Chatterboxes and taciturn types 2006

22nd December 2006 at 00:00
When Jamie Oliver gets more mentions in The TES than the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers and the leader of the opposition David Cameron, you begin to wonder what the world of education is coming to.

The celebrity chef's campaign for better school meals was a godsend for politicians. Who could be against it? Apart from pupils, of course... and canteen staff as their salad-loathing charges voted with their feet.

Yes, it's that time of year. The TES hit-o-meter, equivalent to Hughie Green's clap-o-meter (and equally as scientific), has measured who got the most name-checks, for better or for worse, in education's bible.

So who is 2006's soundbiter of the year? Jostling among the union barons and baronesses is John Dunford, head of one of the smallest unions, but clearly with the loudest voice. He had 104 hits this year. Close at his heels is the NASUWT boss Chris Keates, who chalked up a creditable 88.

But according to Mary (55 hits) Bousted, general secretary of ATL, it's what you say not how often you say it.

And while the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Catholicism's top mitre in the world of education, may have landed Alan Johnson, Education Secretary, a bloody nose over admissions quotas, top prize goes to the Church of England on The TES hit-o-meter. Canon John Hall, general secretary of the Church of England Board of Education, earned 11 mentions before moving on to become dean of Westminster Abbey. Now the Very Reverend John Hall has coronations and Royal weddings in his in-tray. Oona Stannard, chief executive and director of the Catholic Education Service, notched up two name checks (but David Beckham beat that with 22).

So how did those multifarious education quango bosses fare? Come on down, Ken Boston. Mr Qualifications and Curriculum had a hit rate of 31 this year. And, it seems, he is a glutton for punishment. He has renewed his contract for another three years. "Brave man," we say. This puts him in charge in 2008, dubbed the year of meltdown because of the introduction of vocational diplomas and a host of other changes.

Meanwhile Steve Munby, erstwhile most-quoted man of Knowsley when he was education chief at the north west council, has handed down an almost anonymous ten pronouncements this year from his glamorous eyrie at the National College for School Leadership. Graham Holley, new boy at the Training and Development Agency for Schools, has kept his powder dry, with only four mentions. But, as they say, watch this space. And Christine Gilbert has notched up a creditable 49 in her three-month tenure as Chief Inspector at Ofsted.

It is only fitting that Tony Blair has merited 223 mentions in this organ.

Not far behind is his eminence grise Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and adviser to 10 successive secretaries of state, (49 hits). Trailing in his wake are David Willetts, Conservative education spokesman (20) and the Liberal Democrat youthful schools' mouthpiece Sarah Teather (10).

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