Showing posts from July, 2012

Uri Geller bent my classroom: a parable of bad science in education


Ofsted put in Special Measures: the blind leading the sighted

The title of this blog is a headline you are unlikely to ever read. But before anything is invented, it is first an idea, so let's at least entertain the idea and aspire to its subsequent genesis. Why so serious? Because, like the rotten apple of Gotham City, the people tasked with directing and protecting education have become as wanton and derelict as any flatfoot with a roll of fifties and a guilty conscience. The Office for Standards in Teaching, has been caught in flagrante delicto. Who are the Watchmen? Ofsted. So who hires the Watchmen?

Reports in the TES indicate that:

Tribal, one of the major firms that carries out inspections on behalf of the watchdog, employs at least five lead inspectors who do not have qualified teacher status (QTS), it has emerged. Let me put a frame around this: the custodians of our profession, the ones who make the judgements on us as we sweat and fret and plan and mug for their pleasure, desperate to catch their eye with a flash of learning ank…

You don't have to be crazy to run schools, do. Wilshaw and the eccentricity of leadership.

Sir Michael Wilshaw wants Heads to be more 'odd' according to this week's TES.

While Sir Michael was not encouraging his audience to don flat caps and prowl buses, he did argue that the best heads think outside the box. “Don’t be afraid to be slightly maverick,” he said. “Do things out of the ordinary; don’t necessarily be a conformist. Strange is sometimes good. The best heads are often quite odd people - I think I was one of them.”  I will avoid the open goals that this offers, however tempting.  Dame Wilshaw draws opprobrium like St Sebastian attracts arrows whenever he says anything, and adding a breath to the mountain of mockery he normally obtains would be as churlish as criticising 50 Shades of Grey for being 'a bit shit', which it is. I have to say, every moment I have spent working within a hierarchy indicates that he speaks the truth.

I once ran an achingly unhip dungeon of disco in Soho; sent a new general manager, we all waited for him to turn up. …

Troops to Teachers: Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Twiggy?

I normally prefer to play the ball, not the man, but Stephen Twigg is beginning to look like Quiz-Kid Donnie King, the washed up yesterday man from Paul Thomas Anderson's 1999 ensemble film Magnolia. 'Look, you used to love me!' he seems to say. 'I sorted that rotter Portillo out, remember?' Well, I do remember, and I'm very grateful. But right now Michael Gove is rolling his tanks on to the lawns of the secret garden, and there's no credible opposition across the sword lines that looks close to matching wits with him, like Moriaty and Holmes, grappling on the Reichenbach falls of the schools debate. It's The Hulk versus Mr Bean right now. Whatever camp you're in, that can't be good for the debate. Every time I see Stephen Twigg I think, aww man, does his mum know he's got those scissors?

The latest mouse fart from the Ideas Factory is a strangely familiar air: Military Schools for tough (read: poor) areas. A spot of service, it seems, will…

The 2012 TES Schools Awards: Oscars for Mr Chips

At the 2012 TES School Awards yesterday, because Duck Confit with five-spice chutney doesn't eat itself, you know. The oddness of the hour was circumscribed succintly by the host, Rob Brydon when he said, 'It's always been my ambition to host a mid-afternoon award ceremony that celebrated educational achievement.'

Our romantic ideals are rooted of course in Oscars, Baftas, Tonys; garrulous, rather grimy back-scratching affairs where the neurotic and the desperate congratulate each other on their capacity to be unhappy in public. But at least they're dressed with the doomed and the beautiful. If you've ever seen (and I have) a Whitbread middle-manager awards ceremony, then reader, you possess the exact GPS coordinates of Hades. Christ have mercy.

The showbiz ceremonies shamelessly mug success, measured either by the slavish number-clicking of bums hitting cantilevered seats, or by the oligarchic decree of a self-elected inner cabal of critics and industry aris…