As Secretary of State for Education and Science in the 1970s, the Iron Lady earned the nickname ‘Thatcher the milk snatcher’ when she stopped free school milk. Her current successor Michael Gove is a disciple of her policies.
Margaret Thatcher’s political school report card is mixed. She was known as the Milk Snatcher as a result of deciding to axe free school milk for 7 to 11 year-olds when she was Education Secretary, The Independent reports. In her autobiography she wrote: “I learned a valuable lesson – I had incurred the maximum of political odium for the minimum of political benefit.”
As Prime Minister, she set up Ofsted and with it school inspections. Many of her policies sound familiar in today’s Coalition government – she wanted to free schools to have more control over their own admissions and educational policies, and to increase parents’ choice over which schools to send their children. Although she wanted to protect the grammar schools from becoming comprehensives, she was responsible for the closure of more grammar schools than any other Secretary of State.
Margaret Thatcher didn’t get everything her own way. In the 1980s she wanted to introduce student loans, but in the face of massive opposition from middle-class Tory voters and students she was forced to retreat.
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