The Week

3rd December 2010 at 00:00

Is it possible that national journalists have got bored of the "lazy teachers shut their schools due to snow" stories? This week, hundreds of primaries and secondaries across Britain were forced to shut due to adverse weather conditions that meant neither teachers or pupils could make the commute. In the past few years newspapers have taken huge pleasure in making spurious claims that these forced closures were evidence of widespread lethargy among heads and idleness among their staff. Could it be that these journos have had a Road to Damascus conversion which has made them side with the profession? More likely they're just way more interested in WikiLeaks.

One thing that the great diplomatic leak threw up was Prince Andrew's admiration for this country's geography teachers. Who knew? According to a memo from Washington's man in Kyrgyzstan, the fourth in line to the throne had snapped on a visit to that country: "The Americans don't understand geography. Never have. In the UK, we have the best geography teachers in the world!" This is probably the most positive publicity the much-maligned specialists have received in decades. Surely the Geographical Association should offer the prince a lifetime presidency?

Perhaps the only group of teachers that has a worse reputation than the geographers are those of the PE persuasion (think Brian Glover in Kes). This week, they were being put on a pedestal following the Government's decision to bin School Sport Partnerships. Both parliamentary time and column inches were devoted to it, including an accusation by his shadow that the education secretary was guilty of a "mindless act of vandalism". Gove and Cameron have literally no support for their stance on this - surely a U-turn is only a matter of time.

While a volte-face on school sport is certainly possible, ministers are very unlikely to carry out an about-turn on university tuition fees. This, despite growing anger from the nation's pupils, who are increasingly involved in protests. Sometimes with the support of their teachers. One, Fatima, 16, from Camden School for Girls, reportedly told a national newspaper that school staff had said "they really hope that it goes OK and that I don't get kettled". Well quite.

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