Mrs. Thatcher promises violence inquiry
An investigation into school violence was promised last night by Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, Secretary for Education, at the National Association of Schoolmasters' dinner at Southport.
She said she hoped to start talks with teachers and local authorities to establish some facts and sound out the views of those most directly concerned.
The NAS has claimed that violence exists and has been increasing in many schools and has been pressing people to take notice.
“If there is agreement that there is a problem of violence in our schools let us be honest and say so. I am not in favour of sweeping it under the mat.”
Mrs. Thatcher said later: “I have seen so many reports in the Press about the issue and they bother me a great deal. I just cannot remain inert about this.
“But first we have got to get the facts and I shall be sending out letters to the teaching organisations and local authorities inviting them to get around the table with me and discuss the situation.”
This latest announcement comes at the end of a week of conflicting views about school violence and indiscipline.
At the National Union of Teachers' annual conference which ended today at Blackpool, Mr. Ted Britton, general secretary, described talk of blackboard jungles as “a myth and nonsense.”
At the same time, the NAS has claimed that a very real problem of school discipline could be on the way if something is not done about it now.
Mr. Terry Casey, NAS general secretary, said that he welcomed the fact-finding discussions on something they had been trying to draw attention to for a long time.
The deputy general secretary of the N.U.T., Mr. Fred Jarvis, said his union was ready to talk at any time but the problem should be kept in perspective.
He said: “Some people are exaggerating in order to discredit comprehensive education and modern teaching methods.”
Mrs. Thatcher also announced that she is setting up an official inquiry into school meals because the main lines on which the service operates were laid down during the last war.
“I think the time has come for a complete re-examination of the meals and refreshment service in schools,” she said.
Mrs. Thatcher has announced also that she will set up a committee of inquiry into school transport.
It will look into traffic hazards, the increasing burden on parents and on public funds to finance transport, and the present statutory walking distance for children from home to school.