Towards the Middle School (1970)

The creation of middle schools, catering for children aged 8-12 or 9-13, was made legally possible by the 1964 Education Act, and the first middle schools opened in 1968.

In this booklet, the Department of Education and Science set out suggestions on the curriculum and organisation of the schools.

The complete document is presented in this single web page. You can scroll through it or use the following links to go straight to the various sections:

Introduction (page v)
1 Boys and girls from 8 to 13 (1)
2 The curriculum (10)
3 Internal organisation (21)
4 Size of school: staff training and deployment (32)
5 Buildings and equipment (38)
6 Preparing for middle schools (46)
7 Some further problems (54)
Appendices (60)

The text of Towards the Middle School was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 27 May 2017.

Towards the Middle School (1970)

Department of Education and Science
Education Pamphlet No 57

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1970
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

[title page]

Towards the Middle School

Department of Education and Science

Education Pamphlet Number 57

Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1970

[page ii (unnumbered)]

First published 1970
Third impression 1972

"Education is one thing; any dislocation in it is at the best but a necessary evil. It ought to be continuous from the time when a child first passes beyond the home and goes to school up to the time when he ceases to be under educational tutelage, has been taught how to learn and can henceforth go on to learn for himself." - Report of the Board of Education, 1908 to 1909.

SBN 11 270096 9

[page iii]


1 Boys and Girls from Eight to Thirteen1
2 The Curriculum and its Arrangement10
3 The Internal Organisation of Middle Schools21
4 Size of School: Training and Deployment of Staff32
5 Buildings and Equipment38
6 Preparing for Middle Schools46
7 Some Further Problems54
Appendix I Schemes for Middle Schools Approved by the Department of Education and Science60
Appendix II Timetables for Middle Schools62

[page v]


There are as yet only a handful of maintained middle schools and all are in their infancy. This pamphlet, which is about the ways such schools might work, can only be tentative. It might even be thought premature, particularly since the Schools Council has several projects under way on education in the middle years. But the need to prepare for a new type of school has stimulated conferences and courses for teachers in many parts of the country. Faced with similar problems, teachers and administrators tread and re-tread much the same ground. In the next decade many more local education authorities will be setting up middle schools and will be discussing their curricula, appointing staff, holding courses and adapting buildings. It therefore seems sensible to summarise some of the possibilities which have so far been envisaged. In this way ideas can be shared, arguments can be refined and the strength and weaknesses of suggestions can be tested.

It is increasingly recognised that forms of educational organisation are not absolute. They are pragmatic responses to current problems, made within an historical context, influenced by the objectives which arise from that context and by the resources in teachers, buildings and money that are available. This is true of middle schools. It is no less true of education in successive primary and secondary stages, justifiably regarded as a major achievement of the 1944 Education Act.


The term "primary education", borrowed from the French, was not uncommon in the early nineteenth century. But it tended to be replaced by "elementary education", which defined a little more precisely what was being attempted. The Hadow Report, The Education of the Adolescent (1926), recommended "that education up to the age of 11 should be known by the general name of primary education", implying that there was a first stage of education proper for all children. But though schools were reorganised, the expression "elementary education" continued in use, not surprisingly since infant and junior schools, like senior schools, were administered under a Code of Regulations for Public Elementary Schools. It is perhaps more important that the curriculum for children from 7 to 11 was slow to change.

[page vi]

In the nineteenth century a few scholarships to secondary schools were available to elementary school pupils. Their numbers rose sharply when, in 1907, additional grant was paid to those secondary schools which allotted 25 per cent of their places to such pupils. Competition for these places continued to grow till the slump of 1931; it reached a peak when secondary school fees were abolished in 1944. At first scholarships and free places were awarded on a broadly based curriculum, but gradually performance in English and Arithmetic became the criterion for selection. The effect on the elementary schools was an over-emphasis on English and Arithmetic, narrowly treated. The gradual introduction of standardised attainment and intelligence tests brought little relief since many teachers, anxious to improve their pupils' chances of obtaining selective secondary places, taught directly for the tests.

There was another important influence on the concept of primary education. In the United Kingdom, almost alone in the world, education was compulsory at 5, and even younger children were often admitted to school. Day-long class instruction of young children was difficult to sustain and disappointing in its results. In consequence, though British children were often introduced to formal learning earlier than those elsewhere, the infant schools and the training colleges preparing nursery and infant teachers became fertile ground for the ideas of educational reformers concerned with the need for individual learning. The Hadow Report of 1933, Infant and Nursery Schools referred to the rapId spread of individual work despite classes of 50 or 60. Two years earlier the Committee's comment on "cases in our educational system where the curriculum is distorted and the teaching warped ... by the supposed need of meeting the requirements of a later educational stage"* had given a strikingly different impression of the education of junior school pupils at that time. In both types of school the Committee advocated that much of the work should be individual and that its starting point should be "the experience, the curiosity and the awakening powers and interests of the children themselves". The immediate impact on the junior schools was slight, particularly since in the reorganisation of the 1930s they often inherited the older buildings and the less enterprising staff, while senior schools went into new buildings and attracted the more ambitious teachers. But in the ferment of the war and post-war period, infant school attitudes and practices began to spread into junior schools.

Confronted by pressures to prepare the children for the 11+ examination, some junior teachers counter-attacked by claiming that

*Report of the Consultative Committee on The Primary School, under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Hadow (1931).

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the purpose of junior education was to enable children to fulfil a stage of development, a not illogical position if the Hadow argument for a new type of education at 11 was accepted. More recently, experts in primary education have had less to say about stages and phases and more about continuous development, the range of individual differences at all ages, and the need to adjust the teaching to these differences. The waning influence of the 11+ examination has brought this aim within reach.

Advance has been in the face of difficulties. Though a basic salary scale for all teachers was adopted in 1944, primary education retained in other respects the disadvantages of elementary education. The maximum regulation class size became 40 pupils while that for an secondary schools became 30 pupils.


The 1902 Education Act replaced the School Boards by local education authorities empowered to provide and to aid schools "other than elementary". The Regulations defined a secondary school as "a day or boarding school offering to each of its scholars up to and beyond the age of 16 a general education, physical, mental and moral, given through a complete graded course of instruction of wider scope and more advanced degree than that given in elementary schools". The course from 12 to 16 was to include the English subjects, languages, mathematics and science, and drawing, and a minimum time was to be given to each. Most of the older schools had preparatory departments and their pupils too were eligible for grant. Though fees were to be "substantial", a subsidised education was being provided for an age-range overlapping that of the elementary schools.

In 1917 the multiplicity of examinations taken in secondary schools in the early twentieth century was replaced by a single examination. It was designed both to show whether candidates had satisfactorily concluded the phase of their education up to about 16, and, on the basis of higher marks, to serve as a minimum qualification for entry to universities. Candidates were required to satisfy the examiners in three groups of subjects, English subjects, languages other than English, science and mathematics. Practical subjects were added in 1918, but were less highly esteemed because they formed no part of a university qualification. In an effort to prevent the examination determining the curriculum "the form and not the individual was to be the unit for the examination". The effect was often the opposite of what was intended. Examination courses began at 11 or 12, and teaching tended to be directed at whole classes, a practice which has been slow to diminish.

[page viii]

Despite much criticism, the examination system remained substantially unchanged until 1951 when the General Certificate of Education, a subject examination, replaced the group examination. In the meantime there was a growing demand for secondary education for all. As early as 1897, the TUC had resolved that secondary education should be made available to "every worker's child". During the First World War, support grew, especially since secondary schools were quite unable to accommodate those who qualified for them and whose parents could afford to send them. In 1924 the Government referred to the Consultative Committee, chaired by Sir Henry Hadow, the education of children up to 15 "at schools other than secondary". The Committee's terms of reference debarred them from recommending secondary education for all. Yet they got very near it:

Between the age of 11 and if possible that of 15, aU the children who do not go forward to secondary education in the present and narrow sense of the word should go forward nonetheless to what is in our view a form of secondary education in the truer and broader sense of the word, and after spending the first years of their life in a primary school should spend the last three or four in a well equipped and well staffed modern school.*
The Board of Education accepted the principle of separating primary and post-primary education and local education authorities made surprisingly rapid progress in setting up senior schools despite the economic difficulties of the 1930s.

The 1944 Act abolished tuition fees in maintained secondary schools. It required that education should be provided in accordance with age, ability and aptitude and made no mention of differing types of secondary school. But most local education authorities framed their development plans in line with the Government White Paper, Educational Reconstruction, and with the Ministry of Education pamphlets and circulars which followed it. These reflected the views of the Hadow Report which had advocated two types of post-primary school, and of the Spens† and Norwood‡ Reports which had added a third, secondary technical schools. A few authorities (including the LCC) preferred comprehensive schools and began to establish them from the outset. Many more planned to combine

*Report of the Consultative Committee under the Chairmanship of Sir Henry Hadow, The Education of the Adolescent (1926).

†Report of the Consultative Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr. Will Spens, Secondary Education (1938).

‡Report of a Committee under the Chairmanship of Sir Cyril Norwood, Curriculum and Examinations in Secondary Schools (1943).

[page ix]

secondary technical education with grammar schools or with modern schools, and their number increased as the problems of assessing technical ability at the age of 11 became manifest.

Examinations have continued to weigh on secondary education. The Spens and Norwood Reports had much to say about the traditionalism and rigidity of the grammar school curriculum and its unsuitability for many children in the schools. Both emphasised the need for adapting education to individual children. The Spens Report argued that activity and experience were no less important at the secondary than at the earlier stage and pressed the claims of aspects of the curriculum which offered opportunities for creative work. Both Reports envisaged a common course for children in the first two years after entry and the Norwood Report pleaded for the reinstatement of the form master, responsible for more than one subject, in the lower school. The outcome of this advice was somewhat disappointing. Grammar school teachers found it difficult to achieve examination success with the increasing number of pupils whose parents had left school at 14. When a subject-based GeE examination was introduced in 1951, many parents and employers went on measuring success by the number of subjects taken in it. Preference for academic subjects dies hard. Strain has been increased by growing competition for university places and by an expanding subject-content, particularly in science.

Candidates for the subject-based GCE examination did not come only from the grammar schools. Comprehensive and modern schools felt the need to justify themselves to parents by the criterion of examination success both in the GCE and in other examinations. Many were remarkably successful. Far from a return to the form master teaching a number of subjects to the younger children, there was an increase in specialist teaching, not least in those schools which were inexperienced in preparation for external examinations. The secondary school careers structure, built up after 1944, also put a premium on specialist teaching. Responsibility for a subject was the normal qualification for a graded post which might in turn lead to a headship of department and ultimately to the posts of deputy head and head.

Secondary school experiments based on pupils' interest and breaking away from single subjects have been more common in the sixth form and in the older non-examination forms than in the first and second years. In spite of some innovation, the tendency has been towards specialist teaching with an emphasis on direct instruction. Hence a gulf between secondary and some primary schools. Yet the secondary

[page x]

mode of learning referred to by the Newsom report* rarely becomes dominant before the third year. Not till then are most children likely to focus their interest on the outside world and the part they will play in it, or to become self-conscious in their learning and judgments. There are some signs that the introduction of CSE, an examination controlled by teachers as the Norwood Committee had hoped that the GCE would be, is reducing the impact of examinations on the earlier years of the secondary curriculum. At the same time overlaps between the primary and secondary school curriculum are emphasising the need for collaboration.

The Age of Transfer

When secondary school scholarships were first awarded to elementary school pupils, they were often taken up at 13 after the six standards had been completed. Earlier transfer was unpopular among elementary school teachers. Yet transfer at 13 limited the course for some scholars to 18 months and put all of them at a grave disadvantage when competing with fee-payers who might enter preparatory departments as young as 8, and main schools at 10 or 11. Pressures from the secondary schools and from the Board of Education led eventually to an admission age of II to 12. Between 1910 and 1924 the proportion of pupils who entered secondary schools at 11 doubled, though the age of entry to other forms of post-primary education was less clear-cut.

In a famous passage, the Hadow Committee (1926) declared their argument for transfer at 11:

There is a tide which begins to rise in the veins of youth at the age of 11 or 12. It is called by the name of adolescence. If that tide can be taken at the flood, and the new voyage begun on the strength and along the flow of its current, we think that it will 'move on to fortune'. We therefore propose that all children should be transferred at the age of 11 or 12.
Though the Committee cited educational judgments in support of their recommendation, they provided no detailed psychological evidence until the 1931 Report The Primary School, and neither in 1926 nor in 1931 did they attempt to establish that adolescence occurred at 11 rather than at 12 or 13. The choice of 11 seems to have been based on two main grounds: 11 was already established as the normal age of transfer to secondary schools; if secondary education for all was ultimately to become "end-on" to primary education instead of being a system alternative to elementary education, it was

*Report of the Central Advisory Council under the Chairmanship of Mr. J. F. Newsom, Half our Future (1963).

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necessary that all children should transfer at the same age. Secondly, the Hadow Committee's proposed leaving age of 15 was not intended to come into operation until 1932 and did not materialise until 1947. So long as children left school at 14, an age of transfer later than 11 would mean an unrewardingly short post-primary course.

The 1944 Education Act, as amended by the 1948 Act, defined primary schools as "schools for junior pupils, that is pupils up to the age of 10½ and pupils between the ages of 10½ and 12 whom it is expedient to educate with other junior pupils". Secondary schools were for "senior pupils over 12 and for those junior pupils over 10½ whom it is expedient to educate with them". Though early and late transfers were permitted, enquiries made for the Plowden Report* showed that all but a handful of children transferred in their 12th year.


In 1958 a Government White Paper, Secondary Education for All, reflected general concern about selection at 11. Experts believed that between 10 and 20 per cent of children allocated at 11 would turn out later to have been wrongly placed. The White Paper emphasised that where there were separate grammar and modern schools "there would be an overlap in the capacity of pupils and that therefore the courses offered must overlap also". It added that comprehensive schools had been found satisfactory in some country districts and in areas of new housing where there were no existing schools with established traditions.

A few authorities, anxious to discontinue early selection but hampered by small schools built in the pre-war or immediate postwar period, organised two-tier secondary systems with breaks at 13 or 14 years. In 1963 the West Riding of Yorkshire published a proposal for 9 to 13 schools in certain of its divisions. As a result all pupils would stay for longer than two years in each phase of education. An extension upwards of "the existing developments of the primary school" would be encouraged. The scheme could give children "a new wind" at 13 when boredom with school often set in, and remove from the secondary school young children whose presence had led, according to the Crowther Report†, to "a paternalism in discipline which often spreads upwards". The West Riding proposal conflicted with the law as it then stood. In 1964 an Act was passed which enabled local education authorities to establish

*Report of the Central Advisory Council under the Chairmanship of Lady Plowden, Children and their Primary Schools (1967).

†Report of the Central Advisory Council under the Chairmanship of Sir Geoffrey Crowther, 15 to 18 (1959).

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middle schools straddling junior and secondary age ranges. Later that year a Labour Government took office, and in January 1965 its policy of ending selection at 11, and separatism in secondary education, was endorsed by the House of Commons.

When, in Circular 10/65, authorities were asked to submit plans showing how they intended to reorganise on comprehensive lines, middle schools were suggested as one of six acceptable patterns. In 1970 a newly constituted Conservative Government withdrew Circular 10/65, replacing it by Circular 10/70 which affirmed that "educational considerations in general, local needs and wishes in particular and the wise use of resources should be the main principles determining the local pattern" of secondary provision.

The age of transfer to secondary education had been referred to the Plowden Council in 1963. In 1967 it concluded, as did work commissioned by the Scottish Council for Research in Education in the previous year*, that there is "no universally right age ... so various are human beings". But the practical difficulties of basing transfers on developmental age convinced them that the structure of education must continue to be linked with chronological age although there should be "a greater number of early and late transfers ... based on consultation between teachers and parents". Even if no age of transfer was right for all children, the Council thought that there would be advantages in a later transfer to secondary schools. Young children would be able to stay longer in their first schools, and a basis for a middle school curriculum could be seen in changes of content and method already taking place in junior schools. "A foreign language, science as opposed to nature study and mathematics as opposed to arithmetic used to be confined to secondary schools. They are now taught in junior schools." The arguments between 12 and 13 as an age of transfer were thought to be "fairly evenly balanced". But "on nearly every count" the Council believed the balance of advantage was just with 12-year-old transfer.

Aware that the extension by one year of the junior school course "might not provide sufficient challenge to the schools to think afresh about ... the older pupils", the Council thought that there was an even greater risk that a school to 13 would be "dominated by secondary school influences". These possible dangers will need to be kept in mind by authorities setting up schools with age ranges of 8 to 12 or 9 to 13.

