The Week

25th June 2010 at 01:00

"To the barricades, comrades! United we stand! Those Tories will never defeat the teaching classes! Anyone got a George Osborne effigy handy? Let's burn it! BURN IT!" This, then, was the considered opinion of gen-secs Keates, Blower and Bousted as they responded to the emergency Budget on Tuesday. They raged about the extension of next year's pay freeze, they raged about threats to the education budget and they raged about the review of public-sector pensions. But it was the last one that really sent them west. You have been warned: if next year's review recommends that teachers' pensions be tinkered with, your local union rep will be thrusting a dusty placard in to your hand before you know it. The revolution is surely just around the corner.

Once the red flag flutters over the Department's Sanctuary Buildings, the first directive, it would seem, will be on free school meals. A coalition of angry general secretaries (is there any other kind?), nurses, doctors and health types wrote a stinking letter to Michael Gove on Wednesday damning him for reversing Ed Balls' plan to extend provision of the complimentary grub to the working poor as well as those on benefits. Did someone just open a can of union whoop-ass?

While Keates and Blower were going all firebrand on us, education's third Christine was fighting tooth and nail for her job. This, of course, would be Christine Gilbert, chief inspector of schools, who, it seems, is facing Le Chop. Newspapers at the weekend excitedly reported that Michael Gove is seeking a replacement as he has had enough of Ms Gilbert's nu-lab associations. Cue Fleet Street newsdesks dusting down old snaps of every right-wing editor's favourite ex-chief inspector. That's right; teachers up and down the land enjoyed their Sunday morning corn flakes with a sprinkling of extra Chris Woodhead. Yum.

Also spluttering with furious indignation this week was Tom "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern" Stoppard, who was fuming that ICT takes prominence in the classroom at the expense of good old-fashioned literature. What's that? Did someone say "vested interest"? Could it be that certain Stoppard modern classics are core to English teaching in this country?

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