McNair (1944)

1944 McNair Report (text)

The McNair Report (1944)
Teachers and Youth Leaders

Report of the Committee appointed by the President of the Board of Education to consider the Supply, Recruitment and Training of Teachers and Youth Leaders

London: His Majesty's Stationery Office 1944
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

Background notes

Historical context

In March 1942 the President of the Board of Education, RAB Butler, appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Arnold McNair:

To investigate the present sources of supply and the methods of recruitment and training of teachers and youth leaders and to report what principles should guide the Board in these matters in the future.
McNair (1885-1975) was a lawyer. He worked in London until 1912, when he returned to his old Cambridge college (Gonville and Caius), later becoming senior tutor. He was knighted in 1943. In 1946 he became one of the first judges of the new International Court of Justice in The Hague, and in 1959 he was appointed the first President of the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg.

The ten members of the McNair Committee included Sir Fred Clarke, Director of the University of London Institute of Education, who later chaired the new Central Advisory Council for Education for its reports on School and Life (1947) and Out of School (1948).

The Committee was appointed before the publication of the White Paper Educational Reconstruction and met while the subsequent bill (which became the 1944 Education Act) was being debated in Parliament.

In his Prefatory Note to the report, MG Holmes, Permanent Secretary at the Board Education, wrote:

Legislative and administrative changes will not by themselves make effective the educational reforms upon which the country is determined. There must be a supply of teachers adequate both in quantity and quality. The Board of Education will therefore examine the far reaching proposals made in this Report with great care.
In fact, the 1944 Act replaced the Board with a new Ministry of Education, so it was the Ministry which took on consideration of the report and decisions as to its implementation.

The Committee was split on one point - whether to put the organisation of teacher training in the hands of University Schools of Education (this view was supported by Clarke, Mander, Morris, Thomas and Wood) or of reconstituted Joint Boards (Fleming, Hichens, McNair, Ross and Stocks).

Summary of the report's main recommendations

  • pupils who might consider becoming teachers should be encouraged and enabled to stay on at school up to the age of 18;
  • maintenance allowances should be offered to suitable older men and women who wish to become teachers, and their salaries should reflect their age and experience;
  • adult education courses should offer opportunities for learning about the educational system;
  • rules relating to teachers' conditions of service should be relaxed;
  • the salaries of teachers in primary and secondary schools should be substantially increased;
  • there should be a basic salary scale for qualified teachers with additions for special qualifications or experience;
  • large schools should have a deputy head, very large schools should have two;
  • the Board of Education should recognise only one grade of teacher, namely the grade of 'qualified teacher';
  • the Board of Education should establish a Central Training Council charged with the duty of advising the Board on creating the area training service recommended in this Report;
  • area training services should be the responsibility of EITHER University Schools of Education OR reconstituted Joint Boards;
  • the content of teacher training and the final assessment of students should be the responsibility of the area training authority subject to compliance with requirements made by the Board of Education;
  • the practice of requiring students to sign a declaration (the 'Pledge') commiting them to teaching in return for training grants should be ended, as should the system of loans to students made by some local education authorities;
  • the normal training course should be of three years, for graduates and other suitably qualified persons, one year, with flexibility in appropriate cases;
  • newly-qualified teachers should be required to serve a probationary year in school before confirmation of their recognition is decided;
  • training courses should pay attention to the speech of every student and his/her ability to use the English language;
  • during three-year courses students should spend about a term in Continuous Teaching Practice as members of the staff of a school;
  • in every area training service there should be provision for the training of specialist teachers of art and crafts, music, physical education and domestic subjects;
  • the salaries of training college staff should approximate to university levels;
  • the Board of Education should offer a few 'Education Fellowships' to enable highly qualified practising teachers to study education here or abroad, and should facilitate the secondment of teachers from schools for a period of service in training institutions;
  • Board of Education representatives should visit all the emergency courses recognised under Circular 1598 before making decisions about courses for youth leaders to be provided after the war;
  • courses for youth leaders should normally be of three years with appropriate exceptions;
  • the salaries of youth leaders should be comparable with those of teachers;
  • the training of teachers for Young People's Colleges should be undertaken, like the training of all other teachers, by the area training services;
  • technical teachers should be enabled to engage in research and investigation and to secure necessary contacts with industry or commerce;
  • the Board of Education should establish standing committees to promote cooperation between industry and commerce and the technical and commercial colleges;
  • the salaries of teachers in technical colleges should be comparable with similar posts in industry and commerce;
  • each area training authority should include representatives of technical and commercial education;
  • the University of Wales and its constituent colleges should be responsible for teacher training in Wales;
  • the Board of Education should establish an Educational Research Council to promote and improve education of all types, and to study of the problems of childhood and adolescence.

The report online

The full text of the report, including the two Appendices, is presented in a single web page. There was no alphabetical subject index.

I have modernised some of the punctuation and spelling and corrected a dozen or so printing errors. Otherwise, the text presented here is as printed in the original.

Anything added by way of explanation is shown [in square brackets].

The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 20 April 2011; they were revised on 10 November 2012.