Student vaults fence to see Mrs. Thatcher
A student vaulted a barbed wire fence yesterday in an attempt to pass a letter to Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, the Secretary for Education.
It happened at Park Lane College, Leeds, where Mrs. Thatcher was laying a stone to mark the construction of new buildings.
Wearing a builder's safety helmet, the student, Mr. Allan Woods, who is in his second year studying art at the Leeds Polytechnic, was stopped by police who took him to a van.
Later he was charged with conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace and disorderly conduct and was given bail.
Mr. Woods had told the Yorkshire Post previously of his campaign against the Surrey County Council for its refusal to give him a grant.
He said that the only way he could carry on his studies in Leeds was to work part-time in the evenings and weekends to support himself, which in turn was affecting his studies.
While Mr. Woods was trying to put his personal case to Mrs Thatcher, more than 500 students were demonstrating and trying to shout her down.
They were protesting about two main issues—the condition of the annexe that Kitson College students have to use in South Accommodation Road, Leeds, and the Government's consultative document on student unions released yesterday.
After the stone-laying the protesters marched to the Civic Hall, and a delegation went inside to present a petition and photographs of the annexe to Mrs. Thatcher, who promised to look into the complaint.
When demonstrators went round to the back door of the Civic Hall and blocked in the chauffeur—driven car that was to take Mrs. Thatcher to the station, she slipped out through another door and caught her train to London.
Before the stone-laying ceremony Mrs. Thatcher paid informal visits to St. Michael 's C of E Primary School, at Headingley, the Leeds Teachers' Centre, Blenheim Infant School and Blenheim Walk, and Grafton School for the educationally sub-normal in Craven Road.
She told the invited audience at Kitson College that it was important to increase the links between schools and colleges of further education and between those colleges and industry and commerce.
One of the benefits of linked courses taking place partly in schools and partly in colleges was that it widened the opportunities for those staying on at school an extra year.
Earlier, at a Press conference in the Leeds Civic Hall, Mrs. Thatcher said that a great deal of effort had been put into devising lessons which would maintain the interest of 15-plus children when the school-leaving age was raised to 16 next September.
She was sure her decision to give the improvement of primary schools top priority was right.
It was not possible to replace in a very short time all the 6,000 last-century schools. But primary schools were being replaced at the rate of 500 a year, compared with the previous top rate of 170 a year.