can give examples of pupils who would have failed to qualify for a, grammar school place in that locality, who were on entry graded "non-academic" and put in a low form, yet who subsequently made remarkable strides and did well in G.C.E. - in some cases at. Advanced level. Of the 65 pupils who gained G.C.E. at Ordinary level during the three years 1951-3 at Castle Rushen, 11 were of this type; one proceeded to a university, one to a training college; and two intended to enter training colleges this session. In 195J one in three of the children who originally entered the school. gained certificates; more than one in four gained four or more passes; yet in England and Wales as a whole, only one in five is even admitted to grammar school. The significance of these figures is brought out by Professor Vernon's recent statement that "given tests of the present level of validity and an average admission rate of 20%, roughly one-third of those admitted are unworthy, and they keep out an equal number who should have been admitted." (5)

More personal illustrations from a London school bring home vividly the kind of progress which is being made. Jean Smith - not her real name - started in the lowest class of a five-form intake, with an I.Q. of 96. For three years she languished in the scholastic


[page 5]

doldrums, achieving little - but in the fourth year she developed an interest in biology which led her teacher to say, "this is a student". She passed six subjects in G.C.E.; next September she started Latin and passed in June; and later she passed at Advanced level in botany. She is now at a training college. A boy - call him David Jones - came in his fourth year from a local modem school; his I.Q. was 80.(6) He was a sensitive, quiet boy. At Easter he asked if he would stand a chance of gaining G.C.E. "I don't think so, David," said the head. "May I have a try?" he pleaded. He transferred to the G.C.E. form the following September. He found the work difficult - but he passed in five subjects. and came back (with six others) to start a sixth form for the first time. There he has studied English, history, scripture and music. He is now going to a training college. At another school, the head boy entered with the "modem" label and an I.Q. of 92. His is a story of consistent improvement, in which success bred success. That he gained four G.C.E. subjects in 1952, and proceeded to study two to Advanced level in the sixth form, may not be particularly remarkable; that this was part and parcel of the development of an all-round character capable of assuming responsibility as the head pupil of a large school is indeed significant. Yet another head boy, who had "failed" at 11, eventually took and passed G.C.E. in eight subjects (with marks all over 60%), and will take three Advanced level subjects next year.

I repeat - though these are striking examples, they are not the only ones. Every school can quote cases of children who would not have qualified, or did not qualify, for a grammar school place. yet who have made good in academic subjects. It seems just as likely (though I have no evidence for this) that some children who are bookworms at 10 turn out in the end to be primarily craftsmen or technicians. But the main point seems already sufficiently clear: that 10+ is too early an age to decide that a child's subsequent education should have a bias-let alone decide what kind of bias it should be; and that is what we do when we select children at that age for different types of school.

In a recent editorial, The Times Educational Supplement has argued that bias is needed to provide a school with a sense of purpose.(7) The supporter of the comprehensive school will presumably reply that children - people - should discover their own particular purpose in life (and school is part of life); it is wrong that they should be conditioned to accepting a purpose decided by others. Here is a real conflict of philosophical principle. One virtue of the comprehensive school is the balance of special interests and enthusiasms, excellent in themselves, among the staff. The aim is to provide a broad, common curriculum until a pupil finds


[page 6]

that he is ready to choose this rather than that; and even then, it is hoped that special studies will be kept in perspective by contact with other basic subjects. This, by and large, is in fact the practice in today's comprehensive schools.

At Holyhead, where a remarkable range of optional courses is available from the fourth year onwards, a student can yet keep in touch with six general subjects in addition to his three special courses. But this does not mean a lowering of standards in the special courses themselves. For example, the facilities for technical education, and the quality of the work done, are such as any technical secondary school might be proud of. Take metal work as one instance - there is a teacher with recent experience in industry; a workshop equipped with six good lathes, a shaping machine, a surface grinder, a tool and cutter grinder, a saw, one vertical and two horizontal milling machines. There are wood and metal workshops, and a draughtsmanship room. Such opportunities are introduced and available to all; and those who eventually come to specialise in that field are considered by their teachers to be all the better workers and students because they have made the choice freely from a wealth of possible courses of different kinds.

Absence of premature bias then, does not mean that a sense of purpose must be lost. Indeed, incentives are essential. The child must have an objective which he feels is attainable before he leaves school; and for the majority of children (since the standard of G.C.E. has been deliberately pitched higher than the old School Certificate, and so restricted to those going on to professional or skilled technical work) (8) two solutions have so far emerged. One - favoured in the London area - is to allow the middle groups, who are quite good but unlikely to gain G.C.E., to take the examinations of the Royal Society of Arts, particularly in commercial subjects. The R.S.A. certificates give the children something to work for, and for the successful majority they provide a necessary sense of achievement. Moreover, they are accepted by a large number of employers as satisfactory evidence of attainment by the holder. The second is in the north-west (Anglesey and the Isle of Man), where the examinations of the Union of Lancashire and Cheshire Institutes in technical subjects fill much the same position. These, however, are ad hoc solutions to immediate needs; and it would seem that the Secondary Schools Examination Council should think very hard about further provision of school leaving certificates, taken at 15, for most or even for all children.

The recent proposal by the Cambridge University Local Examinations Syndicate, that "lower passes" in a group of sub-


[page 7]

jects should qualify for a General Certificate of Education (9) would do something, but not enough. Further steps are being taken at several modern schools, and at two of the comprehensive schools which I visited (Walsall and Castle Rushen), through the award of a certificate by the school. At Walsall, an agreed level of proficiency must be reached in five subjects, among which English and arithmetic are essential. At Castle Rushen the certificate (a new venture) records first, second or third class attainment-and this means that the dullest boy or girl can, with hard work, gain some reward. In each case, the award of the certificate is restricted to non-academic pupils who are certain to leave at 15; there should thus be no danger of its coming to be preferred by an able child as a soft option. This is the kind of experiment, perhaps associated with local University Institutes of Education to maintain reasonable standards and to facilitate co-operation and discussion among the schools, which may help in the near future to rationalise our system of school examinations.

2 Size and Sixth Form

The schools surveyed ranged in numbers on the roll (January 1954) from 210 to 1254. All the heads with over 1000 pupils were satisfied that the school was not too large to preserve a sense of community: everything turned on the attitude of the head and the efforts of the staff. For example, Holyhead's headmaster always personally supervises upper school dinner, often observes routine matters such as the change-over of classes between periods, and obviously has his finger on the pulse of the school. On the other hand, it was clear that every head of these large schools was burdened with too much detailed administration, and that most of them found it either undesirable or impossible to delegate a substantial proportion of it, even had the local authority approved. It would, perhaps, be an exaggeration to rank them with American administrators as "four-ulcer men doing eight-ulcer jobs";(10) but the parallel is there. Framing the timetable alone is an immense task, often taking three to six weeks' full-time work; and although, an assistant may give invaluable help, the head is necessarily involved to a considerable extent. One thing seems certain: that in a large school as in a small, the example and influence of the head teacher are all-important. It seems vital, therefore, that the head of a comprehensive school should be responsible for policy and planning, but not for detailed administration; and that he should have time and opportunity to make his personal influence felt among staff and children.


[page 8]

No clear-cut answer can be given to the question: how far do members of staff teach all ranges of age and ability? As one might expect, this depends very much on the teacher's own inclinations and the immediate needs of the school. There is no dogmatic policy. One man, for example, already very successful with grammar school work, chose also to tackle some average and backward classes, and felt that his teaching had improved as a result. On the other hand, some preferred and were able to concentrate on one type of teaching - whether with retarded children or the most able. Most teachers appeared to undertake a wider spread than they would normally have in a school with a more restricted type of entry. How far this is desirable it would be difficult as yet to say.

Most schools attempt to minimise the unwelcome features of a very large community by horizontal divisions into lower school (11-13) and upper school (13-18). Where the school is using more than one building this seems a satisfactory solution, unless the blocks are so far apart as to make the movement of teachers (and occasionally of classes for special purposes) difficult and time-wasting. One good aspect of this division is that it prevents newcomers at 11, fresh from smaller junior schools, from feeling overwhelmed by the size of the secondary school. They have their own quarters, their own assembly and dinner, their own father-figure (usually the deputy head), and to a large extent their own teachers - those who prefer to work with younger children. This arrangement also relieves the head of the school of a proportion of his routine duties, and enables him to have more personal contact with the older children. The principle is to be taken still further in Birmingham's new comprehensive schools at Great Barr and Sheldon Heath. (11) Here there will be distinct Lower, Middle and Upper School buildings each equipped with its own classrooms, art and light craft rooms, library, assembly hall, entrance and cloakrooms; yet - unless the Ministry wields its economy axe - it will be possible for all to be brought together in the Upper School hall on special occasions. Perhaps the greatest advantage of this plan is that it should facilitate the proper education of the 15-18 age group - a need to which I shall refer later in this report.

In the effort to attain groups of modest size within the whole school community, every head whom I visited had adopted the vertical divisions of the house system. This attempt to translate to the day school a concept based on the totally different requirements of boarding school life and organisation appears artificial and comparatively unrewarding; not all the heads who had adopted it were convinced of its value. Most schools find the house a con-


[page 9]

venient medium for fostering a spirit of competition in games; A further breakdown into tutorial sets within each house has been suggested by the London County Council. (12) In practice this is found by most heads to bristle with difficulties in a day school: teachers have little in common with, or knowledge of, those pupils whom they do not teach; allocation to particular teachers, which should (to be fully effective) be made on a basis of some affinity between the tutor and his charge, must necessarily be too impersonal - otherwise some teachers would have a hundred pupils and others a mere handful; changes of staff, frequent in a large school, upset any system which might be worked out to meet personal needs; and there is insufficient time for regular tutorial meetings in a timetable which has to cater for a wide curriculum and for routine form business - for whether in London or in the remote lands of Westmorland and Anglesey the school day is all too short. Lack of suitable rooms was hardly mentioned as a real obstacle, and it seems unlikely that this particular idea will become any more feasible in the new buildings of Kidbrooke and Coventry than in the makeshift premises. of older schools.

On the other hand, there is undoubtedly a need for the small group within the larger school. I inquired about delinquency: did the children from good homes have an influence for the better on less fortunate children, or was it the other way round? Certainly not the latter, I learnt; it is the unstable child who is most readily changed, and indeed his presence often brings out the best qualities - expressed in example and sympathy - of the other children. But it was clear too that more could be done if small social groups were a reality; and one head of a school of 800, pointing out that in a large school children were able to form and stay in cliques of their own kind, confessed with sad realism that "we're too big a community really to influence them".


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My survey included three smaller schools, whose members were 210 (boys only), 394 (mixed) and 536 (mixed). In all three cases the school was acting as a valuable centre of local cultural life, and a thoroughly good general education was being given in the main school (11-15). On the other hand, none of the three as; yet makes provision for commercial and technical subjects on the scale accepted by schools in large towns - partly, no doubt, because the demand is not nearly so great in rural areas. It can be argued, indeed (and the headmistress of one much larger school did so argue) that lavish provision of technical equipment is undesirable in the earlier years of secondary education. Basic techniques can be acquired (as at Castle Rushen with metalwork) without this; but there must also be - what none of these three smaller schools can give - scope for really advanced work of various kinds. in the later years. It is encouraging to note that a group of girls' modern schools at Portsmouth find that it is not only desirable but practicable to defer specialised courses until after 15, (13) even with pupils upon whom pressure to leave school bears most heavily. For its three new five-form entry comprehensive schools at Willenhall, Tettenhall and Rowley Regis, Staffordshire contemplates. the development of normal sixth form courses in each; but in addition there will be an advanced engineering workshop in one school, laboratories for higher work in natural sciences in another. and electrical engineering in the third. Occasional transfers between the schools at advanced level stage, for a limited degree of specialisation, will therefore be possible. This is a compromise solution. But without some such break at 15 or 16, at present it is the larger schools such as Holyhead which can best provide for the full range of advanced work. Ample provision is also being. made in the schools for 1250-2250 pupils which are at present being built in Coventry, Birmingham and London. It is clear that, given the attempt to provide secondary education in one school from 11 to 18, and given the need of a great range of studies from among which a complete cross-section of 15 to 18 year olds can satisfy their developing special abilities and their ideas of a career, a huge organisation of buildings, staff, subjects and pupils is inevitable.

