The Week

26th February 2010 at 00:00

What a lovely, cuddly man Gordon Brown is. He cares about kiddies. He also really cares about schools and teachers. That's why, right bang in the middle of Bullygate, the PM dropped by at Woodberry Down Primary School in Hackney to announce his latest education policy. One wonders how many members of staff would have been tempted to pin up the latest DCSF guidance on how to counter bullying or recommend that Gordon and mini-me Ed Balls go on a restorative justice course. Hold on a minute, whatever happened to Damian McBride, Gord's former chief spin-doctor and the man Alistair Darling blamed on Tuesday for "unleashing the forces of hell" against him? Oh that's right ... He's working in a school. Hmmmm.

The Clunking Fist's big announcement on Tuesday was that should parents be sufficiently dissatisfied with the performance of a school, they would have the right to demand that it be taken over by one of the independent chains newly accredited by civil servants. Parent power, eh? Heard that one somewhere recently? Oh yes, it's the cornerstone of the Tories' education reform programme. As the election looms large it's becoming harder and harder to see "clear blue water" between the parties' polices. The result, of course, is that the campaign looks increasingly likely to resemble a political cat-fight rather than a healthy debate.

One of the many edu-quangos that will be desperately praying for a Labour victory will be the TDA, an organisation that the Tories never tire of kicking. To be fair though, they don't help themselves. On Wednesday, the organisation - which is in charge of promoting the profession through gazillions of pounds of advertising - published a survey that it had commissioned. It concluded that two-thirds of graduates still believe that a career in the classroom is a dead-end job. Cash well spent, eh?

Buried in among this week's particularly frenzied to-ing and fro-ing was a debate over whether the government had backtracked on legislation that would compel faith schools to teach mainstream sex ed. Balls was adamant there hadn't been a U-turn. The secularists screamed the opposite. The fudged solution opens up the amusing scenario of teachers carrying out the carrot-and-johnny demonstration followed by a warning that such usage will result in an eternity in the fiery bowels of hell. Strange days.

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