Acland (1913)

1913 Acland Report (text)
The report and Appendix B

Appendix A (image-only pdf file)

Summaries of Evidence (image-only pdf file)

Index (image-only pdf file)

The Acland Report (1913)
Report of the Consultative Committee on the Practical Work in Secondary Schools

London: HM Stationery Office

Background notes

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

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

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

Summary of the report's main recommendations

  • 'learning by doing' is a principle which should be applied in all areas of school work;
  • handwork should have an important place in secondary education and should be linked with other areas of the curriculum;
  • handwork is of benefit to both 'normal' and 'backward' children;
  • handwork should be taught to all pupils up to the age of 16, and to older pupils should they wish to specialise in certain branches of it;
  • handwork is a necessary part of a liberal education so time should be found for it in the timetable without encroaching on other areas of the curriculum;
  • the aims of handwork are twofold: educational and vocational;
  • handwork includes (but is not limited to) modelling with plastic media (such as clay), modelling with paper and cardboard, woodwork, metalwork, gardening, domestic subjects (including needlework, cookery, laundry, housewifery);
  • up to the age of 10 there should be no differentiation of content between boys and girls;
  • a handwork syllabus should be logical, coherent, and with a well-defined aim, should interest the child and satisfy his creative instinct, and should give considerable scope for originality;
  • any regulations the Board of Education may make should allow 'complete latitude';
  • small rural schools should introduce manual methods of work and teach natural science from a practical point of view, they should have appropriately qualified teachers, and the Board of Education should convene a conference of rural heads to clear away 'the many misunderstandings and misapprehensions that at present exist';
  • domestic subjects, beginning with needlework, should be taken (by girls) up to the age of 16;
  • the value of learning homecraft at home should not be underestimated: home and school should cooperate;
  • links between science and some domestic subjects (especially cookery) should be strengthened;
  • the value of handwork should receive greater recognition in the exam system;
  • the status, pay and promotion prospects of handwork teachers should be improved.

The report online

The report itself (pages 1-65) and Appendix B (a history of constructional handwork, pages 132-140) are presented here as text in a single web page. The other sections (Appendix A, the Summaries of Evidence and the Index) are presented as image-only pdf files.

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

Appendix B contains the grossly offensive phrase 'inferior races'. I am uncomfortable about reproducing this, but hope readers will regard it - as I do - as an example of the appalling attitudes which prevailed at the time this report was produced.

The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 24 September 2012.