What do they mean...

12th December 2003 at 00:00
This has saved many a teacher's sanity. When things get really bad, when the paperwork is behind, the classwork is behind, the marking is behind, Maurice from 2B is behind, possibly clutching a sharp object, and the only person not behind is Old Nick himself, who just sits across the desk with that toothy grin of his encouraging murderous thoughts, that's when you need to think of blue skies. (Saying 'Om' helps too, but the kids tend to join in.) The trouble is, just when you have the skies perfectly blue in your mind's eye, and have achieved blissful serenity, a nasty cloud always creeps over the horizon.

At this point, the canny teacher switches to big-umbrella thinking, preferably the one owned by Mary Poppins.

Unfortunately, in the real world, blue-skies thinking is anything but therapeutic. This is jargon as misleading euphemism. It seems to imply the freedom to explore new and radical ideas, to follow the paths less travelled, to boldly go where no teacher has gone before. In reality, blue-skies thinking requires you to throw away every principle you ever believed in, divest yourself of commonsense, ignore the wisdom of experience, and come up with something that saves money. Anyone foolish enough to have ideas which cost extra will find the sky falling in around them faster than Chicken-licken can say 'Cluck'.

Having started with teachers' sanity, we have now reached the point where there is no sanity at all, and there are no teachers either.

After reassuring us that classroom assistants can take classes only under the supervision of a qualified teacher, the Department for Education and Skills, in its paper Workforce Reform - Blue Skies, has now sneakily pointed out that that teacher could be the head. Schools would, therefore, only need one teacher. This has clearly been drafted by the same people who write the small print in insurance contracts which always ensures that anything you claim for is specifically excluded. And, yes, the purpose is exactly the same: it saves money.

As the (almost) teacherless future approaches, there is only one thing to do. All together now: 'OmmmmI'


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