Margaret Thatcher explored education overhaul, archives show

Margaret Thatcher explored plans to overhaul the structure of English education when she was PM, files released by the National Archives show.

The documents from the 1980s reveal Mrs Thatcher wanted to make state schools independent of local authorities.

This has been the central plank of the current government’s education reforms.

In 1986, policy adviser Oliver Letwin wrote that she had “failed” to give people more responsibility for their own lives within the education system.

Words underlined

In Mrs Thatcher’s personal files, there is a critical, very direct memo from Mr Letwin – his “swansong” as a member of Mrs Thatcher’s policy unit.

“You were elected to give back to individuals a greater degree of responsibility for their own lives,” he wrote. “In education, you have so far failed.”

He said there had been no effort to change the “framework” – a point endorsed by Mrs Thatcher with a large black tick in the margin – and that education was still “a nationalised industry”.

“The provider decides what the customer ought to have, largely ignoring what the customer actually wants,” he continued – words which the then prime minister underlined.

Mr Letwin, who is still an MP and a Cabinet Office minister, acknowledged that radical restructuring would not be popular in some quarters.

“It would provoke intense hostility” from the local authorities and the teaching unions, he wrote.

However, he saw it as the only way to improve the “quality” of schools.

Like Michael Gove, who stood down as education secretary in July this year, Mr Letwin believed giving power to the “customer” – the parents – would drive school improvement.

Mr Letwin suggested state schools could “declare UDI”, rather like academies today, and suggested extending the “assisted places” scheme where the state paid for places at independent schools.

Parents could then have the choice of moving their children if they were unhappy with the local state school – just as Free Schools are intended to provide an alternative under the current government.

New approach

The files include a paper titled “Education without LEAs”, marked “secret” – politicians and civil servants knew how controversial these ideas would be.

The documents show that Keith Joseph, education secretary from 1981 to 1986, had wanted to create 12 new independent state primary schools to show how a new approach would work.

The idea was supported by Mrs Thatcher, and other members of the cabinet were enthusiastic too.

According to a note of one meeting, then cabinet member Norman Fowler said: “It would reverse a trend for parents such as himself to send children to the private sector!”

On the memo, Mrs Thatcher scribbled: “It isn’t meant for parents like him!” That idea was dropped.

It was left to Keith Joseph’s successor, Kenneth Baker, to create the first state schools independent of local authorities. He set up the first City Technology Colleges in the late 1980s for secondary pupils.

School budgets

However, Lord Baker has now said he is fascinated to see Mrs Thatcher’s files. “I didn’t know about any of this,” he told the BBC.

He said Mrs Thatcher had not told him what to do when he took over as education secretary, and had asked him to come up with his own ideas.

Lord Baker said: “I was on a rather different tangent but we got to the same destination.”

Lord Baker gave schools control over their own budgets, established a national curriculum, encouraged grant-maintained schools – so setting the groundwork for Mr Gove’s future rapid academies policy.

In recent months there has been growing criticism of this flagship reform.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of schools in England, recently called for an end to “sterile” debate over structures.

He said it was not the most important factor and that in practice there could be little difference in school improvement under an academy chain or a local council.

Since 2010 more than 4,000 state schools in England have become academies, accountable to central government rather than local officials


FYUP closed book, nursery a page-turner

The year 2014 witnessed many controversies on the education front. It began with the demand for scrapping of the four-year-undergraduate programme introduced by Delhi University. In fact, the FYUP issue took a political turn with BJP highlighting it in its election manifesto and Aam Aadmi Party expressing its opposition to the programme. When the former returned to power at the Centre, it sounded death knell for the pet-project of vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh. Finally on June 27, Singh announced the roll-back of the four-year degree course.

The university faced further embarrassment with the paper controversy. The question paper for the fifth semester financial management course under School of Open Leaning was a repeat of May 2014 paper. This was followed by more goofups like introducing out-of-syllabus questions, leading to cancellation of Hindi paper. These had raised questions over the exam reforms introduced from the 2011-12 academic calendar.

