Teachers are praised for their creative work
The amount of creative work done by teachers helps to make Britain's educational system the best in the world, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, Secretary of State for Education, told Northamptonshire teachers last night.
Mrs. Thatcher spoke at the annual dinner of the Northamptonshire County Association of the National Union of Teachers at Wicksteed Park Pavilion, Kettering.
She arrived at 10.50 p.m. after a day visiting Northampton schools, opening the town's new College of Education, and attending another evening engagement in Luton.
“I have had a wonderful day in Northampton seeing some of the excellent work being put into schools,” she told the members of the association. “It is vital to get away from the Department. We go back immensely cheered at the tremendous amount of concentrated work that is being done.”
A clash of engagements meant Mrs. Thatcher was unable to attend the dinner as early as planned, but her place was taken by Lord Belstead, the Under-Secretary of State for Education.
Lord Belstead, proposing a toast to the Teachers' Benevolent Fund said: “This tradition of mutual help is a healthy factor in our society.”
There were still cases which fell outside the scope of the welfare state services, he said, and it was here that the fund was of use, especially when the needs were immediate.
Speaking of the position of the school in the community, Lord Belstead said: “When your work is unstintingly done, I believe that this entitles you to a particular place in the community.
“People should have a familiarity with, and a respect for, the teaching profession.”
He concluded: “Some 90,000 serving teachers subscribe to the benevolent fund on a regular basis. I hope that more will follow this example.”
Replying to the toast, Mr. W. E. Williams, chairman of the fund, said four homes for the aged were already being maintained by the fund, but that three times this number was needed.
“Some of those people on the priority list, never see the inside of our homes because we haven't got the places for them.”
But Mr. Williams pointed out that the fund, which he considered one of the best benevolent funds in the country, gave friendship as well as money.
“Many of our aged colleagues don't just suffer, he added, “they suffer in silence.”
Mrs. Thatcher was presented with a copy of “The Harpole Report”, a novel about the work of a teacher written by Northamptonshire author Mr. J. L. Carr.
The presentation was made by the president of the Northamptonshire Association, Mr. C. W. Elliott.