Percy (1945)

1945 Percy Report (text)

The Percy Report (1945)
Higher Technological Education

Report of a Special Committee appointed in April 1944

London: His Majesty's Stationery Office 1945
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

Background notes

Historical context

During the Second World War, the coalition government made plans for an ambitious programme of post-war 'social reconstruction' in which education would play an important part. The 1943 White Paper Educational Reconstruction and the 1944 Education Act set out the framework of the new state system of education.

To inform policy-making, various reports were commissioned. In relation to schools, these were Norwood (1943) Curriculum and Examinations in Secondary Schools, McNair (1944) Teachers and Youth Leaders, and Fleming (1944) The Public Schools and the General Educational System.

But there were concerns, too, about higher education - particularly science and technology - and two committees were appointed to report on what should be done in these areas.

The first was the report on Higher Technological Education, produced by a special committee appointed in April 1944 by Minister of Education Rab Butler. The fourteen-member Committee was chaired by Lord Eustace Percy (1887-1958) (pictured), who had been President of the Board of Education in the 1920s.

The Committee submitted its report on 19 July 1945 to Richard Law, who had succeeded Butler as Minister. Law was in turn followed by Labour's first Minister of Education, Ellen Wilkinson, and it was she who published the report.

Its terms of reference were:

Having regard to the requirements of Industry, to consider the needs of higher technological education in England and Wales and the respective contributions to be made thereto by Universities and Technical Colleges; and to make recommendations, among other things, as to the means for maintaining appropriate collaboration between Universities and Technical Colleges in this field (page 3).
Five months after the Percy Committee submitted its report, Herbert Morrison, Lord President of the Council in Clement Attlee's Labour government, appointed another committee, chaired by Sir James Barlow, to report on Scientific Man-Power. The Barlow Report was published in April 1946.

The report's recommendations

Evidence presented to the Committee - with which they agreed - showed that 'the position of Great Britain as a leading industrial nation is being endangered by a failure to secure the fullest possible application of science to industry' and that 'this failure is partly due to deficiencies in education' (page 5)

What was needed, said the Committee, was a substantial increase in teaching facilities and staff; full co-operation between industrialists and educators; and

an organisation of higher technological education which will be more responsive and adaptable to the needs of industry (page 6).
The Committee recommended the establishment of a National Council of Technology and Regional Advisory Councils, and
the selection of a strictly limited number of Technical Colleges in which there should be developed technological courses of a standard comparable with that of University degree courses (page 11)
The Committee was divided on one point:
We have not ... been able to reach agreement regarding the title of the technological qualification which will correspond with the University first degree (page 19)

The report online

The full text of the report (which did not include a subject index) is presented in a single web page.

The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 11 February 2017.