Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1969 Oct 23 Th
Margaret Thatcher

Interview for Financial Times (appointed education spokesman)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Interview
Venue: ?House of Commons
Source: Financial Times, 24 October 1969
Journalist: Michael Dixon, Financial Times
Editorial comments: 1100-1130. Time and place uncertain.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 352
Themes: Education, Private education, Secondary education, Employment

Improve schools career work-Mrs. Thatcher

CAREERS WORK in schools needs strengthening, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative's new spokesman on education, said yesterday.

“There are not enough people in the schools who know about careers,” she told me. “It is not just a matter of knowing what jobs are available, but of appreciating the fast rate at which society is changing.”

Mrs. Thatcher explained that since Tuesday, when she was named to succeed Sir Edward Boyle as “shadow” Education Minister, she had had time only to begin working through the complicated “portfolio” that more than covered her desk.

“I think the supply of good teachers must be the fundamental issue,” she said. “The main reason why I send my two children to public schools is that the proportion of teachers to pupils is higher in those schools.”

She was not ready to comment on pay levels, about which teachers have grown unusually militant recently. “But I don't underestimate the problem.”

On the vexed issue of comprehensive schools. Mrs. Thatcher's standpoint is moderate. She said the present Government was wrong to try to force local authorities to “go comprehensive” against their will; the case for a completely comprehensive schooling system was still unproved.

Local authorities should decide for themselves, she believed, though eventually they should all have some comprehensive schools, designed and built for the purpose. These could co-exist with schools of the grammar type.

Asked what she thought about selecting children for different educational streams at the age of 11-plus, Mrs. Thatcher said that some children were so bright that they could be picked out at 11. But there was a large group who developed later, so selection at 11-plus should not be final by any means.

“Fortunately, in the area I know (she is MP for Finchley) there are good secondary modern schools, and the later developers can move up easily.” Mrs. Thatcher said, “I will now have to go and look at some of the worse areas, though.”