One headmaster, with a school of 800, felt that he fell between two stools; the size was not large enough to permit the provision of a sufficiently wide range of courses and the necessary expensive equipment; on the other hand, his school or a much smaller one could have functioned admirably if separate provision were made for the advanced work of pupils over 15. He felt that what he called "the monolithic block" from 11 to 15 made the school bottom-heavy and unbalanced in relation to the sharply cutoff pyramid at the top. It is a criticism already advanced against


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the selective grammar school; (14) it applies even more forcibly against the comprehensive school, where the proportion staying beyond 15 is still lower. A table of figures for different types of school, supplemented by some comparative diagrams, will best illustrate the point.

Number of Pupils aged (A) 11 and over, (B) 15 and over, (C) 16 and over, in different areas and types of school, expressed as percentages of (A):

(Details from Education in 1953 (H.M.S.O., June 1954), Tables 2 and 4; and by kind permission of the heads of particular schools or districts listed.)


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[page 13]


[page 14]

Here is the most obvious weakness of the comprehensive schools. While it is clear that they encourage some children to stay a little longer at school-a tendency observed in areas of widely different character-and thus remove the lack of opportunity which bedevils so many modem secondary schools, these extra numbers, do not bring the higher forms up to a strength adequate for really effective organisation and teaching. Figures are only reliable when they relate to a school which is fully comprehensive in its intake. and which has been in existence for several years. Holyhead is a good example. In its first four post-war years as a grammar school. the sixth form numbers were: 52 (1946), 45 (1947), 44 (1948), and 48 (1949). It became a comprehensive school in September 1949. The sixth form numbers in the last five years have been: 44 (1950), 41 (1951), 53 (1952), 51 (1953), 52 (1954). (15) We have to remember that these 50 odd pupils are divided among a dozen or more: subjects, each pupil taking from three to five, and that there is a further sub-division into first, second and third year sixth form pupils. Here are some examples taken at random (February 1954):

In practice, the first and second year pupils in each subject have to be taught together, while the odd third year pupil picks. up any crumbs of the teacher's spare time that he can. This combination of distinct year groups (comprising pupils at markedly different stages of development) is admitted by the staff to be difficult and not so satisfactory as having separate classes for each year. Some may feel, too, that a further limitation in this sixth form organisation (though' it is common also in grammar schools) is the rigid division into Arts and Sciences.

From the Isle of Man, which has had a complete system of comprehensive schools since September 1948, comes even better evidence. The four schools (two mixed, one boys', one girls') accommodate 2531 pupils over 11. Of these, 365 (14.4%) are over 15, and 165 (6.5%) over 16. The table below gives the combined numbers of pupils taking different subjects in the sixth forms of the local authority's schools, and in brackets the comparable figures. at King William's College - the island's only public school - 294 of whose boys are over 11 years of age. Of these, 133 (45.2%) are; over 15, and 81 (27.6%) are over 16.


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Isle of Man Sixth Forms: Combined Figures (January 1954)

The one small independent boarding school thus compares not unfavourably with the combined figures of four maintained schools, each of them bigger in total size. It is clear that for economy and efficiency of organisation, not to mention the advantage of having classes big enough to stimulate lively learning and teaching and to justify the allocation of a reasonable proportion of the staff's time, the independent school has a great pull. We see the results of this unequal battle in the Oxford and Cambridge scholarship lists: in 1952 the independent and direct grant schools, with 41726 pupils over 16 years of age, gained 68% of the scholarships and exhibitions at Oxford and Cambridge. The maintained grammar schools, with 78643 pupils of like age, gained only 32% of those scholarships. (16)

This limitation on the range and quality of the advanced work done in the comprehensive schools is inevitable under our present system of secondary organisation, which combines general compulsory schooling for a large number of children with more specialised voluntary education for a small minority of older students. The criticism does not, of course, apply only to comprehensive schools. It is true of the great majority of grammar schools; and the latter are usually more restricted in the range of subjects which they can offer for advanced study. The comprehensive school can provide


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more diverse courses, better facilities in equipment, more specialist teachers, than would a normal grammar school serving the same area. But in this advanced sphere it is the foremost public and direct grant schools which are clearly superior: their upper schools are large enough to permit effective organisation at each stage for each subject - for example. the Ministry's list of recognised independent schools shows that in December, 1951 Eton had 494 boys over 16 out of a total of 1165; Rugby had 322 out of 613; Shrewsbury had 233 out of 482. (17) Each pupil has the stimulus which comes from membership of a tutorial group numbering perhaps eight to ten, with a teacher who can devote a substantial proportion of his time to advanced work. and all the study and preparation this entails. The adoption for comprehensive schools of a grammar school staffing ratio (usually 18:1) as against 21:1 at Holyhead and 19 or 20:1 in the Isle of Man would ease the existing arrangements; but it could not transform them.

3 School and Society

Broadly speaking, the schools investigated fell into two main categories: urban (London, Middlesex, Walsall) and rural (Westmorland, Anglesey, Isle of Man). Most of the urban schools owe their comprehensive character to social pressures and ideas expressed through political channels. It was not surprising, therefore. that they seemed on the whole more ready to re-examine the traditional structure of the school as a social organism, and to experiment with such features as school councils. election of prefects by the children (though in every case reserving the power of veto to head or staff), and tutorial sets. Great efforts went into fostering a wide variety of societies and activities; much earnest thought and planning was evidently devoted to building a community of children and teachers which could provide for the personal needs and tastes of each pupil. This approach is being adopted on a grander scale in the big new schools, heralded by Kidbrooke. Here again, as in academic work, there is concern for the individual - a determination to use the resources of large numbers, varied teaching personnel, and a considerable range of rooms and equipment to further the development of special interests and abilities. It is a philosophy admirably stated by Margaret Cole; (18) it is also obviously one born in and of the metropolis, with its unlimited opportunity for individual progress and specialisation. and its equal neglect of the concept of the neighbourhood as a community, of which the day school. instead of being a large, self-contained, self-sufficient organisation, was once a part. The London schools have no definite catchment area; they do not serve a particular com-


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munity. Indeed the conception hardly now survives in London, except in some planner's experiment like the Lansbury Village. Perhaps the most memorable incident of my investigation was furnished by a teacher who, concerned at the absence of a child from her class for two or three days, asked the girl's school friends to call on her and see if she was ill. But they could not: they did not know where she lived.

The schools in the rural areas, by contrast, appear to be organised in this way not because local opinion favours a particular theory, but because it is practical and economical to concentrate secondary education at the heart of a district-for example at a port or a market town. At Windermere, it is true, the inspiration was provided by a liberal chairman of governors who in 1945 seized the opportunity provided by the departure of an evacuated school to accommodate all local boys at the grammar school. The new mixed school at Kirkby Stephen, however, is an excellent example of the way in which a number of quite different considerations (replacement of an out-dated girls' grammar school building; the need to reorganise all-age village schools; the opportunity to combine this new provision, economically and efficiently. with an educational centre for the district) point to the same answer. Similar factors were at work in Anglesey and the Isle of Man. They are to be observed also in the North Riding, where at Thirsk and Easingwold, each nominally a "grammar and modern" school, transfers between the various streams can (I understand) be made as easily as in the schools specifically called "comprehensive". Since they take all the school-children over 11 in the area, and the Authority is charged with the duty of providing "for all pupils opportunities for education offering such variety of instruction and training as may be desirable ...." (19) the distinction between them and specifically "comprehensive" schools is indeed nominal.

Because the transition has been made for practical rather than theoretical reasons, and because a rural community is conservative in outlook, moves slowly, and views with suspicion any new ideas which may be mooted, it is natural that experiment here with schools' internal organisation should have been very limited. Change - even radical change - is not impossible; the countryman will accept a great deal if he has been convinced that it will work. and that it is to his advantage. But he does need to be convinced; and this means that the head must understand local people and their peculiarities - be it in North Wales or "The Island", in the Yorkshire woollen district or the dales. The schoolmaster can certainly guide - he is expected to do so - but he must not go so fast as to forfeit local confidence.


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The reorganisation which we have noted in the rural areas mentioned is basically a reversion to the conditions of the seventeenth century, when many grammar schools were "free" schools, and open to all the children of the district. For example at Moulton Grammar School, in Lincolnshire, the schoolmaster was not compelled to admit or teach any scholar who could not already read: "nevertheless it is to be wished that he will not refuse any of the town of Moulton that will come to the school, but suffer them to learn what they can amongst the rest of the scholars, or by the help of some other." (20) For Windermere Grammar School, indeed, the wheel has come full circle. The first deeds (1613) said that the school was to be free to local inhabitants, but not to outsiders; and the scholars were to be instructed in "gramar, writing and reading and other good learninge and discipline meete and convenient for them ...". (21) No minimum standard of attainment appears to have been required before a pupil was admitted.

What are the consequences of bringing comprehensive schools into existence in this way? First, local regard for the kind of education traditionally given by their grammar school is satisfied. There have been no storms of protest such as met the London County Council's proposals to expand the Bec School on the same lines, and to incorporate Eltham Hill in Kidbrooke; for at Holyhead and Douglas, Windermere and Ramsey, the "grammar" children are doing as well as ever, while the others benefit from specialist teaching, excellent equipment, and membership of a school of good repute. No less important, the shadow of the 10+ selection examination has vanished from the home. Second, there is little or no attempt to review principles and practice concerning the school's organisation and social structure: timetable, incentives, teaching methods, internal government-these are on the lines familiar in existing secondary schools. Where change does take place, it is usually to extend existing features - for example, some heads felt that girls and boys who leave at 15 need to have the chance of holding some post of responsibility, and have therefore introduced middle and/or junior school prefects in addition to the seniors. The nature of their duties can vary considerably. I learn that at another school - not one included in this survey - this was but a token step; and that the chief function of the new "sub-prefects" was opening the windows for assembly, and handing out hymn books. Most heads found it difficult to assign to this age-group sufficiently responsible duties in a school with many pupils two or three years older. Third - a temporary but often a big immediate trouble - it has to be recognised that many (though not all) teachers, transferred from the old grammar school or staying on with it, as part of the larger institution, resent the change.


[page 19]

The grammar school teachers of today are less accustomed to dealing with reluctant scholars than their predecessors were in fee-paying schools. It requires all a head's tact and personality to -convince them that here is both a challenge and an opportunity. Small wonder, then, that within the rural comprehensive schools change comes slowly.

