Coalition, Saturday classes and dry comedy

A change of government has led to frenetic discussion online - even pupils are getting in on the act

Michael Shaw

Future historians wanting to trace teachers' reactions to the 2010 change of government would benefit from trawling through discussions in the TES online staffroom.

Or they could save time by just looking at the titles.

A thread titled "So farewell then Gordon Brown" was followed by "Why Dave is in Downing Street". More details then emerged of the coalition the Conservatives had created with the Liberal Democrats, sparking: "Nick Clegg PM - no really"; "How many of you Liberals feel cheated" and "Good Luck Dave".

As the new team of ministers was announced, teachers turned their fire on the new education secretary ("The Thoughts of Michael Gove - such as they are"), then on the practically "All White Male Cabinet", with some asking "Where were the women?" And barely had Gordon resigned when a thread titled "Vote David Milliband ..." appeared. All these discussions appeared together on a single page of the website.

The day after the new Government was confirmed, teacher Clifford W. Ashley was baffled about why his pupils were depressed. "A fair number of kids at school today were in high dudgeon at what they thought were imminent plans to dragoon them into school next Saturday," he explained. "What is the lineage of this rumour?"

It emerged that pupils were alarmed by an announcement the Conservatives made earlier this year in which they said they would offer extra lessons and activities on Saturdays for children from disadvantaged families.

Although this would be optional, the thought of going back to class at weekends was too much for many pupils. More than 2,000 teenagers quickly became fans of a Facebook group titled: "David Cameron: I am not going to school on Saturday!"

Away from the election, teachers were still discussing an article in The TES by children's author Eleanor Updale. She had argued that homework was a waste of time and "polluted" family life. With the exception of some secondary teachers, nearly all agreed.

madphysicsgeek summed up the arguments neatly: "Homework is just a placebo for kidsparentssenior management or a babysitting tool for parents who can't be bothered to do anything productive with their kids."

The change of government also saw the Department for Children, Schools and Families switch back to the simple old Department for Education.

Some teachers were glad the Department for Curtains and Soft Furnishings had gone.

"It was known to my colleagues as The Department for Comedy and Science Fiction," said DottyLou. "We shall have to have a rethink."

TheoGriff was reminded of a classic comment by the late, great TES columnist Ted Wragg: "Does it mean that if there is a Department for Education, there is also a Department against Education?" "That'll be Ofsted," replied soapboxgirl.

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Michael Shaw

I'm the director of TES Pro and former deputy editor of the TES magazine. I joined the publication as a news reporter back in 2002, and have worked in a variety of journalistic roles including editing its comment and news pages. In 2013 I set up the app version of the magazine, TES Reader, and the free TES Jobs app Michael Shaw

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