From bad to worse
Rhodes Boyson, MP
Miss Joan Lestor, the new Under-Secretary for Education, said in Brighton in October 1971: The time is ripe for us to inject some radical Socialist ideas and values into the education system.
She went on to criticise educationalists for teaching the values of a capitalist (and, incidentally, a free society) and according to the Teacher she said after her speech that she believed that "in extreme cases teachers with the wrong social views should be removed from their jobs."
This sounds like the words of a Marxist or International Socialist who believes that there is no objective truth to be taught or learnt but that all values are an outcrop of the existing economic system.
There is little doubt that some socialists in the country want to politicise education not only by legislation as to how pupils should be allocated to schools but also by controlling curriculum and the way the schools are organised. Some meths ago the Scunthorpe branch of the Socialist Education Association issued a document 'The Role of the Socialist School Governor' which is worth a study by all parents. The Socialist Governors are there advised that they "must seek to undermine the undemocratic nature of schools". Teaching and non-teaching trade unions representing staff in the school should be asked for advice but for teachers only the National Union of Teachers should be supported "Other teachers' organisations have an extremely dubious parentage." Since the joint four unions are the most academically-qualified and the National Association of Schoolmasters the most career orientated (and incidentally affiliated to the TUC) one can only conclude that the support for the NUT is part of a move to massive union closed shops with all their tyranny. The document goes on to advocate the immediate opening of discussions for the abolition of corporal punishment in schools and for the end of all teaching by ability groups up to the third year of the secondary school. The arrival of the Political Commissar is
foreshadowed when it is suggested that there should be one Socialist Education Association representative on each body of school governors, who should report regularly to the SEA branch and if necessary resolutions can be sent through the party.
One point is made which is at present little understood by Governors. They must insist on the Head giving them full written reports on all aspects of the school's development — curriculum and discipline are now the responsibilities of the Governors in consultation with the Head not the other way round."
If we are to have socialist governors laying down the values of a school, i.e. the type of discipline, the curriculum of a school and the teaching arrangements, we are rapidly approaching the politicising of all education. Just as the Labour Party has brought politics into secondary school organisation so we may be moving into a situation where the internal organisation of schools becomes a political pawn. In that case parents and Conservatives had better be ready for battle. They have been warned.
It will be interesting if the appointment of Miss Lestor brings this day nearer — maybe she should confirm or deny her words of 1971 that radical Socialist ideas and values should be injected into education and there should be a witch-hunt of teachers who oppose these ideas.
If she still holds the views of 1971 we may find the S.O.S. (Save Our Schools) car stickers of the Direct Grant Schools replaced by the even more frantic sticker "Come back Mr Prentice, all is forgiven". A huge order would be required — maybe only 2 per cent go to direct grant schools but 95 per cent of parents are very concerned that their children are educated and not treated as political pawns. Miss Lestor could then be the very appointment which united the educational Right and Centre against the extremists in the Labour Party. It is fascinating thought.