Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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1973 Oct 3 We
Margaret Thatcher

Speech opening National Association of Schoolmasters Residential Centre

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Speech
Venue: Birmingham
Source: Thatcher Archive: speaking notes
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: Late morning.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 372
Themes: Civil liberties, Education, Pay, Trade unions

Must congratulate on

1. Way in which you have steadily pursued the genuine interests of education. When your delegates come to see me it is impossible to tell what their politics areā€”and this is right because like most other professional groups, they seek to attract all, and to retain all. The action in education which you urge upon me arises out of constructive concern, not from perpetual protest.

2. I imagine you would all agree that the perseverance of the N.A.S. whatever the formal procedure contributed much to the launching of the new pay structure in 1971.

3. Way in which you call spades spades. In question of pay, a seat at a negotiating table should mean a real voice in negotiating table should mean a real voice in negotiations at least to those who have any respect whatsoever for the rights of considerable minorities. And we are all members of some minority or other. And one of the tests of a civilised community is the way in which it treats its minorities. [end p1]

4. The way in which you have never attempted to misconstrue for partisan ends the nature of the overall responsibility of the Secretary of State and Department of Education and Science. That responsibility does not, and in our system cannot, mean that whatever goes wrong anywhere in the system can be laid directly at the door of the Secretary of State. The people who would be the first to complain at any attempt to enlarge the powers of the central government in education are, if it suits them, the most vociferous in blaming central government for anything that goes wrong.

5. The way in which, if you have made a recommendation to Government you have supported it when implemented. I believe it only makes for confusion if teacher trade unionists condemn Government policies for which they themselves have in the past campaigned, whether it be nursery education, or improved teacher training, a graduate profession, or enlarged opportunities in higher education generally. Fair comment is fair comment, but this kind of about-turn comment is not helpful to genuine interests of the teachers themselves, as many of them of course realise. [end p2]

6. Acknowledge the esteem in which your Gen. Sec. is held; an esteem which is continually recognised by your executive & indeed by the educational world as a whole.