On the other hand, the rural community in which the school is set is a very real thing. "The genius of the place" to which the inhabitants of Roman Britain 1800 years ago dedicated their altars is a force which still has great vitality. It is capable of inspiring, week in and week out, the kind of group loyalties and communal effort which only the horror of mass bombing could evoke, and that but temporarily, in the atomised populace of the conurbation. It has rich variety and balance - the ideal environment in which to educate the whole man rather than a specialist scholar or technician only. In Cambridgeshire, Henry Morris has shown how these qualities can be developed and revitalised by the integration of a 'school and community centre with a neighbourhood enlarged by motor transport. Yet Morris's village colleges had one big gap: some of the best brains were withdrawn at an early age, and sent to the city for a specialised grammar school education. (22) In the rural comprehensive school that does not happen. Baker Brownell, one of America's most gifted educational philosophers, has warned his countrymen of the perils of thus bleeding the talent of small .communities. (23) We, too, should heed his warning.

At Castletown, in the Isle of Man, the High School acts at once as a focal point for the cultural life of the area - all the southern part of the island - and as a fertilising agent in the little town and ásurrounding villages. For example, parents and friends join in the school orchestra; children in turn are members of local bands and music societies. This interaction goes on in a number of ways. Not least important is the constant informal consultation between teachers and parents about individual children. Only in a relatively small school and community, one in which all the children are known not only as individuals but as members of a family who are themselves well known, is this possible. The converse, too, is necessary: children and parents here know the teachers not only as teachers, but as men and women who may play for the local team, join in the local whist drives, or go fishing with them when the tide or the river is right. Mutual confidence is established. Only the basically weak teacher is fearful of such intimacy, and prefers to live apart - unwilling to shed in the presence of his pupils the mantle of an authority created for him instead of (as it should be) by him. On the other hand, the proper integration


[page 20]

of school and community is almost impossible on some urban housing estates, where the teachers cannot rent a house if they would. Here the policy of local housing authorities, in failing to build a mixed community, is clearly at fault.

I have noticed the main differences between the schools of two kinds of area. There is another distinction which comes to mind, cutting across the major one, though the numbers involved are too few to permit more than a hint and a note for further inquiry. Headmasters tended to stress work and competition and to cling to authoritarian forms of government and discipline; they controlled the appointment of prefects, either alone or in consultation with the staff; they favoured comparative orders of merit, prizes, and so 011; they all resorted to corporal punishment, only one or two having qualms about it. All four headmistresses, by contrast, were what I should describe as progressive in outlook; and on the specific points mentioned, though for particular reasons some compromise might be accepted, the weight of their influence was thrown against the male idea of what was necessary and right. They seemed to rate health and happiness of mind higher than the stimulation of their pupils to attain power and success - though success comes, nevertheless. Nor can this be attributed solely to the difference in sex of their pupils. Perhaps the most lively and successful school which I visited was a mixed school under the guidance of a headmistress. Of course not all women heads are so inclined; but it is probably a bigger proportion than among the men. This difference in outlook may partially explain why the progressive movement ("child-centred" education, activity methods, and so on) has made such headway in the infants' school, in contrast to the grammar school, while the junior school is commonly a battleground of opposing forces - the educational cockpit.

The first comprehensive schools, then, reflect - as indeed one might expect - the pattern and values of the society in which they are set; they are content to tread the middle of the road. Tactically, at the moment, this is an advantage: the comprehensive school has to defend itself on a narrow front instead of on a broad one. To some the observation will bring comfort, to others regret; but that is a matter for debate rather than description, and must be pursued elsewhere.


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NOTES

(1) Education, 1 January, 1954, p. 7.

(2) Hansard, vol. 524, No. 67 (4 March, 1954), col. 104.

(3) The Schoolmaster, 30 April, 1954, p. 682.

(4) cf., inter alia, W. McClelland, Selection for Secondary Education (U.L.P., 1942). B. Simon, Intelligence Testing and the Comprehensive School (Lawrence and Wishart, 1953).

(5) Letters published in The Times Educational Supplement, 19 March, 1954, p. 275.

(6) Result of an N.I.I.P. test at the beginning of the fifth year.

(7) 2 April, 1954, p. 329.

(8) The new Associated Examining Board. with its wider range of courses, and syllabuses designed with an eye to the vocational aspect of studies, should meet the needs of most comprehensive schools for examination at the higher level.

(9) Cambridge University Reporter, 2 June, 1954, pp. 1443-6.

(10) Review in Education (4 June, 1954, p, 976) of Willard B. Spalding's The Superintendency of Public Schools -an anxious profession (Harvard University Press).

(11) A plan of the proposed school for Sheldon Heath (in the Garretts Green area) is given in Keystone Review (Comprehensive Schools), pp, 6-7.

(12) The Organisation of Comprehensive Secondary Schools (L.C.C., 1953), pp, 15-19.

(13) Education, 7 May, 1954, pp. 799-802.

(14) Education, 18 and 25 February, 1949, pp. 310-4 and 354-6: R. Pedley, "County College and Sixth Form".

(15) All these figures are taken from the official January returns,

(16) The Times Educational Supplement, 15 May, 1953; and Education in 1952 (H.M.S.O.), information compiled from Tables 2, 4, 16, 28.

(17) List (70) of Primary and Secondary Schools in England and Wales recognised as efficient ... (H.M.S.O., 1952),

(18) What is a Comprehensive School? (London Labour Party, n.d.).

(19) Education Act, 1944, 8 (1) (b).

(20) Orders and Regulations governing Moulton Grammar School, 1599.

(21) Quoted in Windermere Grammar School: a History (Westmorland Gazette, Kendal, 1936).

(22) The village colleges of Cambridgeshire now have a "G.C.E. stream" to the age of 16, because of the pressure of population on grammar school places.

(23) The Human Community (Harper, New York, 1951),


[page 22]

Part II

1 A Programme for Progress

by ROBIN PEDLEY

The outline picture of what is being done not only helps us to make a preliminary assessment of the value of the work of the comprehensive school so far; it also enables us to take our bearings and to plan the way ahead with greater certainty. Enlightened by the experience of these and other types of school, yet trying to eliminate what appear to be their chief weaknesses, let us consider some basic features of the internal organisation of the comprehensive school of the future. We must assume for the moment that the age range will continue to be 11-18, with compulsory education ending at 15.

The actual lay-out of the school day and the framework of the timetable are dull but important matters which commonly need drastic review. They can even dominate the curriculum and the school's social life - so we must look at them first.

The average timetable in all secondary schools is an overcrowded monstrosity. In the comprehensive school it is even more complex, and surely a recurring source of nightmare to the head and his deputy. The secondary school timetable is the bitty product of years of gradual concession-fighting retreats by headmasters against the relentless encroachment of new subjects and the demands of subject specialists. The normal length of a lesson has been steadily whittled down: 45, 40, 35 minutes ...; while not only has the number of lessons increased, but one frequently finds three together, following on without respite. In the course of a day, the attention of pupils is switched from one subject to another with bewildering rapidity.

Instead of all this, I suggest a basic period of one hour: three in the morning, two in the afternoon, with a break of at least ten minutes between one period and the next; and to ensure a fair distribution of time among the various subjects, the timetable would be planned on a fortnightly (ten day) basis. The one hour unit would, I believe, be suitable for all subjects (I regret that I cannot, for lack of space, amplify details here) and be capable of being doubled or trebled for household science and certain crafts when


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necessary. It would afford time for properly balanced lessons - for adequate presentation, varied class activity, and effective revision. Too many lessons at present drift from one day to another, straggling and incomplete. There would be no more time-wasting between numerous periods: children and teacher would really be able to settle down and concentrate on a topic. One of the worst aspects of most secondary schools today is the way in which quiet, serious application in the classroom - one of the best features of the "public" and older grammar schools - has been sacrificed to bells at ever shorter intervals, to the restless corridor tramp from one classroom to another, to the interruptions (ruinous to the atmosphere of a lesson) of messengers about the trivia of daily routine - and the biggest culprit in all this is the headmaster himself. This is why I view the elaborate "intercom" at Amlwch, Kidbrooke and elsewhere - so useful, but so easily abused - with some suspicion. The head needs often to remind himself that administration exists to facilitate learning, and not to hinder it.

With this new framework in mind, we can turn to the curriculum. I suggest that for the first three years (rather than two as is the custom in today's comprehensive schools) a general education with a common curriculum should be given to all the children. This Lower School (11-14) would be in the immediate charge of its own head teacher. and would have its own social organisation. Though the general subjects of study would be the same, the content of the syllabus, like the methods of teaching, would be adjusted according to the ability and special interests of each class. The greatest difficulty in applying the principle of a common curriculum probably occurs with foreign languages. Here we need to recognise that for the able child, the language itself comes first: it is the key whose mastery will enable him in due time to become familiar with another civilisation. To others, ready mastery of that key may be denied; but need that prevent their acquiring, instead, a rudimentary and largely colloquial acquaintance with (say) French speech, supplemented by study of the geography, history and way of life of our neighbours? On its particular level. the problem is the same as my own. I cannot read Homer in the original; but am I therefore to be denied the pleasure and instruction of Mr. Rieu's excellent translations? Let us remember, too, that in several European countries a large proportion of children speak two or three languages (including English) fluently; we should do all we can to improve our relatively poor standard in this field.

I agree with the great majority of my colleagues in comprehensive schools that children can make more progress if they are.


[page 24]

working with others of roughly similar ability and attainment. However, I do not favour the extension of this principle to the point of "re-setting" in more than one or two subjects, of which certainly physical education, and perhaps arts and crafts, seem the most suitable. (French and mathematics are the subjects usually chosen for this re-arrangement of pupils.) If it is overdone, the result is virtual destruction of the child's basic social group in school - the form - offsetting any scholastic advantage to be gained by constant re-shuffling. I recall the wise words of the headmistress of Douglas High School: "We try not to be too restless".

At the age of 14 every child would move into the Upper School. I prefer the change to be here rather than at 13-partly to give the Lower School time to complete its job, both academically and socially; partly because I am convinced it is unnecessary, and can be harmful, to develop special trends earlier; and partly because this seems psychologically the right point at which to time the pupil's introduction to fresh fields. Here, when at present the last year looms up as an irksome waste of time, the doors to a range of different courses or departments (14-18) would be flung open. Each pupil would, after consultation among his parents, his teachers and himself, enter one of these, and proceed to a course of one, two, three or four years' duration. It is probable that this prospect, with the expectation of an appropriate qualification at the end, would encourage many pupils to stay longer at school, and would go far towards ending the present rush to leave one or two terms before the end of the school year. Each course would have its special subjects, and its vocational purpose would be clearly evident. This is necessary; we need to remember that the same kind of purpose and incentive is present and implicitly understood in the higher forms of grammar schools. Where it is absent, we must expect bewilderment, frustration, and ultimately despair. Yet, as in the best technical schools today, each course would still be a balanced one, and not a narrow concentration on one particular field. The teacher in charge of each department (with special responsibility status and payment) would undertake the guidance of his pupils in the choice of their careers. This seems the logical way of discharging one of the school's more important functions.

I have dealt first with the work of the school, because it is (as we have sometimes to remind ourselves) the school's chief raison d' être. What is more, the organisation of a school for effective learning and teaching goes a long way towards deciding its social structure-just as the types of industry in a district largely determine the pattern of local community life.