Even at nursery level, there were many developments. Following a series of court cases, the lieutenant governor was entrusted with deciding admission guidelines. While his order dated December 18, 2013, was welcomed by parents, it dealt a big blow to schools. It abolished the management quota and the neighbourhood factor was given priority. The order clearly stated that only 5% staff quota will be allowed. In case the seats of the wards in the staff quota remained vacant, it would be open to the usual candidates. While 5% quota was reserved for girls in coed schools, 25% seats were reserved for students falling in the category of economically weaker section (EWS) and disadvantaged groups.

The various court cases resulted in several stays and two rounds of draws. Interstate transfer was dropped from the guidelines and then restored. The LG’s order had also enforced EWS reservation in minority institutions— based on lease deed agreements and not the Right to Education Act. The minority schools also moved the court and got themselves exempted from the guidelines altogether.

Finally, one of the court cases filed by two school associations won them the autonomy to decide their own criteria and points distribution systems this year.


NICL to recruit for 392 Officers post: How to apply

National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) invites application to fill vacancy of 392 Officers Scale I posts. The online application process will commence from January 5, 2014. Eligible and interested candidates can fill the application form latest by January 24, 2015.

Vacancy Details:
Total Post: 392
Names of the post:
Finance: 60 Posts
Legal: 60 Posts
Automobile Engineering: 30 Posts
Information Technology: 20 Posts
Generalist: 192 Posts

Click here to check Selection Procedure and Paper pattern

How to apply:
-Candidates are required to go to the Company’s website and click on the option “APPLY ONLINE” which will open a new screen

-To register application, choose the tab “Click her e for New Registr ation” and enter Name, Contact details and Email-id. A Provisional Registration Number and Password will be generated by the system and displayed on the screen. Candidate should note down the Provisional Registration Number and Password. An Email & SMS indicating the Provisional Registration number and Password will also be sent

-In case the candidate is unable to complete the application form in one go, he / she can save the data already entered by choosing “SAVE AND NEXT” tab Prior to submission n of the online application candidates are advise d to u se the “SAVE AND NEXT” facility to verify the details in the online application form and modify the same if required. Visually Impaired candidates should fill the application form carefully and verify/ get the details verified to ensure that the same are correct prior to final submission

-All the information given by the candidate in the application is treated as final and no correction is allowed after the final submission. Candidates are advised to carefully fill and verify the details in the online application themselves as no change will be possible / entertained after clicking the FINAL SUBMIT BUTTON

-The Name of the candidate and his /her Father/ Husband etc. should be spelt correctly in the application and should be the same as it appears in the Certificates/ Mark sheets as well as on the photo id. Any change/alteration found may disqualify the candidature.
Validate your details and Save your application by clicking the ‘Validate your details’ and ‘Save & Next’ button.

-Candidates can proceed to upload Photo & Signature as per the specifications given in the Guidelines for Scanning and Upload of Photograph and Signature detailed under point “C”

-Candidates can proceed to fill other details of the Application Form

-Click on the Preview Tab to preview and verify the entire application form before FINAL SUBMIT

-Modify details, if required, and click on ‘FINAL SUBMIT’ ONLY after verifying and ensuring that the photograph, signature uploaded and other details filled by you are correct

-Click on ‘Payment’ Tab and proceed for payment

-Click on ‘Submit’ button

Important Dates:
On line Registration commences from: 5th January 2015
Last Date for Online Registration: 24th January 2015
Payment of Application fees: 5th January 2015 to 24th January 2015
Date of online Examination various dates in April 2015
Downloading of call letters for examination commences from 10 days prior to the date of examination.

CAT 2014 topper Neha Manglik says Vedic maths helped her score better

Neha Manglik is the only woman among the 16 who scored 100 percentile in the Common Admission Test (CAT) 2014. The results were declared on December 28.