*J.O. Nisbet and N.J. Entwistle, Age of Transfer to Secondary Education; ULP (1966).

[page xiii]

The recommendations of the Plowden Council have encouraged more authorities to plan middle schools. By the year 1970 the Department of Education and Science had approved middle school schemes for all or part of some 49 local education authorities. These schemes include 8 to 12, 9 to 13, and 10 to 13 schools. There is a trend for the 9 to 13 school to be adopted in counties, the 8 to 12 school - of which there are rather fewer - in County Boroughs. Though some reorganisation has been deferred because of the postponement of the raising of the school leaving age, middle schools have already opened in the West Riding, Kingston upon Hull, Merton and, on a smaller scale, in a number of other areas.* A few of the schools are purpose-built.

Developments in the curriculum and in ways of organising the children, staff and facilities in middle schools are the main concern of this pamphlet. But the needs of children, between 8 and 13 years of age are basically similar whether in 8 to 12, 9 to 13, 10 to 13, conventional primary or conventional secondary schools. Practices that become established in the new types of school may well have a marked effect on the others, and it is hoped that the ideas discussed here will be of interest to all concerned with children in the age range.

*Appendix I: List of authorities whose proposals for middle schools have been approved under Circulars 10/65 and 10/70.

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Boys and Girls from Eight to Thirteen

The wide range of differences in boys and girls of 8 to 13 provides the middle school with its challenge and opportunity. Each child born into the world is unique; unique in physical potential, in intellectual promise and in temperament; unique too in built-in rates of growth, of achieving his potential. Add to this the interaction of variable human and physical environments and the differences at 8 vastly outstrip those which children are born with. About the age of 14, children's interests begin to stabilise and special aptitudes may emerge more clearly; in some measure, children begin to group themselves. It is probably therefore in the middle years that teachers face the biggest problem in matching new learning to established attainment without conveying to children a limiting idea of themselves and their abilities.


Physical growth from birth' to puberty has been summarised in Chapter II of the Plowden Report. Here those aspects are emphasised which have relevance for middle schools. At 8 some boys and girls are tall because they are advanced along their curve of growth; others are tall because they will be tall as adults. The range of bone-age in 8-year-old boys is from 6 to 10. From birth, boys are less advanced than girls, averaging 80 per cent of the skeletal age of girls. But since, generally, girls are finally smaller than boys, there is little difference in height or weight until girls reach the adolescent growth spurt.

Most girls start this period of rapid growth between 10½ and 13; in boys it occurs two years later, between 12½ and 15. At its peak, children are growing as fast as when they were 2; boys average a rise in height of four inches in a year, girls a little less. The effect is that, in the latter years of the middle school, many girls will be taller and heavier than boys. But since boys have a stronger handgrip than girls before adolescence and the girls' muscular spurt is less marked than that of boys, there is little difference in all-round strength.

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Neither boys nor girls "outgrow their strength"; fatigue seems to be more a matter of boredom than of physical weakness. Both girls and boys are very active at this period; girls are probably as active as they will ever be.

Menarche occurs late in the series of adolescent changes and follows the growth spurt. Even so, some girls begin to menstruate at 10, others at 16: most girls will have reached menarche before they leave the 9 to 13 school. It is essential that children should know about physiological changes in adolescence and their purpose before they become aware of - and possibly worried by - changes in their own bodies. Questions should be answered as they arise. But the first year in the middle school suggests itself as a suitable time for checking that children have a basic knowledge and vocabulary. It will still be necessary to be on the alert to relieve further anxiety and to satisfy the curiosity which arises at puberty. There are also clear practical implications, for example, for changing and showering facilities. A case can be made for them throughout schooling: they are certainly as necessary in the middle schools as at any later age.

The problems arising from the varying developmental ages of boys and girls may turn out to be less serious in the middle school than might be imagined at first sight. Any child who is markedly different from others may be vulnerable, whatever the school structure. Nevertheless such evidence* as there is suggests that early maturing girls are usually successful at school at 11 and appear to their teachers to be co-operative, well adjusted and industrious. There is almost certainly more than one reason; girls who menstruate early tend to be members of small families and have often benefited from concentrated care from their parents; their maturity gives them confidence and makes them leaders in the primary school. Mature 13-year-old girls may fit more readily into a flexibly organised 9 to 13 school than into an 11 to 18 school where they are perforce juniors. If, as seems probable, there is a time-lag between the development of the physical and the emotional characteristics of puberty, fewer major difficulties than might be expected should arise in the middle school from the differing maturity and interests of boys and girls. This impression is confirmed by the experience of teachers in 11 to 13 secondary schools.

Early maturing boys are likely to be leaders in the middle school. They have the advantage of physical strength and dexterity at a

*J.W.B. Douglas et al, The Home and the School; MacGibbon and Kee (1964).

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time when boys respect these qualities, and this initial stimulus should help to carry them through to adulthood without undue stress, even though they are later overtaken in physique by their contemporaries. Late maturers are under greater strain, but their problems belong to the upper school rather than to the middle school. There will remain some exceptionally mature children - mature in most aspects of development - who do not easily fit into their age-groups and may well need to be transferred early into and from middle schools. A few of the immature may benefit from delayed transfer.

The substantial variations in physical strength and advancement certainly pose problems quite apart from sex differences. Even within the same sex, some complete the lengthy process of adolescence before others begin it. But these difficulties are reduced by the current trend to adapt physical education to individual differences. A problem remains in games and athletics, particularly for boys. Challenge for early maturers may be dependent on arranging age groups for games which extend beyond a single year, especially in the smaller schools. There is also a case for playing down the competitive element, especially when it is long-term, in school games. It is relevant that a recent study of children's traditional games* has shown that competition has small part in them.


Just as children are born differing in size, in potential stature and in their pattern of growth, so also they show differences of temperament from birth. Some children are active, some quiet; some respond quickly to emotional stimulus, some are lethargic; some are aggressive and outward-turning, some withdrawn: most children show a mixture of characteristics. The personality that emerges by 8, possibly associated with physical build, is the product of heredity and environment. Even within the same family, innate differences in children - and their birth-order - lead to contrasting treatment by parents. The development of personality, like all learning, is cumulative. It seems probable that personality and temperament, as well as ability, affect children's problem-solving strategy and the conditions in which individuals learn most effectively. The anxious child may need a steadier routine and be able to tolerate less uncertainty than the confident child. There is some evidence that boys tackle problems more analytically, and girls more intuitively. Children vary widely too in their capacity for sustained concentration.

*I. and P. Opie, Children's Games in Street and Playground; OUP (1969).

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The importance of the Group

Emotional and intellectual setbacks are more long-lasting in their effects and more difficult to reverse than physical ones. But provided that children enjoy in infancy a secure relationship with their mothers - or mother substitutes - and that they have then met a growing circle of adults and children, they should be able by 8 to make satisfactory contacts with their contemporaries. Those who have been emotionally deprived will continue to crave attention and to be either over-dependent or too withdrawn. Normal children are becoming more critical of adult authority than they were in the first school. A teacher who is accepted will serve as a model both for attitudes to learning and for relationships. But characteristically this is the age when children begin to "gang up" and express common cause with their peers by their slang, jokes, rhymes and nicknames. Their private world is an exclusion of the adult world. Groupings tend to be larger for boys than for girls, who form smaller cliques, often with "best friends" or trios within them. Leaders begin to emerge especially among the boys and the "pecking order" established at 8 or 9 often remains little changed until adolescence. Children may take criticism more readily from their contemporaries than from adults, and look to each other for guidance on social behaviour.

This phase of childhood is often regarded as a golden age. Yet it is a peak period for referrals of boys to child guidance clinics. This may in part have resulted from the stress of transfer from infant to junior schools at an age when many children have not fully established reading skills; it may result from social rejection coinciding with a time when children want to be accepted by their peers; but it may simply be that this is the stage when teachers become intolerant of difficult behaviour which may have existed for some years but is more obvious in a physically powerful 9-year-old than in an infant. Child guidance clinics tend to cater for these children rather than for adolescents. The delinquencies of 8 to 9-year-olds appear relatively minor, but may be warnings of more serious offences to come. Longitudinal studies* show consistency in neurotic symptoms and poor scholastic performances at 8 and 15, suggesting that their origin lies much earlier, possibly in infancy.

As children grow older, groups become more closely knit. Boys play with boys, girls with girls. Boys become more boisterous, girls more given to gossip and reading. A recent enquiry into out-of-school

*J.W.B. Douglas, J.M. Ross and H.R. Simpson et al, All Our Future; Peter Davies (1968).

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interests* confirms that boys show a greater interest in constructional activities than girls but seems to point to the influence of changing trends in adult society on children's behaviour. House-decoration, sewing and cookery are undertaken by both girls and boys. Middle schools will be in line with the contemporary mood if they encourage mixed crafts for boys and girls. Teachers can also strengthen collaboration between boys and girls by suggesting pursuits in which the contribution of both is needed: this can help to develop more tolerant and constructive sexual attitudes in adult life.

In other respects too teachers can work through groups. They can contrive groups of varying size and composition in which as many children as possible have an opportunity to achieve success. They have a special obligation to those children who tend to be unpopular. Not infrequently teachers themselves unthinkingly contribute to stereotypes which imprison children. However the stereotype is formed, it is often only the adult who can help children to throw off the reputation of "cry-baby", "show-off", "clumsy clot", "clever-dick". Much depends on the teacher's skill in focusing attention on positive and helpful qualities in children, finding outlets for them and praising the outcome. All children need to tryout different roles as part of the process of forming a satisfactory concept of themselves. All children want to be loved and to be found loveable: adults can give them confidence. Though most children of this age co-operate well and benefit from being given responsibility for things, they are too young to carry a sustained responsibility for each other, certainly in a disciplinary sense.


If it is difficult to disentangle physical and emotional growth, it is quite impossible to separate emotional and intellectual development. Feeling is the spur to learning, both conscious and unconscious, but emotional development is also dependent on growing intellectual maturity. Willy-nilly, children imitate those they are with and especially those they admire. Informal collaboration between teachers, and courtesy in their relationships provide a useful model for children. Children's desire to learn can be strengthened by teachers who not only impart instruction, but are ready to follow up questions, to suggest that hypotheses are tested and information sought out.

The drive to survive and therefore to master the environment may well be the basis both for curiosity and a desire for competence

*M. Rose and J. Winslade. Unpublished thesis.

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which are among the strongest incentives for learning. The key function of the middle school is to preserve and strengthen curiosity. Whether it succeeds depends on achieving a match between children's capacities and the problems they tackle. They need challenge and that carries with it a measure of anxiety and a possibility of failure. But children cannot afford to fail too often whatever the cause - whether it is because their learning lacks focus or is too difficult for them. Curiosity can also be dulled by an evasive answer from a teacher, by lack of guidance or by routine learning which lacks a purpose clear to the child. Words and other symbols, learnt by rote, and used with insufficient understanding to enable children to apply them appropriately, can block thought.

The problem of matching the learning capacity and current attainment of individual children is heightened by their wide range in the middle school. Year by year there is an increase in the spread of measured intelligence - the result of differences in personality and drive as well as in intellectual potential. At 8 nearly 90 per cent of children have a mental age between 6 and 10. By 12 the range is extended from 9 to 15 years. On this basis, the 1931 Report, The Primary School, recommended streaming by ability. But longitudinal growth studies,* as contrasted with cross-sectional ones, have lessened faith in this simple solution to children's diversity. The evidence for a spurt in measured intelligence at adolescence is contradictory: if there is one it is slight†. Nevertheless individual growth studies show that some children make substantial and consistent gains on intelligence tests relative to others, and some fall back. This suggests a genetic factor of advancement or retardation which makes prediction from an IQ unreliable, unless an individual child has been studied over the years. Other variations in measured intelligence are due to environment, including the expectation of parents and teachers, personality and passing mood. Late intellectual maturers, children from poor backgrounds and poorly motivated children are even more vulnerable to failure and stress than late physical maturers, To accept their status as permanent may, as the Plowden Report said, be like starving the short child and giving extra nourishment to the tall.

What has been said provides problems enough. Yet it implies an over-simplified view of measured intelligence. In exact terms, tests

*Berkeley Growth Study (from N. Bayley, 'On the Growth of Intelligence'; American Psychologist, 1955).

†S.D. Nisbet and N.J. Entwistle, Age of Transfer to Secondary Education; ULP (1966).

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measure no more than the capacity to perform the items of the test, and the underlying dimensions of ability are constructs. Some psychologists tend to hypothesise a large number of abilities, admittedly overlapping. Others, for practical purposes, distinguish two major complexes of abilities, verbal-educational, and spatial-perceptual-practical, with "general ability" as an underlying component. More specific abilities or aptitudes tend to appear late, with the exception of musical and mathematical ability, perhaps because they are related to interest and our system of schooling has not provided incentives and opportunities for them. It may be concluded that the curriculum in the middle years should make available educational experiences wide ranging enough to cater for and develop latent aptitudes.

Intelligent behaviour develops through a cumulative process in which maturation and learning interact. The observations and experiments of Piaget and Bruner provide valuable guide-lines to the kind of thinking which is possible in the middle years, granted the range which has already been postulated. Most 8-year-olds are, for many purposes, able to substitute speech for action which, according to both Piaget* and Bruner,† is a starting point of thinking: they are indeed able to listen and speak at second hand through their mastery of reading and writing. They are beginning to free themselves from the "despotism of the eye", to refine their perceptions, to think what lies behind the many moons they cannot circumnavigate. At the same time their power of observation is becoming more highly developed - this is a stage when some children can recall with detailed exactitude what they have seen or heard. The result may be temporary setbacks in logical thought. For though most children will have begun to see relationships, they may not be able, especially when they are thinking in words, to take account of more than one or two relationships simultaneously. As more aspects of things and situations are noticed, thinking about them may become more difficult. In general children develop the power to retrace their thoughts as they can retrace their steps. They establish the principle of "conservation" in number, in weight, in quantity and in volume. The order in which these concepts are formed differs widely and teachers have to reckon with this uneven development. Children can be confused by unfamiliar subject matter or diverted from logic by their particular interests and preoccupations.

Social behaviour, like perception and concepts, becomes less egocentric. Fairness, in early school-days a matter to be determined

*J. Piaget, The Psychology of Intelligence; Routledge & Kegan Paul (1950).

†J. Bruner, Towards a Theory of Instruction: W. W. Norton and Co. (1966).

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by adult authority, becomes increasingly a question of conforming to group rules. At first they are thought of as unchangeable but gradually they are regarded as made by those concerned, and subject to modification by them. Later some children realise that moral judgments have to take intentions and circumstances into account, that an action can be morally acceptable in one situation, reprehensible in another.

Most children for much of the middle years are in Piaget's "stage of concrete operational thought". Their power of logical thinking is widening in range and becoming more consistent, provided that it is based on objects or situations, real, described or imagined. Hence the case for work based on the environment, or an environment extended through the mass media, books and the teacher's exposition. In their hobbies children often practise their new skills and abilities. The passion for collection and classification which distinguished Darwin in his childhood and enlivened his years at Cambridge characterises many boys between 8 and l3. Girls too collect, though they incline to objects with an aesthetic appeal. Boys, especially, reflect their tendency to think concretely by the models they construct. Maturation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for developing concepts. Adequate and suitable experience is also needed. Children seek it in their out-of-school life, but it is obviously the major role of the school to provide, organise and enrich experience which might otherwise be incoherent and haphazard.

Much work still remains to be done on the ways and degree in which schools can stimulate and accelerate effectiveness of thinking, organisation of information and positive attitudes to learning. Piaget-type tests would probably be useful not only in informing teachers what learning children can undertake, but also in stimulating new approaches to learning and so extending children's experience and stabilising their concepts. It seems that schooling can give most help as children approach the stage of understanding a new concept, and that situations which combine novelty and familiarity evoke children's curiosity and determination to solve the problems set them. Talking to children about what they are doing can indicate to teachers what stage children have reached, help them to formulate general ideas and eventually provide them with efficient symbols or formulae for the concepts. Teachers have to be on their guard against cumulative misunderstanding in children: unresolved it creates boredom and destroys the desire to learn.

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The widening range of intellectual ability means that some children begin to use abstract logical thought while they are in the middle school. They are able to formulate hypotheses, to check them, to think deductively as well as inductively and take into account a variety of conditions. The more generalised their principles, the wider and the more useful the field of their application. Yet even these children will need to revert to concrete examples and models and sometimes to manipulate materials or "play" with them when they face fresh problems or particularly complicated examples of already familiar ones.

