They're out to nick your minds

28th January 2005 at 00:00
I have rumbled a secret plan to seize control of the brain of every headteacher in the country. I knew you would be shocked, but it is true.

Dark forces are at work to put every school, every teacher in thrall, mind-slaves to the Supreme Controller, the prime minister, Tony's Office, official codename: Tony Zoffis.

Two familiar television series will explain. First, the episode in Star Trek when aliens kidnapped Mr Spock's brain. The mighty Vulcan spent the hour slumped in a chair, a vacant expression on his normally intelligent face.

Second, The Prisoner. The hero desperately tried to stop people watching a television programme which would take them up to degree-level history in just three minutes. If the experiment worked, the same techniques would be used to brainwash everyone into obedience.

A report in The TES, headlined "Education Secretary orders shake-up", described how a Ms Kelly (pseudonym, part of Tony Zoffis's master plan, explained below) was setting up "a specialist sponsor unit within the DfES... which will monitor and prioritise its work" to act as "gatekeeper" to the National College for School Leadership, the body that trains heads and senior staff.

My finely honed crap detector emitted a high-pitched whine at this news, before melting into a congealed mass of metal and plastic.

It recalled a letter sent in March 2002, from Number 10 Downing Street to the NCSL, which rather gave the game away.

The letter asked "how the college would contribute to the ambitious transformation set out in the White Paper" and be "integrated into a wider definition to deliver a new vision". Hmmm. Spooky.

It went on to say that the college could consider "segmenting" heads (eh? - using a rack?) by, among other criteria, "quality of present leadership".

This sounds suspiciously like streaming, one of Tony Zoffis's favourite notions. It should go down brilliantly on NCSL courses: "Buggins, Upper Piddlington, you're in set 1, go to room A. Dogsbreath, Lower Piddlington, set 4, Room D ..."

The 2002 letter then urged the NCSL "to identify . . . key communicators among headteachers, who will spread the message for them" and to develop an elite programme (sorry, that rules you out, Dogsbreath) for outstanding school leaders and superheads.

The message, on the surface, was about heads taking responsibility and innovating, but underneath, Tony Zoffis wanted heads to be "on message".

The 2002 Education Act actually requires schools to apply to the minister in writing if they want to innovate. Fortunately no one bothers.

Off-message people were scorned. The 2002 letter criticised heads for using additional funding to appoint more teachers, rather than assistants and technology. Later it stated: "As the current headteacher protests over performance pay reveal, the capacity among heads for double-think remains substantial". Naughty. Slapped hands all round.

Now, in 2005, the tall thin triangular structure of central rule offers no obstacles at the top. Tony Zoffis tells ministers exactly what to do. They invariably concur, or it's goodbye limousine. Ministers, in turn, tweak civil servants. Unobstructed progress so far.

Next, the government has to write to 24,000 headteachers, and this is where the excrement hits the air conditioning.

While some heads roll over, spouting fluent Newspeak, the great majority are perceived to be feckless, no good, freebooting, incompetent, off-message, two-fingers, independent-minded, up-yours dissidents.

Hence the present desire for more control of the NCSL. If Tony Zoffis can seize the NCSL agenda, get the college to line up 2,000 to 3,000 superheads, who in turn act as enforcers, each keeping their little clusters of local heads on message - bingo! The perfect isosceles triangle.

Problem solved: 24,000 Mr and Ms Spocks, brains kidnapped, faces vacant, mindlessly awaiting the next three-minute instructional programme for their 400,000 teachers.

Back to Ms Kelly, ostensibly Secretary of State.

Ignore press accounts of a posh, privately educated politician, member of an obscure sect, knows nothing about education, reading speeches she hasn't written, ferried away from journalists who might ask awkward questions.

As I revealed in The TES, she is really Elsie Ramsbottom, a lass from the working class, who loves nothing more than a pint of bitter and a game of darts (Opus Dei is really Hopus Dei, without the "H" - northern worshippers of good hops and real ale).

Our Elsie used to be head of Eebygum County School in Lancashire.

She is not able to utter her own thoughts because (a) she has a rasping Lancashire accent, very un-New Labour, (b) Tony Zoffis has to attach a speaking tube first and then switch on the tape, (c) her brain was the first to be kidnapped.

You have been warned. The mind thieves are coming. Resist with every sinew.

Batten down the whiteboards. Let nobody in.

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