Monday, 8 April 2013

Let's teach them a lesson they'll never forget

Posted on 18th March 2013

I am rushing to write this before the self- imploding party of government loses its leader – the U turn specialist Cameron, in favour of the literally well- heeled Teresa May. Mrs May's unmoving hostility to the gathered mass of the Police Federation won her the sort of drooling applause normally reserved for some winking innuendo in the hanging and immigration debates at party conference.

Eastleigh is not my favourite town : I once reversed a lorry into a ditch there and had to be removed by a crane late on a Friday night, in the days when Friday nights were very important to me.

The Tories lost the recent Eastleigh by election –the one caused by the sudden realisation of the, “I am totally innocent of these charges” Lib Dem MP Huhne, that he did break the law, did pervert the course of justice and is now in prison. Their vote went down by 14% whilst the Lib Dems’ went down by 14.5%. The former was “disappointing” (Cameron) and the latter was “a stunning Victory” (Clegg). Such stunning Maths! Which brings me, again I’m afraid, to Michael Gove.
Having told the parliamentary select committee to find something useful to do, rather than waste his time with their tiresome questions - and this is the sort of accuracy in paraphrase that protects me from his spin doctors’ assaults – Mr Gove showed his mastery of stalinist mathematics. He was asked to explain his proclamation that each individual school’s results need to be above average for them to be classed as “Good.” Gove insists all schools must be at least “Good” How can all schools achieve above average anything? He stared with that look of contempt designed to tell critics that when Michael Gove is in charge of his dream (North Korea in Westminster) they will know what it is to waste a dictator’s time.

This is the man who has claimed the authority to decide on all curriculum matters from birth to 19 for all children. Well, not quite all, of course, the no league tables, No-Ofsted private schools can teach whatever parents pay them to do.

But, follow closely and suspend disbelief: my senior sources in the Department for Education have informed me that Michael Gove has no interest in education and does not want his present job. On the way to being crowned primus inter pares of the Conservative Party his burning desire is to be Home Secretary where he can push home his 100% unwavering support for a class society. The DfE advisors on education all ran away from Mr Gove some time ago, leaving him with a couple of “Special Advisors” who spend their time defending accusations of bullying and definitely not being the authors of the scalding twitter account (“@education)at which Mr Gove’s previous employer, also Mrs Gove’s current employer, Rupert Murdoch, might have giggled. Oh and “primus inter pares” is the title, when translated from the latin, of a novel by the autobiographically confused, disgraced and imprisoned sometime Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party , Lord Archer, “First Amongst Equals.”

On his way to Home Secretaryship Gove has competition from Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. You can tell much about a man from his nickname The man who, "stood six foot six, weighed 245 pounds and sent a Lousiana fella to the Promised Land"  in a dispute over  a Cajun Queen was of course, Big John, (Big Bad John if he was outside of hearing range). The new pope has adopted the name of a man who was kind to poor people and animals and created the nativity scene so frequently part of the primary school curriculum. They called him Saint Francis. So when you hear that Grayling is known as Attack Dog you just know you are not in for a move to the liberal left.
Thing is, I agree with Grayling on his recent policy suggestion. I call it a suggestion; it’s more a “vote for me, nod and a wink.” Here’s the thinking of the attack dog: £245 million is spent on incarcerating 1,600 young criminals in England and Wales each year. 70% re-offend. Everyone knows, and it really is everyone, that most of these kids have lousy literacy skills. Grayling told BBC Radio that he wants youth detention centres to, "focus much more on education.” He says he is considering proposals to turn some centres into, "secure colleges," to improve re-offending rates.

He wants, “better value and better outcomes,” and,” People with skills in education will be called upon to contribute solutions.” Can you see where this is going? Grayling has done the maths, although wildly confusing the figures, and he says,” Young offenders cost three times what top private schools charge.” Top Tories always say they want more children to benefit from the top private schools; extending privilege it’s called. The best schools should be encouraged to expand. Private schools build character. Cameron (Eton()Gove (Gordons) Osborne (St Pauls) Clegg (Winchester )and others in power certainly can’t be accused of being out of touch on this matter. How wonderful for a young offender to benefit from elite education and to have a top politician as mentor!
Those of you harping back to Huhne now in prison for at least a couple of weeks more, Archer, the 600 or so MPs caught up in the expenses “scandal” the election fraudsters, those taking their bestest buddies on foreign office jaunts, or the MP in post karaoke punch up last week, shame on you. They have all reformed and will not re-offend. But having been to the darkside of criminality who better to empathise and mentor young offenders?

Grayling said he, “was not necessarily thinking of Eton,” but,he was. He is giving them a hint that they could step into the forefront of the Big Society, take on responsibility for the misguided, teach them away from Ofsted, exam stats and league tables and show them how to use their old school tie to turn away from crime, or at least avoid prison.
You get Eton for a bit over £32,000 a year and it’s not as if you need any particular skills which you would need for The Royal Ballet School at £38,500 . I am sure the private schools will want the chance to show us the way. Big Society Rules OK; Go for it AD; Go Dave’s, or Teresa’s, doggies.

Dennis O'Sullivan


  1. Hi Dennis
    Although you don't know me, I am very familiar with your name as my three grandchildren, Rosie, Molly and Joe Barley all attend your school.
    I am about to start my own blog and I am anticiapting a similar rant to your own. I have been involved in education for over fifty years as teacher, Headteacher, Primary LA adviser and regrettably as an OFsted Inspector. I now train governors in NE Lincs having served as a governor for many years. I firmly believe that education particularly in NE Lincs is in the worst state it ever has been. We now have over 50% of our schools as Academies and I have no idea what will happen to them when things go pear-shaped as we have virtually no LA left. I agree with your views on Mr Gove and believe his present policies, if you can call them that, are creating an education system from which it will be difficult to recover. Perhaps one day we might get to meet through my grandchildren but if not I look forward to conversing with you through our blogs. Hope the new term is good for you.
    Jim Barley

  2. Hi im not the biggest fan of Mr Gove so if you ask me he is a
    disappointment to the country and should be replaced with someone who knows what's best for British children and don't turn them into dim students as a majority of students have a very bright future and as far as I am concerned if Gove is still Head of Education there is no future for the students who wish to pass their exams and will end up on the doll earning their wages from the government and not showing their true potential.

  3. Enjoyed the blog so feel bad about nit picking but didn't Clegg go to Westminster rather than Winchester?