Newsom (1968)

1968 Newsom Report (text)

The Newsom Report (1968)
The Public Schools Commission: First Report

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1968
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

Background notes

Historical context

The Fleming Report of 1944 The Public Schools and the General Educational System had failed to deal with the philosophical questions surrounding private educational provision and had focused entirely on the value of boarding education. Some of its recommendations had been implemented, mostly in a watered down form, but overall the 1944 Education Act, which had set out the arrangements for the post-war education system, had failed to tackle the question of private education.

Harold Wilson's Labour administration of 1964-70 set up the Public Schools Commission to suggest a way of dealing with the problem. It was announced by education secretary Anthony Crosland in December 1965.

The Commission decided to produce two separate reports: the first (the Newsom Report of 1968) dealing with private boarding schools; the second (the Donnison Report of 1970) with private day schools, direct grant and maintained grammar schools.

Crosland was replaced by Patrick Gordon-Walker in August 1967 but he remained in post for only eight months and was in turn replaced by Edward Short, so it was Short who received the First Report in April 1968 and the Second Report in January 1970 - just five months before Ted Heath's Conservative government came to power with Margaret Thatcher as education secretary.

Both reports failed to deal with the problem and the private schools were left intact.

This First Report noted the objections to private education, but spent 200 pages pointlessly arguing for more boarding provision. In his Note of Reservation John Vaizey commented:

The main objection to private schools is that they are socially divisive. Some of them happen to have beds. It therefore seems less revolutionary to change the bodies in the beds than to eliminate the beds. It is as though Henry VIII had not dismantled the monasteries, but filled them with social need cases, after an exhaustive social survey of the number of people in the population who felt the urge for a life of contemplation in a cell. There is a degree of confusion in attempting to "solve" a social question by throwing out the middle class and replacing it by a different social group (page 221).
For this first report, the 15-member Commission was chaired by John Newsom, a managing director of the publishing firm Longmans Green and Co and a former County Education Officer for Hertfordshire. He had chaired the Central Advisory Council for Education (England) to produce the 1963 report Half our Future.

Summary of the report's main recommendations

The report lists 52 recommendations including:

  • suitable independent boarding schools wishing to enter an integrated sector should be given every encouragement to do so;
  • most schools, and especially boys' schools, should admit pupils of a wider range of ability - proposals to cater entirely for gifted children should be viewed with considerable caution;
  • independent boarding schools should be encouraged to work closely not only with each other, but with maintained day schools;
  • schools wishing to join the maintained system might be given 'aided' status;
  • local education authorities and governing bodies should where practicable plan new comprehensive schools to work closely with integrated boarding schools;
  • there should be more co-educational boarding schools;
  • where boarding at primary school age is essential, assisted places should first be sought in the junior schools or departments of integrating secondary schools and then in other preparatory schools;
  • for children who cannot spend holidays at home, Children's Departments or other child care agencies should be invited to help;
  • there should be no discrimination against immigrant children in allocating places;
  • exchange of teachers between the maintained and independent sectors should be extended;
  • the inspection of boarding schools should include a review of their suitability for pupils of widely differing backgrounds;
  • governing bodies of integrating schools should include one third of members representing bodies or interests other than the Foundation;
  • schools which are Christian foundations should be encouraged to accept pupils from denominations and religions other than their own, as well as pupils of no religion;
  • there should be suitable safeguards for the conscience of parents and senior pupils in matters of religious worship and instruction;
  • integrating schools will have to adapt themselves radically: there should be more women on the staffs of boys' schools and more men on the staffs of girls' schools, more opportunities for pupils to pursue their personal interests, more alternatives to Cadet Force activities, more choice in games, more home contacts, greater freedom in forms of dress, and no beating of boys by boys or personal fagging;
  • the fiscal reliefs of schools which are charities but do not serve a truly charitable purpose should be ended;
  • Parliament should consider whether to allow school fees to be paid otherwise than from parents' income;
  • the only justification for public expenditure on boarding education should be need for boarding;
  • we estimate that 80,000 children in England and Wales will require boarding places by 1980, 45,000 of which should be found in independent schools, with 2,000 more for Scotland;
  • guidance on boarding and placing policy should be given by the Boarding Schools Corporation to regional consortia of local education authorities;
  • maintained schools and welfare agencies should bring opportunities for boarding education to the notice of parents whose children might benefit from them;
  • there should be no obligation upon parents to accept a place in a particular school, and heads should not be obliged to accept a particular child, but this right must not be used as a means of preserving academic or social selection;
  • places should be offered in schools as near as possible to pupils' homes;
  • assisted pupils should be entitled to free tuition equivalent to the average cost of education in maintained day schools, parental contributions should be made (according to means) towards the remaining cost of an assisted place and the charge to parents should not vary according to the school attended;
  • 38,000 secondary and 9,000 preparatory places would cost 18.4 million annually, to met by local education authorities on a pooled basis and qualifying for an Exchequer grant;
  • the Boarding Schools Corporation would approve capital development and the level of fees to be charged at integrated schools;
  • in areas where there is a shortage of boarding places local education authorities should provide more maintained boarding schools;
  • no school would have a prescriptive right to be accepted for integration;
  • the secretary of state should, where necessary, have the power to compel a school to enter into a scheme of integration;
  • there should be provision for schools and parents to appeal against decisions of the Corporation or regional consortia;
  • Scotland and Wales may need different arrangements;
  • we endorse the Secretary of State's decision to require all independent schools with boarding pupils to reach an efficient standard.

The report online

The full text of Volume I (the report itself) is presented in a single web page, including the two Appendices and the subject index. Volume II is not currently online. It contained 17 further Appendices which are listed at the end of Volume I.

I have corrected a handful of printing errors. Otherwise, the text presented here is as printed in the report.

The tables and diagrams are presented as images, embedded in the text where they were in the printed version.

The above notes were prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 18 April 2012; they were revised on 13 November 2012.