Underwood (1955)

1955 Underwood Report (text)

The Underwood Report (1955)
Report of the Committee on Maladjusted Children

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1955
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

Background notes

In October 1950 Labour minister of education George Tomlinson appointed a committee:

To enquire into and report upon the medical, educational and social problems relating to maladjusted children, with reference to their treatment within the educational system (page 1).
Over a period of five years, the 17 members of the full committee met on 57 days, and sub-committees held a further 43 meetings. In October 1955 they presented their unanimous report to Conservative education minister David Eccles, who wrote in the Foreword that the committee had 'covered much ground' and 'made many interesting suggestions' (page iv).

JEA Underwood

The Chair of the committee, Dr JEA Underwood (1886-1959), had worked for the Board of Education since 1925, becoming its principal medical officer in 1941. Following the 1944 Education Act, he became principal medical officer of the new Ministry of Education. He was approaching the end of his career when the Committee on Maladjusted Children was appointed: he retired from the ministry in July 1951 and died four years after the report was published, on 31 December 1959.

Summary of the report's main recommendations

The committee made 97 recommendations which can be found in Chapter XVII. The following is a summary of some of the key points:

  • there should be a comprehensive child guidance service in every local education authority area, involving a school psychological service, the school health service and child guidance clinic(s), all of which should work in close co-operation;
  • the number of child guidance staff should be increased over the next ten years to the equivalent of approximately 140 full-time psychiatrists, 280 educational psychologists and 420 psychiatric social workers;
  • candidates should not be accepted for child guidance training unless they are judged to have the right personal qualities for work with children;
  • all medical students should be given lectures on general and child psychology and should attend a child psychiatric department;
  • a Training Council should be established to oversee training courses for educational psychologists;
  • salary scales for psychiatric social workers need to be more attractive;
  • local education authorities should make more use of day treatment for maladjusted children, particularly special schools and part-time special classes;
  • a child should be given residential treatment only if there appears to be no hope of treating him successfully while he remains at home;
  • every effort should be made to ensure that a child has a satisfactory home base before he leaves school, if necessary through the local authority taking him into care under the Children Act;
  • children should be admitted to hostels and boarding special schools only on the recommendation of a child guidance clinic and with the agreement of the warden or the head of the school;
  • foster-parents taking maladjusted children should receive adequate remuneration;
  • only those independent schools which are recognised as efficient should be used by local education authorities for maladjusted pupils;
  • when children return to school after treatment for maladjustment they should be given suitable support;
  • the role and training of health visitors should be reviewed so that they can advise parents on behaviour, nervous and other difficulties in children, as well as on matters of physical health;
  • all initial courses of training for teachers should include instruction about the emotional development of children and about variations within the range of normal behaviour;
  • the fundamental importance of the family as a whole should be borne in mind by those responsible for strengthening and developing the social services, and action designed to keep the family together should be regarded as one of the most important aspects of prevention.

The report online

The full text of the report, including the Appendices and the subject index, is presented in a single web page.

The tables are shown as images and are embedded in the text where they were in the printed version.

I have added one note of explanation (in Appendix G) [in square brackets]. Elsewhere, square brackets are as used in the printed version.

I have corrected a handful of printing errors. Otherwise, the text presented here is as printed in the report.

The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 7 May 2012; they were revised on 24 November 2012.