21 March 2016

Poem-A-Day #21 : Education (Thatcher Erased 2)

And since the elections, it sometimes seems we are the only (Thatcher Erased)
          - from a speech delivered by Margaret Thatcher in 1987

2. Education

And Mr President, our most important task in this Parliament is to raise the quality of education. You heard what Kenneth Baker had to say about it in that most interesting, stimulating debate we had the other day. It's in the national interest. And it's in the individual interest of every parent and above all, of every child. We want education to be part of the answer to Britain's problems, not part of the cause.

To compete successfully in tomorrow's world—against Japan, Germany and the United States—we need well-educated, well-trained, creative young people. Because if education is backward today, national performance will be backward tomorrow.

But it's the plight of individual boys and girls which worries me most. Too often, our children don't get the education they need—the education they deserveAnd in the inner cities—where youngsters must have a decent education if they are to have a better future—that opportunity is all too often snatched from them by hard left education authorities and extremist teachers.

And children who need to be able to count and multiply are learning anti-racist mathematics—whatever that may be. Children who need to be able to express themselves in clear English are being taught political slogans. Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay.

And children who need encouragement—and children do so much need encouragement—so many children—they are being taught that our society offers them no future.

All of those children are being cheated of a sound start in life—yes cheated.
Of course—in the country as a whole—there are plenty of excellent teachers and successful schools. And in every good school, and every good teacher, is a reminder of what too many young people are denied. I believe that government must take the primary responsibility for setting standards for the education of our children. And that's why we are establishing a national curriculum for basic subjects. It is vital that children master essential skills: reading, writing, spelling, grammar, arithmetic; and that they understand basic science and technology. And for good teachers this will provide a foundation on which they can build with their own creative skill and professionalism.

But the key to raising standards is to enlist the support of parents.
The Labour left—hard, soft and in-between—they hate the idea that people should be able to choose. In particular, they hate the idea that parents should be able to choose their children's education. The Conservative Party believes in parental choice. And we are now about to take two dramatic steps forward in extending choice in education. First, we will allow popular schools to take in as many children as space will permit. And this will stop local authorities from putting artificially low limits on entry to good schools.

And second, we will give parents and governors the right to take their children's school out of the hands of the local authority and into the hands of their own governing body. This will create a new kind of school funded by the State, alongside the present State schools and the independent private schools. These new schools will be independent state schools. They will bring a better education to many children because the school will be in the hands of those who care most for it and for its future.

Mr President, there's no reason at all why local authorities should have a monopoly of free education. What principle suggests that this is right? What recent experience or practice suggests it is even sensible?
In these ways, we are furthering our Conservative tradition of extending opportunity more widely. This policy will be of the greatest advantage, not to those schools where the parents are already satisfied with their children's education, but to those schools where the parents are dissatisfied and believe that their children could do a lot better. Nowhere is this policy more needed than in what have come to be known as "inner cities". It will profit those people most.