Papers of Bridget Horatia Plowden (1910- 2000)

Scope and Content

Comprises Lady Plowden's own set of minutes, papers, research material, and correspondence of the Committee of Enquiry into Primary Education (Plowden Committee), including:

Papers of the Central Council and working parties


Papers regarding visits made by the Council

Final Report

Also includes a small amount of papers from the 1970s, mainly: examples of progressive education techniques being used in schools; examples of pupils' work; talks and speeches given by Lady Plowden and publications.

Administrative / Biographical History

Bridget Horatia Plowden (1910-2000) was the daughter of Admiral Sir H.W. Richmond, naval historian. She was educated at St. Alfred's School, Hampstead, privately and at Downe House School, Berkshire. She married Edwin Plowden, later Baron Plowden in 1933. She was active in many fields, including as a Director of Trust Houses Forte Ltd, 1961-1972, a member of the Inner London Education Authority Education Committee, 1967-1973, a Governor and Chairman of the BBC, 1970-1975 and Chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, 1975-1980. She has been involved in a wide variety of voluntary organisations, including in the fields of primary and pre-school education. She was Chair of the Central Advisory Council for Education (England), 1963-1966. As such she also chaired its Committee of Enquiry into Primary Education (Plowden Committee) whose report, Children and Their Primary Schools was published in 1967.


The Plowden Committee was constituted on 7th August 1963 'to consider primary education in all its aspects and the transition to secondary school'. It was the first full-scale review of primary education since the publication of the final Hadow Report 30 years earlier and was established in response to the move towards comprehensive education for secondary education which saw the removal of the 11+ in many areas and opened new opportunities for the provision different forms of primary education. Members were appointed in August 1963 and began work during the October.

The Plowden Report ('Children and their Primary Schools') was submitted to Antony Crosland (Secretary of State for Education and Science) in November 1966 and published the following January. It recommended a largely progressive form of primary education, with an emphasis on individualism and learning by discovery. The Report was published in two parts: Part 1 being the main report, and Part 2 being 'Research and Surveys' containing the data that underpinned the report. It listed 197 recommendations (see chapter 32 of the main report). The report's actual impact on primary education provision has since been debated, but it remains one of the seminal official reports on education of the twentieth century.

Membership comprised:

Lady Plowden JP (Chairman).

Sir John Newsom CBE (Deputy Chairman)

Mr HG Armstrong, Educational Psychologist, West Riding.

Professor A J Ayer Professor of Logic, University of Oxford.

Miss M F M Bailey, Headmistress, Skerton Girls' County Secondary School, Lancaster. (Appointed January 1964).

Mrs M Bannister, Housewife and Parent.

Miss M Brearley, Principal, Froebel Institute College of Education, Roehampton.

Dr I C R Byatt, Lecturer in Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science. (Appointed February 1965).

Mrs J Campbell, Housewife and Parent; Hon. Secretary, Richmond upon Thames Association for the Advancement of State Education.

Professor D V Donnison, Professor of Social Administration, London School of Economics and Political Science; Vice-Chairman, Public Schools Commission.

Miss Z E Dix, Head Teacher, Field End Infants' School, Middlesex.

Professor C E Gittins, Professor of Education, University College of Swansea; formerly Chief Education Officer, Monmouthshire; Chairman, Central Advisory Council for Education (Wales).

Miss S E Grey, Organiser for Infant Education, Glamorgan; Member of Central Advisory Council for Education (Wales).

Mr E W Hawkins, Director, Language Teaching Centre, University of York; formerly Headmaster, Calday Grange County Grammar School for Boys, Hoylake, Cheshire.

Mr P Mursell (resigned January 1964)

Miss EM Parry, Inspector of Schools, Bristol; Vice-Chairman, National Nursery Examination Board.

Mr A Puckey, Deputy Head Teacher, The Elms Junior Mixed School, Nottingham.

Mr T H F Raison, Editor of New Society.

Mr H B Rose (resigned February 1965)

Alderman Mrs E V Smith , Member and former Chairman, Birmingham Education Committee.

Mr R T Smith, Headmaster, Bampton CE Junior Mixed and Infants' School, Oxfordshire.

Professor J M Tanner, Professor in Child Health and Growth, University of London Institute of Child health.

Brigadier L L Thwaytes DL, Vice-Chairman, West Sussex County Council; formerly Chairman, West Sussex Education Committee. (Appointed January 1964).

Mr T H Tunn, Director of Education, Sheffield.

Mr Martin Wilson, formerly Secretary for Education, Shropshire.

Mr F M White, Headmaster, St Faith's School, Cambridge. (Appointed January 1964).

Dr M Young, Chairman, Advisory Centre for Education; Chairman, Social Science Research Council; Director, Institute of Community Studies.


Mr M Kogan (Secretary)

Mr N Summers (Assistant Secretary until March 1965).

Miss CK Burke (Assistant Secretary from January 1964).

Access Information


Open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form. Notice needed for access.

Acquisition Information

Transferred to the Institute of Education in 1998.

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.

Custodial History

This collection was originally part of the National Primary Education Archive at Bishop Grosseteste College Lincoln.