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Editor's letter

When Sir Keith Joseph became Education Secretary in 1981, he was astonished to discover how few powers the "holder of his office" actually held. He couldn't make schools or local authorities do much at all, and the only required subject in primaries was Religious Education.

One of Sir Keith's early steps toward changing all that was to make local authorities bid for a small segment of their funding to support specific projects - the first money given to LEAs with strings attached. But the biggest changes for teachers began in 1989 with the national curriculum. It was shocking tht government should intervene in what was thought of as "the secret garden" of the primary curriculum.

Today, of course, ministers have a vast amount of power over your working day. And they do it, to a large extent, by controlling a great deal of money - for training, materials, advisers, literacy and numeracy consultants, classroom helpers. They can make your day tougher, with targets and tests, or easier, with extra helpers and smaller classes. It does matter who the Secretary of State for Education is.That's one reason why it's important for you to vote on June 7.

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