Crowther (1959)

Crowther Vol. I (text)

Crowther Vol. II (text)

The Crowther Report (1959)
15 to 18

A report of the Central Advisory Council for Education (England)

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1959
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

Background notes

Historical context

In March 1956 the Minister of Education, David Eccles, asked the Central Advisory Council for Education (England)

to consider, in relation to the changing social and industrial needs of our society, and the needs of its individual citizens, the education of boys and girls between 15 and 18, and in particular to consider the balance at various levels of general and specialised studies between these ages and to examine the inter-relationship of the various stages of education.

Geoffrey Crowther The Council was chaired by Sir Geoffrey Crowther (1907-1972), who had held various governmental posts and was editor of The Economist from 1938 to 1956. Among the 43 members were Alec Clegg, Chief Education Officer of the West Riding; MH Cadbury, Director of Cadbury's chocolate; Lord James of Rusholme, High Master of Manchester Grammar School; and BWM Young, Head Master of Charterhouse School.


The report frequently refers to 'modern schools'. This means secondary modern schools, which were set up from 1945 onwards to cater for children who 'failed' the 11 plus exam and were not selected to go to grammar or technical schools. Secondary modern schools therefore catered largely for children of average or below average ability.

Some of the report's main recommendations

  • extended courses should be made available for all modern school pupils: local authorities should aim at providing such courses for half of 15 year olds by 1965 and, wherever possible, these extended courses should be in the schools that the pupils have attended since they were 11;
  • attention to the needs of the minority of abler pupils should not be allowed to lead to neglect of the interests of the many boys and girls for whom preparation for external exams would be inappropriate;
  • all pupils who have the ability to attempt some subjects at GCE Ordinary level should have the opportunity to do so, and about a third of pupils in modern schools should be given the chance to take external examinations below the level of the GCE, developed on a regional or local basis;
  • school assessment should be given greater weight and a new system of leaving certificates should be developed;
  • teachers who work with below-average pupils should receive a fair share of responsibility allowances;
  • authorities and governing bodies should not judge their modern schools by public examination results;
  • in districts where sparse population limits the size of schools, staff must be provided on a more generous scale than normal;
  • the raising of the school-leaving age to 16, and the creation of county colleges for compulsory part-time day education to 18 should be re-affirmed as objectives of national policy;
  • the curriculum of the sixth form - and the years leading up to it - needs revision so that it can better cater for the increasing numbers of pupils who will stay on at school after 16;
  • more needs to be done to attract men and women of the highest intellectual calibre into sixth form teaching;
  • more places for higher education will be required than are now envisaged;
  • universities should review their selection methods, and members of university staffs should spend more time getting to know the schools;
  • there should be a greater degree of integration between schools and further education;
  • part-time further education courses should be longer, in order to reduce the failure rate and to enable the courses better to serve the purposes of general education;
  • the long-term aim should be to transform what is now a varied collection of plans for vocational training into a coherent national system of practical education;
  • there should be more secondary technical schools to provide for children who fail to make progress with academic education but who would benefit from a more practical approach;
  • many more teachers will be needed if these recommendations are to be implemented.

The report online

The Crowther Report was published in two volumes. Volume I (1959) is the Report itself, while Volume II (1960) contains three supporting surveys. The full text of both volumes is online, each in a single web page.

I have corrected a few spelling mistakes, but I have not corrected the many misplaced speechmarks, some unnecessary apostrophes (as in 1960's), inconsistent capitalisation, and excessive use of the hyphen both for dividing words (teen-ager etc) and for separating phrases. These are all as printed.

In some of the tables in Volume II incomes are shown in shillings. At the time of the report, the UK's currency consisted of pounds, shillings and pence, shown, for example, as 5. 10s. 6d. The pound was divided into 20 shillings, the shilling into twelve pence. Thus 81s. would today be 4.05; 96s. would be 4.80.

Most of the tables are presented as images. Part 3 of Volume II contains some mathematical formulæ beyond my ability to render in HTML, so I have also shown these as images. I have used full stops to indicate decimal points.

Anything added by way of explanation is shown [in square brackets].

The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 4 June 2010.