Any attempt to define the purpose of education in a selective Boys'' Grammar School into the next century is bound to rest, to a great extent, on value judgments. These, by their very nature, will not command the support of all, but they have to be made. But if value judgments are the foundation of any curriculum then they might as well be explicit as implicit. Every school ought to start from a clear and honest statement of its aims and of the values underlying its curriculum. For it is a good thing for a school to know, and for its public to know, what the school is about.
When we consider the aims of education, central to our vision should be the child. This is not a plea for a purely child-centred education but rather a recognition that education is about the development of the human personality and that we cannot think about it without reference to the characteristics and capabilities we expect young people to have. For every educator has an interest in fostering within his pupils knowledge, understanding, skills or attitudes. Even the educator who simply wishes the child to discover himself has a particular vision in mind.
The characteristics we hope to encourage at Westcliff ought to reflect our understanding of the child''s needs today and his anticipated needs in the future. Pre-eminent among these characteristics will be the importance of rationality and autonomy, for it follows from the kind of democratic society in which we live that education ought to encourage pupils to choose for themselves the kind of lives they wish to lead and the kind of activities they wish to pursue once they leave school. Young people ought also to have developed by the age of 16 a capacity for critical and analytical thought and they should have taken the first steps towards acquiring some independence of mind. They should be personally resourceful but they ought also to be conscious of the importance of being able to work with others.
Secondly, pupils ought to be initiated into the culture and the values of western civilization. For central to education is cultural transmission and a young person needs to be made familiar with those forms of knowledge and belief which will enable him to make sense of his experiences. For example, the case for providing some basic education in political and economic awareness, in information technology and in health and environmental education, is a strong one. A knowledge of these areas is increasingly desirable to enable children to make sense of, and participate in, contemporary society. It matters that we have a population which is both politically and economically literate, which is familiar with rather than intimidated by new technology, and which understands something of the conditions for physical well-being. We cannot leave provision for these areas to chance or suppose glibly that, for example, Politics is ''covered'' by History, health and environmental issues by Biology, and technology by Science.
Thirdly, pupils need to develop the capacity for imagination, not in the sense in which the word is often used by educationists (almost as a synonym for either ''self-expression'' or ''creativity'') but in the sense of developing the ability to be able to envisage what is not yet the case. Young people need to be flexible in attitude and emancipated from a perception confined entirely to the present. It is in this area of the curriculum that the Humanities have a particular role to play. For once children can appreciate that things were once different (or still are elsewhere) they will find it easier to envisage a world different from that which they know.
Fourthly, we should be concerned to inculcate a number of procedural values. Through a child''s education, a respect for the principles of fairness, honesty, tolerance, respect for persons, and respect for property, ought first to be distinguished from other areas, for example, dress and smoking (which while important, are not moral questions) and then fostered other than through a casual word in the corridor. The transmission of these values ought not to be a matter of chance or personal taste. They should be encouraged through the teaching of all subjects but they should also receive fuller and separate consideration within a properly integrated curriculum.
Fifthly, an educated person has judgment, manners and taste and he will be sensitive to matters of moral and aesthetic concern. It is in this area that the School has a responsibility to articulate and defend values and standards which may not always be fashionable. We should insist upon correct speech and high standards of appearance; we should be clear that the courtesies of interpersonal relationships do matter and that there are intellectual, cultural and artistic pursuits which go beyond anything offered by much of contemporary popular culture.
Sixthly, we should recognize that education has a practical as well as a liberal dimension and that no statement of its purpose today will be sufficient without reference to the importance of giving people the knowledge, skills and attitudes which will enable them to contribute to the world of work. Education ought never to be narrowly utilitarian in focus but neither ought it to set aside utilitarian considerations entirely. The growing importance in the School curriculum of careers education and education to promote economic and industrial understanding reflects that concern.
In short, the end is to provide a basis for continuing personal development. The curriculum ought to be something which is coherent in the sense of being designed to realize defined objectives across a number of years, which is relevant to the pupil's immediate and longer term needs, and which awakens, where possible, his sense of intellectual curiosity.