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Stanley Leathes and his influence on ‘The Leathes Report’

Byram, M. (2021) 'Stanley Leathes and his influence on ‘The Leathes Report’.', Language & History, 64 (2). pp. 113-128.


Described as the magna carta of language teaching, the ‘Report of the Committee appointed by the Prime Minister to enquire into the Position of Modern Languages in the Educational System of Great Britain (28 August 1916)’ is known as ‘the Leathes Report’ after the committee’s chairman, Stanley Leathes, the First Commissioner of the British civil service. Leathes was not just a civil servant but also an author on education matters, including language education. His views had appeared in several publications over the previous decade, and many of those views are echoed in the report. This article analyses Leathes’s texts and the parallels in the Leathes Report, especially his vision of ‘Modern Studies’, which linked the teaching of history and modern languages. In doing so, it reveals the origins and gives more detail of the meanings of some of the concepts in the Report. It has been argued that the Report is elitist. Leathes’s own education took place in elite institutions as did that of many other civil servants of the time, but this article shows that it is a misinterpretation to say this led to elitism in the Report when it has in fact a meritocratic view of education, also present in Leathes’s own writings.

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Publisher statement:© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Date accepted:29 April 2021
Date deposited:08 June 2021
Date of first online publication:06 June 2021
Date first made open access:01 July 2021

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