Generalisation is one means of reducing the world to manageable proportions. Re-creation of experience is another: through the arts children come to terms with the world and with themselves, and organise their feelings. Children vary in dominant imagery as in everything else. Experience can be recalled through movement and touch as well as through the eye and ear. All can serve as a stimulus, all should find a place through the means of expression that are provided. The middle years when perceptions and discrimination are sharpened, when muscular skill brings techniques within reach, and few children are self-conscious whether in words or other media; suggest themselves as a period when creative language, drama, movement, art and craft and music are vital elements in the curriculum. They can give a child a means of communicating with himself and others, and help him to develop emotionally as well as intellectually.

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The Curriculum and its Arrangement

The broad objectives of schooling in the middle years do not differ fundamentally from those in other educational phases. But in working out in detail how they can be achieved, account has to be taken of children's characteristics at this age and of the position of the middle school in relation to the total educational structure.

Children between the ages of 8 and 13 have already been described. Four aspects stand out: the range and relative unpredictability of their individual abilities; the powerful effect of the expectations of parents, teachers and the children's own contemporaries; the general trend for all save the exceptionally able or mature to learn most effectively from the concrete, whether directly experienced, or described or evoked in words; and their tendency to congregate and work in groups. Past difficulties have often arisen from disregard of these facts. Young children have been assigned to streams - and, at 11, to separate schools - on the basis of their supposed general ability or attainment in a narrow range of subjects. Many seem to have adopted the characteristics ascribed to them. Some teachers, recognising children's weakness in abstract reasoning, thought that this was the time for them to accumulate information; others tried to provide short cuts to reasoning in the shape of formulae, learnt by rote, without the working understanding which makes them useful. There is no evidence for the often repeated statement that children of junior school age are exceptionally efficient in memorisation. Their success in it is relative and stands out in contrast to failures in abstraction. Admittedly, they enjoy learning poems and facts in which they are interested.

Knowledge about children can provide guidance about what procedures may best be attempted, and what means of learning are most likely to be successful in particular circumstances. It suggests strongly that no decisions should be taken which will limit children's future whether vocationally or in terms of personal leisure interests. The middle school must above all be a place where opportunities are

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many and where choices remain open for as long as possible. Yet, since the coming of the middle school will reduce the time available in the upper school for diagnosis before children embark on work with vocational implications, adequate records must be kept and passed on. Clearly, too, in deciding what pursuits children should follow in the middle school from among those known to be within their reach and interests, there should be collaboration between first, middle and upper schools.


Those who take on the responsibility of teaching must bear the burden of decision about the general direction in which children should be encouraged to develop. Values and ideals are implicit in education at every stage. As persons, children should be helped to grow in independence, to gain command over their feelings, to adapt to situations, to take decisions for themselves and also to recognise valid authority and accept it in matters in which they lack competence. Although some outstandingly independent and rational characters have been the outcome of harsh irrational discipline, to base an educational system on these examples is to argue from the exceptional. Attitudes and habits, like skills, are established by practice; a corollary is that schools need to provide children with opportunities to exercise choice, a choice as extensive and rational as their stage of development permits.

Equally there should be plenty of occasions for children to learn at first-hand from their personal experience of relationships and from the example of teachers and other adults in the school community, as well as from literary, religious and social studies, the value of co-operation and of the qualities on which it rests. It is primarily through working together for a common purpose that children can realise the importance of frank expression of fact and opinion, of respect for the views, personalities and property of others, and of the yet more positive attitudes of fair play, sympathy and kindness.

In these attitudes, emotion and reason interact. Unless children can recognise points of view other than their own, can weigh and test the evidence for them as far as their capacity permits, they cannot feel respect for them. Equally, children are unlikely to achieve their potential in learning skills and facts, or in forming concepts, unless their curiosity is sustained and exploited. This suggests utilising children's interests as a starting point and incentive for developing the skills and knowledge required by contemporary society: their ability to listen and to use the spoken word with increasing effect;

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their capacity to understand and use the written work, the diagram, the drawing, the map and basic mathematical language and skills - in effect to be literate, numerate and graphically competent; an insight into man and society, which depends upon the growth of self-knowledge, on an appreciation of man's dependence on natural phenomena and resources, and on some inkling of the way man has mastered his problems in the past. Children must always be encouraged to seek for meaning, for pattern and inter-connections.

The importance of choice has already been stressed. A sound choice cannot be made without some knowledge of the options available. Teachers have an obligation to open up to children - in accord with their ability - branches of knowledge such as mathematics and science, with their characteristic ideas and means of arriving at and checking their conclusions. There is an equal obligation to introduce them to interpretations of life - in the acts and writings of religious leaders, in literature and history - and to ways of understanding, re-shaping, and enhancing the quality of life through the arts of language, drama and expressive movement, the visual and tactile arts, and music. Though it is important to assist those children who can to develop their propensity for abstract thought, they - like others - will continue to need opportunities for working with the concrete. Abstractions may have to be checked by creating models. The arts often become sterile when they are divorced from the particular. Blake's "Minute Particulars", Goethe's "Green and Golden Tree of Life" which he contrasted with "grey theory" - from such symbols can be created a view of the world as valid as that of the mathematician or scientist.

What range of curriculum is demanded by these objectives, this process of initiation into society, and how should it be organised? Some objectives can readily be identified with the aims of certain aspects of the curriculum, or indeed more narrowly with those of "subjects". But many concepts, skills and attitudes can be fostered through several elements of the traditional curriculum. Most of the time children spend in school - certainly in the middle school - is not directed towards producing professional mathematicians, scientists, writers, historians, linguists, and so forth, but rather to helping them to understand more about their world, and enjoy their lives. Solutions of day to day problems and the pursuit of interests often make demands on knowledge and skills associated with several subject disciplines. School learning which is geared to an all-round study of problems seems more likely to transfer to out-of-school situations. Is there then a case for restructuring the curriculum for these years of schooling?

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In the Primary School

The Plowden Council estimated, on the evidence of HM Inspectorate, that approximately one-third of all primary schools were experimenting with a flexible curriculum and timetable. Yet even in such schools, where many activities defy a subject label, much systematic instruction is to be found, though it may occur at different times for different children. It is almost universal to find some regular teaching of reading; similarly there is systematic teaching of mathematics, often involving a development of the subject out of the children's own activities and sometimes arising in connection with other aspects of the curriculum. Teachers also make occasions for children to listen to stories or poetry, to listen to or make music, to play act, to move and play games, either because these activities require the use of special areas or because they demand or are enhanced by work in a group. In an increasing number of schools, regular daily provision is made for all pupils to learn a foreign language although a final decision on its advisability must depend on the outcome of research and take account of the supply of suitable teachers. Other activities arise more spontaneously . Yet since most teachers have been educated within the framework of traditional subjects, work in each of them is usually found a place at some time in the course of the year. Certainly, emphases may vary.

The normal primary school curriculum is flexible enough to take some account of children's interests and enquiries. It allows for the ramifications of current topics to be studied when interest in them runs high. Equally it allows them to be drawn to a conclusion with individuals or groups whose interest runs out, or for whom the issues or skills involved become, for the time being, too difficult. It makes it easier to provide time for out-of-school visits, for their preparation and follow-up. A book can be read through in a week, a piece of creative work completed in a day or a week without the repeated need for a "warming-up" time. In such a pattern as this, account can be taken of the different spans of concentration of individual children. The class teacher comes into regular enough contact with individual children to know them intimately and to be able to diagnose what they ought to be doing. Even so, it is a heavy assignment to get to know 40 children as individuals and also to keep in touch with widening horizons and changing perspectives in the teaching of mathematics, of science and the humanities, as well as in art and crafts and in physical education.

In the Secondary School

In some secondary schools - an increasing number though still a

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small minority - first year classes spend a third or even half the week with their form teachers. More commonly, each subject is separately treated and taught by a specialist teacher. In consequence, children may have the benefit of meeting enthusiasts, at home in their subjects, whose education at college of education or university has been largely concentrated on them, (though this is far from true of shortage subjects, where the "specialist" may have adopted or been dragooned into his specialism). In many secondary schools, subject teachers can also call on heads of departments for advice and look to them for a syllabus providing for a cumulative build-up of concepts, knowledge and skills. Such syllabuses can be a safeguard against the sometimes trivial constituents or erratic sequence in work that derives from children's interests. Many subjects have the advantage of specialist rooms and equipment. Children transferring from primary to secondary schools often comment on the attractions of new subjects, specialist rooms and equipment - the gymnasium, the art room, the home economics room, the handicraft shop, the science laboratory. Novelty makes a strong appeal, diverting children's attention from the price that is sometimes paid in colourless classrooms, shared by many teachers and used by several classes, and in time-wasting movement about the building.

Some divisions in the work are inevitable. Yet the fragmented curriculum which makes so sudden a break with the primary regime in many schools does not correspond with a logical division of knowledge and skills, associated either with clearly distinct sets of concepts or differing ways of establishing evidence. Some aspects of the curriculum such as pure mathematics are indeed distinct forms of knowledge with their own sequence, concepts, symbols and criteria: others may better be thought of as fields of interest, and range from classics, covering the languages, literature and history of two broad periods of time in the Mediterranean World, to home economics, concerned with the knowledge, skills and ideas which relate to home making. English is a complex of activities in which language and experience are interdependent, and literature and the creative aspects have steadily grown in emphasis as the teaching of prescriptive grammar and the routine use of exercises have been seen to be unrewarding. Some aspects of knowledge and experience, such as anthropology and sociology, find little if any place: others recur under several guises. Even if the curriculum corresponded, as it does not do, to a philosopher's analysis of divisions of knowledge, it would be a fallacy to suppose that the best approach for children was necessarily through these same divisions.

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In the Middle School

It does not follow that, if the middle school curriculum is divided into a dozen subjects, children must have a dozen teachers. Yet once given the separation into subjects, each with a teacher responsible for fostering its development and maintaining its status throughout the school, the likelihood is that the subjects examined at 16 or 18 will be taught by specialist teachers. And since many middle schools will be established in former secondary schools, already provided with specialist rooms and often inheriting teachers who have previously taught along these lines, there will be a tendency for conventional subject-teaching in specialist hands to persist-and indeed to be extended to younger children.

Such an arrangement is unlikely to be satisfactory, despite the excessive load which class teachers of older juniors already carry - a load which would become intolerable if a single teacher continued to have all-round responsibility for the education of children of all levels of ability in the final years of the middle school. Specialist teaching makes it difficult for children to pursue an interest in the round, fragments the day, and could sever natural connections between aspects of the curriculum. A schoolday broken into short predetermined segments of time puts such studies as history, geography and religious education, which normally are allotted only one or two periods a week, at a grave disadvantage. Teachers responsible for them are likely to concentrate on instruction in an effort to cover prescribed ground. Little room is left for children's choice or for work adjusted to their varying abilities. Indeed, no one teacher may know enough about them to assess what they are capable of. To introduce full specialist teaching at 8 or 9 would be a disaster; to develop it at 10 or 11 would be largely to forfeit the advantages that one hopes to obtain in the middle school.


Yet it must be agreed that no re-casting of subject areas is entirely satisfactory. All those so far tried out share at least some of the weaknesses of present arrangements. For the youngest children there is certainly much to be said for the flexibility towards which primary schools are moving. At this age, there are some undoubted advantages in the class teacher having responsibility for most of the curriculum, including French, music and physical education. But none of these are likely to suffer gravely - and indeed there may be gain - if they are handed over to experts who are also sensitive to the needs of young children. It would probably be unfortunate if these subjects were taught exclusively by specialists, or if specialists

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taught nothing but their specialisms, for the effect might be to make these aspects of the curriculum peripheral and to obscure their links with other areas of learning.

As children become older, a greater measure of differentiation in the curriculum becomes suitable. Even before they are 8 they will distinguish physical education, music and some aspects of mathematics from their other learning, either because they occur in a special place or demand their own characteristic equipment, symbols or modes of thinking. In other work a unifying goal - constructing and using a bird-table or simple weather station, getting to know all about the parish church or a nearby canal or coppice, making a tapestry to hang in the hall - overshadows curricular distinctions. But teachers should plan and assess specific content and skills in such work, even though they are also quick to take advantage of spontaneous developments. By the time children near the end of the middle school, some will certainly be ready for a more elaborate framework round which to organise their knowledge, and will recognise discrete elements in that framework. The development needs to be gradual and to avoid, as far as possible, a marked change at 11 which might perpetuate a primary-secondary break within the new schools. Changes should both stimulate and be related to children's growing powers of discrimination, as well as to other objectives the school sets for itself. They will certainly have to take account of the balance of skills on the staff and the facilities available. The presence, for example, of a rural studies specialist could reasonably bias the work in science, geography, mathematics and crafts.

One possibility is to group together, as the humanities, all those subjects which focus on man and his values - literature, religious education, history, human geography and some facets of art. From these studies can emerge the paradox of the essentially human and unchanging qualities of man, so long as records have been made, and by contrast the undoubted changes that have occurred in sensibility, values and institutions with their implication that further change is to be expected and may indeed be desirable. A second grouping - environmental study - emphasising first-hand observation, hypothesis, and testing of evidence, would encompass science, some geography, some history, and would make use of mathematics, art and language as tools. Equally a place must be found for the visual and tactile arts and crafts in their own right, including elements of handicraft, needlecraft and home economics. Separate arrangements are likely to be needed for sequential work in mathematics, music, a modern language, and for physical education.

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Another arrangement is to associate all work in language (both in English and in a foreign language). Gifted teachers in English are often expert in a foreign language, and the reverse may sometimes hold good. Audio-visual equipment is valuable for both English and a foreign language. Language would be treated both as a means of communication and of expression and also, more broadly, as a way of educating the emotions. History, geography and such related fields as anthropology could be blocked as social studies, its concern as much with the present as with the past. Science and mathematics could be linked partly because the same teachers are likely to be competent in both subjects and also through their shared interest in measurable quantities and their inter-relationships. The arts and crafts, some aspects of movement, and music might be grouped together.

A simpler organisation, perhaps best suited for an 8-12 school, would provide three broad blocks of work, the first emphasising investigation and discovery and including science, mathematics and such language and art as are vehicles of communication: in the second block the arts would be central, using experience and materials as a stimulus: the third would include more specific elements such as gymnastics, games and swimming.

A number of secondary schools have experimented in the first year - and rather more frequently in the fourth year - with a four-fold curriculum*; it includes remedial skills both for the able and the retarded; enquiry and creative work connected with the study of broad themes; linear studies such as mathematics and French; and it allows also for a special allocation of time for freely chosen work.

There is a dilemma about the inclusion or exclusion of time set aside for self-chosen and also for remedial work. Both are essential but periods specifically assigned to them may so reduce the time available for other aspects of the curriculum that the emphasis in them moves towards class instruction. The likelihood of choice and work at children's own level within the core of the curriculum is thereby reduced. There is also no easy answer to the question whether some standard combinations of existing subjects should be advocated. To establish them is to encourage the training of teachers in these groupings and might help to remove one of the main obstacles to breaking down single-subject specialisation-the tendency of teachers to claim that they are competent in only one or two subjects.

*Charity James, Young Lives at Stake; Collins (1968).

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Yet it would be unfortunate if new conventions hardened before widely ranging experiments have been carried out into what the most fruitful combinations and treatment of subject matter may be.

If in some schools the subjects established at the turn of the century tend to give way to broader divisions of the curriculum, it will not follow that all themes and enquiries will touch on all the elements in these areas. Some of the most profitable and stimulating enquiries, especially as children grow older, may be largely confined to a single "subject" though many will call on several. The way of working ought to be flexible enough to allow individual children to pursue knowledge confined to a single "subject" even when the majority would benefit from ranging more widely. To force correlation at every turn is to invite tedium and to threaten other useful links in learning. For example, interest in a quite narrow facet of the immediate environment may be complemented and heightened by systematic sample studies of similar environments in other parts of the world. Primary schools often add interest and stimulus to a linear French course by linking the language and its background for a time with work in history, music and art. But this can be taken too far. To concentrate on French history, geography, ways of life, fairy tales, songs, poems, dances and visits is more artificial than to accept straightforwardly - in times when the world is contracting - the need for systematic learning of a foreign language. It might be added at this point that it should not be assumed that a foreign language will necessarily be French. The prospect of adding a second foreign language on any significant scale is slight, both for staffing reasons and because it would leave insufficient time for other work. This applies both to a modern language and to Latin or Greek. But it certainly should not debar pupils from some non-linguistic study of Greece and Rome which could well find a place in the humanities, in history or in literature.

