All is mad in leadership and war

25th April 2003 at 01:00
From time to time, the Government manages to trump even its own aces in the lunacy game. Forget the two committees they set up to look into the problems of duplication: we are talking serious derangement here.

I refer, of course, to the Leadership Incentive Grant, or LIG a scheme for giving headteachers several hundred thousand pounds - in some cases to sack themselves and their senior colleagues.

In theory, a Leadership Incentive Grant is designed to improve management in schools, but according to ministers it can be used to "take out" heads and senior teachers who are not thought to be doing their jobs properly.

The language of warfare and the SAS may be contemporary, but it is not the most thoughtful use of terminology. In the words of a phonics reading scheme: the LIG is big. It will tig the prig who does not give a fig.

Imagine the conversation:

"Here's three hundred-plus grand for you."

"Oh, that's very kind. What's it for?"

"It's to buy a big gun for you to shoot yourself and your colleagues with, you clueless bastards."

In the circumstances, it might be better to call the scheme Utterly Nutterly or, if the departing head is allowed to keep all the loot, a SPRIG (Spend Posterity Rolling In Gold).

Take it from me, if this goes ahead as planned there will be mayhem. Of course, every effort must be made to improve management in schools among heads, deputies, heads of department and senior teachers, but macho talk about "taking people out" demeans the whole operation. Furthermore, there will be endless wrangles about who is incompetent and who is merely working against the odds.

This plan has the dabs of the Number 10 policy unit all over it: the tough-guy talk, the detachment from reality, the central control over schools' plans. Why use finesse when a sledgehammer is available? I suspect this war against heads and teachers will lead to a fair bit of collateral damage.

However, I do not want to be entirely negative about the matter, so perhaps I can help by setting up a Seniors' Assassination Squad. We in the SAS will do the necessary "taking out" of heads thought to be useless as cheaply and expeditiously as possible, using all the latest technology for this sort of operation. So there will be no need to prove anyone is not up to the job, nor to hold lengthy tribunals. Here is a short description of some of our weaponry.

Using drones: this involves hiring several really incompetent teachers who never lift a finger. Eventually, the head and senior staff all resign in despair, saving thousands in compensation and pay-offs.

Cluster bombs: put the school into a cluster of other schools that are staffed by heads who are completely mad. After a while, targeted heads believe they are also crazy - this is known in the psychiatry textbooks as folie a` deux - and retire to the rest home for the terminally knackered.

Bunker busters: we bombard headteachers with so many official letters and initiatives that they become beleaguered and withdraw to their studies.

When the postie calls one day with an even more massive bag, they come out meekly with their hands up and retire voluntarily. Or has that one been done already?

Laser-guided target missiles: one of our SAS team shines a laser beam on to the school. Just when the school has met its existing targets, another more demanding set (including, where necessary, the call for 110 per cent of pupils to reach the required standard) is fired along the beam with deadly accuracy, landing inch perfect on the headteacher's desk without even breaking a window. Result: the poor beggar quits in despair.

Snatch squads: if all else fails, a group of us, dressed in full combat gear, will rush the stage during assembly, grab any senior staff who are thought to be falling short in their performance and carry them bodily out of the hall. No questions asked, no hearings, no evidence. A clean snatch.

Once we have cleaned up educational leadership, we in the SAS will turn our hands to other fields of endeavour, where the same sort of jocular perversity will be required. Alongside the LIG there will be a BIG (Bankrupts' Insolvency Grant) so that businesses can be paid to give away their products to customers instead of charging for them.

Our Politicians' Ignorance Grant (PIG) will be available for those in politics who want to campaign for their opponents in the next election.

There will also be a CIG (Complete Idiot Grant). This will be used to "take out" the goon who dreamt up the whole barmy idea of paying people to sack themselves.

Spike Milligan must be turning in his grave.

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