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My chief criticism of today's comprehensive schools (and I make it the more forthrightly because I know that here the big battalions are not on my side) concerns these schools as societies, and their relationship with the local communities to which, whether actively or passively, they belong. Most of my remarks apply to other types of secondary school also. But whereas a school with deep rooted traditions cannot easily cast them aside, even when they seem to be antiquarian rather than practical in value, a new type of school has a rare opportunity to re-assess the needs of today - keeping what is still valuable, but discarding many accretions of content and custom that hinder further progress. Since the comprehensive school largely owes its existence to social pressures and the demand for equal opportunity, one might especially have expected the various heads to do this. So far, with one or two exceptions (and these experiments are of modest proportions) this has not happened. So anxious are head teachers and local authorities to be able to refute the criticisms of the grammar school "old guard" and prove their respectability; to win the confidence of parents and show that examination results will not suffer; and to satisfy all and sundry that these large schools are run efficiently (important considerations all, I agree) - so anxious are they, that they tend to play safe and to concentrate so exclusively on these orthodox objectives that the greater opportunity may be missed. While this continues to be the case, the direction of the new schools is likely to be limited in vision and pioneering vigour. For, as the Manchester Guardian has said in felicitous phrase, "the form neither summons nor stifles: the springs lie deeper." (1)

Where, then, can we trace these springs? Ultimately they are to be found in human, personal qualities and relationships. But personal relationships are to a great extent governed by the environment in which people move - an environment which can be favourable or forbidding, in turn determined by the principles or assumptions held by those who establish and control it.

Western civilisation has pinned its faith to "democracy": more exactly, to government by representatives elected by and from the whole adult community. Most of us are well aware of the deficiencies of this system - of the frequently poor calibre of the men and women so chosen, and the superficial ideas which often sway the vote of electors. Are we then - with most head teachers today - fearfully to renounce this system within our own school community, to say that children, too, will be improperly swayed by popularity (a libel on those I have taught), or will be simply


[page 26]

"too inexperienced"? And to save them (and ourselves) from unwise decisions, are we to fall back on government by staff' oligarchy, or even our own benevolent despotism? Or should we take the view that part of our job is to prepare children to become responsible citizens in a democratic community, and give them the opportunity to learn by personal experience the pitfalls and paths of democratic government? If we take the latter course, it must certainly be a carefully graduated one. The lower school council's sphere of power will, like that of the parish council in adult life, be confined to the smaller, immediate details of daily life - though that does not make them unimportant. That of the upper school council - perhaps roughly comparable with the urban or rural district council - will be wider; but beyond the district council there still lie the county council and Parliament. It is important that the children should realise precisely what their powers are, and where they stop; but within that sphere their decisions should be subject to no arbitrary veto by the headmaster: the latter must keep faith with his pupils. Complete self-government by children and adolescents is as impossible as it is undesirable; but some gradual training for adult democracy there must be, if the working of that imperfect system is to be steadily improved; if it is to be made healthy and efficient enough to resist the easier alternatives of government by the few - be they aristocratic landowners or trade union bosses, captains of industry or party cabals.

The traditional prefect system, developed in the "public" and voluntary grammar schools when they were preparing boys for the aristocratic leadership of society, does not meet this need. It has been borrowed in this century by the maintained grammar schools, more recently by the modern schools, and now by the comprehensive schools. As usual (and here I refer to secondary school heads in general) motives are mixed. Those which operate at surface level may for (some) include imitation for the sake of borrowed prestige, and the convenience of having reliable minions to help the staff with the chores of daily routine. But underlying these petty motives are others which go to the very roots of individual and social psychology. I suspect that most headmasters accept the idea that leadership by a class born to hereditary wealth and station should give way to leadership by another class, that born with natural ability; and a chief aim of social and educational reformers at present is to promote flexibility in society in general and in the educational system in particular, so that this movement up (and of course down, since the whole thing is relative) can proceed more easily. It is a stage in social reform which has had to be striven for and won before the next move forward;


[page 27]

the old campaigners need have no misgivings. It is a theory, perfectly consistent with the long struggle to extend the provision of free grammar school places. By many, the comprehensive school is supported simply as a better means of facilitating this process.

Nevertheless, I suggest that they are now backing the right horse for the wrong reason - and if trainers and jockeys are equally in error, even the right horse is unlikely to prove to be the winner so confidently anticipated. For the principal need of modern democracy is not that we should pick or train a class of leaders. whom the rest can follow with unquestioning loyalty - shades of Huxley and Orwell! - but that we should spread responsibility much more widely, encourage intelligent discussion and active participation in councils and committees, and prize individual initiative and the questioning mind. In the organisation of classes and courses, the comprehensive schools do everything possible to provide for the needs of the infinite variety of human abilities. Clearly the same principle should apply in the social organisation of the school also, where each group situation may produce its own - and often a different - admirable Crichton. There will be many groupings of various sizes within the whole school. Where it is small enough, a group can act as a whole. Where it is too large for this to be possible, authority can often be delegated ad hoc, for particular purposes to different people. In this way, every boy and girl receives some training in democratic procedure, and a large proportion is likely eventually to gain some experience of executive office. This extension of personal experience is essential to the effective working of a democratic system; for we want all - not only a favoured or ambitious few - to become active citizens in the future.

In other words, the members of a school community - as of any other community - need not to elect "leaders" or "prefects" as such (though hardly any schools have got even thus far)-pupils elevated to permanently superior status, a new aristocracy; but rather to give to the natural social groups within the school - the form, the department, the various clubs and societies. including both pupils and teachers-much more opportunity of discussing and deciding as a body issues which concern themselves; and in matters which affect others, there should be joint committees or lower school and upper school councils. upon which representatives elected for a limited term could serve. No one who has studied the early growth of responsible behaviour in our nursery-infant schools. or its later stages in the high schools of U.S.A. and in progressive schools in this country, can doubt that adolescents are capable of


[page 28]

exercising sensible judgment on far more matters, and matters more serious, than the trivial things they are usually allowed to decide.

Why do so many heads hesitate, or reject outright this vitally important aspect of the social education of their pupils? In some cases it may be due to sheer lack of originality and knowledge; some, perhaps, are not well informed of experiments elsewhere, and it does not occur to them to adopt any system other than that to which they have been accustomed. There may be an element of caution: it is easier and safer to appoint your own agents than to risk having to work with individuals appointed by others, and of whom you may not approve. Moreover, it greatly strengthens a headmaster's hand to wield this power of patronage. "All power corrupts ..." - and where is the tyrant who has voluntarily become a constitutional monarch? It is easier and more efficient to take decisions quickly than to await the laborious processes of committees=-especially when you know the answer much better than they. "Democracy only rates two cheers", as E. M. Forster observed, even with the man in the street. It can hardly be expected to evoke an eager welcome from the average headmaster's chair.

But the most important aspect of all in the development of practical as well as theoretical training for democracy is the emotional maturity and balance of the head's personality. The man who loves children and has faith in them; the man who is not plagued by subconscious doubts about his own capacity or popularity - this is the man who will find the courage and conviction essential to the successful conclusion of such a venture. For the doubter, it is wiser that he should continue to tread the old, comforting, familiar paths - but he is not the man to guide a new enterprise like the comprehensive school.

I have dwelt at length on this question of education for democracy, partly because it is in itself so vital, and partly because I believe that by its answer to this, rather than to the immediate .issues of examination results or the promotion of late developers, the comprehensive school will ultimately be justified or condemned. It is time now to consider other aspects of the school.

Just as the prefect system has outlived its usefulness for a fully democratic society, so the house system - again, largely borrowed unthinkingly from the "public" schools, and adopted in all the comprehensive schools which I have seen - deserves searching re-examination. The natural unit in a boarding school (where it was established as the nearest possible thing to a family house-


[page 29]

hold), it appears artificial and superfluous in a day school serving a local community, whose pupils enjoy both their own home life and (one hopes) the social life of the neighbourhood also. The day school has its own social units-the form in the lower school, the department in the upper school, with any variations which may grow from these. They are fully adequate for the essential purposes of the day school.

With other controversial features I must deal all too briefly. Marks I welcome as a guide to personal progress, but deplore as a means of inciting competition rather than co-operation in learning among a group of children. Prizes are rather an obvious and ineffective carrot. I taught for several years in a Quaker school which lived happily and successfully without them. The panoply of cups, shields and medals also seems, if not very pernicious, not very elevating either. We need to encourage effort for the sake of the pursuit itself, rather than for material rewards. Though the gleaming trophy is not intended to do so, it may cloud these principles in the minds of both the delighted recipient and the disappointed loser. As for discipline, if the school is a busy and happy one, school councils will deal effectively (if other experiments in self-government are any guide) with minor offences. In serious matters the head needs to judge each as a special individual case, usually involving contact with parents, and when necessary with probation' officers or police. Should he wish to do so, he has the legal right to resort to corporal punishment. One doubts whether a first class head would ever find that necessary. Professor E. B. Castle, formerly a distinguished headmaster, has said that his became an infinitely better school when he finally laid aside his cane. (2)

So much for the details of the immediate task. Now let us review the wider background of the system as a whole. Are the supporters of the comprehensive school quite certain that no improvements are possible here?

The most remarkable feature of the movement for comprehensive schools is that it is in every respect a limited movement: limited, first, in interpretation of what is meant by "comprehensive" - for how otherwise could a local authority which objects to dividing children on a basis of attainment decide (as London and Coventry have done in some cases) to divide them on a basis of sex? It is limited, again, in its acceptance of an administrative system geared to a selective pattern of education; limited in its general adoption of traditional practice concerning the internal organisa-


[page 30]

tion and government of schools. Perhaps the most serious limitation of all is the small part played today by an idea which during the war largely held the stage: (3) the conception of a neighbourhood, a local society (whether in town or country) which could not only be served by its schools, but which should be integrated with them. The achievement of the few heads who have, through their schools, succeeded in developing or reviving in local people the consciousness of being an active community, is therefore the more notable. (4) Such inspired work is necessary if the new type of school is to attain both distinction and distinctiveness.

Comprehensive schools lacking a definite catchment area and a socially conscious neighbourhood are seriously weakened in purpose and character. Their attention is turned inwards instead of outwards; because of the disintegration of established communities, they are driven to attempt to provide within the school substitutes which, however ingeniously thought out and fostered. cannot adequately replace the rich, vigorous atmosphere of local life. The development of huge numbers, elaborate house systems. sumptuous facilities for games and societies within the school may indeed, given the malady, be necessary. But we should recognise that they are palliatives, forced on us by the sickness of our time, as the Great Wen engulfs village after village, and families exist, rootless and lonely, in the vast social deserts of suburbia. The pattern of these self-sufficient schools is appropriate to boarding schools which of choice have no essential contact with the people> of the immediate district. It is not appropriate to a truly comprehensive school.

The reasons for the present condition of society are, of course. too complex to be traced here; but we must notice the significant lack of effort in recent years to remedy it. Some responsibility for the paralysis is borne by all those who operate in the labyrinth of local government: town planners, housing officials, education committees among them. An example of missed opportunity may, perhaps, be found in Anglesey - an authority which has done so much in the development of a complete system of comprehensive secondary schools that its failure to extend the principle to higher age groups is the more surprising. At Holyhead, the technical institute is at present under the direction of the head of the school, and the school premises and staff are available to the part-time student of technical subjects. Here is a ready-made organisation which could follow and improve upon the model of the village colleges of Cambridgeshire. Instead, Anglesey plans to build a separate institution-a farm base and probable county college for part-time education only, at Llangefni in the middle of the


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island. The Llangefni base, alternatively, could itself be an exciting and important development if its nucleus were planned as a college which catered for all full-time pupils in the island over 15 or 16, with a concentration of advanced equipment and staff that would be both economical and efficient. This could rival the best independent schools in the quality of its work, and at the same time, if it were also the base for part-time education, extend Anglesey's conception of comprehensive education to embrace the whole community. But at present there is no sign of either form of development being entertained, let alone translated into reality.