An important reason for blocking time in certain areas of the curriculum is to give teachers and children a chance to study in depth - the content of the work may sometimes spread across the whole area or, on occasion, be concentrated on a narrower field within it. Only when there is time does an empirical approach to science and geography become possible. Unless some short cuts are taken by exposition or demonstration, children will not cover enough ground to be at home in their world. But most general scientific statements made in the Middle School should arise from experience. Only by investigation can children realise the meaning of a scatter of results or the necessity for control groups. Continuing investigation is the

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most effective way for children to realise that science can disprove but not prove hypotheses, and leaves open the possibility that new evidence may make former assumptions untenable. Similarly a genuine exploration of the past depends on the degree and variety of detail available. Children need precise detail to mull over, to examine for interconnections and, in the case of the most able, to provide a basis for explanation. Time is needed too so that children can investigate the sources of evidence and weigh their reliability.

When schools first experiment with associated studies with older middle school pupils, the best course is probably to assign responsibility for easily linked subjects to one teacher for any given class, encourage him to use his time flexibly, to let connections develop, and test which are most stimulating and rewarding. Account will have to be taken of ground unlikely to be covered in this type of work, of concepts that have to be built up and consolidated with specific practice and development, in addition to that which arises in the course of other enquiries. As in primary schools at present, some prescribed courses, often sequential, will be needed to make these omissions good. The number of teachers responsible for the bulk of the work, even with the oldest children, ought to be kept as small as coverage of the curriculum and satisfactory personal relationships allow. The effect is to make collaboration between teachers informal and less time-consuming, and to facilitate unexpected associations between aspects of the work; music for example may illuminate history - and vice versa; the visual and tactile arts no less than language and drama can serve and be stimulated by environmental study.


Schemes relating to whatever sub-divisions of the curriculum are agreed on should define objectives and suggest useful starting points, resources and also ways of evaluating success. In devising them, help should be sought from members of staff trained in particular elements or areas of the curriculum concerned. "Starting points" might include details of visits which have proved profitable, material to be made available inside the classroom, and literary and audiovisual resources. Examples of how schemes have worked out on previous occasions (including modifications made during the course of the work) are helpful, as long as they are not regarded as models, to be slavishly imitated. Guidance on evaluation should make clear what concepts, processes, skills and attitudes should be aimed at, always allowing for the varied capacities of pupils. Flexibility can be endangered by schemes which cover too much ground, without

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suggesting possible alternatives, schemes which go into too great detail or over-stress correlation. Much emphasis should be placed on the need, during the course of the work, for consultation with members of staff who are more expert in specific aspects of the curriculum, year-group leaders and certainly not least the children. Many valuable studies are sparked off by the children, and their involvement in them can be sustained by the provision of appropriate materials and books and by continuing discussion among themselves and with the teacher. Further discussion of the role of the staff and of the Head is to be found in Chapter 5.

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The Internal Organisation of Middle Schools

School organisation is not an end in itself. Its purpose is to ensure that individual children are thoroughly and effectively taught and that the best possible use is made of the available staff and resources. Organisational devices elevated to educational objectives are among the more common reasons of failure in innovation.


From 1945 to 1969, the regulation maximum size of class was 30 for secondary schools, 40 for primary schools. Circular 16/69 announced the revocation of this regulation though it made clear that the first national objective in this field would still be a teaching body of the size contemplated while the regulation was in force and substantially larger than it is at present. There are two main reasons for the change of regulation. First, to quote the Circular, "The concept of the registered class as the basic teaching unit is becoming increasingly outmoded." In secondary schools, in particular, increases of staff have been used for other purposes than for reducing the size of the registration unit. Secondly, the regulation on class size assumes "an undue staffing differential between primary and secondary schools". Though the Circular looked for the early elimination of regular teaching groups of 40 or more children, it has not laid down specific new standards for class size. It has left also pupil/teacher ratios to the decision of local education authorities subject to the general principle that while "the older pupils should not be denied some improvement ... it is the younger who should have the main benefit from the increase."

Middle schools are therefore being established at a time when pupil/teacher ratios are likely to improve in both primary and secondary schools, but more rapidly in the former. The natural aim for middle schools is to have classes of the size towards which primary classes and lower forms of secondary schools are moving. The pupil/teacher ratio should no doubt be between those for primary and secondary schools but it is unlikely to be a mean, since

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the optional courses necessary in older secondary forms need relatively generous staffing. It may, however, be useful to record that a recent survey showed that, where they have expressed their intentions, local authorities planning to establish middle schools have ranged in their suggested ratios for 9-13 schools from 23: 1 to 29:1. Ratios from 23:1 to 24:l have been proposed for 10-13 schools, and those for 8-12 schools vary from 25:1 to 30:1. In each case the Head is included. It is important for the whole educational system that improvements in staffing should extend to first schools as well as to middle schools.

In some secondary schools with favourable ratios, tutorial sets, often vertically grouped, have been the units for pastoral care. This organisation is unlikely to be possible in the middle schools, and teaching and pastoral roles will have to be combined. The class teacher then gets to know his pupils as he teaches them and uses his knowledge of his pupils as a way of assessing what standards of work and behaviour he can expect from them. This does not imply teaching the class as a whole, though there are occasions for it. It does mean that the class spends a substantial part of the week with their class teacher.

A few authorities have planned substantially smaller classes for the fourth year in an 8-12 school, and for the third and fourth years in a 9-13 school, than for the other age-groups. For this arrangement there seems to be little basis other than tradition. Those first-year children in a middle school whose command of reading is not yet established may have as strong a case to work in small groups as older pupils. Once a class unit has been established it tends to develop its own personality, and friendships form within it. To reshuffle classes at 11 or 12 may be to undermine friendships and to destroy habits of collaboration. It requires a much stronger justification than age.

Some authorities are planning to have classes of 30 throughout the middle school with a corollary that there will be very few teachers who do not have responsibility for a class. Others prefer a somewhat larger basic class of 35 and the flexibility resulting from a bigger number of supernumerary teachers. Any decision must depend in part on the number of specialist spaces to be supervised by teachers without responsibility for a class, and on the readiness of teachers to work with groups of differing composition for specific purposes.

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During the period when middle schools are highly experimental and are seeking an identity, in-service training within the school is particularly important. This constitutes a strong argument for an organisation that allows for supernumeraries. Some may be freed of responsibility for a class in order that they can more effectively give guidance throughout the school in an aspect of the curriculum. More often, help from supernumeraries may enable teachers who combine responsibility for a class with leadership of an age-group, or with curricular guidance, to carry out these important duties.

Most plans for middle schools assign a substantial role to the year-group, a role which is reflected in both staffing and in buildings. In some middle schools a promising corporate sense is already developing in the year-groups: meetings are held on such topics as care of the building and equipment, presentation and display of work and voluntary service. In small schools (for example, 2-form entry) there is a case for linking* the teachers and children of two year-groups so as to provide a greater variety of knowledge and experience in the staff responsible for them. This would also make for a wider range of maturity and interest among the group of children, in which the exceptionally mature or immature, the musician, the mathematician or the chess player would be likely to find a kindred spirit.

An obvious pattern of organisation, already embodied in several middle school plans and buildings, is to divide the school into two two-year phases. Its weakness is that, in 9-13 schools, it is likely to maintain a traditional break at 11, and, with any age-ranges being proposed, to create a school which is one in name only. For this reason and others, there is a case for treating the first year as an entity and maintaining a close link between it and the first school. The second and third years might be linked" for some purposes even though the range of attainment, without ability streaming, will be very wide indeed. If there is some measure of open planning and children can be referred to teachers and resources in other classes, and if there is some exchange of teachers, there is probably little argument for more than one year-group within a class. Exceptions might be necessary in small schools, or for the unusually mature child who seems likely to be a candidate for early promotion to an upper school, or for a child with special difficulties who will benefit from working with a younger group. The fourth year of a middle school could well look to the upper school. Staffing and the range of curriculum might possibly be enriched by some sharing of staff with the upper school.

*as is shown in Appendix II, p.73, and Figure 3.

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The organisation within a single year-group or a pair of groups ought to take into account the maturity of the pupils. Some plans assume that first year pupils, presumably because they are the youngest in this stage of education, will spend almost all their time with their class teacher. Yet some infant classes have provided outstandingly successful examples of co-operative teaching. Once new entrants to the middle schools have settled down, whether they are 8 or 9-year-olds, there is much to be said for their having contact with more than one teacher. Some children get more help from a man and some from a woman; they also vary in their response to different styles of teaching. Yet a division of the work between too many teachers would make it difficult, even impossible, to develop the good personal relationships and curricular flexibility that are characteristic of many primary schools.

Co-operation among the teachers of the youngest classes might consist pre-eminently of joint planning and provision of resources, aspects which will remain important throughout the middle school. By the second and third years, teachers who may be covering the bulk of the curriculum with their classes would probably benefit from some support from a year-group leader or a consultant teacher working beside them in the classroom. On occasions when the bulk of a year-group are working individually, two or three teachers might be moving amongst them, giving assistance according to their particular strengths. At such times too the help of a supernumerary art and crafts teacher might be available to children (singly, in small groups, or in whole classes) who need skilled help in recording and displaying the results of their enquiries. Such specialists could also be invaluable in giving guidance on techniques. Similar support might be given by a consultant teacher in English.

Two fairly clearly distinguishable plans are apparent for the third and fourth years. In one, the class teacher is responsible for the traditional core of the curriculum, English, religious education, mathematics, social studies, and possibly art and crafts, but is either reinforced or replaced by other members of staff, more knowledgeable in science, music, French, physical education and in some instances in the arts. The main advantage is that the class teacher sees much of his class, since English, mathematics and social studies absorb a considerable part of the week. But to expect a teacher to be able to deal with literature, history, geography and mathematics at this stage, all at an equally effective level, is to ask a great deal. It is true that active help is now hoped for from consultant teachers with a

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responsibility extending beyond a single subject. But it seems doubtful whether these teachers themselves would find their work satisfying unless they could carry full responsibility for their specialisms with more than one class.

A second pattern provides for each child, usually as a member of an age-group or class, to be taught by a complementary team of up to five or six teachers - at least in the fourth year-group. Two of these teachers might each be responsible for approximately one-third of the week, covering aspects of the curriculum which are readily associated; the other three or four might look after the rest of the work. This might include subjects, such as music, in which there is a shortage of teachers. It is important for the total size of the teaching and learning groups to be small enough for easily arranged discussion and changes of plan. The larger the group, the more rigid the curricular and timetable arrangements are likely to become; 140 13-year-old children, four class teachers and some supplementary teaching assistance seem likely to be the maximum that will be desirable. When the group of teachers and pupils is large, children should probably spend more time with their class teachers.


There is one point of near unanimity in the proposals for middle schools. Most teachers, advisers and administrators have been impressed by the strength of the evidence for the variability of the IQ and the disadvantages suffered in a streamed organisation by boys, children born in the summer, and those who come from poor social backgrounds. They are aware of the relatively small amount of transfer between classes in streamed schools and of the inequalities which have been shown to exist in the conditions of upper and lower streams in primary schools. On these grounds most middle school working parties have expressed a strong preference for classes of mixed ability. The weight of research evidence*, however, suggests that teachers' expectations and attitudes are even more helpful or damaging to children than the organisation they choose. Children of poor attainment, taught in mixed ability groups by teachers who are personally unconvinced of the merits of this organisation, and who in effect stream within the class, are likely to suffer even more severely than those who, because they are in a low stream, may lack stimulus from their peers and their teachers. For much of the curriculum, class teaching is particularly unsuitable for an unstreamed class. It follows that decisions about streaming should be

*J.C. Barker-Lunn, Streaming in the Primary School; N.F.E.R. (1970).

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based on staff discussion and should take into account the convictions held. When classes are not streamed, strategies for assessing and meeting the needs of children of differing levels of attainment within the same teaching group are of particular importance. More thought might well be given to ways in which children working individually or in suitably organised groups might use audio-visual materials much as they have used books in the past. Opportunities need to be provided for discussion among children of similar ability and interest levels, as well as among more heterogeneous groups. Much of this holds true even when classes are broadly streamed; their apparent homogeneity may cover big differences within the class and differences in anyone child from time to time.

One alternative to streaming is setting - re-arranging teaching groups according to attainment in varying aspects of the curriculum. But although children at the middle school stage may show marked differences in, for example, linguistic and spatial ability, it is even more usual for the advanced child to do well all along the line, and for the slow or retarded to be unsuccessful in many respects. To find oneself in many slow sets may be more depressing and confusing than being in a low ability stream. Setting in a subject or subject-group taught by the class teacher has the further disadvantage that it reduces his contacts with some individuals in his class. It tends to make an overflow from one aspect of the curriculum to another much more difficult. There is, however, a defensible case for some setting in the final years of the middle school, particularly in those parts of the curriculum where the work changes radically in accordance with the pupils' ability.

Oral facility in the earliest stages of a foreign language does not seem to be highly correlated with general ability*. Mixed ability groups for language teaching are therefore likely to be workable at the beginning of the course and are often encouraging to children who have experienced difficulty in other parts of the curriculum. But after two years or so, the nature of the course will probably need to change according to the divergent attainments of the children: some should continue to concentrate on the oral language, others ought to add reading and a certain amount of written work.Group work is difficult to arrange, and oral teaching and practice of structures need to playa large part if only because opportunities for linguistic experience outside school are limited. Setting seems a reasonable solution to this problem. In mathematics a few children advance rapidly. They need the companionship of others of similar

*C. Burstall, French from Eight - a national experiment; N.F.E.R. (1968).

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ability. In other curricular areas, the position is less clear-cut. When the bulk of the work can be individual, the case for setting becomes less strong. A study of literature, an enquiry in science, history or geography can be pursued at different levels. Even so there will be occasions when a group of mature pupils should be introduced to a book or a problem too demanding for the rest of the class. In theory, this type of informal setting should be relatively easy to arrange when two or more classes are grouped with their own teachers and perhaps a consultant. In practice a careful watch must be kept lest a kaleidoscopic re-grouping of children should occur.

One possible device is to timetable weekly a small-group tutorial period in those broad aspects of the curriculum in which there is no setting or streaming. This suggestion implies fresh thought about other areas of the curriculum for which teaching groups are usually smaller than the whole class. In several districts, half classes are being proposed for home economics and handicraft, because these have been customary and there is a greater risk of accidents with large groups. There is also some risk in other activities in art and crafts, and, indeed, elsewhere in the curriculum. With the promise of classes between 30 and 39, and with teachers able to handle mixed art and crafts, including the workshop crafts and home economics, for which provision is often being made in an open area, it seems reasonable to suggest that an art and crafts teacher might work with two-thirds of a class, so making possible a small tutorial session for the remainder. It would be easier for two art and crafts teachers with different specialisms to take a group of 50 children. One teacher might then look after a somewhat larger group, while the other could help, for as long as necessary, a group learning difficult processes or using more advanced - and possibly dangerous - tools and equipment.

There is, at first sight, an argument for smaller than normal classes in the early stages of a foreign language since opportunities for individual practice and conversation in small groups are highly desirable. If a conventional laboratory with recording facilities in fixed booths and a monitoring console is provided, the number of booths, which is likely to be small, will influence the size of the class. However, such an installation is of debatable value in a middle school since younger children frequently lack the powers of concentration and self-criticism that would enable them to benefit from it. A simple portable installation with headphones may well prove as useful and would certainly be cheaper. Such a "mini-lab" can be used by a small group in a relatively large class, as can transparencies; other groups might work with the teacher, be taken for carefully planned

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conversation practice by an assistante, or read. Given well organised grouping within each class, the case for small classes for a foreign language may not be overridingly strong.


The needs of the slowest children in the middle schools constitute a special problem, particularly in those areas where because of policy or circumstances there is small provision of special schools. Group withdrawal of these children to work with part-time or full-time remedial teachers may - but does not necessarily - provide the help and techniques such children need. Some find the classroom situation so demanding that they benefit from the relief of being in a small group with a sympathetic adult, even if he is not highly expert. But whether children are in the exact sense slow learners or have fallen behind in attainment because of the environmental circumstances at home or school, they are particularly dependent on a motive for learning. Two possible solutions suggest themselves: support from an additional teacher within the class area which would enable whichever teacher is the more gifted in work with slow children to use current interests and situations to develop basic skills in language and number; or a small class for these children might be constituted for a solid block of time, perhaps each morning or afternoon. During that time they would be working at general studies and through them advancing their capacity to express their ideas orally, in diagrams and models, and in writing, and increasing their powers of investigation, their growing mastery of reading, of pictures and of other symbols. At these times the children should have available to them the resources and enthusiasm of specialists, for example, in art and crafts, though for their main work in these areas of the curriculum, as also in music and physical education, the remedial group should be fused with others in their age-group.


