PLAN C CLASH IMMINENT
Plan C—Barnet's comprehensive schools scheme—could be scrapped or altered following Mrs. Margaret Thatcher's appointment as Secretary of State for Education and Science.
On Tuesday Mrs. Thatcher said she continued to be bombarded with objections from the borough to the present plan. “The protests are getting so great by teachers and parents it would seem that on ordinary democratic grounds the Barnet Borough education authority would reconsider the plan,” she told me.
Mrs. Thatcher went on: “I would hope the authority would be just as sensitive to democratic procedure as I am One of the first questions a Minister would ask is whether it has the full approval of teachers and parents.”
But her close friend, Councillor Victor H. Usher, Chairman of Barnet Education Committee, said he could not agree about the strength of objections.
He added: “Until we have more information from the Minister of her intentions, so far as I am concerned the plan goes ahead as passed by the council.
“If she wants us to say she doesn't want us to alter the present grammar school system—we would have the whole borough up in arms. But if the department is able to offer us the hope that we might improve what we have already passed. I am sure the committee would reconsider the plan in the light of these improvements.
“If they give us something concrete we can work on it.”
Councillor Usher admitted that some changes were being made to some of the heavily criticised linked school schemes. Christ Church, Finchley, and Elizabeth Allen, Barnet, will no longer be linked.
Mrs. Thatcher is to withdraw the Labour Government's 1965 circular which instructed authorities to submit comprehensive schemes, leaving them free to “think again.”
She told me she hoped this responsibility would be used properly with respect to the wishes of the electorate.
The withdrawal of the circular may cause other Barnet councillors to change their minds. Already one-third of them are publicly pledged to ask Mrs. Thatcher to review Plan C. Two of the 20, Councillor Frank Gibson and Councillor Norman Sapsted, both from Finchley, will see Mrs. Thatcher, today, Friday.
Today, she will also receive a deputation of officers from the anti-Plan C Barnet Parents' Council.