1989 Cox Report (text)
The Cox Report (1989)
English for ages 5 to 16
London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1989
The National Curriculum English Working Group was commissioned by Secretary of State Kenneth Baker to make recommendations on attainment targets and programmes of study for the English component of the new National Curriculum. It was chaired by Professor Brian Cox, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Professor of English Literature at Manchester University, who had been one of the principal writers of the right-wing Black Papers in the 1970s.
You may be puzzled by the bizarre arrangement of the chapters in this document. Cox himself explained it thus:
The Report was submitted to Mr. Baker and Mrs Rumbold by the civil servants, and again I was not invited. There was some question about whether the Report should be published in its entirety, for Mr Baker and Mrs Rumbold were worried that there were sections which the Prime Minister [Thatcher] would not like. On the other hand, if they refused to publish the whole Report this would anger the teaching profession and provide the journalists with a sensational story. A compromise was agreed. They were reasonably satisfied with Chapters 15 to 17, which included the attainment targets and programmes of study, and so, as I have already explained, it was decided to print these first. I decided not to protest, because at least the whole Report would be published, and teachers would be able to read the total rationale. It was agreed that chapters 15 to 17 should be printed on yellow-tinted paper, with the following explanation at the top of the contents page: 'For ease of reference, chapters 15 to 17 have been placed at the front of the report, adjacent to the proposals, and are printed on tinted paper.' At least I was able at future lectures to raise a laugh by pointing out that by printing chapter 15 first the Report provided an example of the pervasive influence of post-structuralism' (Cox on Cox: An English Curriculum for the 1990s pages 11-12 (Hodder & Stoughton 1991).I am grateful to Charlotte Murakami, who not only alerted me to the absence of the Cox Report from the website, but also went to the trouble of tracking down a library copy, scanned it, and sent me the pdf files. She also provided the above quote. Thank you, Charlotte.
Other reports on the teaching of English include:
Newbolt (1921) The Teaching of English in England;
Readers may like to note that the 1988 TGAT Report (Task Group on Assessment and Testing), referred to in Cox, is also online.
Summary of the report's proposals
The report online
The complete report (including the appendices) is presented in a single web page.
There were a couple of oddities about the printed version.
First, the pages were not numbered. I have added page numbers for this online version, but if you intend quoting from the report it would probably be best to refer to paragraph numbers.
Second, as mentioned above, the chapter order is odd. The report begins with chapters 15 to 17 - 'for ease of reference', - and these were 'printed on tinted paper'. I have retained the chapter order as printed, but I have not attempted to reproduce the tinted paper!
Also, the printed version had two columns to a page, with footnotes shown at the bottom of each column. This arrangement would be awkward on a computer screen, so I have not attempted to reproduce it. Footnotes (with their original numbering) are therefore shown at the foot of each page.
The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 9 July 2012.