Haberdashers ‘basis for future schools’
MOST PEOPLE get a Marks and Spencer education, while a fortunate few get the Paris fashion house equivalent.
This is the parallel which Education Minister Mrs Margaret Thatcher drew when she opened two new buildings at Haberdashers' Aske's School, Elstree, on Friday.
As a direct grant school with high academic standards, Haberdashers' is in the Paris fashion category. The state schools are of the Marks and Spencers variety.
Praising schools like Haberdashers', Mrs Thatcher said: “If the Paris fashion houses were destroyed, Marks and Spencer wouldn't make such good clothes.”
She continued the theme: “It is important to keep the best. It acts as a pace-setter. You'd get nowhere if you destroyed the best.
“I am proud of our (the Government's) policy which produces excellent schools. And it is our policy to make more excellent schools such as Haber dashers'.”
But Mrs Thatcher added: “It would take a long time to make all schools equal—as it would take a long time to make all housing, all hospitals equal. To some extent this is impossible.”
In the meantime she would uphold schools like Haberdashers' as “examples of the best kind of education.”
Mrs Thatcher emphasised that as a direct grant school, 25 per cent of the boys of Haberdashers' go there free. The State pays for their education. “It is part of my job to see that the best is available to these children, regardless of their family background. A direct grant school offers the best kind of education to children who can benefit from it.”
Stressing the need to provide “facilities of excellence,” Mrs Thatcher said: “Nowadays, people who are interested in capabilities and merits are discouraged. They are accused of being metitocrats.”
She thought there were merits in many spheres—for example, some people show excellence in dealing with people.
Haberdashers' “excels in academic education, and it succeeds in giving its pupils an excellent, all-round education.”
Mrs Thatcher referred to the current debate on education—whether education was about facts or about thinking.
“You have to know some facts, you must do some research, before you can think, that is, come to a conclusion,” she said.
She said judgement, creativity, character and personality were all a part of the education process.
“Schools like Haberdashers' are a great asset to the education system,” she said.