Secret signs tell us about Clarke

31st January 2003 at 00:00
The Government's propaganda sheet publicising its workload agreement reproduces the signatures of union leaders, employers representatives and ministers who signed. Rarely have so many of the great and the good in education been assembled on one page!

Always one for serious political analysis, the Diary hotfooted it to Elaine Quigley, chairman of the British Institute of Graphologists, to see what she could glean about our education elite.

Quigley admitted difficulty in deciphering the "barely legible" scribble of Education Secretary Charles Clarke, which looks like a child's rendering of "Chu Chu". But she concluded Chu Chu was "someone who likes to play a waiting game, gathering information... and coming out with an answer to meet a deadline". A cunning fox, in other words.

"There is a degree of stubbornness indicated by the consistently joined letters," she went on. "He may appear to be friendly and bluff, but there's detachment evident in the word spacing and lack of definition." Meanwhile, minister David Miliband has a "flowing movement of the pen" and "is able to say little, fluently." A perfect New Labourite.

David Hart of the National Association of Head Teachers and Graham Lane of the employers are clearly "very powerful men". Hart, in particular, "doesn't like being questioned. The hooks in the script show tenacity and the loops in the two upper case letters diligence. The full stop after his name is firm and large, brooking no argument." Blimey!

Secondary Heads Association leader John Dunford is a "sophisticated and non-committal performer, who can gentle things along", while Jean Gemmell of the Professional Association of Teachers is "clear and unambiguous".

But Gerald Imison at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers is too much of a perfectionist ("relaxation and 'chilling out' are not his style") and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers' Eamonn O'Kane is "full of nervous energy", a man who "likes to have the final word, even though he may be charming in doing so".

But what of the only leader to oppose the agreement, the National Union of Teachers' Doug McAvoy? His signature suggests a bit of a leviathan: "He will dare, where others will hold back. Once he has decided on his course of action, there is a steamroller in action." Alarmed union members can apply to the diary, for full Quigley profiles.

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