Teacher for stud: sound pedigree, clean record

23rd October 2009 at 01:00
Will teachers be the next commodity to be sold from the state school sector

Our destitute government must be looking around to see what it can sell next. With the Channel Tunnel rail link, the student loan book and the Tote all up for sale it can only be a matter of time before a bright spark in the Treasury ponders what can be flogged from the state school sector. Someone will suggest the teachers.

It will be revealing to discover how much each of us will fetch for our teaching in the market place. Our colleagues in the core subjects will doubtless claim that their teaching of the fundamentals is bound to command a higher price compared to those of us operating in the supposedly airier-fairier regions of the curriculum.

Take your mind to some future Department for Children, Schools and Families auction room. Imagine the smug faces of various shortage-subject colleagues when Lot 72,428 - some baroque humanities teacher, let's say - is the next classroom operative to come before the auctioneer's hammer.

"Now ladies and gentlemen. I'm sure we can go beyond the pound;2 reserve price. The chap's got a CRB check and claims he has begun learning a few words of state-of-the-art business Mandarin to add to his fabled knowledge of 16th- century Spanish sheep-farming. Ignore the blip in his A*-C Fischer-Family strike rate this year."

But I suspect our teaching skills will have little impact on our price tags. What we will instead discover is that the very teachers which the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) has been trying to weed out of the profession are the ones who are most saleable.

Helping to cleanse the teaching profession of its porn stars and pole dancers has been one of the more celebrated achievements of the GTC. Scarcely a week goes by without another shamefaced practitioner appearing before the mighty council and being told either to clean up or clear off.

But when we are all put up for sale, the GTC may question its intolerant decision to drive so many attractive, multi-talented people away. Those jettisoned had more to offer than a mere teaching qualification. They were assets which could be stripped - and consequently sold at a huge premium.

The sale of these premium teachers now - to private equity firms, venture capitalists, red-top newspapers and the like - would supply the Government with a welcome windfall and thus put off the day when the rest of us all have to be auctioned in the market place.

The Government's debt could have been eased and education might have avoided at least some of the dismal cutbacks coming our way.

And what will happen to the rest of us, those teachers who lack such versatility, and have nothing to flaunt apart from our teaching qualifications?

Younger staff will tend to offer more potential income to the private investor than older colleagues. And the finest teachers can expect to be treated like prize racehorses. As with the recently retired flat-race champion, Sea the Stars, the best will be taken to some kind of stud farm.

Then brilliant, inspiring teachers will be bred with superbly organised ones to sire suitable staff for a series of new Super-Academy schools. How this breeding will fit in with the GTC moral code we shall have to wait and see.

Stephen Petty, Head of humanities, Lord Williams's School, Thame, Oxfordshire.

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