Had the spirit of reform been at work, yeast-like, in the public mind, the advocates of comprehensive education might reasonably be criticised for failing to plan from first principles, instead of (as now) grafting a new type of school on to a system devised with quite different aims in view. The truly comprehensive educational system would, one imagines, begin with the proven success of the Pioneer Health Centre at Peckham: (5) a community centre designed to promote the physical, mental and social well-being of the families of the neighbourhood, which as part of its facilities provided a nursery and an infants' school for children up to the age of eight. Thereafter would come a common school - in age range, at least, not very dissimilar to the independent preparatory school (8-14) - which could provide to 15 the good general education to which we in this country pay assiduous lip service. Here each teacher would take a group of subjects, as the Norwood Report recommended for the lower secondary school; (6) we should thus avoid the patchy performance of the junior "all subjects" teacher on the one hand. and the over-specialisation of the grammar school graduate on the other. There would be no break at 11, because the selective form of education which the Hadow (7) and Spens (8) Reports envisaged would not be contemplated; and an unnecessary transfer from one school to another would thus be avoided.

The real break which, directly or indirectly, affects all young people, is the general school leaving age. For example, the girl or boy at a comprehensive school who decides to stay beyond 15 is in a minority; and the pull towards going with one's friends rather than breaking with them and their mode of life is very great. In the new system they would all, at this point, move on to the 'Same county college, which would give full-time or part-time education (according to individual needs) up to the age of 18. In this social and educational centre not only would the sharp transition from school to work be eased, but young workers and scholars could together study and play, discuss and debate, organise and administer. At a most impressionable stage in the formation of


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personal and social relationships, a democratic system of education would come to fruition. The effect on the mutual understanding and vigorous purpose of the citizens of a future England might be great. Nor would learning lag behind social education. First class teachers (including those rare birds, science teachers), buildings and equipment could be provided for advanced work, at once more effectively and more economically than in every secondary school; and a great range of possible courses would afford maximum opportunity for all.

Even if the break at 11 must be retained for the present, the logical division of the secondary stage into two parts - (1) comprehensive school 11-15, and (2) county college 15-18 - is the obvious way of keeping the advantages of comprehensive schools while removing their weaknesses. The problem of overwhelming. size would disappear: four-stream schools of 480 children would be perfectly feasible. The county college would not only meet the need for really effective teaching at an advanced level, and enable local authorities for the first time to rival - even surpass - the best "public" schools; socially (since it would draw from a whole borough or district) it would comprise all ranges of background and occupation, interest and ability. Here would indeed be the crowning period of a fully comprehensive system of education.

The fact is, however, that the idealism and determination of the war period have waned. Hard-worked administrators have too little time to consider new principles and to worry out the multitude of problems which would arise from their application in practice. Their decisions are made empirically, from day to day; and the impetus which ought to come from the lay members of their committees is lacking. The result in the special field which we are considering is that only the annual burst of indignation from disappointed parents keeps up the pressure for ending selection at 10+. Popular feeling is confined solely to this issue; and it is natural, therefore, that the first comprehensive school should be almost equally confined to justifying their solution of it. Short of a great economic and social upheaval, the prospects of substantial advance may largely depend upon the emergence of a group' of educational prophets - headmasters? administrators? professors? laymen? - who can stir both the conscience and the imagination of a national audience.

At the moment it seems that already, before it has well begun, the comprehensive school movement is beginning to follow the pattern of much greater revolutionary changes in history. "The tumult and the shouting dies" - and, a necessary adjustment to a


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changing society having been made, the work of education goes on much as before. One or two exceptions indeed there are: schools which hint of the exciting, purposeful atmosphere of creative work, which are developing in impressive fashion the personalities and talents of hitherto neglected children. But much remains to be done; and for the most part the idealist is left gazing with troubled eyes at the new homes of old follies: prefects and prizes, authoritarian discipline and individual competition, artificial house systems, crowded timetables, and formal examinations. "How much is still alive in England", cried Carlyle; "how much has not yet come into life!" Yet a promise, too, is there: "the centuries are big; and the birth-hour is coming, not yet come".

(1) Leading article on "Comprehensive Schools", 23 October, 1954.

(2) People in School (Heinemann, 1953), p. 23.

(3) cf. (for example) H. G. Stead, The Education of a Community (U.L.P., 1942).

(4) cf. Education, 7 May, 1954, pp. 791-2: R. Pedley, "School for the Community" (a description of Castle Rushen High School, Isle of Man).

(5) See I. H. Pearse and L. H. Crocker, The Peckham Experiment (Allen & Unwin, 1943), and later pamphlets about Peckham.

(6) Curriculum and Examinations in Secondary Schools (H.M.S.O., 1943). pp. 63-6.

(7) The Education of the Adolescent (H.M.S.O., 1927).

(8) Secondary Education (H.M.S.O., 1938).




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2 From Figments to Facts

by H. C. DENT

"Nobody knows exactly what a comprehensive school is". The words are not those of some captious critic, but of the headmistress of Kidbrooke, London's first comprehensive school. The reminder is salutary. Even the official definitions appear to vary; the former Minister of Education, Miss Florence Horsbrugh {according to Dr. Pedley's quotation from Hansard) told the House of Commons that a comprehensive school was one intended "to provide all the secondary education facilities needed by the children of a given area, but without being organised in clearly defined sides", whereas Circular 144 (June 1947), which was written to clarify terminology, said that a comprehensive school was "to provide for all the secondary education of all the children in a given area without an organisation in three sides". Any competent local education authority or head teacher could create two very different schools from those two definitions.

If, as Miss Green suggests, nobody knows exactly what a comprehensive school is - and certainly the existing schools bearing the title are widely various - still less does anyone know what the effects of such a school upon its pupils are likely to be, or of an educational system based on the comprehensive principle upon society at large. Our ignorance has not prevented us from dogmatising cheerfully and confidently about these matters for the past twenty years or more, but it is important to recognise that so far the controversy has been conducted entirely on hypotheses. It has been pure shadow boxing. Doubly so, because not only have there been no facts to fight about but the two sides have been chasing two different arguments. The believers have always advocated comprehensive schools primarily on social grounds while the nonbelievers have concentrated upon denouncing their educational disadvantages.

The value of Dr. Pedley's articles is that they assemble a considerable body of information about the composition, organisation and activities of most of the (very few) schools in England and Wales officially designated comprehensive. So far as I know this is the first time anyone has published a survey of comprehensive schools in action covering more than a single local education authority area. Dr. Pedley's is for that reason both welcome and


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valuable. Whether we like the comprehensive school or not, it is an experiment of the first importance whose progress should, in the national interest, be studied under the microscope. To do that, facts, in abundance, are essential. They are essential not only as evidence of what comprehensive schools are like and are doing but also to clear from our minds the figments about comprehensive schools which, in the absence of facts, have been allowed quite irrationally to harden into articles of belief.

It is Dr. Pedley's facts, therefore, which are valuable. His articles prove nothing. It would be difficult enough to prove, or disprove, anything of educational or social significance from the brief experiences of 14 schools, all in their infancy as comprehensive schools and most barely out of swaddling clothes, even if they were 14 closely similar schools. But they are not. They range in size from 210 to 1254 pupils. Some are boys' schools, some girls', some co-educational. Some have a much longer list of subjects than others. Some grew round grammar schools, some started de novo, and one at least (Castle Rushen) began as a bilateral school. Not only the schools but the districts they serve are widely different. Some are largely rural, some rural-cum-urban, some heavily industrialised urban, some urban but predominantly clerical or commercial rather than industrial. Finally, the two local education authority areas which have completely comprehensive systems - Anglesey and the Isle of Man - are both islands with indigenous cultures, and so anything but typical.

But if Dr. Pedley's facts prove nothing they do at least begin to suggest that some current opinions about comprehensive schools rest on rather shaky foundations. First - the bogey which has most affrighted the public mind - that comprehensive schools must of necessity be very large schools, "huge regimented multilateral establishments", as the Headmasters' Association once called them. Even Dr. Pedley, in face of his own evidence, cannot apparently rid himself of this opinion.

It is clear that, given the attempt to provide secondary education in one school from 11 to 18, and given the need of a great range of studies from among which a complete cross-section of 15 to 18 year-olds can satisfy their developing special abilities and their ideas of a career, a huge organisation of buildings, staff, subjects and pupils is inevitable.
Is that really clear? If so, how can the schools with 210, 394 and 536 pupils possibly be comprehensive? Dr. Pedley holds up for admiration, and implied comparison with grammar school


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achievement (to the latter's disadvantage), the examination successes of Castle Rushen, the co-educational school of 394 pupils. Is this exceptional, or is there a way of evading the "inevitable"? Surely the latter, seeing that everyone of the 14 schools surveyed has fewer pupils than the number - 1500 - which many people consider the absolute minimum for a comprehensive school.

Secondly - a key argument of comprehensive fans - that by abolishing "the Scholarship", an external classification test, yow thereby abolish testing, classification, and grading according to ability, and all the discrimination these imply, at 11+. All the schools which Dr. Pedley visited test, classify and grade their pupils on entry. So does Kidbrooke, and so, I dare hazard, will every English (or Welsh) comprehensive school until such time as we' abandon our belief - to which as yet we seem indissolubly wedded - in the virtue of intellectually homogeneous teaching groups. Actually, the comprehensive school, far from doing away with classification according to ability, offers the opportunity to make more numerous gradings than are possible in most grammar, technical, and modern schools. And so far, it must be admitted. comprehensive school teachers seem to be seizing this opportunity with both hands. Some of Dr. Pedley's schools are not only grading their pupils into classes but also into sets; and Kidbrooke has, 15 graded forms in its first year - a positive hierarchy of ability. All this makes for the greatest possible educational chance for the greatest number: but it has yet to be demonstrated that a low intellectual classification within a school will prove less wounding to a sensitive child than being "segregated" in a school designed to nurture his particular ability and aptitudes, and in which he is; not overshadowed by his intellectual superiors.

Third - a main plank in the anti-comprehensive argument - that academic standards must of necessity be lower in a comprehensive than in a grammar or technical school. Dr. Pedley's: evidence even suggests that academic standards may be higher. I say "suggests" with some trepidation; it may be too strong a word. I am not impressed by his "Jean Smith" and "David Jones"; they can be paralleled in any good secondary modern school with a G.C.E. course. The examination results he cites may be due largely to factors other than the comprehensive nature of the school: the mere fact of being in a novel and experimental school; extra good staff; better equipment, and so on.' But the London County Council, on the evidence of its semi-comprehensive "grouped" schools, also says academic standards are not lowered. It goes farther, for it declares that intellectually able children are doing as well in comprehensive as in grammar schools. Except


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for one brief, incidental and local reference, Dr. Pedley has, unfortunately, said nothing about this vital point. He says too much on the contrary, about the sixth form. In particular, the comparison he makes between the sixth form numbers in the comprehensive schools in the Isle of Man and in the island's independent boarding school, King William's College, is utterly misleading, and has in any case nothing to do with the comprehensive principle, as he himself acknowledges in a subsequent paragraph, and as the tables he gives previously show clearly. The strikingly different proportions of pupils in the sixth forms of maintained schools and independent "public" schools are due to the different structures of the schools, their different traditions, and the different economic circumstances of their pupils. The independent "public" school, with an entry age of 13-14, has been for upwards of a century very largely a sixth form with an extension downwards, and from its 14th century origins has always been geared to present its pupils at the door of the university. The growth of the sixth form in the maintained grammar school began only very recently, and despite much official and professional encouragement has been slow and difficult. I would expect the growth of sixth forms in comprehensive schools to be, not equally slow, but at least gradual. I believe that in time - provided no drastic reorganisation of the secondary school structure takes place, and this seems unlikely in the near future - comprehensive school sixth forms will be as large in relation to their total populations as grammar school sixth forms. There is no a priori reason why all the members of a comprehensive school sixth form should come from the grammar stream; some of us have always believed that able technicians. artists, craftsmen, and musicians should find a place there. But the idea must be given time to grow. The workshops and laboratories for advanced engineering and natural science in the comprehensive schools shortly to be opened in Staffordshire will assist its growth. So will similar facilities for advanced work projected for comprehensive schools in Birmingham, Coventry, London and Middlesex. If, as seems quite possible, the age regulations for entry into apprenticeship are made more flexible, and continued full-time secondary education ranks as part of the period of apprenticeship, comprehensive school sixth forms may be considerably enlarged from that source alone.

