Harrow County School for Boys

Speech Day 1961 - Sir David Eccles

Sir David Eccles throughout his speech made many light-hearted references to the School Song and to the Report by H. M.'s Inspectorate in 1948.  He pointed out that Ministers never accepted invitations to attend school speech days, but this being "among the very best Grammar Schools in the country" he could not resist.  He felt that a school like Harrow County helped him in his task of closing the gap between the academic standards of the old public schools and those of the county schools.  After paying tribute to his former Private Secretary, Mr. D. H. Morrell, whom he was pleased to see among the list of distinguished Old Boys, Sir David congratulated the School on its academic record, which reflected the remarkable progress on the Grammar Schools over the last ten years, such as the 96 per cent increase in the number of passes at 'A' level in science and Mathematics.  The most interesting feature of these improved results was that the number of passes had increased faster than the number of boys in Sixth Forms.

The ability to pass examinations, however, was not everything.  There were many examples in history of countries where an excellent system of education had been betrayed by the people: what mattered was not the number of 'A' level passes, but something more.  Nor was the chief job of education the reconciliation of arts and sciences: the difference was that "science teaches you how the world works, and the arts teaches you why men won't work".  It was quite essential that men should know the facts of the material world and the frailties of human nature, but it was even more important that both arts and sciences should be anchored to some principles of conduct which would inform us how to behave.  These would help us not to use for the wrong purposes the growing power that science and technology put into our hands.

Finally, the Minister pointed out that the Grammar Schools were a most powerful instrument in achieving the one nation that we all earnestly desired - "an open society in which every boy and girl has the same chance to go as far as they can".


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