Top spot

28th January 2000 at 00:00
The search is on to find a statue for the vacant plinth in London's Trafalgar Square. Amid the heap of nominations there is surely a strong case to be made for one of the many giants from the world of education.

You have only to consider the people who brought us the national curriculum and the smells and sounds of school in the learning zone at the Millennium Dome - as well as all those responsible for examination performances improving year on year - to realise the insignificance of Nelson's achievements.

Of course, when you are confronted by such a noble army of educational talent it is hard to single out individuals. Nevertheless, a handful springs to mind. Among education secretaries, it is perhaps Kenneth Baker who would grace the spot most effecively. He may not have been the all-wise god, Woden, who gave us Wednesday, but we nevertheless have a day named after him.

Then there is Gillian duCharme, the Beneden headmistress, who could stand as a daily reminder to all headteachers that if you find it tough going in the classroom, it is better to preserve the myth of your omnipotence than to broadcast your difficulties to the nation.

But possibly the top slot has to be reserved for Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector of schools. Any failing teacher who passed beneath his stern gaze would - like those who beheld the crumbling remains of Shelley's Ozymandias - be moved to appropriate feelings of despair.

Peter King Peter King teaches English at Wisbech grammar school, Cambridgeshire


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