About the social effects of having in one school children from all (or almost all) strata of society, of all degrees of ability and all sorts of interests and aptitudes, Dr. Pedley says nothing at all. This is a grave lack, for in the minds of many, perhaps most. of those who advocate the comprehensive school this is the primary consideration. The London School Plan, for example, puts first


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among the arguments it submits in its case for comprehensive schools that "It is a matter of first-rate importance for modern society that life in school should promote a feeling of social unity among adolescents of all kinds and degrees of ability". Admittedly, most of the schools Dr. Pedley visited have hardly been comprehensive long enough for any such effects to be markedly noticeable, but one would have thought that teachers in the Isle of Man would have had some worthwhile observations to make on this matter; the island has had a complete system of comprehensive schools for nearly six years, and the schools at Douglas and Ramsey have been comprehensive for nearly eight. A correspondent of the Schoolmaster who in 1953 spent some time at Holyhead received an "over-riding impression" of "a friendly, lively community - with the accent on 'community'". But this, though encouraging, is not in itself sufficient to justify a type of school specifically designed to promote social unity; it can be, and frequently is, achieved by other types of school. Early evidence on this point is important for the future of the comprehensive school.

It is equally important to secure early evidence about another point, which Dr. Pedley does discuss, but not in the context which is of primary importance. By definition a comprehensive school is a "neighbourhood" school: it serves the children of a given area. (This is, in fact, the part of the various definitions least susceptible to varied interpretation.) Dr. Pedley is chiefly concerned that school and neighbourhood shall together form one community. In the course of his argument he makes a series of statements which constitute, in my opinion, the most disputable passage in the whole of his three articles.

Comprehensive schools lacking a definite catchment area and a socially conscious neighbourhood are seriously weakened in purpose and character. Their attention is turned inwards instead of outwards; because of the disintegration of established communities, they are driven to attempt to provide within the school substitutes which, however ingeniously thought out and fostered, cannot adequately replace the rich, vigorous atmosphere of local life.
This does not seem to me to make any sense at all. First, a comprehensive school must have a definite catchment area; otherwise it is merely a secondary school with a rather extensive range of facilities, and of necessity. dependent upon a selective entry (whether the selection is made by the school or by parents is beside the point). It is of the essence of a comprehensive school that its entry shall be non-selective, and the only way to ensure this is


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to give it the exclusive right to educate all the children in a defined area. Secondly, if the spread of comprehensive schools were to be restricted to "socially conscious" neighbourhoods it would be a very patchy spread indeed, and one which might lead to social disunity rather than unity. (I shall return to this point in a moment.) Thirdly - this puzzles me most - why, if a school does not find round itself a ready-made "socially conscious" neighbourhood, must it turn inwards? I should have thought that the compulsion upon it would be to do the exact opposite. Surely there could be no better starting point, nor a happier or more powerful agent, for creating a socially conscious neighbourhood than a school which claims the loyalty of all the children of secondary school age in that neighbourhood? I understand that Kidbrooke is already, with gratifying success, attempting to draw its neighbourhood to itself.

In the case of Kidbrooke (and similar districts) a "neighbourhood" school should be able to do much to promote social unity. for its district is said to contain a fair cross-section of society. But not all neighbourhoods do; on the contrary, in large towns and other densely populated areas neighbourhoods tend to be, if not one-class, at any rate representative of only a few strata of society. The growth of housing estates is intensifying this tendency. This is a point which advocates of comprehensive schools appear universally to ignore - as, incidentally, so does Dr. Pedley. "Discrimination at the age of 11," says the Labour Party's manifesto, Challenge to Britain, "can only be ended by doing away with the segregation of children into grammar, technical and modern schools." Will "discrimination" be thus ended? Might not comprehensive schools in many places only substitute another form of "segregation" by restricting their pupils to contacts with members of their own social class? What would be the social composition of Manchester Grammar School - today probably as representative of all sections of society as any school in England - if it became a "neighbourhood" school? This is not an argument against comprehensive schools, which must in my opinion be judged ultimately on their educational merits; it is merely a warning that unless catchment areas are carefully drawn (in many cases probably to cut across "socially conscious" neighbourhoods) the comprehensive schools in them may produce precisely opposite social effects from those they were created to produce.

I will not attempt to follow Dr. Pedley into the realm of the completely integrated neighbourhood school catering for both children and adults. It is a beautiful thought - though not, as I hope I have made clear, without its dangers - but, as he himself


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says, one "must not go too fast or too far". For that reason, too, I am not disposed to be so dissatisfied as he that the comprehensive school movement is at present a "limited movement" in the sense that its exponents are generally adopting "traditional practice with regard to the curriculum and internal government" of their schools. One thing at a time. The comprehensive principle in itself offers a sufficiently large, difficult, and exciting field for experiment; do not further complicate the task of those who are adventuring in it by including elements which, however attractive, are essentially extraneous - not to say controversial. Let the comprehensive school justify itself, if it can - that has yet to be proved - for the reasons for which it has been established, educational diversity, and social homogeneity, not as a new kind of Bedales or Summerhill.




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3 Some Claims Justified

by HAROLD C. SHEARMAN

It is indeed time that we passed beyond the stage of interminable demonstrations that the comprehensive secondary school cannot possibly work, and began to study how the first schools of the new type are in fact working. Dr. Pedley's "interim survey" is therefore welcome. It is clear that some of the claims made for the comprehensive school are already being justified and some of the confident assertions of its opponents proving unfounded, while, no doubt, some of the questions still await conclusive answers. Moreover these schools are far from being cut to a single pattern, :and the nightmare of excessive standardisation does not, it seems, survive a cool appraisal.

One notes, with some surprise, that several of these schools, like many American high schools, are very small; but, as might be expected, it is in the larger ones that most of the special advantages of this type of school are apparent, including variety of curricula and courses, adequate provision for the academically able children, as well as (and this is not paradoxical) greater possibilities of individual attention for slow and clever alike. The experience of Holyhead seems to answer effectively the common assertion that the sixth form would suffer: while all the schools, we are told, can show striking and indeed sensational examples of progress made by some of those who, in popular parlance, had "failed the scholarship" at eleven. It is not, indeed, the whole case for the comprehensive school that it will correct the errors of the selection at present made, but it is. an important part of the case. Parents are very unhappy about the present position, even when they have no idea that Professor Vernon shares. their views; and the evidence that the prospective State Scholarship winner would not suffer, while the victim of incorrect assessment would find his true level, though not unexpected, will surely influence some who are uneasy about the present situation. Meanwhile, if anyone is inclined to brush aside the parents' anxieties on this score as being due merely to ignorance or misunderstanding of the psychologist's techniques, he is singularly aloof from the heart burnings which members of Education Committees have so often to seek to allay.

One of the questions often - and rightly-asked is whether the high proportion of children who will normally leave at fifteen will


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unsettle those who should stay on to the sixth form. Dr. Pedley finds that in all cases the new schools encourage some children "to stay a little longer at school". It is early days for much evidence to have accumulated: even so, this seems to me to be rather an understatement. At Walworth, for instance, an "interim comprehensive" school, which has built up a sixth form, triumphing over almost every possible disadvantage in its accommodation and environment, thirteen pupils have gone forward to teachers' training colleges in the last two years. We do not yet know how far this tendency to a longer school life will go in the comprehensive school; all the probabilities are. in favour of it. What we do know. and this is a fact not lightly to be dismissed, is that the grammar schools are losing a disturbing proportion of their pupils before the school certificate stage. From the Ministry of Education Report it appears that in 1953 19 per cent of grammar school leavers were under sixteen: almost exactly the same proportion as those who stayed till 18 or over. Some of these, I suppose, may, have become 16 in the summer holidays, but the general picture is clear, though different conclusions might be drawn from the facts. Some would deduce that the grammar school entry should be more rigorously pruned, and that these children represent Professor Vernon's "misfits" who are keeping out others who should have been selected in their place. If only our selectors were given second sight and could peer four years into the future! I have before me a list of the occupations taken up by twenty-three "premature leavers" of a single grammar school. They include in addition to apprenticeships in engineering, printing, hairdressing and sign-writing, posts as window dressers, shop assistants, clerks, messenger and office junior, and training in commercial art, cinema management, the army and the R.AE It does not seem absurd to suggest that a comprehensive school with its range of pre-vocational studies might well have succeeded, where the grammar school failed, in keeping some at least of these pupils at school.

As Dr. Pedley shows, the comprehensive schools, other than the very small ones, are able to make better provision for specialised work, including pre-University studies, than most grammar schools, but he notes that the "foremost public schools" are "inevitably superior". At Rugby, for instance, half of the pupils are over sixteen. It does not need great acuteness to see that, where, as in most grammar schools, entry is at eleven, the proportions of pupils under sixteen will be much higher than in schools which recruit at thirteen or fourteen. Indeed, many have inclined to the view that, if we are to concentrate on selection, thirteen is a more realistic age at which to do so. Sir Cyril Burt (1) long since condemned the theory of selection by types at eleven; Dr. Alexander (2)


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put forward the suggestion, subsequently embodied in the Surrey development plan (which, however, the Minister has not yet approved) that all children should have an interim transfer at eleven followed by a final selection at thirteen. The difficulties are obvious and may well be insuperable, and surely the comprehensive schools - especially those so much maligned for their "hugeness" - have a clear advantage. If desired, the "monolithic block" from eleven to fifteen can be divided and a "lower school" organised, linked, if preferred, with the upper school through a house system. Specialisation can be introduced at whatever stage is found best, and the fullest advantage can thus be taken of the developing interests of the pupils. Mr. F. M. Earle, the former head of a large multilateral school, reviewing his experience of "some seven or eight thousand pupils between 12 and 18", emphasised (3) that, though he firmly believed in the importance of general intelligence, he found in the pupil's interests the main motive for continued education.

Interest - and, he added, sense of achievement; in other words, children became keen on the subjects at which they were making progress: not perhaps a very original doctrine, but one not always exploited. One of the obvious ways to ensure that it happens is. of course, to relate the curriculum to the world in which the child feels he is soon to take his place. Another, equally obvious, is to ensure that he is helped to cope with his individual difficulties. Before any comprehensive schools were established (outside Scotland), Mr. Hutchins, the headmaster of Varndean School, Brighton, demonstrated, (4) with an ingenious table, that with a given staff-pupil ratio, and the standard sized form of thirty, it is possible with each increase in the size of a school to increase the numbers of periods in which the pupils can be taken in smaller "sets". If he is right, it seems to me to offer one of the most hopeful lines of development.

