The week

18th February 2011 at 00:00

Sir Jamie of Thirty-Minute Meals-shire really does love a bit of school action, doesn't he? Not only is he limbering up for his new series, Dream School - he and a bunch of his celeb cronies are apparently going to teach some of the "worst" pupils in Britain - but also launched an online search for the country's best teacher. He's even considering setting up a free school. To publicise this latest career segue, Sir Jamie granted an audience with the Observer, in which he set about today's youth as "wet" and "a bunch of mummy's boys". One can't help but think, however, that the proof of the (lemon drizzle and ricotta) pudding will be in the learning. It is, after all, very easy to be cynical about whether TV historian David Starkey's high-camp approach to communication really will infuse his class of "the worst of the worst" with passion for Tudor history.

One suspects, however, that the idea of an Oliver Free School must be highly pleasing to Michael Gove - the chef, after all, presents a considerably more sympathetic public face for the policy than the present incumbent, acerbic Toby Young. Talking of Mr Gove, it is worth highlighting an interesting anecdote from this week's Times' Valentine special in which his wife, columnist Sarah Vine, tells us that "their song" is Morcambe and Wise's Bring Me Sunshine. Quite what this says about the secretary of state's domestic arrangements is anyone's guess (best brush over Ms Vine's discussion of lingerie choices elsewhere in the same paper), but Mr Gove's better half does go out of her way to emphasise that neither of them smoke a pipe in bed.

This week has not just seen one faux-cockney dragged into the free school debate, but two. Indeed Lock Stock director Guy Ritchie will presumably have been distinctly peeved to hear that his central London mansion has been occupied by a lovely bunch of anarchists for use as the "Really Free School". The group seem to have truly embraced Mr Gove's philosophical commitment to allowing his schools the right to step out of the regimentation of the national curriculum, so, in theory, he should be pleased. But then again maybe not, since lessons include tarot reading, yoga, food-preserving lessons, and "how to set up a squat". Best send in Ofsted.

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