It's time for a sacrificial lamb, Brian

20th February 2009 at 00:00

You wanted to see me, headmaster? I do hope there's nothing wrong with my classroom practice? I'm targeting and tracking, drilling down to drive standards up and personalising absolutely everything."

"Yes, yes, of course, Brian. I just wish I had time to look at your classroom, but we heads are far too busy carrying out important administrative tasks, I'm afraid. Now, I wanted to talk to you about the General Teaching Council. Have you heard of it?"

"Indeed, headmaster. It collects Pounds 33 from every teacher in the land. In fact, I've been meaning to mention that the GTC keeps writing to me saying I haven't paid and it hasn't got any of my details. It's odd, because the contribution is taken directly from my pay packet and the GTC does know about me. It's happened to lots of other teachers, too. I'm not at all sure Ofsted would consider their services value for money."

"Actually, it'll be Pounds 37 soon, Brian. They've put it up. It's expensive writing to everybody to say they haven't paid. And you have to admit their magazine has published some remarkable innovations for classroom teachers. Remember 'The Learning Conversation'?"

"You mean when they came up with the stunningly original idea that teachers should talk to their colleagues about their work?"

"Absolutely, Brian. I bet lots of teachers would never have thought of that. But that isn't all the GTC does, of course, Brian..."

"I know. It tells teachers off when they're naughty. Although, surely that kind of thing could be sorted out at local level. It would save an awful lot of money, wouldn't it? And the money could be fed back into..."

"Now don't get carried away, Brian. The thing is, the council is very worried. Do you realise that only 10 teachers have been struck off since 2001?"

"But the Government says the quality of teachers is better than ever."

"Impossible to tell at the moment, Brian. But the GTC is launching a big investigation. Expensive, of course, but we must remember it wasn't too long ago that a certain head of Ofsted maintained that 15 per cent of teachers were incompetent."

"Wasn't it established that the figure was... well... plucked out of thin air?"

"I can't imagine somebody as important as the head of Ofsted doing that, Brian. I mean, parents have a right to know these things, and incompetent teachers do need to be rooted out."

"But headmaster, wouldn't it be more useful if the GTC looked at the stresses teachers face these days? I've spent my entire weekend preparing lessons, filling in forms, tracking pupils, differentiating outcomes, assessing to inform my planning, and designing strategies to interest the learning refusers. Two of my lessons are being monitored by your clipboard brigade - sorry, I mean senior management - this morning. And we've got Ofsted next week."

"Exactly the reason I asked you in this morning, Brian. You've been looking a little harassed lately. Perhaps things are getting on top of you. I was wondering if we might refer you to the GTC."

"What, for a long service award? That's really kind of you, headmaster."

"No, for incompetence, Brian. You see, every school has to do its bit in the GTC's battle for our classrooms. And it would be nice if St Pedigree's could be at the forefront of this... Ah, Dorothy, is it coffee time already?"

"It is, Mr Goodbody. Oh, and there's been a phone call to thank you for your interest in being nominated for the General Teaching Council."

Mike Kent is headteacher at Comber Grove Primary, Camberwell, south London

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