On the subject of curriculum, as well as on that of school organisation, Dr. Pedley feels that the Schools he saw have but "reformed it indifferently". There is still much to be said-and thought-before firm principles can be laid down. The problem is to give to each pupil a coherent and significant education which will be shared in varying degrees with other pupils while it contributes all along to the progressive development of his maturing personality. It must have significance in the present while it looks to the future - a future which will bring experience and responsibility in work, personal and social relationships, culture and citizenship. The curriculum, and the life, of the secondary school must prepare them for all of these, but, of course, in terms of their as yet


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immature growth. Every school must solve these difficult and complex problems in its own way, and the solution cannot be exactly the same for any two of them. However it is worked out it must meet the tests which Professor Judges has recently (5) proposed for the comprehensive school: it must provide for every child "the stimulus of achievement at his, true level of performance"; it must "create an organic and happy combination of technical and liberal studies" (in, as he suggests, the only school atmosphere which can achieve this); and it must provide a "richer" education for the great majority of the pupils.

How far we can expect this enrichment to be realised may be a matter of opinion, and we shall not escape the gibes of the sceptics. If at Holyhead it is achieved by living alongside the pupils who are steeping themselves in academic studies, at Walworth it has been achieved, to a remarkable extent, as it seems to me, by living together in an extraordinarily live community, with a curriculum whose variety has a common basis, and inspiration. Here, in a drab and depressing part of South London, in an old and cramped set of buildings on a small site, an "interim comprehensive" school of moderate size has grown up. The curriculum in the first four years is integrated in a scheme of "social studies" leading out from the local environment, including the vocational interests of many of the pupils, to the Commonwealth and the wider world. Nor are the studies merely theoretical; there is much talk of the "Walworth way of life" as a democratic school society with elected form and school committees and co-operation, not competition, as the driving force. It has been judged by independent observers that all this is "no mere form of words", and that in particular, the fourth year pupils were able "on the basis of their training in social studies, to discuss critically, with some judgment, various modern problems of general interest".

This bare account of an educational adventure in an area not long since somewhat notorious for its juvenile gangs, will not, I fear, stir the blood of all my readers. "Social studies" in particular suggests to some minds vagueness and lack of direction. Yet from these foundations pupils go on to good results in G.C.E. in their fifth year; in 1953, 28 passed in 93 subjects and this year 45 candidates entered for 210 subjects (O) and 10 candidates for 18 subjects (Advanced), while others took R.S.A. technical and commercial examinations; thirteen went on to Training Colleges (and it must be remembered that this school had no grammar school basis); and a great variety of out of school activities was carried on.

I have enlarged a little on Walworth because in many ways its success is of a different quality from the more normal success of


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Holyhead - with its grammar school origins - and in some ways more distinctive. In fact, each of these schools is suited to its particular environment, and each shows what is possible in different ways; and the capacity to win enthusiastic loyalty has already been marked in more than one of these schools. (I seem to remember a letter to the Times Educational Supplement from the prefects of Mellow Lane.)

As I said, we shall always have the sceptics, but if we do not believe in the cultural and civilising influence of the controlled environment of a good school, why are we in business at all? It is not, surely, enough to classify children with exactness, get a few of them through examinations and win all the University prizes. It is not true that standards can only be maintained in a highly :selective school or through the formal academic training of the classroom and the rigorous discipline of the rugby field. Whether because of the glamour - indeed, beauty - of the new buildings, as at Kidbrooke, or because of the personality of the Head, or because of the traditions carried over from grammar schools in some cases (or even, in others. because it appears that a powerful Minister wanted to prevent them from sharing these traditions) or because of all these and other factors as well, there are signs that the idea of new educational standards is taking hold. The idea of the comprehensive school is beginning to seize the imagination of many who do not know much about educational theories (as the five hundred applications for two hundred places at Walworth indicates), and the superior critics from the aloofness of their proud grammar schools would perhaps be wise to cultivate some reserve in the display of their hostility to something which is rapidly winning support among parents and teachers alike. And are the superior "five per cent" of pupils - or their parents - going to contract out of the community school indefinitely? That is a question which seems to me to have deeper significance, not only social, but moral as well.

There is a science of education; and we should learn all we can about the differences of children's abilities and incorporate it in our practice. But essentially education is an art, and the practice of an art depends on the truth of the vision. To me it seems that the vision of those who think of using the most ingenious devices to select, if it can be done, the cleverest children for education in separate schools is not particularly admirable. That the new schools have many technical problems to solve it would be silly to deny, But the attempt to solve new problems in pursuit of an inspiring purpose seems to me to evoke the kind of "leadership"


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which is of most permanent value, and which is particularly needed today. When Harvard University published its interesting book on General Education in a Free Society it was reviewed in one New York weekly under the title "Harvard Wants to Join America". Mr. Lovett at Holyhead, and others of the pioneers whom Dr. Pedley has visited, are showing how privileges shared with others. far from impoverishing their owners, can enrich all alike. -

In the next four or five years we shall see a considerable extension of the range of experience on which some later survey will be based, as the big schools in London, Birmingham, Coventry and Staffordshire, several of which are to open next year, get into their stride. I find it difficult to take seriously much of the outcry against their size; there are people joining in it who are queueing up to get their sons into the biggest boys' school in England - Dulwich - which is in the same neighbourhood as a comprehensive school. The bitterness of the hostility they have aroused seems to me: shocking; and its meanness, in many instances which I have encountered, is to me incredible, when I think of the generous, education which some of those who display it have themselves; enjoyed; but, no doubt, all this will pass.

Meanwhile many hands are helping to shape the new design;, and it must not be accepted that in the stress of urgent day to day problems no thought is being given to principles. It is not my experience that the lay members have been apathetic (I wish Dr. Pedley could have found time to talk to some of them, too, on his tour); certainly not that administrators, overworked though they doubtless are, have neglected to think ahead. In London, it was in 1935 that the Sub-Committee first considered a report on these questions. When the 1944 Act made progress possible, the development plan was drawn up in close relation to the County of London plan which aims at re-creating the old committees - or villages - of the London palimpsest obscured by the ugly scrawl of the nineteenth century; so that in the long run each community is to have its group of primary schools and its comprehensive secondary school. Then, on the initiative of the chairman of the Committee in 1947, the five "interim comprehensive schools" were: set up and valuable experience (both positive and negative) has been gained. More than one of the heads and deputies of the new' schools have come from the staffs of these pioneer ventures and discussion of principles and practical problems has continued; the heads and prospective heads of the comprehensive schools meet regularly for this purpose. Indeed one of the attractions of the whole project is that it is provoking and is likely to continue to provoke a livelier and more experimental interest in the nature of secondary


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education than we have had for many years. I hope that Dr. Pedley's contribution may do much to keep that debate alive.

(1) British Journal of Educational Psychology, November, 1943.

(2) W. P. Alexander: The Educational Needs of Democracy, 1940, p. 83.

(3) F. M. Earle: Significance of Ability Differences at Eleven-plus "Occupational Psychology", October, 1947.

(4) E. J. Hutchins: The Making of a State Secondary School in the New Era. June 1945. The paragraph is headed: Manageable Multilaterialism.

(5) A. V. Judges: Tradition and the Comprehensive School, British Journal of Educational Studies, November, 1953.





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4 An Opposition View

by ERIC JAMES

It is important to realise the nature of the misgivings to which the comprehensive school gives rise. While it is probably true to say that these misgivings. are felt by a majority of teachers in all kinds of secondary schools, it must not be thought that they spring from an undiscriminating opposition to all comprehensive schools. Many of those who are most strongly opposed to the comprehensive idea, say in London, will admit that in some circumstances, for example in a rural area like Anglesey, where the provision of educational opportunity presents special problems, the creation of comprehensive schools may well be a good solution. The real opposition is to those who envisage it as the only satisfactory method of organisation and who are prepared to sweep away or absorb good schools of other kinds in order to assert the comprehensive principle. It is necessary, too, to be quite clear that opposition to comprehensive schools does not necessarily imply a belief in a rigid tripartite organisation. The alternatives to comprehensive schools are much more numerous and flexible than is sometimes supposed.

With these introductory points in mind let us consider the principal arguments that are used to justify the comprehensive school. The first of these is that it removes the necessity for selection at 11+ . The difficulties of selection are obvious enough and, in the course of controversy, have been emphasised and magnified on many occasions. The selection process may be inefficient, and the child may be denied a kind of education for which it is really fitted; the work in primary schools may be unduly affected; children and their parents, may suffer from anxiety on the one hand and a sense of frustration and failure on the other. So run the arguments, and there is substance in all of them. It is interesting to notice, therefore, that Dr. Pedley's survey has not shown any particular sense of liberation in the primary schools that serve comprehensive schools. Much more significant, of course, in considering these arguments are the steps that are now being widely taken to mitigate the impact of selection on the child and his parents. The opportunities for transfer from one kind of secondary school to another, the weight given to primary school records, above all the provision in many secondary modern schools of courses leading to external qualifications, and the growing sense of


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individuality and pride in these schools, all these factors, even after so short a time, are making the selection test much more what it should be, a diagnosis rather than a "scholarship" to be "passed". The central point is surely this; that in a society in which ability rather than wealth or birth is to be the only criterion for providing different kinds of opportunity there must be selection. Because in the early years of its application selection is not an easy business, it is surely irresponsible to deny its necessity or its possibility.

The second weighty argument in favour of the comprehensive school is social in character. If we grant the desirability of a "classless society" is not the comprehensive school the way to achieve it and to promote social unity? By educating children in different secondary schools according to their abilities, are we not in danger of creating a new class-structure based on intelligence instead of that based on birth or wealth that we are seeking to replace? This argument clearly opens up a series of large and difficult questions, and cannot be fully discussed in a short essay. Dr. Pedley's investigation gives no clue to the answer nor could it be expected to do so, for the social attitudes that are involved are extremely difficult to estimate, and in any case have not yet had time to develop. It can be said, however, that this kind of argument seems to rest on a somewhat simple-minded estimate of the power of the schools. Put in its simplest terms the argument states that if we educate in one school, though in different streams, children who in any case have been educated in common schools. during the impressionable years from 5 to 11, and who will later have a common period of military service, we shall take a big step towards welding them into a unified society in spite of their differences of ability, home environment and subsequent career. This seems a very large assumption. What the schools can do, and what they already do with considerable and growing effect, is to promote social mobility and a sense that a man's qualities of mind and character are more important than his social background. Anyone who is familiar with the work and atmosphere of a good grammar school knows how effective it can be in this respect. It may, indeed, be contended that the comprehensive school, at any rate in a city, will actually tend towards greater social segregation. For such schools must inevitably draw on more limited and more homogeneous areas than most of the present grammar schools. Certainly if the school in which I work became comprehensive the social mixture that exists in it, and which is its greatest pride. would be far less than it is at present.

There seems implicit in Dr. Pedley's survey a third justification for comprehensive schools. He apparently expected them to be


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more "progressive" in their attitude than, in fact, they are, and he is disappointed to find in them such, to him, undesirable features as prefects, competition and an authoritarian spirit. It is difficult to see why these schools should necessarily be more liberal than any other schools, for the spirit of a school depends far more on the conviction of the teachers than on anything else, and we cannot too often remind ourselves that however we alter the forms of :school organisation it is the same people who will be teaching in them. Dr. Pedley is just as likely to find what he is seeking, rightly .or wrongly, in other kinds of school as in comprehensive ones.

