No torch for Gloria

27th October 2006 at 01:00
Glow hasn't got off to a glowing start, it seems. Having spent a reputed Pounds 100,000 on a DVD promoting the snappily renamed Scottish Schools Digital Network, Learning and Teaching Scotland has ordered it to be binned.

Despite the use of stars from the BBC's River City, the "must see" one-hour movie was too much for one teacher, who complained it was sexist and patronising - the last thing she wanted to see, in fact.

And, so farewell, then, Gloria Whyte, the fictional teacher who all too briefly carried the torch for Glow.

For those who, alas, did not catch up with her, she was visited alone in her class by "an enig-matic figure" who offered to show Gloria a peek into the future. Not a breach of security, but Glow offering her "ways to get excited about teaching and learning".

We eagerly await the remake which, we trust, will at last leave Glow undimmed.

Speaking frankly

We are delighted to see that The TESS has earned a mention - even if it is only one reference - in Deadline, the story of the Scottish press, by Harry Reid, which was published on Tuesday to coincide with a BBC Scotland series.

It concerns a story worth retelling, for it features two of the most original characters to have graced the Scottish educational scene in the past 30 years. We refer to Frank McElhone, master of the Glasgow patter who was Education Minister in the Callaghan government of the 1970s, and Iain Thorburn, deputy editor of this journal at the time and a man with a fine sense of the ridiculous.

McElhone had taken to visiting "troublespots" in the education world, including List D schools. Following one of those, he emerged to tell the waiting press (unfortunately, off the record, as Reid recalls) that "Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing on this place".

Thorburn's response was immediate: "Well Frank, we all know about Sodom - but what exactly went on at Gomorrah?"

Both sadly missed (Frank and Iain, that is).

Reference point

There are some references which wish the subjects of their commendations to get the job they are applying for and some - well, we can never be sure.

One head, looking for a principal guidance teacher, was startled to open a letter which began: "I know XXXX to be extremely hard-working and conscientious, with a real desire to give of his best in anything he does, and have no doubt that his commitment to this job will be total. He is totally honest and trustworthy.

"My only slight reservation is about his habit of scratching his backside."

Ah, the good old days before bland buzzwords came into vogue.

Not so excellent

Talking of the above, New Labour's favourite buzzword has taken a hammering from educational lecturer Donald Gillies of Strathclyde University. He argues that the over-use of the word "excellence" is delusional and virtually meaningless.

Gillies suggests that New Labour picked up the word from the business world where it has already fallen out of favour, being seen as evidence of "burgeoning spin and corporate gobbledygook".

The inspectorate might care to note his view that it is logically impossible for all schools to be excellent, if this is defined as being top of the hierarchy. And if excellence is defined as the highest standard according to objective measurements, it was a "utopian" or "delusional"

expectation for every school.

Spot the teacher

We salute once again the intrepid minds who contribute to The TESS online staffroom. This time, it's Lay-Lee who has been spending hisher time dreaming up that old game of "you know you're a teacher when... "

And among these are when:

* You can recognise all your students by the backs of their heads;

* Your firm demeanour helps you avoid a speaking ticket;

* You know a major storm is coming without watching a weather report;

* You point out misspelled signs to managers at restaurants, stores, and so on;

* You tell your spouse every move you make, such as "I'm going to the bathroom now and I'll be right back - OK?"

Stars and prison stripes

They do things big in the States, as we know. A district education chief in New York has just been jailed for embezzling $11 million (pound;6 million) of school funds. Not for them the odd hundred quid nicked from the cash box.

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