Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Work of forgotten IQ pioneer Godfrey Thomson on show

Educational psychologist Prof Sir Godfrey Thomson Image copyright University of Edinburgh
Image caption Educational psychologist Prof Sir Godfrey Thomson tested almost every 11-year-old in Scotland

Rare ledgers by the man who pioneered the world's only nationwide IQ tests in the 1930s are to go on public display.

Educational psychologist Prof Sir Godfrey Thomson tested the intelligence of almost every Scottish 11 year old in 1932, and again in 1947.

The research was recorded in 69 ledgers that were almost destroyed when the Thomson's family home in Edinburgh was demolished in 2008.

They will be displayed by Edinburgh University from 29 July to 29 October.

'Underlying ability'

Despite his pioneering work, Prof Thomson - who advocated comprehensive education and firmly believed a child's chances should not be linked to status - faded from public view.

The results of the IQ tests in 1932 and 1947 were recorded in the Scottish Mental Survey ledgers, which hold the world's only record of IQ-type scores from full national year-of-birth cohorts.

Prof Thomson's findings have gone on to form the basis for much of the research into brain aging at the University of Edinburgh since the late 1990s, led by Prof Ian Deary.

His team now studies those who took part in the original surveys.

Prof Deary said: "Godfrey Thomson saw mental ability tests as an imperfect but useful means to give poor children a chance in life.

"He was determined to look past pupils' social status, and try to see their underlying ability.

"By all accounts he was modest, not motivated by money, and happy to share academic wins, which in part led him to fade from the history books."

The ledgers will go on show to the public from 29 July to 29 October at the University's Main Library Exhibition Gallery.

Image copyright Thinkstock

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