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In October 1970 the Government announced an increase in the price of school meals. The programme uses this decision to highlight the nature of the choices involved in the decision making process the whole educational spectrum. How and where should this additional revenue be spent? What are the other factors involved, and what will be the effects of such decision on the children, parents and teachers? The programme begins with an edited Panorama report by Nicholas Harman, including an interview with the then Secretary of State, Mrs Margaret Thatcher. The issues are then developed in a studio discussion between Professor Gerry Fowler and Bob Bell of the Open University, and three MP's, Shirley Williams, Neil Marten, and John Pardoe.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: E221, Decision making in British education systems
Item code: E221; 01; 1974
First transmission date: 23-02-1974
Published: 1974
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:23
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Producer: Ken Little
Contributors: Neil Marten; John Pardoe; Margaret Thatcher; Shirley Williams; Bob Bell; Gerry Fowler; Nick Harman
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Decision-making; Educational revenue; Panorama; School meals; Secretary of State
Footage description: G.Fowler introduces the program and pinpoints the central subject - school meal charges. To begin with they will show a Panorama Film on the subject. The Panorama Film shows children at school, having dinners, the money being collected. There are also interviews with mothers about claiming free dinner, a doctor concerned with nutrition, a headteacher and pupils themselves at the local fish and chip bar. The Panorama presenter interviews Mrs. Thatcher, Secretary of State for Education. She explains how people can find out about free school meals and mentions a method whereby charges can be collected, or not, without other children knowing, thereby avoiding social stigma. She also refers to the cost of the subsidy, £75,000,000 and how else she could spend it. Fowler and Bell discuss the implications of the problem with Neil Marten, Shirley Williams and John Pardoe. First of all they ask why school meals always suffer and this develops into whether meals, milk etc - negotiable elements in the education budget - are really welfare problems and have nothing to do with education as such. Can money saved on meals be used in other parts of the education budget? What are the principles applied? How does government allocate its resources (l) in general (2) in education specifically. Clearly one small policy decision is merely part of the government's overall strategy and its political philosophy. Different departments have different priorities and poor interdepartmental relationships can lead to overlapping of function areas. They next discuss whether or not there was a conflict of strategy, its effects on Nursery Education and how this effects housewives and jobs. This expanded into a discussion on overall strategy, research programmes and how the work and the problems in office of implementing research recommendations. Problem of how to communicate the information concerning meal charges, via the Post Office or through schools themselves. Also how much are Ministers etc aware of the human factors involved is this communication process. Whose job is it to find out how schemes are being implemented and how well they work. Fowler reintroduces the question of school meal subsidies, how they could be operated and who really administers them, Central or Local Government. The problem of take up rate of welfare is touched on with Pardoe pointing out that those entitled to welfare find difficulty is filling in forms. The discussion closes on the question of how far the system is properly integrated and how rigid it is
Master spool number: 6HT/71033
Production number: 00525_6053
Videofinder number: 623
Available to public: no