A new Government circular to local education authorities withdrawing the famous 1065 document on comprehensive education was issued on Wednesday by Margaret Thatcher, the new secretary of state for education and science.
Local authorities are now free to withdraw their plans for comprehensive reorganisation if they wish, and the 22 local education authorities (LEAs) whose plans have not been approved by the Labour government are no longer obliged to submit plans to the Department of Education and Science.
"The Government's aim is to ensure that all the pupils shall have full opportunities for secondary education suitable for their needs and abilities," says the circular. "The Government, however, believes it is wrong to impose a uniform pattern of secondary organisation on local authorities by legislation or other means."
Mrs Thatcher claims that local authorities will now be freer to determine the shape of secondary education in their areas. She will expect "educational considerations in general, local needs and wishes in particular and the wise use of resources" to be the main principles determining the local pattern.
Whatever course LEAs adopt, the new secretary of state trusts that they will maintain "close consultations with those representing the denominational and other voluntary schools". She also urges that any proposed changes should be given to parents to make their views known before decisions are reached.
Mrs Thatcher's decision to withdraw 1065 has provoked a fierce reaction from the NUT, the Comprehensive Schools Committee and the Federation for the Advancement of State Education, as well as from the former secretary of state, Mr Edward Short.
Mr Michael Armstrong, chairman of the Comprehensive Schools Committee, called the Government's decision "as regrettable as it is irrelevant".