In bed with his lordship

7th October 2011 at 01:00

The Principal is about to change our Facebook status from "Faith" to "Academy". The governors are happy as long as we carry on using the Lord's Prayer as a behaviour management tool and continue with our annual shopping trip to Lourdes. I've not spent much time fretting. To be honest, my department has been too busy puzzling over the off-side rule for the new GCSE controlled assessments. Currently we're trying to work out how the kids can score maximum points without risking a yellow card. The key question is "How many words can they squeeze on to one A4 planning sheet before it looks like we are taking the piss?" The answer is "A lot more with a fineliner pen".

The principal announced his academy news this morning at a special all-staff meeting. Usually he only calls these when there's an imminent Ofsted visit or he's lost his favourite mug. According to him, the departure from local authority control will have little impact on our daily lives as the terms and conditions of our employment will remain the same. This sounds about as convincing as separating parents telling their kids that the marital split won't affect them: two weeks later mum is hooked on Prozac and online poker, while dad spite-fucks his girlfriend on mum's faux-fur rug. Of course, the management's changes to our working conditions might take a tad longer to implement. First the pigs have to steal the milk; they don't send Boxer to the knacker's yard until chapter 9.

I'm worried academies aren't all they seem. They're being heralded as some kind of wonder-drug that will give immediate relief to all educational ailments. And the private-school sponsorship of academies - especially their new interest in primaries - is the aspect I find most disturbing. I suspect that beneath their dazzling egalitarian vision lies some coldly calculated carbon offsetting, which reinforces their claim to charitable status. Besides which, the whole thing feels a bit seedy. Surely a public school sponsoring a state academy is like the lord of the manor shagging the scullery maid. It might seem like an act of love, but stuffing a proletarian worker full of your family jewels is not the same thing as entailing them on her progeny. No matter how we spin it, being born on the wrong side of the common entrance exam will always dent your chances. A more radical move might be to encourage a symbiotic relationship between the two sectors: they teach our kids to parse sentences; we teach theirs mental maths so they don't keep on screwing up the economy.

If we are to deliver Nick Clegg's mission to give every child a fair start in life, these initiatives need to be delivered with scrupulous transparency. Following the success of Educating Essex, we could keep the public informed with some smart television scheduling. In Location, Location, Location, Kirsty and Phil help track down free-school properties that have a nearby Waitrose and no council neighbours. Or in The School Inspector, sexy Alex Polizzi could take on those secondary heads who sweep things under the carpet, before whipping some academy principals into shape. The primetime slot obviously goes to Come Teach With Me. In my favourite episode, a housemaster from Downton College invites three scrawny comprehensive colleagues into the senior common room and tries to teach them how to suck quails' eggs. They are singularly unimpressed. As the credits roll and the bickering starts, we are left staring at the ugly, crushed remains of another Eton Mess.

Anne Thrope (Ms) is a secondary teacher in the north of England.

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