Flat Earthman

3rd July 1998 at 01:00
FORGET Michael Owen. This week's Man of the Match has to be one Philip Turner.

Who he? Well, he's a part-time teacher-cum-children's bookshop owner from Thirsk, who was invited to join Bernard Crick's citizenship advisory group, and then wrote about the experience for his local paper, the Yorkshire Post.

Although he paid tribute to Professor Crick and said hehad no quarrel with the idea of citizenship education, Mr T was not altogether polite about the project.

"It sometimes felt like beingat a meeting of the Flat Earth society. There are, incidentally, only four of us . . . who have had recent experience of teaching in state schools."

On the day of publication, Mr T got a phone call inviting him to complain of being misquoted. Since he made it clear that he had not been, his resignation was formally requested.

What rankled was the reason given - not that he had been rude about anyone or anything, but that he was in breach of the rules in discussing proceedings before publication. "The draft report has been widely discussed in the press and I doubt if any problem would have arisen if I had written about the profound wit and wisdom I came across. Clearly it is what I said that stung. "

Brief qualms followed, until Mr T went to a meeting with Chris Jones, a bigwig at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, who (according to the Yorkshire Post) painted a picture of school inspections and tests that included words such as "precision" and "cutting edge".

With a mastery of the language, Mr T told the Post: "He celebrated the fact that they had developed a specialised vocabulary of educational analysis and a system of exact measurement. It was purest, triple-refined, weapons-grade bullshit."

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