Fresh thought is also needed about sex groupings in the middle years. In primary schools these divisions are tending to disappear: it is DOW common to find boys embroidering and girls working at the same light crafts as boys. At this stage the proportion of physical education time spent in single sex activities is also declining, a tendency which is spreading to secondary schools as expressive movement becomes part of the programme both for boys and girls. Experience in the few middle schools now open suggests that it may prove feasible to have mixed groups for all physical education save for some games and athletics. Opinions differ about gymnastics: judgements must be made in the context of a school and its staff. The less

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formal treatment of home economics and handicraft, their association with art and other aspects of the curriculum, and the changing role of men and women in society as a whole are making it natural to open up all types of craft to both boys and girls. In music, the changes in boys' voices will call for careful consideration, and some measure of separate instruction may be desirable.


The school programme has to reconcile educational objectives-and their outcome in terms of curriculum, organisation and use of staff-with the human and material resources available in a given school. Some aspects of the curriculum, especially those which are dependent on frequently practised skills or for which there is little stimulus in situations outside school, need brief and regular practice. A foreign language, especially in its early stages, and instrumental music, are obvious examples. Other subjects may be too demanding - intellectually or physically - for prolonged periods. Short bursts of concentration are profitable for some aspects of mathematics. But there is also a case for longer periods for exploratory work, either limited to mathematics or directed towards geographical or scientific enquiry, in which mathematics will be an essential tool. Timetables are influenced by tradition, and their tendency is to cut time short when interest runs high rather than to provide periods so long that energy flags. For this reason there is much to be said for basing the timetable on relatively long periods to be sub-divided in special instances or for some parts of the curriculum like a foreign language or gymnastics. Some plans envisage a two-period day, most a four-period day. Another possibility, particularly when schools adhere to the present secondary school curriculum, is to provide half-termly cycles for alternating subjects such as history and geography.

There are advantages in arranging for several classes within one or two age-groups to work at the same time of the week in similar broad areas of curriculum. Such an arrangement stimulates group preparation and collection of resources. It makes possible an occasional large-group period, maybe for an introduction to a broad theme. Large groups can on occasions be effective teaching units if audio-visual methods and other suitable techniques are employed. Such groups can also play a part in in-service training within the school. Yet experience both in this country and the United States suggests that their contribution to children's education in the middle school age-range is limited. The bigger the group, the less possible it is to involve children in discussion. And whether the starting point for an enquiry is in children's questions or in the

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teacher's mind, it is essential that children become identified with it. Once a theme - or a series of themes - has been embarked upon, it will almost certainly be given a different emphasis in each class, as well as by each individual. Synchronised periods will ease informal reference of children to teachers and informal interchange of teachers between classes. Sometimes the object will be to ensure that children are in touch with a teacher who, within the broad range of environmental studies, has a solid understanding of geographical or historical factors. Or, within an age-group, ad hoc sets can be created to cater for those who, with a teacher's help, can work faster or with greater penetration than the general run for all or part of the enquiry. When more permanent setting proves to be necessary, the timetable allows it. These suggestions like any others carry disadvantages as well as advantages. They are bound to concentrate demands on specialist spaces, equipment and other resources. One solution, amplified in Chapter VI, is to provide multi-purpose practical areas. Consistency in educational policy is far more likely to be achieved when each teacher can cover a broad area of the curriculum, and buildings can support their efforts. The greater the number of pieces in the jig-saw puzzle, the more likely they are to be lost: the more diverse and specialised the gifts of the teachers, the more difficult it will be to replace those who leave.

It seems that most heads designated to middle schools hope for a highly flexible timetable. Buildings, staffing and tradition may work in a contrary direction. Just as the disadvantages of streaming can survive within unstreamed classes, so rigidity can persist within a nominally fluid programme. It may well be wise to advance by degrees, beginning as did the primary school, by moving from short periods to longer blocks of time.

Examples of block timetables are provided in Appendix II. They illustrate some of the differing emphases that may be suitable in 8-12 and 9-13 schools.

It is hoped that many varied programmes will be tried out in middle schools. Their validity might be tested by such questions as the following:-

1. Is the staff sufficient in number, skill and knowledge to ensure quality and purpose in the curriculum, and does the organisation enable teachers to be available where and when they are needed?

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2. Are children being introduced to, and involved in, all the broad areas of human knowledge and sensibility, and helped to see their inter-relationship?

3. Can those children who have particular interests within a subject explore them in some depth?

4. Are there opportunities for following interests and enquiries across conventional subject boundaries?

5. Do children have the opportunity for individual work, some of it self-chosen, and carry the responsibility for it? Do they also have the stimulus of small-group discussion and teaching?

6. Are occasions provided for children to work with a cross-section of the school ability range, and, at other times, with their intellectual peers, ensuring stimulus for the able, and experience of success for the less able?

These are testing questions. They will not be answered by providing an over-complex organisation. If children are in sets for several purposes, if they move from one teacher of, say, humanities to another, if they choose among the arts, the upshot may be that they rarely spend long with the same teacher, the same group, or on the same enterprise. The younger children may need a firmer structure within which to make their choices than the older.

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Size of School: Training and Deployment of Staff

When authorities choose a system of reorganisation, they have to take into account the existing school buildings. A middle school has to be large enough to justify a staff whose specialisms are likely to extend over the main areas of curriculum. It ought also to include a cross-section of children in which most will find others who share their talents and interests. A middle school should not be so large that it requires a complicated organisation, difficult for teachers to contrive and operate, and insufficiently flexible. Since interrelationships between pupils and teachers in a year-group are proving to be useful, it is desirable that the annual entry should be of a size in which children can be well known to one another and to the teachers responsible for them.

Eight to twelve schools tend to be two or three-form entry. A four-form entry school which might contain nearly 600 children would be a very large community for 8-year-olds to join, and would be hardly tolerable unless the youngest children could have an introductory year in a building which ensured them some degree of intimacy. For the 9-year-old, a four-form entry school of 560 would be more acceptable, especially since this size would be likely to lead to a staff numerous and varied enough to meet the growing curricular needs of children over 13. There are bound to be two-form entry 9-13 schools and some one-form entry 5-12 schools or 8-12 schools, particularly in sparsely populated areas and in voluntary school systems. They call for generous staffing, as several authorities have already acknowledged, and may necessitate a higher proportion of early transfers to the upper school than will be required in larger schools. For 10-13 schools, three or four-form entry - at most five-form entry - seems preferable. These schools will need teachers with a range of specialisms. But schools in which children spend only three years may seem like "transit camps", if the age-groups are very large.

The size of school and age-range are also bound to affect relationships of staff within the school. It was the relatively small size of

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primary schools which, coupled with the elementary tradition, and, at an early stage, a straightforward curriculum, made it possible for the head to control most of the details of organisation himself and even to prepare schemes in most subjects. Except in large schools, there have been few posts, other than those of heads and deputy heads, above the basic salary scale. These have often been assigned for out-of-school activities, not surprisingly since assistant teachers have rarely had non-teaching periods in which they could advise their colleagues. In recent years, class teachers have been encouraged to use their discretion in adjusting schemes of work and use of time to the needs of their pupils. In the immediate past, there have been experiments in co-operative teaching and, as the primary school curriculum has expanded, a greater readiness on the head's part to delegate responsibility to assistant teachers for advising their colleagues in such aspects as French and science.

The more advanced level of specialist studies in secondary schools led headmasters, long since, to delegate responsibility for syllabuses and for ordering stock to heads of departments. As the size of many secondary schools has grown, heads have also delegated disciplinary authority and contacts with those outside the school community, including parents and contributory schools, to senior members of staff, such as deputy heads, heads of lower schools, and heads of houses.

Many inferences as to the use of staff in middle schools can be drawn from Chapters II and III on curriculum and organisation. Here the main emphasis is on the role of members of staff and on its implications for training.


In the British system, which allows a high degree of freedom to the individual school, the head's function is central. His is the ultimate responsibility for general policy decisions and for the use of staff and of material resources. When he has the right combination of enthusiasm and sensitivity, he can have a profound effect for good on the quality of the school. He has to balance the school's objectives and to see that reasonable weight is given to its various curricular goals, taking into account children's personal development and the ways they learn. But major policy changes can only be carried through by a staff prepared to accept them or, better, eager for them.

Discussions of such issues, rather than routine details, are the most important matter for full staff meetings. Their frequency and fruit-

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fulness depend on the size of the staff. The whole staff can work as one team in a small school. But even then there will be a place for sub-groups, led by members of staff who carry specific responsibilities, whether or not they are rewarded financially. Unit totals, fixed according to the current Burnham scale, determine the total amount available in each school for graded posts, though local authorities have discretion in its disposition. Local authorities also have substantial discretion about the number of head of department posts awarded to each school. Several have already declared their intention of exercising this discretion generously in middle schools.

Two major co-ordinating roles can already be distinguished in middle schools. The first is that of a leader of the teachers concerned with one or perhaps two year-groups. His function is to supervise the general emphasis of work in the group and also to stimulate interchanges of staff and of children in ways which serve an immediate purpose but do not necessarily call for permanent timetabling. Since much of the work will not be limited to a single subject or even to a single area of the curriculum, the year-group leader has in general terms a responsibility for ensuring continuity and progression both during the year and from year to year. If he is in charge of the first year, his responsibility might well include making contact with the contributory schools. If he is assigned to the fourth year, he will be concerned to secure consistency with the upper school.

The second co-ordinating role is that of consultant or leading teacher in charge of an area of the curriculum or of subjects within an area. If the leader of a humanities team were himself an English specialist, he would, no doubt, try to ensure that other members of the group took a special interest in history and religious education. Ideally, middle school staffs should include at least one teacher watching the interests of each subject. Conversely, each teacher should develop a specialism. In some instances the necessity for skilled help in particular areas of the curriculum may best be met by an advisory teacher - appointed to a number of schools. There may be some occasions when a teacher working part-time in a.n upper school could fulfil this role.

Especially in smaller schools, deputy heads or heads of department might combine the task of overseeing a year-group and of ensuring progress within an area of the curriculum. To have at least one teacher who undertook both responsibilities would reduce the possibility, particularly in 9-13 schools, that former secondary teachers would be appointed exclusively to curricular posts, former

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primary teachers to year-group posts. At the outset, to have these two types of posts, each justifiable in its own right, is likely to lead to a suitable balance of promotion for primary and for secondary teachers, and to the evolution of a new tradition. In time, with experience and in-service training, primary teachers will become fitted ill greater numbers for overseeing sequential curricular work up to 13, and secondary teachers for developing co-operation across one or two age-groups.

In stressing the importance of teachers leading year-group teams or curricular teams there is 110 implication that these are the only responsibilities for which posts above the basic scales would be awarded. Applications for conferences on middle schools suggest that the great majority of heads may be men: there is a strong case for a teacher, whether deputy head or not, who has a particular responsibility for the welfare of the girls. The circumstances of individual schools will suggest the need for other posts. In many areas, for example, there is a strong argument for a teacher who can give special guidance on work with retarded children and slow learners.


Just as there may be heads of departments or graded post holders guiding different types of team, so individual teachers also will belong to more than one kind. The age of the children concerned, the supply of teachers competent in a subject or area of the curriculum, and the policy of the school will determine the degree to which leadership or membership of a curricular team involves teaching an aspect of the curriculum in more than one class, either alongside the class teacher or by interchange of classes. The key considerations are the need to ensure that each child has enough contact with one or two teachers, and to keep within bounds the size of the team responsible for teaching a class or age-group. It is also important that children of differing levels of ability and maturity be given sufficient stimulus and guidance in the main areas of the curriculum, in the circumstances of the individual school.

An advantage of sub-dividing the staff into relatively small age-group and curricular teams is that part-time teachers and students can also be associated with these teams. As a result, the part-time teacher's contribution can be more readily integrated; the student can gain a broader view of the school than if he were associated either with a secondary head of department or a primary class teacher, and can himself be more useful. On occasions when teachers

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are working flexibly with an age-group or a section of it, the student's enthusiasm and special knowledge can also be made available to children.


There would be advantage too if the various sub-groups of the staff could rely on having some ancillary help each week. The extent to which this can be done will depend on the money available for it. But teachers could certainly use their trained skill to better effect if non-professional help were available for preparing ad hoc materials, if additional oral experience in a modern language could be provided by assistantes, if art and craft teachers were given assistance in preparing materials and maintaining tools and other equipment, if technical help was also provided for some scientific work and for servicing audio-visual equipment. Some skilled assistance would be invaluable to a teacher-librarian, responsible for keeping a central record of resources, both books and visual materials, only a small proportion of which would be housed centrally. Some of this ancillary help might be shared by a group of schools. The younger classes, especially in socially deprived neighbourhoods, would benefit from general purpose welfare assistants. Ancillary helpers would be likely to need some training; it would depend on their circumstances whether this should include training in the particular skills they were contributing to the schools; all would probably want help in understanding the general purposes of the schools and how they could best be served.

The colleges of education have for the most part, not unreasonably, been waiting for the middle schools to take shape before deciding what training would best fit their students to work in them. A number are, wisely, thinking in terms of "middle years" rather than simply "middle schools". But it is clear that the existing junior/secondary courses, designed as they were partly as an incentive to recruitment and partly to provide flexibility of staffing between junior and secondary schools, are not generally an appropriate training for teachers of children in the middle years. Intending teachers for middle schools need to be able to teach a broad age-band of children, chronologically from 8-13, but in fact ranging more widely in ability and maturity. Their study of child development should include a special emphasis on pre-pubescent and pubescent children and should introduce students to the complex differences between children of this age, which call for a high degree of individual and group work. If students are to be equal to the teaching demands likely to be made on them, they should be able to cover virtually the

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whole curriculum with the younger classes and in addition to specialise in the teaching of children up to the age of 13 over a broad area, say one-third, of the curriculum. The knowledge, skill and teaching aptitudes needed could be acquired through a well thought out combination of main subject-possibly itself a group subject and of curricular courses. Such courses would include content, treated at an adult level but chosen because of its relevance to children, and information about sources and teaching method.

As the number of middle schools increases - and there are changes also in work in the middle years - the problem of finding suitable practising schools will diminish somewhat. In the meantime, colleges could make use of experience, often communicated by film and video tape, of primary schools where teachers are working flexibly, and of secondary schools which are having some success in assigning responsibilities for blocks of work to a relatively small group of teachers in each of the younger classes. Students will of course need help in distinguishing - and teaching - subjects in which new learning rests upon former learning. Group practice, particularly in schools which are working flexibly, is an excellent introduction to cooperative teaching.

Much is said in Chapter VII and elsewhere about in-service training, both within the school, and as provided by various types of courses. As is said there, in-service training will be a continuing need. Middle schools are bound to make heavy demands both on newly-trained teachers and on those who come to them with primary and secondary experience. Valuable as is in-service training at the initiation of reorganisation, the needs of the schools are bound to clarify as they develop a tradition. Both now and in the future one particular objective of initial training, in-service training and of heads in their deployment of staff should be to guard against a stratification of staff which would make the middle school two schools within one, and perpetuate the present break between primary and secondary schools.

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Buildings and Equipment

Designs for schools have changed radically over recent years in ways that have reflected changes of practice initiated by teachers in existing buildings. In addition, as architects have become increasingly interested and involved in designing for the complicated range of activities that take place in schools, the provision made by them has encouraged still more inventive work by children and teachers. School buildings do not altogether pre-determine the way that a school functions, and it is well known that excellent work is done in some poor buildings. Nevertheless, a poorly designed building may hinder even the most determined teachers, whereas an imaginatively designed and equipped one can make a positive contribution to the day-to-day activities of the school community.

The Building Regulations of the Department of Education and Science lay down minimum standards for schools in such matters as the total teaching area, the number of lavatories and washbasins and the size of the site; there is a maximum amount of money that can be spent on a specific building. Minimum standards may be improved by as much as the maximum cost-limit will permit and, by skilful design, teaching areas may take up more than 60 per cent of the total area, and exceed the minimum required. In recent years, local education authorities' briefs to architects have gone into greater detail about how the school is to be organised and what activities are to take place within it, and have become less concerned with the exact number of spaces into which the available area is to be divided. This change of emphasis in the kind of information given to architects has resulted in outstanding improvements in the design of schools.

Many middle schools will have to occupy existing buildings. These may formerly have housed junior schools, secondary modern schools or even, originally, all-age schools. The modifications that can be made to these buildings will depend upon individual circumstances, though some general considerations will be mentioned later in this chapter.

