Records of the National Commission on Education

Scope and Content

Records of the Commission, 1991-1995, including minutes of the Commission, Research Committee, Working and Steering Groups, written and oral evidence, including audio-tapes, and press cuttings.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1990, Sir Claus Moser gave the Presidential Address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in which he drew attention to the need for 'an overall review of the education and training scene: a review which would be visionary about the medium and long-term future facing our children and this country; treating the system in all its inter-connected parts; and last, but not least, considering the changes in our working and labour market scenes.' His call for a Royal Commission was rejected by the government. Instead, the National Commission on Education was established as an independent body set up in July 1991 under the auspices of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and with sponsorship from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Its remit was to consider all phases of education and training throughout the whole of the United Kingdom and to identify and examine key issues arising over the next 25 years.

The Commission's terms of reference were:

'In the light of the opportunities and challenges that will face the United Kingdom in a changing world over the next 25 years, to identify and consider key issues arising from: the definition of educational goals and assessment of the potential demand for education and training, in order to meet the economic and social requirements of the country and the needs and aspirations of people throughout their lives; and the definition of policies and practical means whereby opportunities to satisfy that demand may be made available for all, bearing in mind the implications for resources and institutions and for all of those involves in the education and training system; and to report its conclusions and recommendations in such manner as it may think fit.'

The Commission identified seven key issues and established working groups, consisting of two Commission and two external members, to look into each of them:

1. Effective schooling

2. Schools, society and citizenship

3. The teaching profession and quality

4. Higher and further education in the twenty-first century

5. Preparing for work today and tomorrow

6. Better ways of learning

7. Resources

It also undertook a wide variety of other activities including seminars, formal and informal discussion meetings, surveys, lectures and visits. It gathered advice and opinion from individuals and organisations by means of written and oral evidence, commissioned new research and analysed existing statistics and literature.

Several prominent educationists and other public figures served on the Commission. The Commissioners were:

John Walton, Lord Walton of Detchant, House of Lords (Chairman)

John Raisman, British Telecom (Deputy Chairman)

John Cassels, National Economic Development Office (Director)

Averil Burgess, South Hampstead High School

Betty Campbell, Mount Stuart Primary School, Cardiff

David Giachardi, Courtaulds, plc

Christopher Johnson, Lloyds Bank

Helena Kennedy, Barrister

Alistair MacFarlane, Heriot Watt University

Margaret Maden, County Education Officer, Warwickshire

Claus Moser, Wadham College, Oxford

Jenny Shackleton, Wirral Metropolitan College

Richard Staite, Beeslack High School, Penicuik, Lothian

Jeff Thompson, University of Bath

David Watson, Brighton Polytechnic

Peter Wickens, Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd.

Access Information


Open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form.

Acquisition Information

These records were deposited in the Institute of Education by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation in June 1995.

Conditions Governing Use

A reader wishing to publish any quotation of information, including pictorial, derived from any archive material must apply in writing for prior permission from the Archivist or other appropriate person(s) as indicated by the Archivist. A limited number of photocopies may be supplied at the discretion of the Archivist.

Related Material

The Institute of Education Library also holds some of the publications of the National Commission on Eduction including:

Learning to Succeed: Report of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation National Commission on Education (London: Heinemann, 1993)

Briefings for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation National Commission on Education (London: Heinemann, 1993)

Insights into Education and Training: Papers Selected by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation National Commission on Education (Heineman: London, 1994) which includes a selection of papers prepared for the Commission by a wide range of individuals as either as written evidence, lectures, presentations seminar or discussion papers.

Learning to Succeed After Sixteen (1995)

Learning to Succeed: The Way Ahead (1995)

Success Against the Odds: Effective Schools in Disadvantaged Areas (London: Routledge, 1996)