Philip Begley
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Education was another contentious policy area during the 1970s. The Conservative Party essentially moved from a position in which standards and choice were at the centre of its approach to education – but it had gone with the grain by expanding the number of comprehensive schools in Britain – to one in which it felt even more strongly about standards and choice, and was more sceptical about the need to impose comprehensives on unwilling parents and pupils, but still did not, or could not, commit to seriously undoing many of the most important changes. The party therefore looked for alternative ways in which standards and choice could be improved, once the types of school from which parents would have to choose was less of a factor. This chapter examines those alternative policies, including an assisted places scheme, educational vouchers and a Parents’ Charter. It shows again that short-term political factors often had the greatest immediate impact on Conservative policy.

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The making of Thatcherism

The Conservative Party in opposition, 1974–79


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