Let us now turn to the arguments against the comprehensive school and examine them very briefly in the light of Dr. Pedley's findings. Many of us have had doubts as to the variety and standard of courses that can be offered in a comprehensive school compared with a selective school, particularly at the sixth form level. It is to some extent reassuring, therefore, to see the evidence that Dr. Pedley has collected, though one is alarmed to see the very small numbers taking some subjects in the sixth form, and one feels that such courses must be very expensive and therefore very vulnerable. Concern is often expressed, too, that lack of intellectual homogeneity in the classes may lead to frustration both for those pupils who, are above the average and for those below it. Dr. Pedley produces no evidence as to the effect on the less bright pupils of being in a school community where they are constantly :and inevitably overshadowed. He does produce evidence to show that the standards achieved by a good school like Holyhead are still high in spite of its comprehensive character, though even here (me is alarmed to see the lack of expansion in its sixth form over the past years, when the sixth forms of most grammar schools have been expanding very considerably.

In general after reading Dr. Pedley's interesting survey the opponent of the comprehensive school is still left with his principal objections unanswered. A comprehensive school of 1,500 has most of the disadvantages of a small country grammar school without some of its compensating advantages. Although in a rural area these disadvantages are inevitable, would it not be the height of folly to import them by set policy into urban areas where reasonably large grammar schools already exist? At the present time in our history when our greatest need is for highly trained manpower of ability in every field, when our economic stability and our prospects of social progress demand the fullest use of our intellectual resources, it would surely seem an irresponsible procedure to remodel our educational system in such a way as to jeopardise the proved efficiency of any kind of school. If, as Dr.


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Pedley affirms, the standard of sixth form work is higher in independent and direct grant schools than in many maintained grammar schools then it would seem reasonable to strengthen and encourage those maintained schools in every way that we can, and perhaps to experiment as Dr. Alexander has recently suggested, with still more selective schools.

Nor do Dr. Pedley's articles remove another cause of our misgivings. It is well known that one of our most serious problems in secondary education is the shortage of highly qualified teachers, particularly in science. The number of men and women really capable of teaching physics, chemistry and mathematics to sixth forms is, as we all know only too well, very limited indeed. It seems an elementary principle, therefore, that they should be used with the greatest economy. We cannot afford either that they :should spend their time to any great extent teaching pupils whose needs could be met by those with lower qualifications, or that the groups they teach should be very small. Such considerations point inevitably to the need for the concentration of talent in selective schools wherever it is possible. The comprehensive school in urban areas has precisely the opposite effect, for it disperses the children of over-average ability in a number of schools.

Those of us who are opposed to a wide extension of comprehensive schools would, I think, sum up our position in this way. We have at present an educational system that is admittedly far from perfect. It is, however, far less rigid than its opponents often maintain, and it has to its credit certain remarkable triumphs. Among these one may mention those very good secondary modern schools which in their short lives have already shown individuality and purpose, and which are developing along interesting lines of experiment and achievement, whether in the growth of "examination streams" or in the provision of special technical facilities. We have in our grammar schools evidence of astonishing success in facing two tasks of immense social importance, the first of which is to supply the educated manpower on which our kind of society rests, and the second to provide opportunities for the child of any class to compete successfully with his more fortunate contemporaries. Within this system there is scope for much experiment and growth to suit particular needs and local conditions. It seems to us both dangerous and unscientific to propose a uniform :system which admittedly creates special difficulties of its own, which for the able child restricts his opportunities wherever he lives to those of the small country grammar school, without its advantages of intimacy, and which above all fails to recognise that good schools of any kind are not so common that we can lightly contemplate the extinction or absorption of any of them.


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5 Principles for Action

by W. P. ALEXANDER

The theoretical arguments which have for the last twenty years been advocated with a good deal of fervour have suffered from the absence of any factual evidence. The advocates of the comprehensive school have been able to claim potential virtues for it and the opponents have been able to point to serious disadvantages, neither being able to strengthen their argument with experience. We have known what grammar schools could do and do well; increasingly we have recognised that secondary modem schools were capable of achieving standards higher than had been expected; but the comprehensive school was an unknown quantity in this country.

It is, therefore, of particular value that Dr. Pedley should have made a survey of some fourteen schools, some of which have been running long enough to provide useful factual information. It is, I think, clear that the survey must be examined for a few pointers rather than conclusive evidence; it is much too early for that. But these pointers are important. They tend to support neither those who favour the comprehensive school nor those who insist on a tripartite system.

Let us take a few points which seem to emerge. The claim of the advocates of the comprehensive school that differentiation at eleven plus will cease, proves to have no foundation. On the other hand, the fear expressed by the critics of the comprehensive school that the brighter children will be seriously penalised equally proves to be unfounded. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the evidence is the clarity with which it shows that some children who, are, in fact, not admitted to grammar schools prove ultimately to be suitable for education of that kind. This to me is a critically important point. The idea that the child who is just admitted to a grammar school should be educated quite differently from the child who just fails to gain admission is, I am sure, fundamentally unsound. Therefore, it follows that if there are to be different types of secondary school it is imperative that there should be substantial overlap in the education provided in the different schools. Nor do I accept that there are only two alternatives which present themselves - on the one hand the comprehensive school and


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on the other the tripartite system. I believe the comprehensive school in an area like Anglesey or the Isle of Man is wholly justified by reason of the spread of population in these areas. (In passing, it is to be noted that there are children not included in these comprehensive schools because they are dealt with in special schools where their educational needs can be met to better advantage.) Let us note with satisfaction that some of the fears that the comprehensive school of limited size could not afford a reasonable opportunity for brighter children can now be set at rest. With appropriate staffing and good organisation it is quite clear that a comprehensive school of quite limited size can provide a very good education and can provide opportunity at Ordinary and Advanced level for children of appropriate ability. But let us note also, having regard to the size of the sixth-forms involved for these children, that it would be a rather expensive organisation for sixth-form work if it were applied to the country as a whole.

But let us look at some of the other pointers. The school of a thousand or more pupils apparently does present a problem for the headmaster. It is more difficult to retain the personal atmosphere in which the interplay of adult and child mind is fully effective. The headmaster does tend to be essentially an administrator. Let us note, too, that we already have a great many secondary schools in this COWl try of the order of five or six hundred children. If, therefore, we are to be strictly practical, one of the things we must discuss is how best to use these buildings in the interests of the children. If we were to make these schools fully comprehensive we would have sixth-forms of limited size in each, involving very considerable expense, as well as a major staffing problem. If teachers for advanced study are limited in number - as indeed they are - an organisation of this kind would certainly present a problem. On the other hand, if we follow the tripartite pattern there is no doubt that we make too sharp a differentiation between the child just admitted to the grammar school and the child who just fails to be admitted. This becomes particularly true when the proportion admitted to grammar school is about twenty per cent or more. I imagine this problem will find its solution in compromise.

I believe a school which is largely comprehensive has a great deal to offer to the great majority of pupils but, in general, I think it will be found just as necessary and desirable both in the interests of the pupils and in the interests of reasonable economy that, where possible, a special school providing perhaps for five per cent of the age-group should be available at the top end, just as special schools are available at the bottom end of the curve of ability. If


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we are to use existing premises, then I think we can accept the pointers from this survey as showing that we can do a very good job on a largely comprehensive basis. On the other hand, most of the difficulties which are made evident in this survey would disappear if the special high schools offering courses designed for the pupils of really high ability were available. The general high school would follow the pattern of the schools which are quoted in the survey, offering facilities for G.C.E. in a wide range of subjects, but not having to cope with the problem of the real flier, any more than they are at present asked to cope with the problem of the educationally sub-normal.

The survey provides no evidence on the question of the effect of these schools on creating a sense of unity. It seems to me the important thing is that in the ordinary high school or in the special nigh school there should be a broad cross-section of social groups. That may well be made extremely difficult by a strict application of territorially based comprehensive schools of limited size. It is indeed more likely where the school draws from a wider area.

Reviewing these articles of Dr. Pedley, it seems to me to make it increasingly important that we should try to avoid arguments on what single pattern of the organisation of secondary schools is best. I am quite sure, there is no single organisation which should be applied in every area. The important thing surely is that we should try to find the important basic principles which any organisation of secondary schools should secure. Let us try to seek clarification on some of these principles.

1. We must avoid an organisation which makes the decision at eleven plus in any way final even though we recognise that we have to arrange groupings at this stage.

2. Throughout the whole of the secondary school course, the opportunity to take any examination at any level should be open to any child who shows the necessary ability and is prepared to stay the necessary time.

3. To meet the requirements of (2) above, we should try to avoid a situation in which transfer from school to school is made necessary.

4. Each school should as far possible be socially cross-sectional.

5. The size of the school and its general organisation should not nullify the influence of the headmaster or senior members of staff on the pupils and should enable the individual child, whatever' his ability, to be a significant member of the school community.


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6. The choice of subjects of study for each child should be as wide as possible at every stage. In particular, in the advanced work a child of high ability should not have his choice of study restricted by the organisation of the school.

7. The organisation as a whole should be as economic as possible in terms of manpower.

8. The organisation as a whole should be able to use the very many satisfactory buildings which now exist and should not depend on a complete rebuilding of the secondary school system; that is, it should be practicable.

9. The organisation should have special regard to the interests and needs of the area which it serves.

10. The amount of time spent in travel by individual children should be as limited as possible consistent with the maintenance of an effective general educational organisation.

It is interesting to conjecture how the application of these principles would work out in practice in different areas. I do not think there is any reasonable doubt that in an area like Anglesey or the Isle of Man the application of these principles would lead to the organisation which they have in fact brought into being. The establishment of different types of secondary school in either of these areas would not be a satisfactory solution. If, for example. a grammar school were established in Anglesey to be a reasonably effective size it would have to draw from the whole of the county and would have to take such a high proportion of the age-group that the other schools would fail to satisfy the requirements I have indicated. The comprehensive schools in Anglesey and the Isle of MaD with careful organisation and generous staffing in the upper part of the school do in fact provide an effective organisation for those areas. Let us look at an urban area with considerable density of population. In such a case I should have thought the application of the principles indicated above would lead to the establishment of a few special high schools for about 5 per cent of the age-group and the establishment similarly of a general system of high schools offering a full range of courses including courses leading to Ordinary and Advanced level work in the G.C.E. I assume, of course, the existence of facilities for special education for the sub-normal and other handicapped pupils. It seems to me such an organisation effectively satisfies the principles indicated above and indeed has added advantages. It enables the ordinary high school to be of limited size without creating any great problems.


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It enables manpower to be conserved, especially among the highly qualified specialists who deal with the academic fliers. It secures, economically, the wide range of studies at the sixth-form stage which are desirable for the most brilliant pupils. At the same time it gives all the pupils the full opportunity oft doing any course of education including G.C.E. either at ordinary or advanced level without transferring from one school to another. Nor would I rule out in such an area that the high schools might offer particular biases or interests. There might be free choice between such high schools. For example, one high school might have a particularly strong upper school in modern languages and pupils might well choose that school for that reason. Another might be particularly strong in mathematics and science in its upper school work, and so on. The suggestion that each of these high schools must be territorially based seems to me not strictly necessary in an area where several high schools would be within easy reach of a large number of pupils. I have no doubt that there are a good many more solutions of the problem of organisation of secondary schools which satisfy the principles indicated. Indeed, it may well be that in one area there will be several alternatives operating satisfactorily. A county area, partly urban and partly rural, might well have a different organisation in different parts of the county, each suitable for the needs of the particular area which it was serving. The most important points at this stage are surely these: we should reject the idea that one pattern must apply to the whole country. We should reject most firmly that the organisation of secondary schools should be determined by political or other considerations which appear sometimes to have little regard to the educational needs of the children; we should retain flexibility and be prepared to experiment; above all, that we should be trying, in organising secondary education, to meet the needs of all the pupils to the best of our ability and not sacrificing one group in the interests of another. The first purpose of secondary education should be to provide opportunities to the children who attend. The opportunity should be as wide as possible and should remain open as late as possible.