Records of the Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of Mathematics in Schools (The Cockcroft Report) (1982)

Scope and Content

This archive represents a full set of records for the Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of Mathematics as collected by its chairman, Sir Wilfred Halliday Cockcroft, between 1978 and 1982. Correspondence relating to the committee covers the dates March 1978 to November 1982. There are records of the meetings held for consultation, including a meeting with Baroness Young in February 1980. The papers also include all the evidence from teachers, schools and related associations as well as the records of working parties on primary school teaching and secondary school teaching of mathematics. The papers of the working party on mathematics for employment (from which came the Department of Education and Science's 1983 publication Blueprint for numeracy: an employers' guide to the Cockcroft report) are also held as well as various files of press cuttings, publicity, expense claims and so on. All drafts, including the corrected page-proofs, of the report are held along with all Professor Cockcroft's lectures given about the report.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of Mathematics in Schools was set up in 1978, with Wilfred Halliday Cockcroft as its chairman, to report back to the Department of Education and Science on the adequacy and functionality of mathematics teaching in schools. Wilfred Cockcroft was born 7 June 1923 and was educated at Keighley Boys' Grammar School and Balliol College, Oxford. During the Second World War he was a signals' officer in the Royal Air Force and, after being demobbed, in 1949 was appointed assistant lecturer at the University of Aberdeen. In the same year he married Barbara Rhona Huggan and they went on to have two sons. In 1957 he moved from his lectureship at Aberdeen to one at the University of Southampton, and he was quickly promoted to reader there, in 1960. In 1961 he was appointed G F Grant Professor of Pure Mathematics at Hull University and held that position until 1976 when he became vice chancellor of New University of Ulster for six years, until 1982. During that time he chaired the Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of Mathematics in Schools, a job for which he was eminently suitable as he had been a member of the Mathematics and Sciences Sub-committee 1967 to 1973 (chair 1973-1976) of the University Grants Committee and chaired the Nuffield Maths Project Consultative Committee from 1963 to 1971. In 1982 he remarried, Vivien Lloyd.

In 1982 the Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of Mathematics in Schools published its report ('Mathematics counts'), often known as the Cockcroft Report. Wilfred Cockcroft was knighted a year later and retained his interest in schools, sitting as chairman and chief executive of the secondary exams council between 1983 and 1988 and continuing to write and edit mathematics textbooks. Through the late 1980s and early 1990s he has continued to be very active, being a member of the National Foundation for Educational Research and sitting on the Royal Society Maths Curriculum Sub-committee. From 1991 he was president of the British Accreditation Council for Independent Further and Higher Education.


U DCK/1 Correspondence, 1978 - 1982

U DCK/2 Meetings, 1978 - 1980

U DCK/3 Evidence, 1978 - 1982

U DCK/4 Working Groups, 1979 - 1981

U DCK/5 Miscellaneous files, 1978 - 1982

U DCK/6 Drafts and comments, 1981 - 1982

U DCK/7 Lectures on the Report given by Professor Cockcroft, 1981 - 1982

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Donated by Sir Wilfred Cockcroft, 1982


  • Cockcroft, Wilfred Halliday, 'Your child and mathematics' (1968)
  • Cockcroft, Wilfred Halliday, 'Complex numbers' (1972)
  • Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of Mathematics in Schools, 'Mathematics counts' (1982)
  • Who's Who (1996)