Kingman (1988)

1988 Kingman Report (text)

The Kingman Report (1988)
Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of English Language

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1988
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

Background notes

The Committee of Inquiry

John Kingman (1939- ) (pictured) was appointed Professor of Mathematics at Oxford in 1969, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol in 1985. He was knighted in 1985 for his work with the Science and Engineering Research Council.

The Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of English Language was appointed in 1987 by Education Secretary Kenneth Baker. Its 15 members included the writer A. S. Byatt, the broadcaster Robert Robinson and the journalist Keith Waterhouse. Also on the Committee was Professor Brian Cox, the Chair of the National Curriculum English Working Group, whose report English for ages 5 to 16 (link below), made recommendations on attainment targets and programmes of study for the English component of the new National Curriculum.

The Committee's terms of reference were:

1. To recommend a model of the English language, whether spoken or written, which would:
i serve as the basis of how teachers are trained to understand how the English language works;
ii inform professional discussion of all aspects of English teaching.
2. To recommend the principles which should guide teachers on how far and in what ways the model should be made explicit to pupils, to make them conscious of how language is used in a range of contexts.

3. To recommend what, in general terms, pupils need to know about how the English language works and in consequence what they should have been taught, and be expected to understand, on this score, at ages 7, 11 and 16.

Other reports on the teaching of English include:

Newbolt (1921) The Teaching of English in England;
Bullock (1975) A language for life;
Cox (1989) English for ages 5 to 16;
Warwick (1994) Implementation of English in the National Curriculum; and
Ofsted (2012) Moving English forward.

Readers may like to note that the 1988 TGAT Report (Task Group on Assessment and Testing), referred to in Kingman, is also online.

Summary of the report's main recommendations

  • subject departments concerned with the teaching of language in secondary schools should develop a co-ordinated policy for language teaching;
  • primary schools should have a member of staff designated as a language consultant with responsibility for advising on and co-ordinating language work, including knowledge about language;
  • the Secretary of State should require all schools to review existing provision for English to secure sufficient curriculum time to implement the findings of this report;
  • the attainment targets required by the third term of reference should be those set out in this report;
  • the English working group should use these attainment targets in formulating profile components for the assessment of English in the national curriculum;
  • appropriate national testing techniques should be applied to language in use, and assessment of explicit knowledge about language should be largely the province of individual teachers and institutions, both kinds of assessment being necessary;
  • intending primary teachers should undertake a language course in which the larger part of the time should be spent in direct tuition of knowledge about language as outlined in the model proposed in this report;
  • intending English teachers in secondary schools should undertake a course which enables them to acquire, understand and make use of knowledge about language as outlined in the model proposed in this report;
  • teacher training courses should contain a substantial component of tuition in language study and should be evaluated at regular intervals;
  • intending secondary teachers of subjects other than English should complete a course on knowledge about language, and during their probationary year they should undertake some aspect of language study as it relates to their own specialist fields or subjects;
  • pre-service training courses should be re-designed to meet the requirements of the relevant recommendations in this report;
  • before the end of the century all English specialists should normally have a first degree in English which incorporates a study of both contemporary and historical linguistic form and use;
  • as soon as possible, English generally and knowledge about language in particular should be included in the list of national priority areas under the Local Education Authority Training Grants Scheme;
  • the government should review the Training Grants Scheme to ensure that adequate allowance is made for English;
  • a national scheme should be established under which people with relevant expertise would provide training for selected staff in institutions where relevant expertise does not exist, and for selected staff in schools, such training to be mandatory for at least one member of staff in every school;
  • a National Language Project should be established.

The report online

The full text of the report is presented in a single web page.

Kingman was published as an A4-size paperback with headings printed in the left-hand margin of each page and quoted material shown in smaller print. This layout is not reproduced here: headings have been incorporated into the main body of the text and quoted material is here shown indented.

The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 19 February 2011; they were revised on 10 November 2012.