Playing politic with our children
M.P. Tells Young Tories
“The recent Enfield case in which some of the parents fought so magnificently to save one of their best grammar schools, has brought into prominence once again the politics that are being played with the education of our children” , said Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, MP, at a meeting of Friern Barnet Young Conservatives on Friday at the Town Hall, Friern Barnet.
“I am a firm believer in our grammar schools” , she continued. “For many years now they have been the ladder from the bottom to the top for all kinds of children, regardless of background. I note that the leaders of both Conservative and Labour parties, as well as the new Tony Barberchairman of the Conservative party, all went to grammar schools.
“I also admire the excellent work which is being done in many of our secondary modern schools. Here the late developers are brought out and those who can benefit are then transferred to grammar schools.
“Here also the children of average and less than average ability are given opportunities and responsibilities that they may well miss if submerged in an enormous school.
“In my view, before any changes are made, local authorities should be sure that what they are proposing should give a better opportunity for all children than the present system.
“As the law stands at present, the Minister has no right to inflict a comprehensive scheme on local authorities. He can, however, withhold building allocations for secondary schools if he so chooses.
“Within three or four years we should have a Conservative government back in power, when the children's future can be decided on educational grounds. This should, therefore, temper reactions to the Labour government's dictatorial threats.
“In any event, we are urgently in need of some improvements to primary schools and any Minister who penalised these because an authority did not impose an artificial comprehensive scheme, would be highly blameworthy.
“Some parents would like their children to go to a comprehensive school, and, believing in parental choice, we must see that there are places available. This is quite different from a scheme which, by imposing an artificial comprehensive plan, puts party politics before educational values.
“The first care of both Minister and local authorities must be the individual well-being of all the children.”
Mrs. Thatcher turned her attention to other subjects of current interest and debate at Westminster, among them, Aden and the Common Market.
On the economic situation, Mrs. Thatcher accepted that there was a crisis in 1964 but she was firmly convinced that the firm measures used previously would have solved this within twelve to eighteen months had the Conservatives continued in Government. Instead of this, the Socialists came to power and after three years that same crisis is still with us today—the longest crisis ever. Mrs. Thatcher condemned the Government for trying to solve the crisis by deliberately creating unemployment instead of cutting down on expenditure.
The meeting concluded with Mrs. Thatcher answering members' questions. The topics were very varied and at one point a lively debate broke out about breathaliser tests. Mr. Michael Stokes chaired the meeting.