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A variety of solutions to the problems that arise in designing purpose-built middle schools have already been put forward in the Department of Education and Science Building Bulletin No. 35, "New Problems in School Design: Middle Schools"; subsequent Regulations* have made marginal changes to some of the minimum standards on which it was based.

A school for 8-12-year-olds is likely to be a rather different place from one for 9-13-year-olds. This may result from tradition rather than reflecting children's potential. However, new 8-12 schools have a smaller allocation of space, at the minimum, and less money for building per child. It would be surprising if they could offer the same facilities as a 9-13 school.

The teaching area may be thought of as that part of the building which is ordinarily used by the children whilst engaged in learning activities. At the time of writing, for a proposed 8-12 school with 320 pupils, it must amount to a minimum of 8,400 square feet. Increases in this depend upon careful costing and skilful planning for which architects need information and co-operation from teachers: new arrangements of space require changes in traditional teaching practices, and some inconvenience may be necessary if greater over all advantages are to be gained.

The building has to allow for different ways of working as the children pass through the school, ways that have been discussed in detail elsewhere in this pamphlet. Groups of the youngest children are likely to spend most of their time with one teacher, whereas the oldest will meet more teachers and need easier access to more advanced equipment and facilities, at least in science and in art and crafts. In each age-group, there will often be many activities going on in a "classroom" simultaneously. But at other times, all the children will need to sit down together to discuss work, to listen to or talk with the teacher, to watch a film or television; "all" may mean 20 children, a class-group of perhaps 35, or a year-group of 70 or 80 or more. They will need sufficient seating, but seats against some walls and windows may form part of the provision. When a whole class worked often at their desks, full and comfortable arrangements for "sitting and writing" had to be made. If this happens rarely, as is likely now to be the case, a little discomfort on such occasions might be a small price to pay for a greater variety of working surfaces,

*Education, England and Wales: The Standards for School Premises (Middle Schools and Minor Amendments) Regulations 1969. No. 433. H.M.S.O.

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some of them for standing occupations. When there is to be a range of activities for a substantial part of the day, a decision will have to be taken about the kind of areas needed and the extent to which their use should be predetermined. Should a place be set aside for wet and dirty work, with a sink and easily washed floor and walls? Is a quiet reading area needed, a writing area, an area for mathematics, and another for science? Or would it be better to ask the architect to provide only those facilities that teachers would have difficulty in arranging for themselves, such as enclosed quiet areas, services, and special floor surfaces like those needed for some crafts? If this solution is adopted, larger uncommitted areas can be adapted by teachers, making use of room-dividing and other furniture.

Information will be needed about the extent to which classes within an age-group are likely to intermingle, and how teachers additional to the class teachers will be working among them. The advantage of arranging quiet areas as relatively small class bases, with a larger practical area shared between a number of classes, needs to be considered. When shared practical areas are provided, they may be used on a class basis, or by children from various classes. Perhaps each of the class teachers will share in supervision or, alternatively, an additional teacher might be the responsible person. Probably many kinds of sharing will take place, but the maximum number of children likely to be in the area at anyone time will be critical. Working surfaces will be needed for modelling clay and paper, and facilities for working with wood and other hard materials will be essential. Opportunities should be provided for carrying out experimental work involving weighing for cooking, or, to a considerable degree of accuracy, for scientific work. What heat sources should be available? For the youngest children, a thermostatically controlled, enclosed electric element might be best, though the older children need access to gas for cooking and handicraft. Many 8-year-olds use transformed mains for their electric cars and trains, but dry batteries would be a more portable and simple way of providing a low voltage electricity supply. Facilities are required for growing plants and tending livestock-water life, insects, reptiles, mammals. Other activities, apart from physical education, will sometimes best be done outside the building. Access to the grounds is therefore important. Areas under cover and sheltered from the wind, but otherwise open, can be an invaluable addition to working space and can help solve the problem of noise.

The architect needs to know what links there might be between one year-group and another. In small schools there might be a consider-

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able inter-mixture, but in those near to the optimum size, age-groups will probably be largely self-contained, though it has already been suggested that the second and third year children might be more intimately connected, and the fourth year separated off as looking forward to the next school. In some sections of the curriculum, the work might cut across more than two age-groups and gain from having mixed age groupings. The architect will need to know how far he should make provision for these arrangements, and which are most desirable.

The view has been expressed that, towards the upper end of the 8-12 school, the children might benefit from meeting three or four teachers--or, in a 9-13 school, five or six. The way the work is shared among them, and the facilities that they each require are of direct relevance to the architect. Decisions on these matters will affect the extent to which the character of the practical areas should be pre-determined. It may, in a small school, be desirable to fit, say, the third year shared areas as a science, mathematics, geography space and the fourth year area as an art and crafts space, each to be used by at least two year-groups. The former will contain some quite elaborate and even delicate equipment for the older gifted children, equipment that will need careful siting and storage if it is to be kept safely in an area that is widely used. The art and crafts area will need to provide an opportunity for activities which produce a fair amount of dust. Some small fixed power tools, like drills and grinders, will certainly be required and there is likely to be a use, in a 9-13 school, for a brazing hearth and even a lathe. Additional facilities, such as a pug-mill for preparing clay, will help in economical use of materials. Activities such as these may not be the best companions for cookery and needlecraft, and so it must be asked whether the architect should plan a separate space for these two activities. If he does, the effect may be to isolate them and the room may be under-employed. The cookers may be better used if dispersed. There may be good educational reasons for separating needlecraft from cookery, and linking it more firmly to the arts. All practical areas ought to provide opportunities for teachers to try out work they wish to introduce. Storage space will be of vital importance throughout the school, but particularly in shared areas, for half-finished work as well as the more common supplies, equipment temporarily out of use and teachers' records. Places will be needed for the display of children's work and for objects and pictures that might interest them and be of aesthetic value.

It has to be decided whether a main library should be centrally sited, or, more likely, whether it would be useful to have a small central

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collection of the expensive books, with the rest dispersed. Ways of achieving accessibility to the necessary range of books need to be sought. Any that are dispersed need to be made available to children throughout the school. If they are kept in discussion areas, access may be difficult; a quiet reading area as part of the shared space might be preferable. Certainly some books should be in practical areas, available for immediate consultation. A central index of books and audio-visual aids, and their whereabouts, is essential. Audiovisual equipment will be needed for the teaching of a foreign language as well as to support other aspects of the work-not least that in English. It will be an advantage if as much as possible is relatively small and portable, and simple enough for children to operate for themselves.

If a space is needed which will hold all of the children at once for an assembly, it will have to be decided for what other purposes it can be used, and whether these require that it should be larger than for assembly alone. Physical education includes gymnastics, dance, and expressive movement as indoor activities. The hall must be high enough; it needs suitable large apparatus such as that for climbing and balancing, and an appropriate floor; if ball games are to be played, the windows and fittings must be safe. Showers and changing rooms are highly desirable, but their number and disposition might be affected by the extent to which boys and girls work together. A store for apparatus needs to be handy, and it would be an advantage if it could be linked to an outside store as well. If the hall must be used for dining purposes, then additional storage space will be needed for dining furniture; it also follows that the kitchen should be nearby, and sound insulation becomes important. But perhaps acceptable alternatives for dining can be found, possibly by using a number of smaller places.

In an 8-12 school for 312 pupils there may be between eight and ten groups using the hall. Assuming 40 "hall" periods a week - though these will be short when children have to change and shower - then each group might have four or five. Perhaps two of these periods could be reserved for the gymnastic aspects of physical education, and the other two or three for dance, drama and music. But the hall is not the best kind of space for much of the work in the last two of these subjects, and the school may require provision for the tuition and rehearsal of instrumental and choral groups containing as many as 35 children. Accommodation with an intimate atmosphere, good acoustics and a ready access to equipment - a piano and other instruments as well as the various devices for reproducing music - is desirable.

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Such a room could also be used for other aspects of the curriculum, especially those involving audio-visual aids. When instrumental instruction is given to individuals or small groups of pupils, possibly by visiting teachers, it is wasteful to use a space as large as the hall, or even a classroom; acoustically treated practice rooms can also serve for small tutorial groups if they are made a little larger than is required for instrumental work alone. In existing junior schools some of the best work with younger pupils involving experiment with rhythm and pitch is done in classrooms or in the shared spaces outside them.

Since cost-limits are similar, a middle school for 280 pupils between 9 and 13 years of age will be very little different in size from the one for 312 8-l2-year-olds already considered. However, since there are 10 per cent fewer pupils, a greater variety of facilities can be included, and it will be easier to provide, for example, the music space described in the previous paragraph.

Middle schools of other sizes will certainly occur, some smaller, more larger. In order not to predetermine organisation, it may be preferable to describe the size of the school either by the total number of pupils that it is expected to take, or by the number entering each year. Schools with provision for four year-groups and an intake of 117 8-year-olds or 105 9-year-olds would have appropriately larger teaching areas than the schools already described. This may present the opportunity for - and require the provision of - more varied spaces; if 12 different groups of pupils are to use the hall for physical education including expressive movement for three periods each week, an additional space for music and drama will be essential.

If it is right that the provision for the older pupils in 8-12 schools should include areas with a more definite bias towards specific aspects of the curriculum than those for the youngest, then the argument must carry still more weight in 9-13 schools. But staffing and specialised spaces may produce an excessive tendency towards specialisation, and perhaps the building should provide some counter-balance encouraging a broader blocking of the curriculum. In practice this could mean, for example, that an area with a wide range of opportunities for experimenting in scientific, mathematical and geographical fields might be linked via facilities for cookery to another equipped for art and crafts including the use of fabrics and metal. The areas are likely to be more easily supervised if they are open and adjacent to those intended for discussion, reading and

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writing. This is not to say that incidental supervision will be sufficient where potentially dangerous tools and equipment are being used. The problems of sound interference will need careful consideration.


When middle schools are to be established in existing buildings, the modifications that are made may vary very much in individual instances. Former primary school buildings are unlikely to provide enough scope for the investigation of how materials behave from either a scientific or craft point of view. Nor are the buildings likely to be well equipped for gymnastics, for techniques used in homemaking or, indeed, for music and drama. The extent to which deficiencies can be put right by additional building may be limited, and choices will have to be made. Other deficiencies will have to be overcome by re-furnishing and equipping the existing building. Furniture, such as cupboards with backs that can be used for display and can act as room-dividers, varieties of tables and types of seating, may all find a place. Decisions about what is necessary can only be made in the light of the needs of a particular school; Building Bulletin No. 35 suggests a number of possibilities.

In former secondary schools, the problem may often be one of recasting existing spaces rather than adding new ones. Some specialist areas such as science laboratories, craft shops and home economics suites will prove too restrictive as equipped at present. Rows of fixed benches with stools, a multiplicity of cookers and washing machines and an extensive range of power tools will be out of place for children in middle schools. Perhaps some of these large spaces once used for practical work could be re-fitted to provide good general purpose classrooms for the younger children whilst the smaller classrooms are re-arranged for the quieter, sedentary aspects of the work or, with additional inter-connections, to serve as practical areas.

Local authorities may find it essential, for financial reasons, to make the changes over a period of time. However, this does not mean that the situation after re-organisation will be worse than before. Although in some areas children in the 11-13 year age-range may no longer have access to a full range of secondary school facilities, they will enjoy social and other advantages that come from being at the top of the school. At an earlier age they have had more opportunities than would have been open to them before reorganisation.

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Many of the questions that have been raised in this chapter demand architectural solutions that are outside the professional competence of educators. However, these solutions depend on prior educational choices that need to be made within the limits of possibility. As with any other form of school building, the best provision is likely to be made where architects, teachers and the local education authority work together to determine priorities and preferences. Like most enterprises, a school building results from a careful balancing of a number of sometimes opposing requirements. The fact that schools with familiar age-ranges of pupils are changing rapidly, and that middle schools have hardly begun to establish the particular principles by which they will work, suggests that many ways of operating should be left open. Nevertheless, some decisions must be taken, and the better informed the architect can be about the educators' intentions, the more likely he is to provide adequately for them.

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Preparing for Middle Schools

The establishment of middle schools in an area affects the organisation of all existing schools that take children of compulsory age. Infant schools will retain children who would previously have left them at 7. Combined junior and infant schools may send children forward earlier than previously. Some junior and some secondary schools may take in and pass on children at ages which are novel to them. Other secondary schools will have to shorten their courses by one or two years at the younger end. Most former secondary schools will have to educate pupils of a wider ability range than they have known. Such radical changes must require a considerable re-deployment of teachers, and a willingness on their part to accept change and to prepare for it. Many of them will have to meet new demands on their skill. They may have to teach to a higher level than they did, or to spread their efforts across aspects of the curriculum with which they are not very familiar. They may be asked to work in schools that are organised in new ways and in which their roles are markedly different. If they are head teachers or senior members of staff they may need to establish organisational forms that are untried because they are, in the maintained system at least, for new and untried groupings of pupils and even new types of buildings. Old problems, like continuity between one school and the next, take on more obvious forms. No matter how sympathetic they are to the changes proposed, many teachers will experience some apprehension and feel a need for reassurance. Parents too may be uncertain what the future holds for their children.


Clearly, where middle schools are being introduced, there is an inescapable obligation to prepare all those concerned. The agencies responsible for making preparations are many. The Department of Education and Science, either directly or through H.M. Inspectors, and the local education authorities are both concerned with ensuring that adequate provision is made, human and material, and that due consideration is given to the curriculum and organisation of the

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schools; the Schools Council and the teachers directly involved are vitally interested in the establishment of suitable curricula and organisation and the wherewithal to operate them. Colleges of education and area training organisations are also participants. Parents, though they will usually playa more passive role, may make a contribution through associations to which they belong. In some areas they have already been helped by the issue of booklets explaining the changes that are to take place, and by early direct contact with the local education authority representatives, heads-designate and others.

Many courses and conferences for teachers, members of staffs of local authorities, colleges of education and university departments of education have been arranged by the Department of Education and Science and the Schools Council over the last few years. Applications for these have exceeded the number of places, and each year the Department of Education and Science short course programme in this field has been increased. Middle schools will vary in the age-range and in the number of children they take. Centrally arranged courses must deal with more general issues and implications, though their applications to specific problems are also discussed. Conferences have been particular interested in the characteristics of children between 8 and 13 years of age, in the curriculum required, in the way that children, teachers and facilities might best be employed, and in the schools as part of the wider educational system and the community. Courses have looked more closely at the curriculum and its content, drawing upon existing good practices with children in the age-group but looking forward to possible developments arising from the way that the schools might be organised so as best to provide for the children in them.

Courses and conferences of this kind make it possible for teachers from widely different backgrounds to compare views and to learn what is happening in areas of England and Wales that are unfamiliar to them. Over all, care is taken to ensure that teachers and others from each part of the country have the opportunity to attend and most local authorities that aim to introduce middle schools have been represented. Many of the courses have taken the "middle years" as their remit, so that teachers who work in areas where the transfer age will remain at 11 have also been accepted.

A substantial number of the people who have attended national courses have later played leading roles in similar courses in their own areas either for a particular local education authority or for a

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group of authorities. Courses such as these have usually post dated much other preparatory work leading to the reorganisation scheme being accepted by both the local education authority and the Department of Education and Science.


In some areas, this earlier work has taken as long as two or three years. Teachers' associations and other interested groups have been consulted and, in some areas, every teacher has been asked to submit his views about possible re-organisation arrangements by completing questionnaires. In at least one rural county, the Chief Education Officer or one of his senior members of staff attended parent-teacher meetings in each group of schools to discuss the variety of forms that re-organisation might take. Only after that had been done did his Committee decide upon a course of action that would lead to the establishment of a middle school system. Authorities have had to take careful stock of their existing buildings and teaching strengths, of the geographical distribution and rate of growth of their population. In many instances they have had to bear in mind the plans of neighbouring authorities and the existence, within their own area, of schools not directly under their control.

Generally, teachers and parents are most at ease when they feel themselves to be well informed, when authorities give details of the timing of their schemes as soon as they can be determined. Parents like to know the extent to which schools will have fixed catchment areas, how far they will be allowed to choose between schools, the distance that their children will have to travel and whether, when transport is to be provided, it will be limited to those living more than three miles away, or whether concessions can be made for special local conditions, as they sometimes are. They need to be informed about the expected advantages that have led to the adoption of the proposals-the chance for younger children to use better facilities and to have contact with a wider range of teachers, and the avoidance of selection at 11. They like to be told about how the schools are to be staffed and about the range of the curriculum, to be assured that success in later public examinations will not be jeopardised and that the transfer from first to middle and from middle schools to upper schools will be smooth. They will most easily accept the assurances if they are given specific reasons for doing so.

