Times change and so do Conservative values

3rd January 2003 at 00:00
Thirty years ago, as comprehensives developed, Catholic schools were under threat, S4 exams were in turmoil and Glasgow secondaries were causing a rumpus. David Henderson dusts down the Scottish Education Department records

How Tory values change. Gordon Campbell, Scottish Secretary, in February 1972, told Labour MPs that he had no intention of interfering directly in Glasgow's secondary reorganisation, despite thousands of middle-class protests over the threat to schools such as the High School of Glasgow and Allan Glen's.

The Labour-led authority was determined to bring the six former fee-paying but still selective secondaries within a comprehensive structure. The High School would either have become a specialist school or a teachers' centre.

The High School for Girls, Hillhead High, Notre Dame High and St Mungo's High were the others directly affected, along with the two selective primaries at Hillhead and Notre Dame.

But a Conservative administration refused to alter its view that school re-organisation was best left to local decision-making. Hector Monro, the education under-secretary, said what worked best in rural Aberdeenshire was not necessarily appropriate for urban areas. Two years previously, his administration had legislated to give authorities licence to plan comprehensive schooling and he was not about to reverse his opinion.

The Tory reluctance to intervene forced the High School into the private sector.

* Inspectors were not impressed with the former fee-paying schools at the time. "By and large, however, they occupy a developmental backwater."

"Visiting Allan Glen's ended on notes of despair that so little challenge was offered to so much talent," they noted.

Having toured the denominational sector, they say: "If you are a Roman Catholic, the best you can hope for is to be a girl, reasonably intelligent, with a preference for being educated by nuns."

Officials in the SED further accepted the closure of Jordanhill School which was no longer wanted as a demonstration school by the college of education.

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