Inchworm

16th July 2010 at 01:00
The policy wonk whose heart isn't in it

MONDAY: Very sad to hear that headteacher Emily Bonpoint has died. A legend. For years she was the standard bearer for Tony Blair's Opportunity Britain, leading by example, campaigning for a fair schools system that allowed children of all classes to flourish. She was passionate. I've seen hard-bitten conference delegates weep openly as Em cast her spell - a mix of emotional rhetoric, sheer volume, theatrical hand gestures and patchouli. Crucially though, she also had objectivity. As head of The Cotswolds Independent School for Ladies she had an overview of the state education system unmatched within the system itself. Her overview of "inner-city issues" from her weekend penthouse flat in Highgate was equally cool and detached.

TUESDAY: To Emily's funeral. It seems unreal. Just recently she was joking about the "coalicious mummies" who arrive in 4x4s every afternoon at the school's ancient gatehouse, with its "fine Gothic detailing and inadequate parking". There's a poignant eulogy from one of her colleagues. Apparently the day before her death Em said that "the world of education is now in such utter turmoil it is impossible for anyone to know what's coming next". Hours later, outside that very Gothic gatehouse, she herself failed to see what was coming next: a coalicious investment manager's wife running late in a pimped Humvee, shrieking over loud RB into her mobile.

WEDNESDAY: Of course, Emily is both dead and wrong. For those of us who move in the world of spin, counterspin, torque, traction and bullshit, ministerial statements are perfectly clear. For instance, "contrary to these baseless allegations by the Opposition, I can categorically assure the House that this Government has absolutely NO PLANS to ... ", actually means, "in three months' time this Government will ... ". Take Sure Start. It was obvious what was coming next, especially to those of us in possession of a circulated briefing paper headed "Full Stop" on which The Gove had doodled a skull and crossbones.

THURSDAY: Lunch with celebrity self-publicist Danny Mitchelbros, whose fascinating and sometimes hilarious attempts to set up a posh school in Ealing have kept us all entertained for what seems an eternity. He's paying the bill, so I'm having armagnac AND a pudding. He wonders idly if I might have access to the database of shit teachers about to be culled. "We're looking for playground supervisors with at least a 2:2 ... ". Double moral: there's no such thing as a free lunch, or a free school.

FRIDAY: Can't get rid of Danny now. He wants me to find out if in theory free schools can have a wine cellar, a paddock, and decent armchairs in the Parents' Lounge.

Please send your suggestions to inchworm@tes.co.uk.

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