Teachers and parents are interested in which schools will have to be closed, which extended and what part each school will play in the

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new arrangements. Teachers, heads and others, rightly want to be consulted about how their re-deployment is to be arranged and to be reassured about their continuing employment within a reasonable distance of their homes. They want to know whether their salaries will be safeguarded and whether they will retain their former level of responsibility. No matter how explicitly this is done, some feeling of insecurity often remains. It is worse when it is fed by needless uncertainty.

Communications are notoriously difficult, but authorities have used a wide range of media to make their plans better known: letters, circulars, the local press, meetings of parents, teachers, governors, managers, councillors, women's institutes, church groups, rotary clubs and other interested groups. In at least one area local radio stations have also helped to disseminate information.


Undoubtedly, one way of helping teachers to feel more sure of their role is to give them the opportunity to shape it. For this and for the sound reason that they are the people who will operate the schools, many authorities have set up working parties of teachers, often supported by advice from local organisers and inspectors, to consider various facets of the schools to be. Those who are not members of the working parties have, in some areas, been invited to contribute written comments, and working party papers have been circulated to all teachers likely to be interested in the matters under discussion, so ensuring as far as possible that all feel involved. Obviously it would not be sensible to do this on a large scale where re-organisation is still many years away, but even where that is so, some decisions may already be being taken that will influence the nature of the future schools.

Many schemes rely on the provision of some new buildings and almost all require adaptation to those already existing. Work of this kind is a long time in the planning and architects deserve to be well appraised of their clients' needs if they are to meet them. But the needs arise from the ways that the teachers and children work, and what they do, so consideration must be given to this very early on. The Building Bulletins issued by the Department of Education and Science are intended, like this pamphlet, to contribute to local discussion, not to replace it.

Working parties are meeting in many districts to consider the ways in which the schools might be organised internally. It would be foreign to our traditions to lay down rules about this organisation,

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but well conducted discussion can lead to a clarification of ideas and to an appreciation of advantage and disadvantage that teachers might not so easily apprehend in isolation. These working parties commonly include teachers who expect to teach in middle schools, as well as other educationists such as local advisers and lecturers in colleges of education. They are, in the main, inward looking groups examining the likely work of the schools to discover how they might be staffed; what range of attributes the teachers will require; what structure of senior posts might be appropriate; where part-time or peripatetic teachers could be used most effectively; how far teachers might work co-operatively, how far alone; how the children might be grouped and their different ages and abilities catered for; what kind of spaces would most suit the work to be done; how resources can be shared equitably, and what they should include; how parents might be encouraged to express their interest in the school and be kept informed of its work and their children's progress. Parallel committees give special thought to first and upper schools.

Other working parties perform different functions. They usually include teachers from each of the stages - first, middle and upper - and they have also benefited from having lecturers from local colleges of education among their membership, both because of the contribution that the lecturers can make and because it is vital that colleges should be closely in touch with the developments that are being proposed. They may examine aspects of the curriculum in which they are particularly interested. They may identify the need for courses and help in their organisation. Their main work is to draw together ideas about what teaching methods and material are likely to be most useful, to consider the possible content of the work, to advise the local education authority about the facilities and equipment that will be needed if justice is to be done in a particular field, and to discuss ways in which continuity might be achieved within schools and between them, without, of course, usurping the rights of individual establishments. Many working parties of this kind, especially but not only those engaged in science, mathematics, art and craft, movement and drama, engage in practical work themselves and encourage developmental work with existing classes of children in the age range. Obviously it is sensible for the various working parties in a locality to pull in the same direction, or at least to be knowledgeable about what others are doing. Local education authority advisers, heads and other senior teachers may help through cross-membership of working parties, and the production and distribution of working papers can give point to discussion and make cross-reference easier.

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Those working parties that are fortunate enough to have a teachers' centre available to them will continue to be at an advantage. There is little prospect that the need for working groups of teachers will disappear, for the need for curriculum change will continue as practice, increased knowledge about the way children learn, and social changes suggest modifications of theory.


In a number of local education authorities it has been made possible for heads and assistant teachers in existing primary and secondary schools to exchange visits so that they can learn more about each other's practices. Indeed, some teachers have exchanged posts for weeks, a term or even a year.


The time that re-organisation takes may have an effect on the balance of staffing, possibly for some time after the final age-groupings are achieved. In such varying circumstances it is not surprising that plans for staffing the schools differ widely from authority to authority. In some places, all heads and teachers are being asked to express a preference for the type of school they would like to work in. The appointments of heads to the new schools is made at least a year in advance of their opening; deputy headships and other senior posts are filled two terms or more in advance and the rest of the appointments are mace as quickly as possible thereafter. This has enabled designated staff to meet; in some compact county boroughs they have met regularly in the evenings, and in other more scattered areas for at least one residential week-end at a county centre. These meetings have enabled plans for the organisation and curriculum of the individual school to be worked out in some detail. At the other extreme, where the change to new age-groupings is to be phased over several years there may be very little movement of staff from one school to another when the first changes take place.

Each situation has its advantages and disadvantages. In the first, there is an opportunity to strike an immediate balance between the teachers accustomed to younger children and those whose work has been with the older, and to meet the staffing demands of the various aspects of the curriculum. It is a disadvantage at the time of changeover that some children may have to change schools more often than subsequently will be necessary. The second leaves established teams relatively intact, modifying and becoming better balanced for their new roles by the normal process of staffing change. On the other hand these schools are likely to have to concern themselves with a diminishing number of older pupils, some of whom may still be

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working towards CSE or even GCE 'O' level examinations, and there is a greater possibility that established patterns of work will persist for longer than is appropriate.

Neither approach altogether prevents a feeling of uncertainty among some teachers. The first because people are unsure for a time which school they will be working in-perhaps even which type of school. The second because no matter how well established the team is, the demands upon it are bound to change.

Individual schools will be able to get off to a more purposeful start when the staff can meet, begin to accommodate their individual requirements and to lay plans for what they are going to do, at least in the first stages. It is a help if governing or managing bodies are established early and can identify themselves with the interests of the school. It is also important that initial capitation allowances and maintenance allowances should be adequate to the circumstances of new types of school. Heads and assistants cannot know at the outset what equipment they will need. There is much to be said for allowing the initial allowance to be spent over a two-year period.

The need for staff meetings will continue in middle schools after their establishment just as they do in all other kinds of schools. They will be of particular importance in the early stages and the children may gain if the school day is occasionally contracted to allow more extensive discussion and preparation than would otherwise be possible. Where a new building is being opened or a marked change of staff and equipment being made, the admission of the children might well be delayed for a few days, even a week, to ensure a clean, business-like beginning to their first day in the school.


In some areas individual middle schools or groups of middle schools are being set up in advance of the general change-over. These schools are likely to be under exceptional pressure. They will have little experience to draw upon and yet have more than anyone else. Just when their efforts need to be concentrated upon establishing their own modes of operation, people with every kind of educational interest, administrators, advisers, architects, colleges of education lecturers, inspectors, organisers, teachers and others will want to know what problems are being met and how they are being tackled. It is hoped that the head teachers and assistants are given time to work out solutions and are not exhausted in explanations, inside the school and outside, of what they are trying to do.

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The morale of most of those coming to middle school courses and conferences has been high. They have been stimulated by the prospect of playing a positive role in the establishment of something new. Provided that teachers continue to be as thoughtful and self-critical once the schools have been set up as they have shown themselves to be during the period of planning, the prospects for success are good.

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Some Further Problems

Those who plan and those who work in middle schools will frequently find themselves having to strike a balance between opposing claims. Many of these points of decision have already been touched on, but a few need additional emphasis and some, not so far introduced, require mention.


A serious weakness in the present educational system is the lack of continuity in successive stages of schooling and, in particular, between primary and secondary education. But, intractable as this problem has been, there are many examples of good practice which, applied more generally, could result in a satisfactory measure of continuity. Success will become all the more important when children are transferred to their final school at a later stage than at present.

Much emphasis has been placed on the need for teachers to take into account individual differences between children. To do so demands an intimate knowledge of children, adequately recorded. Re-organisation provides an occasion for a review, by working parties representing all stages of education, of the methods used in passing on information about children from teacher to teacher, from school to school, and from school to parent. The first schools, like infant schools, are well placed for obtaining background information about children, both from parents and from medical and social workers. When this information is of continuing relevance to the child's education, it should be passed on to - and kept up to date by - middle schools and upper schools. Information about the skills, concepts and knowledge acquired by children is also essential. Some of this information can be convincingly conveyed by example of children's best work and a note of the circumstances in which it was done. Parents can often throw light on children's interests. The main concern of records will be to show the progress made by an individual, rather than to compare one child with another. Nevertheless, there are occasions when parents have a right to know how

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their children stand in comparison with the average. There are also times when teachers can profitably check their impressions of children's ability and attainment by the use of standardised tests, which provide an age allowance. There is a case for passing on these results, particularly when they suggest that, whether because of circumstances at home or at school, children are achieving less than their potential. When upper schools have to make decisions about children's courses or about setting shortly after transfer, it may be valuable for middle and upper schools to collaborate in devising tests which children can work in the familiar atmosphere of the middle school.

A major problem of records is to make them full enough to be meaningful, but not so full that those who receive them do not assimilate their contents. It is also important that teachers-and schools-should realise that children respond differently to different situations. A change of school can give children.who, for one reason or another, have adopted uncooperative attitudes, a new start. It can be prejudiced by expectation of difficulty on the part of teachers: optimism is especially helpful to those children whose progress has hitherto been chequered. Information about children's progress should be two-way. It is helpful for the first or middle school to know how children respond to the next stage and whether information passed on has proved useful. Written information is always more valuable when those who write are well-known to those who read.

Most children take a change of school in their stride and accept it as evidence that they are growing up. But all need the reassurance of knowing what to expect, even though the eight or nine-year-old will usually be more confident than the seven-year-old. At present it is common for' secondary schools to take in children from many primary schools. Each primary school may send children to two, three or more secondary schools. Re-organisation will often result in far fewer schools being related in this way and it will become easier to ensure introductions for children to their new schools and contacts between teachers. In other schemes, parental choice will increase the diversity of schools which children go to and come from. When the educational route is fairly clearly defined, staffing arrangements that cut across transfer ages could lead to occasional ventures involving children from two stages of schooling. These might include musical and dramatic performances, school visits, displays of work and other similar activities. There is also a case for centralising art exhibitions and performances by visiting drama companies and groups of musicians.

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These arrangements will help, among other things, to prepare younger children for transfer. Even so they will not be enough in themselves to make children feel easy about transfer. In some areas, heads or heads of first year age-groups in middle and upper schools visit children in their contributory schools and see parents there. This may provide an occasion for compiling a record and for inviting children and parents to visit the next school. A conducted tour in which older pupils play a part is a useful and well-tried device. Some schools stagger admissions at the later stages of schooling as well as when children first come to school, so that newcomers may have sufficient attention given to them. Children are often helped to settle down, especially when they come from small schools to large schools, if there are pupils whom they know in their new classes. Much also depends on what happens in the first few weeks in the new school. Some schools begin the year rather formally and work up to informality. But there is much to be said for an informal beginning of term, for out-of-schools visits and optional activities. In this situation it is easier for teachers and children to get to know one another and new friendships to form among children.

Most important of all is the maintenance of contact between teachers in successive schools. Working parties on reorganisation and on the implications of the early introduction into the curriculum of subjects such as a foreign language and science have already helped to reduce isolation. Such groups, whether they are concerned with general problems of transfer or with aspects of the curriculum, will need to remain in being. But conferences do not get far unless they are based on direct knowledge, and it will not be sufficient for this knowledge to be confined to exceptional instances such as when teachers work regularly in upper and middle schools. All teachers who spend substantial periods of time with children on either side of breaks in the educational system ought to have some opportunities for visiting contributory or receiving schools. When possible these visits should include some teaching or other work with children. First schools are likely to increase in confidence when they have a longer period in which to establish the basic skills of the younger children. Though it will be important to ensure sufficient challenge for the ablest children, former infant schools will be helped by their long tradition of individual work. Middle schools may at first find it relatively easy to give attention to problems of transfer because teachers will be conscious that children on either side of the transfer age were until recently - and in many places will still be - contained in a single school. There they will be working through periods of fairly regular development rather than meeting radical changes of

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practice. But middle schools may be under pressure from upper schools, anxious about the beginning of examination courses and rightly concerned to know about the curriculum that has been followed and how far pupils have progressed in its various parts. The upper schools will be on weak ground if they expect the extension of examination courses into the middle schools or seek to establish minimum standards. These can only be meaningless for the great majority of children who ought to do far better than the minimum, and may lead to attempts to get those who might fall below them to repeat correct replies without sufficient understanding.

Above all the teachers in a group of schools should have opportunities of discussing the work at each stage knowledgeably and without competitiveness. Often it will be desirable to arrange meetings between teachers concerned with particular aspects of the curriculum so that their content and method can be thoroughly considered. The need for co-operation between schools in each phase is as great as that between phases. The establishment of a common policy must be achieved by a patient working out of a consensus rather than by dictation from "above" or stubborn individualism from "below". Clearly it is essential to have agreement on such broad issues as the languages children study or the arts they are introduced to, so as to ensure that they will have an opportunity of going further at a later stage.


At moments of tension, when children change schools, they stand in particular need of parental support. Parents who have chosen their children's schools seem especially likely to take an interest in them. On the other hand, when most children within an area transfer to the same schools, it is somewhat easier to provide regular machinery for getting in touch with parents and for passing on the goodwill that first schools have often gained. At present there is frequently a slackening of parental interest during what will be the older years of middle schooling. Those parents who do not aspire to a lengthy education for their children may lose interest even earlier. The content of school work becomes increasingly difficult for parents to follow. Boys often take their cues from their fathers: if their fathers place small value on education, boys may, in effect, contract out of school as early as 10 or 11.

Hitherto many parents have taken a special interest in schooling at 11 when allocation occurred, and at 13 or 14 when choices are often made which substantially affect career prospects. Though middle schools are less likely to be directly involved in the allocation of

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children to markedly different types of upper school, the options chosen by children in the upper school may be closely related to their success in the middle schools. This will be an incentive to parents to maintain contact with middle schools, even though a longer journey than to the first school may be necessary. Schools are under an obligation to make visits easy both for these parents and for those who would otherwise show little concern.

It has already been suggested that an initial contact, especially in rural areas, might be made on the familiar ground of the first school. Similarly, middle schools might invite parents to meet heads and teachers of upper schools at an open day in the summer term of the year before children transfer. Whenever possible, open days should be repeated in the evening so that fathers and working mothers can attend. Such contacts would be preliminary to occasions when parents take children to see their new schools. Throughout the middle school opportunities should be arranged for parents to hear how children are getting on. At this stage, as at others, regular appointments for parents with class teachers are desirable, as well as times when parents can visit the school if special problems arise. Parents can also give much support to their children if they understand, in fairly general terms, what schools are striving to do. Some middle schools are producing prospectuses which describe the objectives and curricula of the schools and explain how parents can get in touch. In other districts, the local authority provides a general educational guide, supplemented by notes on individual schools. Some parents learn best about schools when they visit them to give some help. There will be many instances when the specialist knowledge of parents can supplement that of the staff in meeting the wide range of interests and ability in a middJe school. Occasions ought also to be sought when parents who might otherwise stay away can be invited to help the school in some practical way. The informal discussion that can arise when parents are making equipment for a school is often more useful than a formal talk or demonstration.

Most parents wish their children to be given homework, but many primary teachers have been hesitant about it because homework has often been a synonym for coaching for the allocation examination. Though homework in the middle school may at times take the form of practising skills and applying concepts learnt at school, it might frequently involve collecting information and materials related to enquiries based on children's interests. Parents' co-operation might be sought in encouraging children to use local libraries, museums and art galleries, and to visit other places of interest.

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Schools are - or should be - a part of their community. There is much still to be learnt about the ways in which relationships with the community can best be developed from the school's side. The furnishing of first schools often makes them unsuitable for community use. Upper schools may be heavily used for adolescents who want a place for themselves, where their values rather than those of adults are dominant. Middle schools may be well suited for community use, especially if some special provision is included in the building. The upshot may be to 'increase the support given by the community to the school, both in general terms and in extending the school's material resources, and the range of specialist knowledge available to it, under the teachers' control. Parents and members of the community may be particularly helpful in assisting with out-of-school activities. Such activities might include residential visits to other parts of the country, since this is a stage when most children are ready for weaning from home.

Governors are an official body concerned with linking the school and the community. They may well become more important if larger units of local government are established. Although it is an advantage for each school to have its own governing body, some overlap in the membership of governing bodies could contribute to closer association between the various stages of schooling in a district.

