Pompous Patten's left-wing legacy

13th February 2004 at 00:00
Salusbury World, the ground-breaking refugee centre set up within Salusbury primary school in Brent, is so trendy it hurts. Zadie Smith, Jeremy Hardy, Ken Livingstone and Juliet Stephenson are among its celebrity fans (see Teacher magazine, pages 6 and 7). But who should the refugees really be thanking for their spiffing new centre? Step forward John Patten.

For those who are fortunate enough not to recognise the name, Mr Patten was one of the most pompous education secretaries we ever had - a bouffanted individual who preached the benefits of hellfire to children and branded parents who disagreed with him as "Neanderthals". He was sacked in 1994 after a mass teacher boycott of testing.

Yet Patten's legacy lives on. How so? Patten called Professor Tim Brighouse, now the commissioner for London schools, a "nutter" who wandered around the streets frightening children. Brighouse sued for defamation, Patten coughed up, the money was put in a trust fund and progressive projects like Salusbury World have been thanking the Tory for his indiscretion ever since.

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