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‘Sir’ is a state school English teacher in a big city in the UK. Prior to this he worked with children with a variety of Special Educational Needs, particularly those with behavioural and social problems. His teaching has been rated as ´Outstanding´ by Ofsted which means he once did a great job for 50 minutes. Save for a light dusting of fiction in order to protect the innocent (and indeed the guilty) anything recounted here is absolutely true. Otherwise, there will be some exciting political debate where everything Sir thinks is also absolutely true. Twitter: @seekingsir

10 May 2015

Whoever you vote for...

In celebration of the Athenian wisdom of our great nation, I will mark the resurrection of this humble corner of the educational blogosphere with with some wise words from our ex-glorious-leader, inadvertent (and strikingly successful) 'Pob' impersonator* and probable shadowy Nicky Morgan puppet-master for the next five years:

Children themselves know they are being cheated. Ultimately we owe it to our children. They are in school for 190 days a year. Every moment they spend learning is precious. If a year goes by and they are not being stretched and excited, that blights their life...

Of course, Michael didn't need anything like a 190 days to blight the lives of this lot (probably took them about that long to recover, mind):

The blissful effortlessness with which he so masterfully undermines himself is almost charming…  Ironically, despite the glaring exposure of Gove's patronising hubris, this is likely one of the few moments when even his most ardent detractors feel a pang of empathy for the man, perhaps, dare I say it, even a little pity.  We've all been there at some point. Granted, most of us in 'the blob' are generally blessed with oratory skills that are marginally less on the crushingly soporific side, but we've all been there: engaging kids and getting them to listen can be tough.  

So the point of this resurrectory post is not to indulge in some wanton, retrospective Gove-bashing.  In fact, there are a number of Gove-ist initiatives which I happen to think were bloody good.**  Nor is the purpose of this post to ruminate on what the immediate future might hold under his successor and our new political landscape.  Rather, it is to take a moment to reflect on the fact that another general election has passed and, as is customary, the piper of pedagogues has a sum total of - excuse the hypocritical Labour contract pun - zero hours teaching experience… 

It is to take another moment to ponder why the teaching profession continues to languish in such a dual mire of intellectual disrespect and professional ignorance on the part of the political class that it is still deemed appropriate for those with no experience of the job itself to preside over the direction of the entire profession.  Indeed, if Gove's dazzling display of oratorial ineptitude above is anything to go by, not only are our Education Secretaries unwilling to engage with the most basic realities of classroom life, they are unable to muster even a semblance of hope that they might actually grasp much of what the job entails (i.e. CPD point 1: definitely don't bore your class half to death…)

Whatever your political persuasion, it is a sad, and frankly ludicrous, state of affairs.

Current incumbent to the post, Nicky Morgan, spent a decade as a corporate lawyer before embarking on her political career.  I've spent nigh-on a decade teaching kids and managing local-level education initiatives.  I'd like to think I'm pretty good at what I do.  But the thought of me lending a hand in a corporate merger is comedically absurd.  Worse still, imagine if I was granted national responsibility for determining the legal framework for all of Britain's corporate activity?

Bit insulting to corporate lawyers, wouldn't you say?

To paraphrase the old anarchist slogan, it would seem that whoever you vote for, the Secretary of State for Education still gets in.  And they generally won't have any direct experience of actual education.

* If you're young enough to have no idea who Pob is, have a little search - a life changing insight into 80s Britain.  Hopefully he won't be tainted by Operation Yew Tree...

** The Year 6 Spelling Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) test, for example, was (and remains) an excellent piece of Gove-ist reformation.  For someone who has spent 8 years teaching 15-year-olds how to use full-stops, the need to raise standards of literacy was glaring and profound, particularly in Britain's most deprived communities where education should be doing its most transformative work; Gove's move to formalise the teaching of grammar in primary schools may not have been popular but it was plainly right for generations of children.


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