Mrs Thatcher Meets NUT Deputation
Mrs Margaret Thatcher, Secretary of State for Education and Science, on Monday, (13 July) met a deputation from the National Union of Teachers led by Mr Edward Britton, General Secretary of the Union.
The deputation expressed its concern that circular 10/70 had been issued without prior consultation and sought an assurance that the Secretary of State would consult over future circulars. The Secretary of State said she would gladly give that assurance. She pointed out that circular 10/70 was essentially a device for the withdrawal of a circular. Its effect was to remove a restricting influence on the local authorities. As such it was a strict implementation of an election pledge.
On the implications of circular 10/70 itself, the deputation expressed the view that it represented an encouragement to local authorities opposed to comprehensive education, and an endorsement of selection at eleven.
The Secretary of State could not accept this point of view. She reiterated that the main burden of circular 10/70 was to remove the compulsive influence of circulars 10/65 and 10/66. Authorities are free to proceed with approved schemes of non-selective secondary education on comprehensive lines if they wish to do so. Indeed, she will be pleased to consider any new plans which may be submitted. In the Secretary of State's view the age of eleven is too early to make final decisions about a child's future. Provision should be made for the late developer and there are a number of ways of doing this. Authorities which did not make this provision would be failing in their central duty under Section 8 of the 1944 Education Act.