The holidays are so very nearly here. Some of us will soon have time, at last, to play the game currently taking the nation by storm – Pokemon Gove. The object of the game sounds simple enough: to capture on our mobile devices as many cult figures as possible from that magical world of make-believe known as the Department for Education. (Or “Pokemin”, as the game calls the cute little collection.) There are scores of characters new and old to find, though top of most teachers’ targets will be “The Gove” himself, “Morgan Magikarp” (aka “Oddish”), “Weedlegibbs”, “Edballs” and the newly released “Greeneen”. Catching them on camera, however, will require great stealth. Silence will be essential. Most of the little Pokemin folk have an innate ability to spot a teacher’s voice from miles away. They will retreat, accordingly, down the nearest hole or crevice. If and when we do find one – whether it be in a church, a brothel, sleeping inside a slice of wedding cake etc – we must remember to treat the little fellows with care and sensitivity. They are not used to meeting and listening to normal teachers. Any possible encounter could potentially kill them.
'Ghostly presence of The Gove'
Interested in playing? Well, here’s how the scoring works: • Nine points: a maximum nine points for any teacher coming across a real, genuine Gove, Weedlegibbs etc. No one quite knows why it’s nine. One day it might become 10; who knows? • Five points: if a player declares that there is a “lookalike” in the vicinity – and the likeness to one of the characters is then confirmed by other contestants – they score up to five points, depending on the degree of similarity • Three points: resigning after just two days as Shadow Pokemin, Pat “This is my dream job” Glass is someone who has surely earned cult status and fully deserves to be part of the game this summer. • One point for any contestant who, upon entering a space, claims to feel the haunting presence of a past or present Pokemin leader there. This rule is obviously open to abuse but many teachers frequently report that they feel haunted by certain Pokemin wherever they go. “The Gove” is the one most commonly cited on these occasions, though more experienced players will also tell you about their “Sir Keith” moments • Pokebacc points: when the game is over, certain Pokemin characters score extra bonus points, originally decided by the Pokemins themselves. Pokemins with Latin, history or geography backgrounds, for instance, score much higher than those with technical, creative or business qualifications. No one quite knows why. Perhaps their new leader, Greeneen, will look at this bizarre rule, amongst other things. After all, she specialised herself in the supposedly valueless, "non-facilitating" economics. A world in which teachers are led by a load of strange and elusive Pokemon people? This is all escapist nonsense, of course. Though I do just wish it were a little more so.
Stephen Petty is head of humanities at Lord Williams’s School in Thame, Oxfordshire