WOMEN CAN BE LEADERS, TOO
An assembly to mark the death of Margaret Thatcher
Alan M. Barker
As with all rapid response assemblies, you might need to update this assembly prior to use.
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To encourage the students to reflect upon qualities of leadership with reference to the life of Margaret Thatcher.
Preparation and resources
- An image of Margaret Thatcher.
- A flip chart on which to list qualities of leadership.
- Display the image of Margaret Thatcher. In conversation with the school community, establish her identity, role and the reason for the recent news coverage. Explain that Margaret Thatcher, who died on 8 April 2013, was the United Kingdom’s first and only woman Prime Minister. She led the country for eleven years, from 1979 to 1990. David Cameron is the present Prime Minister. He said: ‘We have lost a great Prime Minister, a great leader and a great Briton.’
- Invite the school community to list some of the qualities needed by a great leader. Note them on a flip chart. Observe that, while many positions of leadership are held by men, such qualities are also found in many women. Ask: ‘Why has there only been one woman Prime Minister?’
- Reflect that three qualities enabled Margaret Thatcher to succeed.
Margaret was not born into a wealthy or powerful family. Her father was a shopkeeper. She worked hard at school and university, and became a scientist. She was determined to make a difference and decided she would do this through becoming a Member of Parliament. In 1959, Margaret became MP for Finchley – an area of North London.
(Identify your local MP.)
Observe that leaders need determination to ‘keep going’ and to achieve their goals.
When Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister, she was known as the Iron Lady. This name reflected her strong and determined character.
Margaret Thatcher wanted to make the United Kingdom a wealthier and more successful nation. She believed that it was important for everyone to work hard to succeed and that the government should not spend money carelessly. She became Prime Minister after an election held in 1979. Under her leadership, great changes were made to traditional patterns of work and industry. Large numbers of people opposed these changes, especially those working in the coal-mining industry.
Margaret Thatcher gave powerful speeches to persuade people to support her ideas and so she was re-elected as Prime Minister in 1983 and 1987.
Invite members of the school community to consider the changes that they would make if they were chosen to be Prime Minister. Reflect upon the variety of ideas and explain that this is why there are different political parties. Explain that a political party is a group of people who share similar ideas and ideals. Margaret Thatcher belonged to and became leader of the Conservative Party.
Reflect that leaders need courage to make difficult decisions and to stand up for their beliefs. Margaret Thatcher showed great courage when terrorists attempted to kill her by bombing the Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1984. Two years earlier, when the Falkland Islands were invaded, she sent a military task force which freed the islands after 11 weeks of fierce fighting. It was a great risk, but Margaret Thatcher was not afraid to take risks. ‘Defeat? I don’t recognize the meaning of the word,’ she said (April 1982).
- Conclude that Margaret Thatcher, the first and only woman UK Prime Minister, was a leader who demonstrated great determination, clear aims and courage. Refer back to the list of leadership qualities and reflect that some people think that she lacked the ability to listen and failed to understand how her changes affected families and local communities. Perhaps that was why others in the Conservative Party withdrew their support for her leadership in 1990. However, she will be honoured at her funeral service in London on Wednesday, 17 April and remembered long afterwards.
Her achievement has been summed up by David Cameron:
‘There were people who said a woman couldn’t lead.
She defied them all.’
Time for reflection
Think of a leader you know. Be thankful for their strengths.
Pray for national leaders.
give our leaders
determination to serve;
wisdom to do what is right;
and courage in times of danger.
‘He who would valiant be’ (Come and Praise, 44)