In an exclusive interview to, Neha says she is “a solution seeker” and she honed her skills in maths via lessons in ancient Vedic mathematics. Here are edited excepts of her interview:

Q. So how do you feel on being lone woman CAT topper this year?

A. I’m happy and thrilled at scoring 100 percentile. But this did not happen suddenly. I have been preparing for this since I was a child. I am a solution seeker; I look for improvements. While preparing for CAT, I identified that my maths needs improvements and I require more speed in calculations. I decided to learn some easy ways, explored and discovered Vedic Mathematic. And it surely helped me to score better.

Q. Did you take any coaching in Vedic maths?

A. No. I searched online and looked for Vedic mathematics videos on YouTube and I practiced the tricks and methods for a week. And here I am with brilliant scores. Also, I took some shortcut workshops to improve my performance. I believe in finding solutions.

Q. How did you score 100 percentile in English?
A. Well, as I said, it does not happen in a day. I was consistent in getting a command over the language. I read and write a lot. I read novels and books. I also write poems. This is how I practiced.

Q. What is your dream in life?

A. There are a lot of thoughts about my future and I definitely want a creative angle in whatever I choose to do, but what exactly I will do is not fixed. One thing I’m certain of is that I want to balance my work life with my family life. I will not compromise on family just to run after money or fame. Having said that, I always have and will continue to give my best to everything I do.

Q. Can you share one of your poems with us?
A. Yes, I will be glad to. Here you go –

Sharing Inspiration

Do you feel helpless, depressed and sad?
Like you’re losing everything you ever had?
If you need a motivational poem or quote
Or a saying or a story that someone wrote
Look within yourself, you will find
A hundred stories of that kind
Find motivation in whatever you see
The mountain or the roadside tree
The spider weaving a web from its spit
The mark on hard earth as water droplets hit
The ant trying hard to overcome that obstacle
Everything around you is purely a miracle
But a greater miracle is waiting within you
Unleash yourself, see what you can do
And never, ever wait for that inspirational quote
You’ve read enough, it’s time you wrote.

MBA 2015 Admission at IIT Madras

Kochi: Applications have been invited by Department of management Studies, Indian Institute of Management (IIT), Madras for admission to MBA Course of Academic Year 2015.
Graduates in any discipline from a recognised University (or professional qualifications equivalent to that of a university degree as recognized by the UGC) with a first class or 60% and above in their qualifying examination.
Final year students (of the above-mentioned program) are also eligible to apply. Such candidates, if selected, will be admitted provisionally, on the condition that they meet all requirements for the qualifying degree before the start of the program and produce provisional certificate of completion within two months of joining the program (by September 30, 2015)
IIT Graduates who obtain a CGPA of 8 and above (on the scale of 10) are exempted from CAT score.
Foreign / NRI applicants should have a valid GMAT score. In addition to online submission of application such candidates should forward a hard copy of the application along with a certificate from the Indian Embassy on their resident status.
Sponsored candidates can present valid scores in XAT or MAT if they do not have CAT scores. Such candidates should have a minimum of two years work experience in the sponsoring organization. In addition to online submission of application such candidates should forward a hard copy of the application through their sponsoring organization.
Defence personnel are exempted from the requirement of a valid score in national level entrance tests (CAT/ XAT/ MAT). In addition to online submission of application such candidates should forward a hard copy of the application through official channel.
Applications are to be submitted ONLINE at and the generated hardcopy of the application should reach Admissions Co-ordinator, MBA Programme, Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, PIN – 600036, Tamil Nadu on or before January 13, 2015.

Application fee for MBA 2015 admissions:
For General Category            Rs 1600
For SC/ST/PD                   Rs 800
For Women Candidates       No application fee
Foreign and NRI candidates US $100
Fee Payment is through Net Banking, Credit Card or Debit Card.
NRI/Foreign candidates can pay the fee through a Demand Draft/Banker’s cheque drawn in favour of THE REGISTRAR, IIT MADRAS and payable at Chennai.
For details, logon to the website: