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There has been some rather lurid speculation that a small group of Old Etonians are formulating the manner, style and objectives of government but this conspiracy theory is as unbelievable as the outrageous allegations made against famous, white, wealthy middle-aged men and their innocent leisure activities. The power does not derive from Eton but from a little way up the M40 amid the dreaming spires of Oxford.
As sinister Conservative grandees, ambitious cabinet ministers, a scheming opposition and powerful media figures connive, plot and sharpen knives to see who will inherit Cameron`s mess, it is tertiary education rather than an elitist private school than is informing policy. When Boris Johnson was questioned about his feelings that David Cameron achieved a first but he was awarded a lesser degree, the Mayor of London helpfully pointed out that his degree was in Classics and Cameron`s degree was in the “Mickey Mouse” subject of Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Boris seemed to infer that a PPE from Oxford carried as much gravitas as a degree in Media Studies from the University of Oakham and Greater Rutland. (more…)
Diving for pearls
Of all the important things taught at seats of learning both great and small, how to be a parent stands little chance of being included on the curriculum. Like parachuting, deep sea diving and mating, all the manuals, theory and research in the world cannot replace the hands-on experience of on-the-job training. Failure seems inevitable as attempting to channel positivity, hope, compassion and basic human decency without imposing anxiety, fear and an all consuming ambition is a balancing act that is almost impossible to carry off. Thus, misplaced and erroneous reflected parental glory came a knocking on the door on AS-Level results day.
We have tried our very best not to impose pressure in the pursuit of top examination grades preferring to allow young minds to chart their own course. We failed on occasions and with hindsight comments such as “what do you mean you can`t grasp the concept of filial piety in King Lear” and “for heaven`s sake, child, it`s only a quadratic equation” barked across the dinner table did not exactly help. After a while, the stock question “have you done your homework” was always replied with “yes” even though we knew the answer was always “no”. As one wag many years ago wrote on the wall of the gents at my student union; “knowledge wilts in the greenhouse of academia”. (more…)
The spin doctor at the back is saying; “He`s good. He just nicked that kid`s lunch and the dinner lady is rolling a big, fat bogie to plop into his rice pudding”.
It is irrelevant to ask who Nicky Morgan is because the correct and only answer is that she is not Michael Gove. Elected to parliament as long ago as 2010, the member for Loughborough`s elevation to a senior office of state came as something of a surprise but the nation`s children can rest assured that nobody, with the possible exception of Rolf Harris, could damage education with the zeal of her creepy and now officially ugly predecessor.
To suggest that Nicky Morgan`s only qualification to be Secretary of State for Education is her lack of a Y chromosome would be maliciously erroneous. Like almost every previous Secretary of State of differing shades of political grey, Qualified Teacher Status or actual classroom experience is not listed on the essential requirements section of the job description. Instead, Ms Morgan`s CV contains invaluable expertise perfectly suited to the coalition government`s education policy. Before entering parliament, Nicky Morgan was a corporate lawyer specialising in mergers and acquisitions. Promoted to equalities minister, she has voted against equal marriage. (more…)
It wasn`t exactly a JFK moment or an Elvis moment or even a John Lennon moment but the day after Bastille Day 2014 is now carved into memory.
Tuesday morning was always going to be “challenging” as a long scheduled three hour meeting starting at nine would require concentration and the certain need for some agile thinking if I had any hope of a successful outcome. It was the sort of meeting that requires you to switch off your phone. Emerging into the sunshine feeling quietly confident and more that a little smug, I resorted to a nearby hostelry to collect my thoughts over a pint of fine English ale. Finding a seat outside and sparking up a gasper, I switched the phone back on.
A stream of about a dozen text messages broke the peace and quiet of the beer garden. This was most unusual as text messages are rare and are normally confined to simple pleas from the homestead to “buy cat food” or an attempt at further extortion from the tax dodging bandits calling themselves my network provider. (more…)
The full English
Enjoying a breakfast consisting of a croissant and a cup of strong Turkish coffee, a person from Scotland informed me of the news of the day via a radio manufactured in Taiwan. With an elbow resting on the Swedish worktop, I poured another cup of Yemen`s finest from the stainless steel Spanish percolator and considered the question being asked on the radio. British values, it seems, are to be promoted in British schools and the questioner was asking what defines British values.
Responding to a non-existent plot to indoctrinate children into the ways of terrorism, Michael Gove now insists that British values will be actively promoted in schools. He helpfully added that British values include respect and tolerance and liberty and without any sense of shame or irony, the PM chimed in with talk of responsibility. The mouthful of coffee ended up all over the Chinese wok. (more…)