Mrs. Thatcher's choice
Mrs Margaret Thatcher, Minister of Education and Conservative candidate for Finchley and Friern Barnet, told a packed hall at East Finchley Library on Tuesday that she wanted to increase the choice in secondary school education.
“Parents are becoming more and more interested in choice,” she said. “They are more and more anxious for their child to go to a school of their own choosing but that is not always possible.
“Conservatives wish to increase the area of choice, whereas Labour wish to reduce it.”
She added: “We are witnessing some degree of scepticism about very large schools. In theory they should be efficient, but in practice they lead to very many problems.”
Mrs. Thatcher said that parents were also becoming more interested in the school curriculum, and were worried about the standards of basic knowledge—reading, writing and arithmetic—and of discipline.
“We are carrying out an inquiry at the moment on truancy and the standards of the use of English in schools,” she said.
“We are very much aware of these problems. We don't need more teachers, more equipment and more buildings—our problems are in the way the schools are run. This has traditionally been left to the teachers but I hope parents and school governors will take a greater interest.”
She told the audience that there were four main issues in the election: whether wage inflation should be added to present world price inflation of food and raw materials; whether wage claims should be settled by force or by the fairness of the claim; whether taxes should be kept at a reasonable level or allowed to escalate; and whether the country believed in the Tory priorities of health, social security and education.
On priorities, Mrs. Thatcher said that the Tory Government's largest slice of expenditure went to the Department of Health and Social Security.
“We can do nothing without good health,” she said. “We also have a duty to look after those people who, through their efforts in the past, have built up this country to the premier position it holds in the world today.”
On taxes, Mrs. Thatcher said that the Tory Party had been the subject of a very unusual accusation—that taxes had been reduced.
“We plead guilty,” said Mrs. Thatcher. “It is not our policy to increase taxes. We want to leave money in people's pockets.”