10 Jun '14

News When Whitehall meddles in schools, it's only ever bad news | Simon Jenkins

Forget talk of liberating local schools in Birmingham or anywhere else. The distant rule of Gove and Ofsted is far more damagingWhere is the voice of Birmingham's teachers? In a former life I was briefly a teacher. Of all the jobs I have ever done, this was the hardest. I felt I was doctor, policeman, judge, scholar, counsellor and friend. I felt horribly responsible for the faces of the future gazing up at me. My professional accountability was to them and no one else. Never did I give a thought to her majesty's secretary of state for education. He could go hang. So I can only assume Birmingham's teachers this week are doing just that: teaching.The text for the current school saga remains chapter two of Hard Times, Dickens's satire on a centralised school regime. It is a book strangely absent from Michael Gove's list. In Mr Gradgrind's classroom, fact must triumph and fancy perish. There arrives an inspector, "a mighty man at cutting and drying, a government officer, in his way a professed pugilist always with a system to force down the general throat to knock the wind out of common sense". This gentleman "had it from high authority to bring about the great public-office millennium, when Commissioners should reign upon earth". He and his sidekick, M'Choakumchild, are dead ringers for Gove and Ofsted. Dickens titled the chapter Murdering the Innocents. Continue reading...

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