Gurney-Dixon (1954)

1954 Gurney-Dixon Report (text)

The Gurney-Dixon Report (1954)
Early Leaving

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

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1954
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

Background notes

In April 1952 Sir Samuel Gurney-Dixon (1878-1970) was appointed one of the first two pro-Chancellors of the new University of Southampton, which had previously been Hartley University College.

Later that year, he was asked by minister of education Florence Horsburgh to chair the Central Advisory Council for Education:

To consider what factors influence the age at which boys and girls leave secondary schools which provide courses beyond the minimum school-leaving age; to what extent it is desirable to increase the proportion of those who remain at school, in particular the proportion of those who remain at school roughly to the age of 18; and what steps should be taken to secure such an increase.
The twenty members of the Council submitted their report to Horsburgh in August 1954 but before it was published (in November) she was replaced by David Eccles.

In his Foreword to the report, Eccles sounds less than wholeheartedly supportive of its recommendations. He notes that it 'comes down in favour of putting a higher proportion of our most gifted children into grammar schools' and he comments:

Certainly there are areas where the grammar school provision is too low, and the ablest children are not getting a proper chance. But I am not so sure that there should be an all-round increase in the proportion of grammar school places.

Summary of the report's main recommendations

  • family allowances should be paid in respect of children of any age who are still at school;
  • the number of grammar school places should be increased;
  • the selection process should allow for a small number of grammar school places to be filled by alternative methods;
  • there should be more opportunities for transferring from modern to grammar schools;
  • local education authorities should offer boarding facilities where 'talent would otherwise be wasted for reasons of home background';
  • there should be immediate increases in maintenance allowances;
  • LEAs and schools should periodically review the circumstances in which pupils leave school early for financial reasons and adjust their schemes of aid accordingly;
  • sixth form courses should be expanded, with more science facilities for girls;
  • employers, trade unions and professional bodies should review their policies in respect of young workers and apprentices;
  • further research should be undertaken into the effect of home background on a child's education;
  • a statistical assessment of the cost of maintaining children should be made for the assistance of local education authorities.

The report online

The full text of the report (including the Appendices) is presented in a single web page.

I have corrected a handful of printing errors and modernised some of the punctuation. Otherwise the text presented here is exactly as printed.

The tables (and the questionnaire forms in Appendix I) are presented here as images and are embedded in the text where they were in the original.

The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 20 April 2011.