Compare the
July 13, 2010

Gove Compare…

As a recently retired primary school headteacher, try as I might, I’m still finding it difficult to distance myself  from or  prevent myself getting worked up by education news stories   – and there have been a few good ones recently!

Fast tracked, rising star of the Tory party, education minister Michael Gove is quickly realising that being in power is just a bit more difficult than being in opposition.

Life on the government front bench brings with it far greater media scrutiny, particularly when you drop a brick or two – well five actually!  That’s how many incorrect lists, so far, he has published regarding the schools that will be affected following his axing of the Building Schools for the Future programme

Gove’s facial expression coupled with a propensity to blink furiously has led the rather superior, and patronising minister to be likened to a meerkat by Ann Treneman, writing in The Times. So to paraphrase two well-known insurance adverts, gove compare the meerkats!

What do you think?

If his ineptitude were not so serious for all those students, staff and parents who have had their hopes falsely raised and then promptly dashed again, it would be funny.

Does he have aides to help him with his weekly shopping list?


DC Terrified!

David Cameron (he’s the one on the right just in case, like me, you have difficulty telling the two apart!)  revealed to Sunday’s News of the World that he is TERRIFIED at the thought of sending his kids to a state secondary school in central London.

The Eton educated prime minister has always made great political capital of the fact he desperately wants his children to go through the state education system, so is this an early warning that he might be having second thoughts?

He announced,” I’ve got a six-year-old and a four-year old and I’m terrified living in central London”, “There aren’t enough good school places, that’s the problem.”          

Well isn’t that wonderful, towards the end of the school year when workloads are often at their greatest and energy levels at their lowest, for the hard pressed and genuinely hard-working teachers of central London to receive such a vote of confidence from the Prime Minister?  

I wonder how much his assertions are based simply on superficial schools data, or is it just another too good to miss opportunity to have another go at the previous government’s record on education?

I suspect he is so busy that he has aides who do the groundwork for him but if he really wants to keep in touch perhaps he should do as other working parents in the real world do, get on his bike (don’t forget your helmet & keep to the left) and visit the local schools, talk to the staff and the students and get a real feel for what’s going on. He might be pleasantly surprised.  

S*** Ms Atkins!

I couldn’t believe what I was reading on the front page of the Sunday Times. I had to pinch myself – it wasn’t April 1st was it?

Zenna Atkins, soon to step down from her position as chairwoman of Ofsted, is either cracking under the strain or demob happy. Either way Ms Atkins, who interestingly left school with just one O-level to her name (my guess is domestic science!) has announced, to a fanfare of trumpets, that it is her personal opinion that every school needs a ‘useless teacher’!

She maintains that primary schools, in particular, should provide opportunities for children to identify and deal with people in authority who can’t adequately perform their job. “One really good thing about primary school is that every kid learns how to deal with a really s*** teacher”.

This is of course beyond belief from a member of an organisation that has always taken itself far too seriously, but is so ridiculous it isn’t even worth getting worked up about. I’ve always considered Ofsted a bit of an irrelevance but a necessary evil. With this sort of woman in charge it is little wonder that an increasing number of heads, teachers and parents don’t pay too much attention to their findings.

However Zenna’s idea does raise all sorts of interesting questions?

  • Will there be a new category for Ofsted’s classroom inspection judgements :  outstanding, good, satisfactory, less than satisfactory, s****    
  • Will it be held against schools if none of the teachers meet Ofsted’s new s*** teacher criteria?
  • Will governors and headteacher’s be required to officially nominate a **** teacher and write it into their job description?
  • If the school is having difficulty finding a s*** teacher will the head be expected to ask a teacher to lower their standards a bit and take on the responsibility?
  • Will parents be informed when it is their child’s turn to be in the s*** teacher’s class or left to work it out for themselves?   
  • Will the nominated s*** teacher be entitled to a TLR (Teaching and Learning Responsibility) payment?  or
  • Will there be a separate pay scale for s*** teachers with a lower threshold that teachers can apply to go through?  
  • Will outstanding and good schools be able to advertise for a s*** teacher in order to fill that gap in their staffing profile?
  • Will parents be able to claim compensation if a school is unable to provide their child with a s*** teacher for one out of their seven years in primary education?