Rehash those burnt offerings

26th September 2003 at 01:00
Running schools nowadays, whether as professional headteacher or lay governor, is becoming more and more hazardous. Weekly news stories illustrate the problems. Initiative 39B is launched, neatly designed to unscramble initiative 39A and all that preceded it. Immediately afterwards, just when everything is beginning to run smoothly, some other piece of external mayhem suddenly emerges from the deep underground caverns where these gems are mined.

When in doubt, change the name. If beacon schools are beginning to sound passe, relaunch them as shining schools, luminous schools, absolutely bloody dazzling schools, anything to suggest fresh activity. Fed up with education action zones? Rename them education inaction zones, shut them down for a while, and then whip them out again one day as another novelty.

It was interesting to see the same tactic being applied to the headteacher training programme. It used to be called Headlamp, presumably on the grounds that heads have to stagger along deep mineshafts in pitch darkness, so what they needed most was a Davy lamp. In future it is to be called the headteacher induction programme, or "hip".

How on earth will people dare to tell fellow staffroom toilers that they are going for some "hip" training? Everyone will expect them to come back wearing jeans and a multicoloured T-shirt bearing the message, "Call me Cool Cat, I'm really groovy".

Once trained they can look forward to such exciting prospects as telling the great majority of eligible staff that there is no money for their next increment on the upper pay scale. There is only going to be sufficient cash for about 30 per cent to be rewarded.

This will produce the new annual miracle: the number of teachers deemed to be performing well will be exactly equal to the amount of money available.

Met all your targets? Thought you would get another pound;1,100 for your efforts? Tough toenails. We're skint.

Primary heads can look forward to greater ill health than others, according to official reports. But don't worry. A centrally prescribed headteacher's hour will be introduced to match the literacy and numeracy hours. It will start with 15 minutes of shared stress (whole staff activity), followed by 15 minutes of group bullshit reading, in not more than two ability groups, and finally half an hour of individual nervous breakdowns.

The most belting recent news item on the running of schools was about governors. In future, if they are unwilling to fire teachers when they run out of cash, they can call in governors from other schools to sack them. I am not making any of this up, by the way. We satirists surrendered some time ago to actuality. People are being paid far more than the minimum wage to hand carve this stuff.

Presumably this will produce a new breed of flinty-hearted itinerants handing out business cards with the caption "Have stiletto, will travel".

Ever willing to help the national effort in these things I shall be setting up a new quango, the Council for Hiving Off People, to manage these new-style public servants.

We at CHOP will offer fully trained rentable assassins to wimpish governing bodies who do not wish to soil their hands on staff sackings. Already the finest on the planet are being signed up at huge fees, as we aim to become the Chelsea Football Club of the dismissal world. Here are just some of our incoming transfers for the coming season.

Colonel Bastard

Former striker for many years with Ofsted who has numerous scalps to his name. Specialises in getting rid of senior staff. Once took out the long-serving head of Lesser Piddlington primary school with a single report.

Lady Utterly-Callous

Signed from Swineshire comprehensive governors, where she achieved notoriety for sacking 15 staff in one week. Has her own motorised delivery squad, so dismissal notices can be sent to people's homes, with instructions to clear their desk inside an hour. For an extra tenner each, will stand at the door shaking hands with departing staff.

Officer B

Bought in for a record fee from the SAS. Of particular interest to governors unhappy about dismissing favourite teachers. Highly skilled at arranging "unfortunate accidents", like the unmarked purple van that speeds off to the motorway after nudging its victims into the intensive care unit.

Sonia Subtlety

Known as "Supersub" in her days with the KGB, she can be brought off the bench when all else has failed. Her most successful tactic is to go into the staff cloakroom and pin a P45 to the selected teacher's raincoat, along with a copy of that week's TES with all the vacancies in the victim's field marked in highlighter pen.

All we need now is a chief executive, so please email any suggestions to

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