Most of the problems that arise when middle schools are set up are familiar ones. Some take on a new urgency, others become less important. Perhaps the greatest advantage that can come from these new schools is the stimulus they can provide for looking afresh at old problems, though this gain could be lost if the bandying about of a new and fashionable vocabulary were accepted as tantamount to a solution of problems. Part of the role of education is to transmit to children the best of the past, but it must also fit them for a future which is as yet unshaped. No single organisational device can achieve such goals, but changes in organisation can certainly lead to fresh thought about fundamental questions and to a more thorough evaluation of the success with which they are being answered.

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1. Schemes for Middle Schools Approved by the Department of Education and Science, under Circular 10/65 or Circular 10/70.

Circular 10/70, which withdrew Circular 10/65, indicated that "Authorities which have had reorganisation plans approved by the Department may either proceed to operate them unchanged or notify the Department of their wish to modify them."

(a) Whole of Area
Bedfordshire 9-13
Birkenhead 8-12
Canterbury 9-13
Chester 8-12
Dewsbury *8-12
Doncaster 9-13
Exeter *8-12
Great Yarmouth 9-13
Grimsby 8-12
Hastings 8-12
Isle of Wight 9-13
Kingston upon Hull 9-13
Lincolnshire, Holland 9-13
Lincoln 8-12
Merton 9-13
Northampton 9-13
Northumberland 9-13
Norwich 8-12
Oxford 9-13
Portsmouth 8-12
Rochdale 10-13
Sheffield 8-12
Southampton *8-12
Stoke-on-Trent 8-12
Suffolk West 9-13
Wallasey 9-13
Wigan 10-13
York 9-13
(b) Part of Area
Bradford 9-13
Cumberland 10-13
Dorset 9-13, 8-12
Hampshire *8-12
Herefordshire 9-13
Hertfordshire 9-13
Kent 9-13
Lancashire 9-13
Leeds 9-13
Leicestershire 10-14
Northamptonshire 9-13, 10-13
Shropshire 9-13
Somerset 9-13
Suffolk East 9-13
Surrey 9-13, 8-12
Sussex East 9-13
Sussex West 8-12, 9-13, 10-13
Warwickshire 8-12
Worcestershire 8-12, 9-13
Yorkshire East Riding 9-13
Yorkshire West Riding 8-12, 9-13, 10-13

*Allied with Sixth Form Colleges.

2. Authorities with schemes under consideration

(Circular 10/70 indicated that "those with plans currently lodged with the Department are invited to say whether they wish to have them further considered or to withdraw them.")

(a) Whole of Area
Brighton 8-12
Halifax 8-12
Leeds 9-13
(b) Part of Area
Surrey 8-12

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3. (i) Authorities with Middle Schools already open

Bradford (1 school) 9-13
Hertfordshire (1 school) 9-13
Kingston upon Hull (whole scheme) 9-13
Merton (whole scheme) 9-13
Northumberland (Wallsend Excepted District, Cramlington and Seaton Delaval) 9-13
Sheffield (18 schools) 8-12
Surrey (3 schools) 8-12, (2 schools) 9-13
Sussex West (1 school) 9-13
Worcestershire (Droitwich and Bromsgrove) 9-13
Yorkshire West Riding (18 schools) 9-13

(ii) Authorities with Middle Schools expected to open in September 1970

Birkenhead 8-12
Dorset 9-13
Kent 9-13
Northumberland (Longbenton) 9-13
Rochdale 10-13
Sheffield (rest of scheme) 8-12
Somerset 9-13
Southampton 8-12
Stoke-on-Trent 8-12
West Riding (Castleford) 8-12
West Suffolk 9-13
West Sussex 9-13
Wallasey 9-13

The above information represents the position in July 1970.

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Timetables for Middle Schools

The following timetables for 8-12 and 9-13 middle schools are purely theoretical. In any given case, a timetable would depend on the educational judgements of the head and staff, the number of the staff, their qualifications and interests, the buildings available and, above all, the children for whom they are intended. The purpose of these timetables is simply to sharpen discussion by illustrating some of the choices that may have to be made, and by showing what generalisations might amount to in practice.

They are based on staffing ratios - not necessarily the most favourable - that some authorities are proposing.

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A. Assumptions

1. Buildings and Premises

8 classrooms, hall and centre for crafts with division room, such as examples 9 or 12 in Building Bulletin 35: Middle Schools.

2. Pupils

8 classes of 39 (maximum).

3. Staff

Ratio 1:28.5, including the headmaster.
Not in charge of the class:
Headmaster (hm)
Art/craft specialist (j) or 2 half-time specialists, each with a different bias.
Music specialist (m)
French specialist (Fr), half-time In charge of class:
7 full-time (a-h but excluding f); 1 part-time (f).
Of these:
e teaches French to additional classes
a and h do the same with S (science, maths, geography)
does the same with E (English, history, RE) and PE
b does the same with PE
Classes C or D could also be in the charge of part-time teachers.

B. Gloss

1. General

(i) Most of the letters used have obvious meanings:

M = music
E = English, history and RE
S = science, maths and geography
A = half groups for art/craft

(ii) The class pairs AB and CD could be interchanged as far as age groupings are concerned.

(iii) The headmaster has been timetabled once only. In addition he would be expected to teach for 2! hours in each of classes E and F to allow for tutorial

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divisions. Other classes have at least 7 tutorial divisions each week firmly timetabled. More flexibility could be obtained by combining teaching strength across each age-group.

(iv) Classes E F G H could be linked for subjects Sand/or R to allow setting, but this has not been worked out in the timetables.

(v) Classes G and H could be linked for E and S. This would give the advantage of setting where required, but prevent teacher specialisation.

(vi) Each day begins with 20 minutes private study, not shown, supervised by the class teacher. Teachers m, Fr and j would be free.

2. French

(i) The part-time French specialist could go to another school in the afternoons if free to do so.

(ii) The third year classes could be set, and so could the fourth year.

(iii) If the first year classes do not do French, it need not be timetabled for Class E.

3. PE/Games

(i) Sexes could be separated for most activities in the third and fourth years if wished.

(ii) Each class has a minimum of 2 periods (1 hour) a week in the hall. All hall periods, except one, for classes E G H could be taken by (g).

4. Music

(i) The hall is available for all of the periods allocated to this subject, if required.

(ii) The musician has 2 hours free of a class when small groups could be taken for instrumental work, in addition to the 5 X 20 minutes private study periods.

5. Art/Craft

This timetable assumes a light craft/art combination. Classes G and H could be divided 20/19, each group having

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2 hours (1 from E and 1 from S) in the centre. Other divisions are also possible, working on a monthly, termly etc. cycle. In all other classes the specialist and the class teacher (sometimes with a third teacher) work in partnership for 2 hours each week; each of the classes would have some provision for art and craft in their own rooms, and the first year pupils would probably make little use of the centre.

6. Drama

The hall is available for 4 hours each week.

7. Time Analysis

Each child could have the same time division, though there is the possibility of greater flexibility for all except classes G and H.

Half Periods
English, history and RE12 ) including some
Science, maths and geography12 ) art and craft
Art/craft4 with specialist
40 half periods

5 x 20 minutes private study not shown on timetable (9.20-9.40 a.m.)

5 x 15 minutes assembly

40 X 30 minutes half periods timetabled (except that 20 minute French lessons would be sufficient for the younger children)

Class teachers have a minimum of 1 hour free of a class each week.

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Figure 1

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Figure 2

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This proposal is for a simple circulatory re-arrangement of classes and teachers in the third and fourth years of an 8-12 school, in order to make use of the special interests of the staff directly with the children. It assumes that there will be opportunities for consultants to advise other members of staff, as well as teach their own classes.

The object is to take further what has traditionally been considered work for the general practitioner in junior schools. Specialist work in music and French and PE might be superimposed on this arrangement either by using visiting or part-time teachers if they are available, or by the "switching" arrangements common in junior schools.

3 FE School

The third and fourth year classes make one group of 6 classes.

Each class will spend 3 full sessions for each of 6 weeks (i.e. a half term) with each of the 6 teachers in turn. This amounts to a total of about 36 hours a year with each teacher in the pupils' third year and again in the fourth year.

Each of the teachers will develop a topic according to his own special interest. It might be biased towards literature, history, geography, science, movement/drama, art/craft, music, RE or other spheres of work. Many topics could profitably begin with the school and/or its environment, e.g. the school or local library; nearby church; a stream, etc. The most successful developments would probably cross the subject barriers and certainly involve pupils in using a wide range of skills.

There would need to be a close understanding between the consultant and the class teacher, who would be responsible for almost all of the other 7 sessions each week.

This would be necessary partly to avoid covering the same ground twice, partly to ensure that aspects of the work for which there are no available consultants are not ignored, and partly so that use is made by the one of what the other is doing or has done.

1t would almost certainly be necessary to provide for mathematics separately as needing a near daily cycle. The same applies to French, though the lessons might be shorter, and a weekly or daily cycle is needed for instrumental music and PE.

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2 FE Schools

In these there will be only 4 classes of third and fourth year children and fewer specialisms can be offered.

Either of the following patterns might be worth trying:

(a) Four blocks of ¾ terms each.

(b) Eight week blocks beginning mid-September, mid-January, mid-March and mid-May. This has the advantage of leaving December clear.


Perhaps one of the most appealing things about these patterns is their relative simplicity, and therefore, greater degree of flexibility They are least helpful in those parts of the curriculum that are sequential.

A possible danger of any form of circulatory timetable is that topics introduced by teachers who are not class teachers can become artificial and imposed. It is normally essential to have a fairly leisurely run-in period. It is also most helpful to have some periods when both the consultant and the class teacher work with the class. This enables the consultant to profit from the class teacher's knowledge of children and increases the amount of individual help available in what might well be unstreamed classes.

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9-13 year Middle School for 280 pupils (Figure 3)

Staff ratio (including headmaster) 1:25.5

A school of this size could expect one full-time supernumerary teacher. This teacher might best serve the school if he offered art and craft. Furthermore, it is assumed that it would be possible to have the part-time services of two more teachers. In a school of this size there would be a headteacher without form responsibility who could add to the teaching strength.

Possible Forms of Organisation

(a) Eight single class units with specialist staff exchanging classes with other specialist staff.

(b) Four paired units with two teachers with different specialist knowledge taking the leadership for their own interests, but getting support from the other teacher.

(c) The first year classes paired, the second and third year classes in a group of four, and the fourth year classes paired.

The following exercise is based on (c) above. The advantages of this form of organisation are:-

(i) The 9-10-year-old children maintain close links with the class teacher since the majority are still at a stage of learning which is mainly exploratory, and there are few clearly defined subject divisions. Between the ages of 10 and 12 this is changing, but the changes are not such as to make the introduction of full specialisation advantageous. However, by widening the age range for the middle unit, some study in greater depth becomes possible; widening the range also gives a larger staff group and the prospect of a wider range of subject expertise. By the age of 12-13 years it is likely that most children will be ready for study in still greater depth. This is provided for by using the staff in two ways. Teachers from the middle unit can give some help with the more mature pupils in the fourth year yet spend most of the time with those in their own unit. The abler pupils in the middle unit can have the advantage of teachers from the fourth year in two broad areas of learning, namely: maths/science; and English with a foreign language.

(ii) A considerable degree of teacher co-operation and integrated work are possible. Small groups can also be withdrawn for special attention.

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This grouping of classes has the disadvantage that it tends to isolate the first year children and staff. This may have to be accepted in a school of this size because the alternatives would lead to excessive complication in the organisation.

Unit 1: First Year

(i) The intimacy of the class unit is preserved. Each class has 1½ hours weekly when matters of interest and concern to the class as a whole can be discussed. This has been described in this timetable as "class time".

(ii) Items such as art and craft, language, mathematics, environmental studies, and some RE have been timetabled at the same time for both classes. This will allow for combined operations if desired, yet each class can work independently.

(iii) Each first year teacher may have a different interest bias.

Ideally they should, between them, cover creative arts and the investigation of the environment. Outside these two broad areas there are specific subject interests linked with PE, French, music, RE. It has been assumed that one teacher could offer French and the other music.

(iv) Although no time has been specifically timetabled (except for art and craft) when the help of other members of the school staff could be included, one would expect a fair allocation of help in the first year from the headteacher and the part-time teachers to allow for tutorial groups. It might also be possible with a block timetable for teachers of the older children to change from time to time with those of the younger.

Unit 2: Second and Third Years

(i) Each class teacher offers a particular interest and with the two year range would act as adviser in this interest field. The four interests chosen are art and craft, history/geography, maths/science, English/French, but these would depend on the interests that the staff brought with them.

(ii) Both of the second/third year units and the fourth year unit rely on support drawn from the whole of the top three year age range and times are matched so that extra strength can be given where needed.

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(iii) Support for fields of work not covered by the above grouping will come from teachers of music and PE and from the head teacher, each working in their particular field for only part of their time.

(iv) Art and craft will have the services of a full-time teacher providing for pure art and craft and acting as a servicing agent for other work.

(v) The arrangements for Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon (devoted to creative arts) will require close cooperation and wise planning. The following advantages should arise from this type of grouping:-

(a) easy links between the creative areas of work;
(b) staff grouping to allow for some tutorial work;
(c) possibility of choice of activities by the children;
(d) overcomes the difficulty of matching French for short spans of time with other subjects.

(vi) Although on this timetable RE, and history/geography are separated from maths and science, there might be advantages in grouping these subjects on similar lines to (v).

Unit 3: Fourth Year

(i) With only two teachers available for the fourth year the subject responsibility has been narrowed to maths/science and English/French and the remaining areas rely on support from other teachers in charge of younger classes, and from part-time staff plus the headteacher and the specialist art and craft teacher.

(ii) There will be many children in the fourth year who can manage little abstract work. There will of course be some lower in the school who will be more mature. Covering the requirements of both groups will require careful handling in a small school and practical experience of working in a 2-form-entry middle school may show that overlapped age grouping has some advantages.

(iii) For example, although this timetable follows the same pattern from Monday to Friday, namely first year, second/ third year, fourth year, a different arrangement might operate for part of the week, for example, first and second years, third and fourth years. This could give an element of choice which is lacking in the fourth year on the present timetable.

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(iv) PE comes off badly and an additional period for both classes is needed. This is another indication that small schools such as this need relatively more generous staffing.

(v) By pairing the two classes for maths/science, history/ geography, etc., some integration of work can be achieved and by blocking time, outside visits and field work can be arranged comparatively easily.

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MIDDLE SCHOOL FOR 560 PUPILS 9-13 (Figure 4)

Staffing ratio assumed is 1:25 including headmaster, one French teacher for 0.9 of week, one French teacher for 0.5 of week, and art/craft teacher for 0.2 of week.

Organisation and Curriculum

Aim in third and fourth years has been to assign traditional subjects to teachers in different combinations so that, for example, some teachers may stress literary, some environmental aspects of history, some treat geography scientifically, some associate it with history. There is no implication that subjects would be integrated all the time: for example, some aspects of mathematics might arise out of science; many others would need to be treated in their own right. Teachers responsible for a block of learning could vary the emphasis from time to time and in effect work a cyclic timetable.

In the third and fourth years, the intention is for two members of staff (one man and one woman) to take a group of about 50, from two classes, for mixed art and crafts. On one day a third teacher, with an additional specialism, would be available.

Balance of two classes would be taken in two groups of nine or ten, each by the usual teacher of English (who also normally takes history, RE and in some instances geography). These subjects would not be settled and hope would be that streaming could be dispensed with if two periods weekly were available for each child for tutorial work. Organisation is shown on timetable. Each class is divided into four groups. Three groups in two paired classes - six in all - are having art and crafts while a fourth group in each of the two classes is tutored by their main teacher for English etc. Some further help for children with special needs is available from a third year class teacher in English etc., who is lightly timetabled.

Classes in third and fourth year are paired for some periods in science and mathematics - and setting could be arranged if wished. Classes are also paired for French in third and fourth year and setted would be possible. Classes are paired for some periods of physical education so that sexes could be taught separately if it seemed desirable, and if staffing made it possible.

French and music throughout the school, and PE and art and crafts in the third and fourth years are taught largely by specialists. Time is available when consultant teachers in English, mathematics, science

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and art and crafts can reinforce class teachers in first and second years. In third and fourth years it is assumed that guidance will, generally speaking, be given by means of co-operative teaching within age-group. Consultant teacher in mathematics is a second year class teacher. For this reason periods are provided when he can reinforce teachers in first, third and fourth years.

[Fold-out sheet]

Figure 3: School for 280 pupils aged 9-13 years

Figure 4: School for 560 pupils aged 9-13 years