The week

27th May 2011 at 01:00

Imagine yourself winding to the end of a tricky Tuesday afternoon double period. The kids are fidgeting. The sun is shining enticingly outside. Everyone, including you, is just desperate for that dastardly bell to ring. Just as the pressure cooker is about to blow, a message arrives. Apparently the school is about to receive a VIP visitor. Not that Michael Gove again, you think to yourself. Why won't he leave us in peace? Rumours start flying. Nonsense, you say to your class, just because he's in town, there's no chance Barack Obama is going to pop in. Not on little old us. Then The Beast pulls up outside. The leader of the free world steps out - he's here to see you and your pupils. Cue squealing. And that's just the staffroom. This is exactly what happened earlier this week at a secondary in south London. As dinner party anecdotes go, the teachers of the Globe Academy are set up for life.

It has largely gone unnoticed, but surely it can't be coincidence that just as the president and the first lady were being welcomed to her humble abode by QEII, Mr Gove and his minions were publishing new guidance designed to make it easier to fire failing teachers. In other weeks this could have made the front page of the Daily Mail. Actually, the angry reaction from the union general secretaries and the hand-wringing in the wider education world is something with which Obama would be very familiar. He and his education secretary, Arne Duncan, have been engaged in a guerrilla war with the US classroom unions for over a year about the number of failing "educators" working in America's schools and how to remove them. You never know, perhaps it was on the agenda at Number 10.

Also bubbling away in the background was the long-awaited new admissions code. Would it finally see the light of day? Or wouldn't it? For those of us sad enough to have followed its difficult pregnancy (it was, by some measures, at least four months overdue), it came as some relief this week when the waters finally broke. Ministers may hope that the birth will have less complications than the gestation. But the emotive nature of admissions and the determination of many to protect the purity of the comprehensive ideal mean that this is unlikely. Custody battle, anyone?

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