Yet Another Education Secretary

Portrait of Gillian Keegan, Education Secretary

July 2014…

An airless, windowless room awkwardly wedged deep in the bowels of a school site that has been extended upwards, outwards and into ‘mobile’ classrooms.  

No natural light falls here. 

Instead: the asthmatic wheezing of a tea urn, the usual depressing smear of ‘shout outs to colleagues’, dog-eared mental health ‘signposts’ and passive-aggressive coffee fund or “Would you leave your own kitchen in this state?” notes.

The occupants reflect the room.

Suddenly, a muted cheer from the bedraggled denizens (of what we might now term a safe place) who are within touching distance of the day that makes the rest of the academic year bearable- Gove is gone!

If the past is a foreign country then we must surely be on another planet by now.  How normal it seemed in 2014 that Mr. Gove would take on the ‘Blob’ for a full four years. How we loved that focus on grammar pedantry! I dimly recall him wheeling an old Labour warhorse (Academies) through the suffocating layers of Whitehall documentation and then onward, further, swashbuckling through the dusty backwaters of the Local Education Authority network.

Perhaps the current febrile state of Parliament could have been predicted back then, but certainly not by your humble author who, having been shown a cloudy, bile-green Nokia screen with “WAP” technology in 1999 thought; “Pointless-who would ever want to read the news on a mobile phone?”.

Reader-that is why I am here ruefully picking over the carcass of the past while the owner of that phone is retired to the country…

Can you name the current Education Secretary?  I had to look it up. On a mobile, naturally.  

My memory goes back from Mr. Gove to Ms. Morgan, who, on further investigation served 1 year & 364 days and then trails off into the gloom with a carousel of carefully curated media soundbites served up alongside footage of competent people striding purposefully down a short street with the noir door beckoning.

We all know that feeling at work when a boss moves on unexpectedly.  Perhaps schools and governments, with their multitudinous public and private facing edges, amplify the anxiety when change happens at the top.  Humans are humans; is it fair to assume that leaders looking longingly at exits, people parachuting into poorly prepared positions and countless weary foot-soldiers dreading the next wave of an incoming ‘pedagogical approach’ reflect the situation around that top table? 

In other words, could the chaos in Whitehall, where it matters, be refracted, reflected and replicated back in schools, where it also matters?

I’m not one for predicting the future, how about you?

J Swift is an English tutor with Newman Tuition, currently teaching at an international school in the Middle East. To book a lesson with him, or one of our other excellent tutors, please call us on 020 3198 8006, email us at [email protected], or complete the form on the ‘Contact Us’ page.

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