THE GIFTED AND THE HANDICAPPED
Opening Northampton College of Education today (10 November 1972), Mrs Margaret Thatcher, Secretary of State for Education and Science, talked of the needs of gifted children and of physically and mentally handicapped children, and of the contribution of nursery education and the college's new diploma course.
“It has been proposed that this college should have a one-year full-time Diploma course on the education of exceptional children. The proposal is that the course should range very widely, looking at the needs of the gifted as well as the socially and personally handicapped.
“The education service has a long and worthy history of seeking to help the physically and mentally handicapped to make the most of themselves. Continuing concern for improvements in this field is indicated by the publication this year of reports of some particular aspects of handicap. For example the report of the Vernon Committee on the Education of the Visually Handicapped is to be published this month.
“In recent years specific action has been taken to tackle the social handicaps that hamper some children's education. The main form this has taken has been the growing provision of nursery education in socially deprived areas.
“I want to see further expansion of nursery education with the more deprived areas benefitting most. An extension of nursery education will not only bring some children the early helpful experiences that many others get in their homes, but it will also make a contribution to work for the mentally and physically handicapped by helping extend early identification.
“Gifted children do have special needs, social as well as intellectual. Identification of the gifted is important. We want them to develop and apply their gifts, to their own benefit and the country's. And we need to see that the gifted young are not hampered in their normal social development, and that they become people in the round.” [end p1]
(2) Northampton Chronicle and Echo, 11 November 1972
‘EXCITING VENTURE’—MRS. THATCHER
Education Secretary Mrs. Margaret Thatcher yesterday officially opened Northampton's teacher training college in Boughton Green Road.
She told the audience of more than 400 invited guests that she had very much enjoyed her visit to Northampton.
And she said that three things in particular interested her about the new college; that it would have advanced courses allowing some students to take B Ed degrees; that it was concerned with the education of exceptional children, and would have courses for the education both of the gifted as well as for handicapped children; and that the college was co-operating fully to with local schools in working out its courses.
“I understand that local primary and secondary head teachers spent a full week in planning groups with the staff here before term commenced,” she said.
“This is a very exciting venture, and this kind of co-operation can help colleges to find out what the professionals in the field really want, and to train teachers to meet the real want, and to train teachers to meet the real and down-to-earth practical needs in the schools.”
Mrs. Thatcher said that the Diploma in the education of exceptional children planned by the college was probably unique in that it was concerned with both the gifted and the physically and mentally handicapped child.
Turning from the courses at the new colleges to the buildings, Mrs. Thatcher said: “This college clearly owes a debt to the Chief Education Officer, Mr. Henley, for the educational ideas he contributed to the design. The aim is to bring together residential, social and teaching accommodation to reflect the essential unity of college education.”
Good buildings were a great asset to education—but were not enough in themselves to guarantee good education. The teachers themselves had the greatest effect on the quality of education, she said.
And she concluded: “Government decisions on the future of teacher training will be announced soon. I can not anticipate that announcement, but I can assure colleges that they will have new challenges to face.
“This college, with its particular blend of continunity and novelty and all the thought that has gone into it, should be well placed to meet these challenges.”
Mrs Thatcher unveiled a plaque to commemorate the opening of the college, and Alderman Jim Lewis, one of the college governors, broke the new college standard.