Hairdresser who 'founded' curriculum

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The Independent Online
Teachers have been wondering for a decade who on earth could have dreamt up the National Curriculum. Yesterday the question was answered - it was Margaret Thatcher's hairdresser.

The former prime minister certainly has some rather unorthodox influences, her former Education secretary, Kenneth Baker, has revealed.

In an interview published yesterday he described the source of some of her ideas.

"As far as I could see they came from her hairdresser, or it may have been her cleaner who lived in Lambeth, who was worried that her children were going to be educated by a lot of Trots," said Mr Baker who was Secretary of State for Education from 1986 to 1989.

The head of the Downing Street policy unit, Brian Griffiths, would be reduced to despair as Mrs Thatcher produced "a tatty piece of paper" from her handbag bearing a briefing, he told the Times Education Supplement.

Ministers and the Cabinet office were not told where the briefings came from, he said.

Sometimes they were "spot on", but sometimes "completely mad". "Even Brian Griffiths would put his head in his hands, because here was a personal briefing going straight to the Prime Minister which the system could not control," he said.

Mr Baker suspected Mrs Thatcher's hairdresser was a supporter of learning by wrote.

"She believed basically that all one needed in the National Curriculum were English, Maths and Science. It was a sort of Gradgrind curriculum, not a rounded one."

Mr Baker said his former boss was harsh with advisors who seemed poorly briefed.

"The handbag swung and, you know, it could be quite a nasty process".