Year 9, period 5: now that is a crisis, Mr Brown

26th June 2009 at 01:00
Some doubt PM's suitability for teaching profession

He has confessed his communication skills leave a lot to be desired, he demonstrates every week how difficult he finds it to command a room full of rowdy, jeering delinquents, and his tormentors like to call him Mr Bean.

But no one can accuse Gordon Brown of not being prepared to defy the odds: on Saturday, the Prime Minister revealed that he is considering becoming a teacher.

"It's a great profession. I could move to teaching," he told a Guardian journalist after proudly pointing out that it is now the most popular occupation for people leaving university.

But dishing out detentions and marking homework would be a world away from the high-level role at the International Monetary Fund that he has been marked down for.

His predecessor, Tony Blair, is now UN envoy to the Middle East and looks a safe bet to become the first president of Europe. So is Mr Brown serious about opting for the much humbler role of teacher, when the end comes?

He would not be the first to move from 10 Downing Street to a state school. Peter Hyman, Mr Blair's former speech writer, famously chose to leave the corridors of power to become a teaching assistant at Islington Green School, north London, in 2004.

Mr Blair's second son, Nicky, signed up to teach at an inner-city school in the West Midlands as part of the Teach First programme.

And only this week it emerged that Mr Brown's disgraced former spin doctor, Damian McBride, is on the shortlist for the Pounds 22,000 role of business and community manager at his old north London comprehensive, Finchley Catholic High School.

Some have questioned Mr Brown's commitment to education. Conor Ryan, former education adviser to Mr Blair, told The TES earlier this year: "I don't think Gordon Brown had strong views on education policy until he became Prime Minister."

In response, Mr Brown might point out that he began his professional life as a politics lecturer.

But could the man who went from being known as the "great clunking fist" to a ditherer cut the mustard in the classroom?

Mick Brookes, National Association of Head Teachers general secretary, thinks it is a possibility.

"This might be surprising to people who have only seen him on TV, but one of his qualities is his sense of humour, which, having heard him speak to a small audience, is definitely there, with a real sense of humility.

"I think he could be a boost to the profession and it would be good for him to see what it is like from the inside."

Could he hack it in class?


He would be an asset with the strongest CV of any teacher ever. And to have the political contacts and kudos that goes with his status would be a superb coup for the profession.


I'd question whether he could cope in the classroom at anything less than FEHE level. The skills needed for running the country (even pretty badly as he is) and being a teacher are just different.


He wouldn't have to go around pretending to be something he's not in a foolish attempt to improve his media image. Children can see when someone is phoney.


It is just further evidence that this government thinks that teaching is an easy job, and anyone with a pulse can do it.

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