Hadow (1933)

1933 Hadow Report (text)

The Hadow Report (1933)
Infant and Nursery Schools

Background notes

Historical context

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. It was replaced following the 1944 Education Act by the Central Advisory Council for Education (CACE).

Sir Henry Hadow was an educationist (Vice Chancellor of the University of Sheffield from 1919 to 1930), a well-known music critic and a prodigious writer. He chaired the Consultative Committee for six reports between 1923 and 1933:

1923 Differentiation of the Curriculum for Boys and Girls
1924 Psychological Tests of Educable Capacity
1926 The Education of the Adolescent
1928 Books in Public Elementary Schools
1931 The Primary School
1933 Infant and Nursery Schools

Like the report on The Primary School, this report was also surprisingly progressive. It recommended modern ways of teaching young children, the employment of classroom helpers in infant schools, and the widespread provision of nursery education.

For more about Hadow and other Committee members and summaries of the reports, see my article The Hadow Reports: an introduction.

Other documents dealing with early years education include:

1908 Acland Report School Attendance of Children Below the Age of Five
1933 Hadow Report Infant and Nursery Schools
1967 Plowden Report Children and their Primary Schools (chapters 9 and 10)
1982 HMI Survey Education 5 to 9
1990 Rumbold Report Starting with Quality
2011 Tickell Report The Early Years: Foundations for life, health and learning
2017 Ofsted Bold beginnings: report on the Reception curriculum in a sample of good and outstanding schools.

Summary of the report's main recommendations

The report lists 105 recommendations (the largest number of any of the Hadow reports) including:

  • the existing age limits for compulsory and voluntary school attendance should not be changed;
  • separate schools should be provided for infants wherever possible but the primary stage of education (up to the age of eleven) should be regarded as a continuous whole;
  • early signs of retardation should be detected and investigated, but retarded children should not be taught in separate schools at this age;
  • simple school records should be kept;
  • cooperation between parents, teachers, doctors and school nurses is important;
  • children need a good diet, exercise and rest;
  • schools should be of open-air design to reduce the spread of infectious diseases;
  • teachers should be alert for defects in vision or hearing;
  • adequate medical records should be kept;
  • nursery children should be encouraged to experiment and explore and should not be expected to perform tasks which require 'fine work with hands and fingers';
  • the nursery school should 'provide an environment in which the health of the young child - physical, mental and moral - can be safeguarded';
  • as in the primary school, the curriculum of the infant school is to be 'thought of in terms of activity and experience rather than of knowledge to be acquired and facts to be stored';
  • as far as possible, children should be enabled to teach themselves;
  • teachers should be free to plan and arrange their own work;
  • nursery education should be widely available - especially in poorer districts;
  • no infant class should have more than 40 children;
  • where practicable, all the teachers should be certificated and have had special instruction in nursery care;
  • classroom 'helpers' should be provided;
  • nursery school heads ('superintendents') should be specialist teachers of very young children;
  • infant schools should have more space than junior schools, 'semi-open-air buildings', 'garden playgrounds' and more appropriate books and equipment. Lavatories should be within the school and supplied with hot water.

The report online

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

I have modernised some of the spelling and punctuation, corrected a few printing errors and added explanations to a couple of obscure words. Anything added by way of explanation is shown [in square brackets].

The photographic plates in Appendices II and IV were scanned from photocopies so the quality is less than brilliant.

The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 20 August 2006; they were revised on 4 November 2012.